II Samuel 15




(vs. 1-12) The facts are:


1. Absalom sets up a large domestic establishment with a semblance of royalty.

2. Rising early in the morning of each day, he is first to meet the suitors for

judgment at the gate of the city, and seizes the occasion for insinuating that

there is defect in the king’s provision for the administration of justice.

3. He also professes to manifest sympathy with suitors by expressing the

wish that he were in a position to do them justice, and gives outward evidence

of his concern for them by taking each one by the hand and kissing him.

4. These plans being in progress, he next asks permission of David to go to

Hebron, on the plea that he desired to redeem a vow which he had sacredly

made to God while in exile; and David granting his request, he sets out for

Hebron, with a company of men ignorant of his design.

5. Meanwhile he sends spies throughout Israel, so that on a given signal they

might simultaneously make the announcement, “Absalom reigneth in Hebron.”


  • He moreover gains to his side Ahithophel, David’s counselor, and so

advances his cause among the people. The narrative gives us in brief form

the scheme, the principles, the methods, and early form of Absalom’s

conspiracy. He knew his own mind, and was set on the overthrow of his

father’s authority, from sheer vanity and lust of power. The outline of his

method was clearly defined:


Ø      to win over the people by criticizing the king’s administration, and

gratifying them by a showy establishment, professed zeal for justice, and

marked personal attentions;


Ø      to secure a good center for proclaiming his authority, and this by a

hypocritical profession of religion which required him to go there;


Ø      by scattering agents through the land, and gaining to his side the king’s

most sagacious adviser (Ahithophel). There is not one relieving feature to

the dark picture of pride, ingratitude, filial alienation, low cunning, and

religious hypocrisy. It is, however, our province to extract good out of evil,

and in the early stages of Absalom’s rebellion we may see illustrations of

the shady side of human nature, which, if noted and applied to conduct,

may warn against often-recurring evils, and put us on our guard against the

same tendencies in other departments of life.


1 “And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots

and horses, and fifty men to run before him.” After this. The Hebrew is a

more precise phrase than that on which we have commented on ch.10:1 and 13:1,

and implies that Absalom began his devices soon after obtaining his liberty.

Chariots and horses; Hebrew, a chariot and horses; that is, a chariot for state

occasions, in which Absalom rode, while fifty footmen ran at his side.

Probably his grandfather Talmai practiced similar magnificence at Geshur.

In India it is still common for men of rank to be attended by runners on

foot, who will keep up with horses or elephants for an incredible distance.


2 “And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate:

and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to

the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of

what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes

of Israel.  3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good

and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.

4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land,

that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me,

and I would do him justice!  5 And it was so, that when any man came

nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him,

and kissed him.”  The way of the gate. The gate would be that of the royal

palace, where the king gave audience and administered justice. At the gate

of the city the elders were the judges, and, though the higher authority of

the king may have weakened the action of this citizen court, yet passages

such as Isaiah 50:2 and Jeremiah 5:28 imply, not only its continued existence,

but also that it retained much importance. Probably all causes between citizens

were tried by it, just as causes in the country were tried by the mishpachah

(see note on ch. 14:7); but with an appeal in weighty matters to the king.

It is a mistake to suppose that David altogether neglected his judicial functions.

On the contrary, the woman of Tekoah obtained an audience, as a matter of

course; and Absalom would not have risen up thus early unless David had

also taken his seat in the early morning on the royal divan to administer justice.

It was the suitors on their way to the king whom Absalom accosted, and made

believe that he would be more careful in his duties than his father, and that

he would have decided every suit in favor of the person to whom he was

talking, whereas really one side alone can gain the cause. Still, we may well

believe that, guilty himself of adultery and murder, and with his two eider sons

stained with such terrible crimes, David’s administration of justice had

become half-hearted. And thus his sin again found him out, and brought

stern punishment. For Absalom used this weakness against his father, and,

intercepting the suitors on their way, would ask their city and tribe, and

listen to their complaint, and assure them of the goodness of their cause,

and lament that, as the king could not hear all causes easily himself, he did

not appoint others to aid him in his duties. It was delay and procrastination

of which Absalom complained; and as many of the litigants had probably

come day after day, and not succeeded in getting a hearing, they were

already in ill humor and prepared to find fault. Now, as David possessed

great powers of organization, we may well believe that he would have

taken measures for the adequate administration of law had it not been for

the moral malady which enfeebled his will. In the appointment of

Jehoshaphat and Seraiah (ch. 8:16-17) he had made a beginning,

but soon his hands grew feeble, and he did no more.


6 “And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king

for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

Absalom stole the hearts. By professing anxiety to devote himself to the

hearing and deciding of the people’s causes, by flattering each one with

the assurance that his case was so good that it needed only a hearing to

be decided in his favor, and by his friendliness, made the more charming

and irresistible by his personal beauty, he won the love of the people

almost without their knowing how devoted they had become to him.


7 “And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the

king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed

unto the LORD, in Hebron.  8 For thy servant vowed a vow while I

abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again

indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD.  9 And the king said

unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron.” 

After forty years. As Absalom was born in Hebron after David

was made king (ch.3:3), and as David’s whole reign lasted only

forty years and six months, the reading “forty” is evidently incorrect.

Suggestions, such, for instance, as that the forty years are to be reckoned

from the desire of the Israelites to have a king, or from the anointing of

David by Samuel, are merely methods of evading a difficulty. The Syriac,

however, and the Vulgate — except the Codex Amiatinus, which reads

“forty,” supported by Josephus and some manuscripts have “four years,”

which would give ample, yet not too long, time for the growth of

Absalom’s popularity, and of dissatisfaction at David’s tardy administration

of justice. In Hebron. Absalom chose this town, both as being his

birthplace, and also because it was on the road to Geshur (I Samuel 27:8),

whither flight might be necessary should the enterprise fail. He

hoped also to win to his cause some of the powerful tribe of Judah, though

it generally was the mainstay of David’s throne. Local sacrifices were still

customary (see note on I Samuel 16:2), and the visit of the king’s son

for such a purpose would be celebrated by a general holiday and much

feasting at Hebron. As Ewald remarks, David’s confidence and want of

suspicion were the results of a noble-minded generosity. And besides, there

was no state police ever on the watch, and ready to put an unfavourable

construction on all that was done; and probably David was even pleased at

his son’s popularity, and took his professions as proof that he would be a

just and wise ruler on succeeding to his father’s place. Perhaps, too, he was

glad at this indication of religious feeling on Absalom’s part; for a father is

sure to look on the better side of his son’s acts. he had been tardy enough

in fulfilling his vow, but it seemed to David that conscience had at last

prevailed, and that right was to be done.




                               Absalom’s Pious Vow (vs. 7-9)


David and his ministers must have been singularly blind and negligent to

have allowed Absalom so far to have prepared the way for the revolution

he contemplated as he must have done before asking permission to go to

Hebron. Nor does the permission itself show less blindness. David should

have known his son better than to have so readily believed that he was

likely to have made a pious vow, and to be burdened in conscience by its

long non-fulfillment, especially as he had allowed four years (v. 7, not

forty”) to elapse before taking steps for its fulfillment. But David’s foolish

fondness prepared him to be easily imposed upon by favorite children.

The purport of the pretended vow appears from what follows. It was to

hold solemn sacrificial services at Hebron in thanksgiving for his return to

his home and reconciliation with his father. Hebron was chosen because it

was the place of his birth and early life, where he would have many friends;

and the first capital of the kingdom, where many may have been still

disaffected to David on account of his transfer of the court to Jerusalem.

Sacrificial services were chosen as furnishing a plausible pretext for a large

gathering of leading men who either were already disaffected, or, if going

to the festival (like the two hundred from Jerusalem, v. 11) “in their

simplicity,” knowing nothing, might be won over by Absalom’s

representations. In his representations to his father we have a glaring

instance of:




Ø      Their nature. They are imitations of real piety; and the closer the

imitation the more likely are they to deceive and be successful in their

object. Hypocrites are actors of a part, and the more skilful the actor the

stronger the impression of reality. What more natural than the vow

Absalom said he had made, and the language in which he describes it? A

good Hebrew prince, banished from home and kingdom, and with his

prospects for the future darkened thereby, might well have longed to

return, prayed to God to restore him, and vowed that, if his prayer were

answered, he would make some singular demonstration of his gratitude.

Absalom most likely lied when he said he had so vowed, as well as offered

the sacrifices only as a cloak of wickedness. The counterfeit, however,

illustrates the genuine; and in this case suggests that in great trouble we

should seek relief and deliverance from God; that earnest prayer may be

accompanied by promises of special acts of thanksgiving, and that, when

deliverance comes, we should scrupulously perform the vows we have

uttered (see Psalm 66:13, et seq.).


Ø      The motives from which they proceed. These are as various as the

objects which men pursue, and the attainment of which they think may be

furthered by the appearance of piety. In Absalom the ultimate aim was the

throne; the intermediate were the concealment from David of his purposes,

the obtaining of leave of absence from Jerusalem, and opportunity for

assembling his partisans and others around him, and maturing his plans

with them, before striking the decisive blow. Hypocrites sometimes pretend

to piety in order to conceal their wickedness and practice it without

suspicion; sometimes with a view to gain (Matthew 23:14); sometimes

to obtain credit for virtues they do not possess (Acts 5:1-8), and secure

praise from men (Matthew 6:2). In times of persecution the object may

be to avoid penalties; and any measure of favor shown to the professors

of a particular creed, or of disability imposed on others, is a direct incentive

to hypocrisy. How much do they promote hypocrisy amongst the poor who

administer their charity in the form of “doles” given away after public

worship, or carefully limited to those who attend particular religious

services! Again, the hypocrite may pretend to a religion he does not

possess, in order to obtain customers in his business from religious people,

or to ingratiate himself with his piously disposed fellow citizens, in order to

obtain a seat in the town council, or in parliament, or other position in

public life. How many large gifts to churches and chapels might be thus

accounted for! Or the motive may be to secure the favor of parents,

uncles, or aunts, with a view to a good place in their wills. Or, again, the

forms of religion may be kept up because it is the habit of respectable

society, without any real attachment to religion. Nor must we omit another

motive. Piety may be seen to be necessary to secure deliverance from hell

and admission to heaven; and, in total ignorance of the nature of piety, its

forms may be adopted with that view. But this is rather formalism than

deliberate hypocrisy. The two run into each other. It follows that hypocrisy

is a sin most likely to be committed where real religion is prevalent and

honored. Absalom would not have pretended to piety if his father had not

been religious; and when and where religion is disregarded, no one would

think of professing it from unworthy motives. Though, to be sure, the

general prevalence of formal religion may present the same temptation as

that of real godliness. When, however, ungodliness and vice prevail in the

neighborhood or the circle in which a man moves, he may pretend to be

worse than he is from motives similar to those which induce others to

pretend to be better than they are.




Ø      They evince such knowledge of the nature, grounds, and obligations

of piety as enhances the guilt of their impiety.


Ø      They insult God. By offering Him what is worthless as if it were

precious; and treating Him as if He were unable to distinguish

between the real and the unreal, or did not care, so long as His

creatures pay homage to Him, whether it be with the heart or not.


Ø      They deceive and defraud men. Imposing upon them with a mere

appearance of goodness; inducing them to honor what is detestable

and reward the unworthy; and diverting from genuine goodness its

due notice and reward.


Ø      They seriously injure those who are guilty of them. They eat like a

canker into the moral nature. A single act of hypocrisy affects injuriously

the whole character, and throws suspicion on all that looks good.

Habitual hypocrisy tends to destroy the possibility of sincere goodness,

and to render salvation impossible.


Ø      They deserve and ensure “the greater damnation” (Matthew 23:14).

      It is impossible that the imposition can last or ultimately be successful.

      It will be exploded, exposed, and punished in THE GREAT DAY

                        OF REVELATION AND JUDGMENT!   (I Corinthians 4:5).


10 “But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying,

As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say,

Absalom reigneth in Hebron.”  Absalom sent spies. The word means

“those who go hither and thither,” and, as the object of such journeying would

usually be. to gather information, the right translation often is “spies.” Here

there was no such purpose, nor were they to report to Absalom, but to disperse

themselves everywhere, and, when the signal was given at Hebron, they

were to endeavor to gather the people to Absalom’s standard. Some

simple minded commentators wonder how one trumpet could be heard

throughout the land. It was heard only at Hebron, but the news of the

proclamation would rapidly spread; and, though the rumor might be

vague and confused, yet these emissaries, fully acquainted beforehand with

its meaning, would turn it to Absalom’s advantage, and urge the people to

confirm the choice, made, as they would affirm, by the whole tribe of

Judah. In such attempts everything depends upon gathering a powerful

following at first; and usually a good deal of vigor and even force is

necessary to make men take part in a revolt. But as the numbers swell,

adherents readily flock in to what seems to be the winning side.


11 “And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that

were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not

any thing.”  Two hundred men. These, doubtless, were courtiers and men

of rank, who were so accustomed to Absalom’s love of display, that, when

called, that is, invited, they would go without suspicion. To Absalom their

attendance was most important, not only because, being compromised,

many would join him, and even all of them for a time be forced to yield

obedience, but because they would make the people of Hebron suppose

that Absalom had a powerful body of supporters at Jerusalem. It is quite

possible that at Hebron, and generally in Judah, there was great discontent

because David had left their tribe to choose a capital elsewhere, and

because he did not show them any decided preference over the other tribes,

whose good will he would rightly seek to conciliate. The existence of much

jealousy between Judah and the ten tribes is plain from ch.19:41-43.


12 “And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor,

from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the

conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with

Absalom. 13 And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts

of the men of Israel are after Absalom.”  Ahithophel the Gilonite.

The desertion of David by Ahithophel is in every way remarkable, even if he

were Bathsheba’s grandfather (see note on ch. 11:3). For he was far too subtle a

man to have joined the conspiracy unless he had felt reasonably sure that it

would be successful. Successful it would have been had his advice been

followed; but so correctly did he estimate the result if David were allowed

time to gather his friends, that, when his counsel was rejected, he withdrew

immediately to Giloh, and committed suicide. Still if the revolt had been

successful, it would have involved, if not the death of Bathsheba, yet

certainly that of her sons, and the exclusion of Ahithophel’s great-grandchildren

from the throne. In Psalm 41., written at this time, we learn what were David’s

feelings when he heard the news of this conspiracy, and Ahithophel is the

familiar friend, in whom he had trusted, and who had eaten at his table,

but now raised up his heel to kick at him. In John 13:18 the words are quoted

of Judas Iscariot, of whom Ahithophel was a type in his treachery and in his

death by his own hand. The translation, “sent for Ahithophel,” cannot be

maintained. The Hebrew is “sent Ahithophel,” but for what purpose or on

what embassy is not mentioned.  As thus something must have dropped out

of the Hebrew text, it possibly may be the preposition “for,” as this gives a

good sense. For Giloh, Ahithophel’s town, was situated a few miles to the

south of Hebron (Joshua 15:51), and Ahithophel had probably been working

there secretly for Absalom for some time. As David’s counselor, his proper

place of residence would have been Jerusalem, but the conspiracy had been

kept so secret that he had been able to get away without suspicion. He is

now summoned to Absalom’s side, and his presence there brings in so

many adherents that a rapid march on Jerusalem might have put David into

their power. The Revised Version is right in translating,    namely, those

which he had vowed, and which were the reason given for his visit to Hebron.



                               The Rebellion of Absalom (vs. 1-12)


About twelve years had elapsed since David’s fall into sin. One of its

effects was the rebellion of Absalom. The history of this event — most

critical for the theocratic monarchy, and “revealing the thoughts of many

hearts” — sheds a clear light upon the condition of Israel. “We seem to

know all the people; the natural manners and vivid outbursts of feeling

make the scene stand out with a kind of homely poetry.” In it we discern

the presence and influence of:


1. Divine chastisement, announced by the prophet (ch. 12:10),

“The sword shall never depart from thine house,” etc. Forgiveness of sin

does not annul its natural consequences. Such consequences are sure,

however they may appear to be delayed; and, though inflicted by the hand

of man, they do not less really proceed from the hand of God. Already

David had experienced the effects of his transgression in his family; he

must now experience them, on a larger scale, in his kingdom.


2. Defective administration of judgment by the king (v. 3); due, not so

much to advancing age (over sixty), as to timidity, irresolution, and want

of energy, consequent on what had taken place; and “a tendency to shrink

into private life, with a preference for such duties as preparing materials for

the future temple rather than those of active government;” perhaps also to

serious illness, brought on by trouble of heart, and partially incapacitating

him from performing the increasing duties of his office (Psalm 38, 39, 41, 55).


3. Prevalent dissatisfaction among the people. His sin “broke the powerful

spell which had hitherto bound the whole nation to the name of David”

(Ewald). “The imperfections and defects of his internal administration of

the kingdom, when the time of his brilliant victories was past, became more

and more perceptible to the people, and furnished occasion for

dissatisfaction with his government” (Keil). “His pious actions, his

attention to the public ordinances of worship, perhaps even his psalms, had

for the time lost their credit and their sacredness. Not every one was

capable of estimating aright the repentance of the fallen man, and his

humiliation before the Almighty. It was almost forgotten that he was king

by the grace of God” (Krummacher). “The infirm condition of the king, his

eminent godliness and opposition to popular feelings, and the distance of

age that now separated him from the sympathies of the younger portion of

the people” (Blaikie); some discontent in his own tribe of Judah (v. 10);

“the still lingering hopes of the house of Saul and of the tribe of Benjamin

(ch. 16:3, 8); and the deep-rooted feeling of Ephraim and the northern tribes

(ch. 19:41) against Judah” (Stanley); — all combined to make the people

ripe for insurrection.


4. Private animosity on the part of its leaders:


  1. Absalom, on account of his long banishment in Geshur and exclusion

      from court;

  1. Ahithophel, the grandfather of Bathsheba (v. 12; ch. 11:3), on

      account of the dishonor done to his house;

  1. Amasa, son of Abigal, David’s half-sister (ch. 17:25), possibly on

      account of some neglect or discourtesy shown toward him.


“These four years (v. 7) were for David a time of increasing care and anxiety,

for that which was planned cannot have remained altogether concealed from

him; but he had neither the courage nor the strength to smother the evil

undertaking in the germ” (Delitzsch, in Psalm 41.). The course of Absalom

(now twenty-seven years of age) was marked by:


  • AMBITION CRIMINALLY INDULGED. Sinful perversion of the

natural desire of preeminence; unhallowed love of power and glory (as in

the case of Adonijah, his brother, I Kings 1:5), the bait by which Satan

seeks to allure men to a false worship (Matthew 4:9; I Samuel 15:1-9).

(And Christ, who was in all points tempted as we are and yet without sin,

overcame and gave us the example on how to overcome Satan in all these

shenanigans – ibid. v. 10 - CY – 2018)


“He showed him in a jewell’d wreath

All crowns the earth bestows;

But not the rankling thorns beneath,

That pierce the wearer’s brows.”


               Absalom’s ambition was peculiarly culpable; because of his:


Ø      Self-conceit; his selfish, proud, and false estimate of his own worth. He

was “the representative of vain glory and self-conceit (Wordsworth).

Those are commonly most ambitious of preferment that are least fit for it”

(Matthew Henry).

Ø      Covetousness; the object of his desire for belongings to another, and

unattainable save by injustice. It is not likely that he wished simply to

share the sovereignty of Israel.

Ø      Disaffection and unnatural envy toward his father.

Ø      Disloyalty toward the king.

Ø      Rebellion against God, the supreme King of Israel, by whose ordinance

David had been appointed. He had, apparently, “no spark of religious

principle in his breast.”

Ø      Self-will; indisposition to submit to the will of Jehovah, to defer to the

nomination of the king, or to wait for his decease. He resolved to

anticipate all, and have his own way. “He that destroys self-will, destroys


Ø      Suspicion and jealousy of his brother. “It is our impression that David

already knew that Solomon was, by the Lord’s appointment, to be his

successor to the throne. In the promise made to David through Nathan, it

was clearly indicated that a son not yet born was to sit upon his throne, and

when Solomon was born he could not but understand that this applied to

him. If he had any doubt of this, it must have been removed by his

knowledge that the ‘Lord loved him,’ and had, through Nathan, bestowed

upon him the new name of Jedidiah (ch. 12:24-25). It is even probable

that he had, tong before the present time, if not from the first, received those

more distinct intimations of the Lord’s will in this matter, which he mentions

in I Chronicles 28:5-7 .... As the intimations we have traced were long before

afforded, it is likely that the pledge (I Kings 1:17) which was founded on

them had not been so long delayed” (Kitto, ‘Daily Bible Illust.’). “Absalom

was a bold, valiant, revengeful, haughty, enterprising, magnificent, eloquent,

 and popular prince; he was also rich, ambitious, and vain of his personal

accomplishments; and, after the death of Amnon and his reconciliation

with his father, he saw no hindrance in his way to the throne. He despised

Solomon because of the meanness of his birth and his tender years. He was

himself of the blood royal, not only by his father, but also by his mother;

and doubtless in his own apprehension of sufficient age, authority, and

wisdom to sustain the weight of government. He seemed to stand nearest

to the throne; but his sin was that he sought it during his father’s lifetime,

and endeavored to dethrone him in order to sit in his stead” (Calmer).


“O sacred hunger of ambitious minds,

And impotent desire of men to reign!

Whom neither dread of God, that devils binds,

Nor laws of men, that common weals contain,

Nor bands of nature, that wild beasts restrain,

Can keep from outrage and from doing wrong,

Where they may hope a kingdom to obtain:

No faith so firm, no trust can be so strong,

No love so lasting then, that may endure long.”

                   (‘The Faerie Queene,’ canto 12.)



hearts of the men of Israel (v. 6); by methods which many a demagogue

has since adopted. “David won their hearts by noble deeds of generosity, as

well as by deeds of prowess;” but Absalom stole them by:


Ø      Subtlety and guile.

Ø      Ostentation; affecting royal state. “Absalom prepared him chariots,”

      etc. (v. 1; ch. 13:23, 27; I Samuel 8:4-22):

Ø      Diligence in attending to public affairs. “Absalom rose up early,” etc.

(v. 2). “Those who least understand the duties and could least endure

the burdens of authority are commonly most desirous of it; but when

ambition prompts, the most self-indulgent assume the appearance of

diligence, and the most haughty that of friendliness and condescension;

and while men aspire to the pinnacle of earthly grandeur, they, for the

time, pay the most abject court to the meanest of the mob!” (Scott).

Ø      Courtesy and pretended sympathy. “Absalom called unto him, and

      said, Of what city art thou?” etc.; “He put forth his hand, and took

     him, and kissed him” (v. 6).


“And then I stole all courtesy from heaven,

And dressed myself in such humility,

That I did pluck allegiance from men’s hearts,

Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,

Even in. the presence of the crowned king.”

(‘King Henry IV.,’ Part 1. act 3. sc. 2.)


Ø      Flattery. “Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right”

(v. 3).

Ø      Depreciation of the existing, adminstration, and insinuation of the

king’s incapability and neglect. “But there is no man deputed of the

king to hear thee.”

Ø      Fair and lavish promises, and holding out the prospect of a golden age

under his reign. “And Absalom said, Oh that I were made judge in the

land!” etc. (v. 4). It is not to be wondered at that, by such arts as these,

aided by his ready speech and attractive person and manners, he turned

the hearts of the people, already prepared for change, from their rightful

monarch. “After thus flattering the people, and ingratiating himself into

their favor during four years, he decides upon the execution of his

cunningly devised project” (Ewald). “The success of this godless rebel

shows a lack of true theocratic feeling in the mass of the people, who,

in abandoning the king’s government, were guilty of opposition to the

government of God” (Erdmann).


  • CONSPIRACY CRAFTILY CARRIED OUT (vs. 7-12); apparent in:


Ø      The selection of the place, Hebron (his birthplace), notable on many

accounts, especially as the chief city of Judah, where sympathy could be

calculated upon. “There may have been many persons there who had been

displeased by the removal of the court to Jerusalem” (Keil). “Accustomed

from the earliest times to independence and pre-eminence, Judah stood

proudly apart under David even after Saul’s death, and now probably

offered some opposition to the growing unity of the kingdom” (Ewald).

Ø      The profession of a religious purpose — the fulfillment of a vow

      (vs. 7-8; I Samuel 1:11). “With a subtle refinement of hypocrisy, he

pretended that his thank offering was for his return to Jerusalem

(Plumptre). “No villainy can be termed complete which is not disguised

under the mask of religion, especially at those times when the profession

of godliness is treated with general respect.”

Ø      The obtaining of the king’s sanction: “Go in peace” (v. 9); thereby

disarming suspicion and winning confidence.

Ø      The dispatch of emissaries through all the tribes, to prepare for the

simultaneous proclamation, “Absalom reigneth in Hebron!” (v. 10).

Ø      The securing of the presence of numerous persons from Jerusalem;

depriving the king of their aid, and making them unwittingly adherents

of Absalom (v. 11).

Ø      The gaining of the open support of Ahithophel, whose secret counsel

had doubtless been long before afforded (vs. 12, 31). He was “the sinews

of Absalom’s cause” (Blunt). “While the sacrifices were proceeding,

Absalom sent for him from Giloh, and the presence of this influential

personage appears to have caused the final outbreak of a conspiracy which

had been carefully prepared, and which immediately spread with amazing

rapidity, and pouring like a wild mountain torrent from the ancient capital

of Judah, soon threatened to flood the whole country” (Ewald).



disastrously defeated. “And the conspiracy was strong,” etc.

Its success was:


Ø      Great, swift, surprising. A few hours later, Jerusalem was in the hands of


Ø      Temporary. The prosperity of the wicked is but for a moment.

Ø      Followed by signal retribution, whilst itself employed as an instrument

thereof, by Divine providence, whose ways, though mysterious, are always

just and right. The death of Absalom (ch. 18:14) was “the end of

a bitter family history, whose every sorrow was linked to the father’s

blame.” The people who shared his crime shared his punishment. The

fatal spark of tribal enmity kindled under his influence, though quenched

for the moment, soon burst forth again, and ultimately destroyed the

unity, independence, and strength of the nation.



The Shady Side of Human Nature (vs. 1-12)




REBELLION. Rebellion against existing authority may perhaps be right

under special circumstances. People do not exist for governments, but

governments for the people; and it is possible that the rights of the people

may be so utterly trodden upon that it is the duty of self preservation to

rebel. Even parental authority must be resisted when it comes into direct

collision with conscience and with Christ (Matthew 10:33-38). But

rebellion is wicked when, as in this case, it springs from a blending of:


Ø      conceit,

Ø      dislike of constituted authority, and

Ø      lust for power.


This may characterize rebellion originating in an individual or in a restless

people. Talk of oppression, justice, kindness and consideration for the

oppressed, may be but a cloak for;


Ø      a selfish aversion to restraint and

Ø      a love  of self-will.  (this may be illustrated in contemporary society

with the argument over immigration on the southern border of the

United States of America – i. e. the separation of families of

illegal immigrants – CY – July 14, 2018)


Even where there is justification for resistance to an evil rule, it is wicked

to have recourse to:


Ø      flattery,

Ø      deceit,

Ø      hypocrisy, and

Ø      low cunning to accomplish the end in view.


In times of turbulence and agitation it is important that men scrutinize the

secret motives of their actions. As a rule, injustice in rulers can be best

resisted by the calm, sober protest and passive resistance of conscientious

men. (Contrast the non-violent methods and commitment to decency of

the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King in the early 1960’s

with the indecent and vulgar movements of today that are associated with

abortion, women’s rights, gay and lesbian concerns, immigration and protests

of political leaders; i.e. the one in London and Edinburgh of the last two days –

this being  July 14, 2018 – CY)   Faith in God, and in the force of

true principles, with patient persistence, will in the end accomplish more

than can be secured by violence; and where injustice exists only in the

imagination of the restless, and the evils of life spring from their own habits

and practices, then rebellion is one of the greatest crimes of which man is

capable.  (This was written circa 150 years ago – Below is a synopsis of

THE PULPIT COMMENTARY from which this was taken.  My goal is to

get as much of it on my website at www.adultbibleclass.com. as I can in my

lifetime.  It is public domain – when I add something to it, I do it in parenthesis 

as in this entry and put the year – CY – 2018)



One of the largest and best-selling homiletical commentary sets of its kind.

Directed by editors Joseph Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones,

The Pulpit Commentary drew from over 100 authors over a 30 year span to

assemble this conservative and trustworthy homiletical commentary set.

A favorite of pastors for nearly 100 years, The Pulpit Commentary offers

you ideas and insight on "How to Preach It" throughout the entire Bible.


This in-depth commentary brings together three key elements for better

preaching:  Exposition-with thorough verse-by-verse commentary of

every verse in the Bible.  Homiletics-with the "framework" or the

"big picture" of the text.  Homilies-with four to six sermons sample

sermons from various authors.


In addition, this set also adds detailed information on biblical customs as

well as historical and geographical information, and translations of key

Hebrew and Greek words to help you add spice to your sermon.


All in all, The Pulpit Commentary has over 22,000 pages and 95,000 entries

from a total of 23 volumes. It is a go-to commentary for any preacher or teacher

of God's Word.


About the Editors


Rev. Joseph S. Exell, M.A., served as the Editor of Clerical World,

The Homiletical Quarterly and the Monthly Interpreter. Exell was also the

editor for several large commentary sets like The Men of the Bible,

The Pulpit Commentary, Preacher's Homiletic Library and

The Biblical Illustrator.


Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones was born in London on January 14, 1836.

He was educated at Corpus Christi, Cambridge where he received his B.A. in

1864. He was ordered deacon in 1865 and ordained as a priest is the following

year. He was professor of English literature and lecturer in Hebrew at St. David's

College, Lampeter, Wales from 1865-1870. He was rector of St. Mary-de-Crypt

with All Saints and St. Owen, Gloucester from 1870-1877 and principal of

Gloucester Theological College 1875-1877. He became vicar and rural dean

of St. Pancras, London 1877-1886, and honorary canon since 1875. He was

select preacher at Cambridge in 1883,1887,1901, and 1905, and at Oxford

in 1892 and 1903. In 1906 he was elected professor of ancient history in the

Royal Academy. In theology he is a moderate evangelical. He also edited

The Pulpit Commentary (48 vols., London, 1880-97) in collaboration with

Rev. J. S. Exell, to which he himself contributed the section on Luke, 2 vols.,

1889, and edited and translated the Didache 1885. He passed away in 1917

 after authoring numerous individual titles.

                                Source:  https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc.html


(If desired, you can go to http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit

and click on scripture desired.  After the exposition comes up, for

homiletics go to the top and click on Commentaries and from the

the list choose Pulpit Homiletics.  All is self-explanatory.  Since

1963, I have had the twenty-three [23] volume set in hard copy,

plus the same on one CD since 2006. CY – 2018)



a man lies primarily in the main principles and passions that are deep down

in his nature, and which in course of years shape SHAPE HIS OUTWARD

CONDUCT!  Absalom’s real character was in existence long before it came

out to the eye of the public in the form of rebellion against his father’s

authority.  Probably David discerned its incipient form, and hence his extreme

slowness in recalling him to a position of prominence. The setting up by

Absalom of a large princely establishment, with chariots and horses and

runners, was really an incidental revelation in palpable form of a character

internally maturing. It was a sign to such men as David and Nathan of what

they had believed to exist — a vain, proud, ostentatious spirit. So in course

of time men generally do something in their domestic arrangements or

business developments which, if the world will only read aright, brings into

public view tendencies and tastes which hitherto have been kept under

restraint. Our visible acts and creations are the successive revelations of

our condition.  Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,

murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

These are the things that defile a man:....”  (Matthew 15:19-20)  A man’s

dress, his handwriting, his domestic establishment, his bearing before the

public, his mode of transacting business, is a manifestation of the hidden

man the indicator of the elements entering into the permanent character.

The outward aspects of a man’s life may be studied with a view to a

knowledge of the habits and tastes of his mind.  (For the “hidden man”

see I Peter 3:1-12 – CY - 2018)



tendencies of Absalom were somewhat pronounced when he set up his

pretentious establishment, but by his own act those tendencies were placed

in the midst of circumstances eminently calculated to strengthen and

develop them further. The heart of man can devise things out of its own

tastes and propensities which become at once food on which those tastes

and propensities grow to further power. A man of pleasure out of his own

desires creates occupations and pursuits which become the nourishers of

the passion for pleasure. The same holds of dreadful vices and blessed

virtues. There is a self-promotive power in the forces that dwell within our

moral nature. Intellectual and physical forces are not so recuperative of

themselves by means of what they create as are the moral. We are to

ponder the path of our feet, for every step increases the momentum in the

road, be it good or bad.



Absalom set his heart on being King of Israel. The vision of a throne and a

submissive people had great attractions for him. The princely

establishment, with chariots and horsemen, was only the first installment of

a splendor soon to be won. Like all such men, he had unlimited

confidence in himself. He could administer justice! He could win the people

and hold them in subjection! And yet this vanity, this low cunning, this love

of outward show, and mean lying flattery of the people, disqualified him

for ruling as a king. Morally speaking, he was a handsome fool, and knew

it not. The lust for power is common, and often very strong in men. As

manifested in bad men, it is an abnormal development of a love of mastery

over what is not self. The possession of power over man is safe and good

only when there coexist with it justice, generosity, considerateness, and




EVIL. Absalom was no longer a true son. No man could have entered on

such a scheme and have devised such means unless he had lost all true

natural affection. To find fault with a father’s administration, to expose a

father to ridicule, to seek to alienate men from attachment to a father, and,

in short, crush a father’s hopes and life’s work, could only proceed from a

heart utterly alienated. And such a father! Weak and erring as David in a

notable instance had been, he was the most generous, and magnanimous of

men, and had brought peace and plenty and honor to Israel. Absalom’s

crime was one of the basest ever recorded. And all alienation from a true

father’s heart is utterly base and deserving the strongest detestation. There

is hope for sons when they still cherish love and reverence for parents;

none when these are gone. Every feeling, and act, and companionship, and

habit which tend towards this awful separation of heart, should be shunned

as men shun THE ROAD TO DEATH!   And yet this is THE REAL STATE



CILIATION (John 3:5; Romans 8:7).



strong in men whose country has been associated in memory with great

deeds. To care for one’s land and people, to be more concerned for the

maintenance of justice and adjustment of the claims of the poor than for the

form and personnel of government, — this is always commendable; and so

much is this virtue esteemed that it is assumed by Absalom for his own

purposes. We cannot believe in the patriotism of any man who shuts his

heart against a good father. Civil virtues cannot make amends for the

absence of the domestic and primary virtues. It is easy to prate about

justice and the oppressed, and to speak smoothly to the populace; to keep

the heart pure, loving, true toward man and God, is not so easy. There is

much pseudo-patriotism in political life. Men claim virtues they do not

possess, and use the claim for gaining an influence that else would be




father to be a pious man, and therefore seeks to accomplish his purpose by

a profession of piety. The heartless son finds no difficulty in taking the holy

name of God in vain, and concocting a tissue of lies. To the populace he

can be a critic of the government; to the pious king he can be a devout

man, intent on keeping sacred vows. No clearer proof of A SATANIC

SPIRIT than when men dare to lay hold of the most sacred things

and use them for vile and selfish purposes. Righteous, indeed, was the

indignation of Christ against such “hypocrites.” “Woe” from the lips of

love came upon them.  Manifold are the forms and degrees in which this

evil appears.:


Ø      worship in order to be respectable,

Ø      to profess religion for the sake of trade,

Ø      to utter pious phrases in order to win popular applause,


are but the less repulsive forms of the very crime of Absalom. How

abominable  such persons must appear in the sight of THE ALL




In consequence of the immense work thrown on an absolute monarch,

the growing complications of a flourishing state, and the incompetence

of subordinates, there would necessarily arise many difficulties in the

administration of the affairs of the kingdom. In all lands people have to

wait for justice when others are being served. But the evil heart of

Absalom showed itself in using whatever incidental delays arose as

an occasion of promoting his own wicked schemes. There is too much of

this in the world. The rich have often taken advantage of the ignorance and

helplessness of the poor to secure ends otherwise unattainable. In political

life it is a maxim to seize the hour of weakness for a party triumph. It is the

devil’s opportunity with feeble souls to render more sure THEIR

DESTRUCTION!   Trouble in state, Church, or family affords opportunity

for testing the qualities of men. Love or hate, sympathy or antagonism, will

thereby be revealed. (Adversity will either make you better or bitter! –

I saw the quote on a University of Kentucky basketball schedule and

calendar put out by Joe B. Hall once upon a time – CY – 2018)

Bitter or Better

Bitter or better,
Which one do you choose, I ask?
Do you choose to make or break,
Life’s challenges and tasks?
Will I be bitter or better?
Is a question we all must ask.
It’s a choice for everyone,
An eternal test to pass.
(Deborah Finneran – 2007)

Bitter or Better

There comes a time when roads must part,
A decision needs to be made what will you feed your heart,
Every day the temptation to ultimately chain,
All your past hurt, disappointment and familiar pain,
Screams its plea in many directions,
Only Gods love can break through to your personal resurrection,
For the path towards bitterness leads to the grave,
And the journey towards forgiveness is what will eventually save,
The highway draped with bitter thorns,
Will always leave your soul feeling forlorn,
The street dressed in mercy and infinite compassion,
Will bring you to the fields of eternal satisfaction,
Choose better before bitter,
For the bitter,
Become the quitters.
BY: Sabina Nicole

                    How different to others the blessed Saviour in presence of human




people’s hearts were won to Absalom. It seems a great triumph to win the

hearts of multitudes; it is an indication of great power on the part of the

conqueror or of fickleness on the part of the conquered. But in this, as in

many instances, the conquest was a revelation of shallow thinking on the

one side and basest cunning on the other. There is in most men a soil for

receiving the seeds of discontent from the hand of a deft sower. People are

easily caught by flatteries and personal attention. A visible parade of

splendor dazzles and pleases the crowd, who think modest, quiet bearing

a sign of mediocrity. The dash and careless promises of a young and

handsome man excite the imagination, and raise up pictures of great

possibilities. The mass of men do not think; they feel, and are led by the

clever orator who can stir up their feelings. It is not always a credit to “go

with the multitude,” and fall in with an order of things because it is

popular. (“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil:” Exodus 23:2

-    I would say that an example of the masses who do not think, cited

above – can be found in Progressive led demostrations of the last

few years or few days [London/Edinburgh – as cited above] and I doubt

very seriously they have ever heard of the command God gave in Exodus

23:2, or if they have, it never crosses their minds when engaged in such

vulgar exhibitions, as many of these demonstrations are?  CY – 2018) 

The vox populi (the voice of the people)  maxim is  often false. Of One

it was once true, “Of the people there was none with Him.” (Isaiah 63:3)

He was “despised and rejected of men.” (ibid. ch. 53:3)



      It is not necessary to endeavor to trace resemblance in all details between

      antagonism to the mortal king in Zion and opposition to

the immortal King in Zion. But there has been and still is a plot to destroy

the authority of Him whose right it is to reign (Ezekiel 21:27). Fashion,

wealth, power of speech, wit, and alliances with wise Ahithophels, continue

to undermine and eventually overthrow the influence of Christ over the

hearts of men.  The “gates of hell” take counsel against the Lord and

His Anointed.  (Psalm 2:2)  Another seat of supreme influence is being

set up as a substitute for that occupied by the Anointed One, and “spies”

are abroad seeking to create doubt and distrust in the hearts of the faithful.

As we read the account of Absalom’s ingratitude, daring, and baseness,

and feel for his deeds the utmost detestation, so holy beings who look on

the endeavor to destroy THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST OVER MEN

 cannot but regard the deed as the basest, most daring, and at the same

time most fatal to the perpetrators, EVER ATTEMPTED!  The wicked

may seem to triumph, but THEIR END IS DESTUCTION!


14 “And David said unto all his servants that were with him at

Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from

Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and

bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.”

Arise, and let us flee. The rebellion of Absalom, and David’s

humiliating flight, bring out all the better parts of the king’s character, and

set him once again before us as a man after God’s own heart. For this

period is richly illustrated by the psalms which were written under the

pressure of this great affliction, and which are marked by firm confidence

in God, and an assured sense of the Divine nearness and protection.


  • Psalm 41 shows how poignant was his anguish at Ahithophel’s treachery,

but it inspired no fear: “As for me, thou up. holdest me in mine integrity,

and settest me before thy face forever” (v. 12). It was a firm faith which

prompted such words.


  • In Psalm 63, written “in the wilderness of Judah,” before David had

reached the Jordan, he gives utterance to his grief at the loss of his

religious privileges at Jerusalem; but Jehovah is still his strong Tower,

and his dwelling will be in God’s tabernacle forever.


  • Psalms 3 and 4 are his morning and evening hymns written “when he fled

from Absalom his son.”


  • Psalm 55 is one more sad even than Psalm 41. He describes in it his panic

stricken feelings when the news reached him, his longing to escape from

the turmoil of life, and flee into the wilderness and be at rest; and his grief

at his desertion by men in whose company he had worshipped in the house

of God. Upon this follows an outburst of vehement indignation, made the

more bitter by the sense of the treachery whereby he had been duped into

connivance with Absalom’s plans (v. 21); but amidst it all his confidence

was unshaken that if he cast his burden upon God, “He would sustain him,

and never suffer the righteous to be moved.”


  • In Psalm 27, we have the contrast between Jehovah’s abiding goodness

and the inconstancy of men;


  • PsalmS 61 and 62 were probably written at Mahanaim, when David’s

anguish of mind was being assuaged, and a calm confidence was taking

its place. Everywhere in all of them David speaks as one who had now

given all his heart to God.


  • As regards his terror and flight (Psalm 55:5-8), it may seem strange

that David should have withdrawn so hurriedly from a city so strong as

Jerusalem. But we must not suppose that he had a standing army, and his

few Cherethites and Pelethites could have made no head against the nation.

Probably, too, the fortifications of the city were incomplete (Psalm 51:18);

and even if in good order, yet, cooped up in Jerusalem, David would have

left the whole country in Absalom’s power, and finally, after a

long blockade, he must have been driven by famine to surrender. Away

from Jerusalem he was the center whither all who disliked Absalom’s

attempt would gather, and every day as it passed would make men reflect

more and more upon what David had done for them, and the more steady

and thoughtful of them would finally decide in his favor. There would be,

moreover, the secret conviction that David, with such men round him as

Joab and Abishai, if free to take his own course, would be more than a

match for Absalom and his larger numbers. This was what Ahithophel

foresaw, and was so convinced that, if David were not crushed at once, he

would gain the day, that he did not even wait to see, but destroyed himself.

Abarbanel thinks that the wish of the people had never been for more than

the association of Absalom with David on the throne, according to what he

had himself suggested (v. 4); and that there was a great revulsion of

feeling when they saw that they must choose absolutely between father

and son, and that whoever lost the crown must lose his life as well.


  • Some commentators consider that Psalm 31. also belongs to this period,

though others ascribe it to Jeremiah. Parts of it are singularly applicable to the

circumstances of David’s flight, as where the psalmist speaks of Jehovah as

being his Fortress in contrast with Jerusalem, and adds, “Thou hast not

shut me up into the hands of the enemy, but hast set my feet in a large

space,” as though “the net which the conspirators had privily laid for him”

had been the design to coop him up within the walls of the city, There are

touching words, too, of distress at the slander and reproach breaking forth

on every side, and at the completeness of his fall, so that whereas but a few

days before he had been a king, now “he was clean forgotten, as a dead

man out of mind; and east aside as though he were now of no more

account than the shards of a broken vessel.” (v. 12)  But, with the calm

strength of faith he adds, “My times are in thy hand” (v. 15); “Thou shalt

hide all who trust in thee in the secret of thy presence” (v. 20); “Oh, then,

love Jehovah, and be of good courage! for He shall strengthen the heart

of all whose hope is fixed on Him.”  (vs. 23-24)


15 “And the king’s servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are

ready to do whatsoever my Lord the king shall appoint.

16 And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the

king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house.”

The king’s servants. These were the officers of David’s court

and household, numerous enough to hamper his movements, but not

enough to protect him. All David’s wives, moreover, went, and his

children, and some of his concubines (ch. 19:5), ten, however,

being left in charge of the palace.


17 “And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in

a place that was far off.”  And tarried in a place that was far off; Revised

Version, in Beth-merhak. “The Far House” — so we may translate this proper

name — was probably not a dwelling, but a pavilion overlooking the Kidron

valley; and here David halted his household until all were assembled, and

arrangements made for their journey. Here, too, the bodyguard would

gather, and they would cross the Kidron only when everything was ready

for their orderly progress. Confusion at such a time would breed a panic

and invite an attack.


18 “And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites,

and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which

came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.” 

All the Gittites, air hundred men which came after him

from Gath. The Septuagint reads “Gibborim,” and without doubt these are

the persons meant; but while they were styled Gibborim, the “mighties,”

for honour’s sake, because of their prowess, they probably were popularly

called David’s Gittites, because they were the six hundred men who had

formed his little army when he sought refuge with Achish, King of Gath

(l Samuel 27:2; 30:9). They were not Philistines, but Israelites of desperate

fortune (ibid. ch. 22:2); and it is a proof of David’s great ability, and

of the moral influence of his character, that he was successful, not only in

controlling them and maintaining discipline, but also in forming them into

as noble a set of heroes as ever existed, and who were faithful to him in all

his fortunes. To their number belonged the thirty-seven champions enumerated

in ch. 23., and possibly the title “Gibborim” strictly belonged to

them only. As they are still called “the six hundred,” it is probable that the

corps was maintained at this number by new appointments, and that they

had special privileges which made their position very desirable. Certainly

David would never forget men who had shared all his fortunes, and been so

true and so useful to him; and it is evident, from Hushai’s counsel (ch. 17:8),

that Absalom feared their resolute valor, and hesitated to attack without

overwhelming numbers. Thenius compares these veterans to

Napoleon’s Old Guard.



                               David’s Flight from Jerusalem (vs. 14-18)


“Arise! and let us flee” (v. 14).


1. Leaving the palace, on receiving news from Hebron (after the harvest

and vintage, ch. 16:1; 17:28; Psalm 4:7).

2. At “the Far House” (Beth-hammerhak), on the outskirts of the city

(v. 17); and at “the olive tree in (on the road to) the wilderness of Judah

(Septuagint); the procession formed; Ittai the Gittite.

3. Passing over the Kidron; the signal of flight; loud and general wailing (v. 23).

4. Commencement of the ascent of Mount Olivet; Zadok and Abiathar (vs. 24-29).

5. Ascending the mountain amidst loud wailing (v. 30); tidings concerning

Ahithophel (v. 31).

6. At the top (about noonday), “where God was worshipped” (v. 32);

Hushai the Archite (vs. 32-37).

7. Descending, on the other side; Ziba, with refreshments (ch. 16:1-4).

8. At Bahurim; Shimei (ibid. vs. 5-13).

9. Coming “weary” (or, to “Ayephim”) (ibid. v. 14); to the fords

(Authorized Version, “plains”) of the wilderness, or passages of the

wilderness leading to the Jordan; and resting there for the night.

10. Crossing the river (after midnight), on the arrival of Ahimaaz and

Jonathan with news from Jerusalem (ch. 17:21-22); and

marching onward “by the morning light” toward Mahanaim (ibid. vs. 24, 27-29).


“There is no single day in the Jewish history of which so

elaborate an account remains as of this memorable flight” (Stanley). It was

probably the morning after Absalom’s revolt when news came from

Hebron. Of all the “evil tidings” that David ever received (ch. 13:21, 30),

none were more unexpected or alarming. He must determine at

once whether to face the gathering storm or flee before it. With something

of his former decision he chose the latter course; his servants (state

officers, attendants, soldiers) declared themselves ready to do his bidding;

and “he went forth and all his household” (wives, sons, daughters), “all the

people” (“servants,” Septuagint) “after him,” etc. At first, no doubt, struck

with consternation (feelings of unexpected anxiety), he yet speedily regained

his composure; and came to his decision not from abject fear, or personal

cowardice (ch. 18:2), but (as others should do in similar critical and perilous

positions) from motives of:


  • PIETY; or humble submission to the chastisement of God. Lest he

“bring evil upon us;” or “drive over us the evil” or calamity which now

threatens, and in which David sees the fulfillment of predicted judgment

(ch. 12:10-11).


Ø      He discerns therein the operation of Divine justice on account of his sin

(ch. 16:11). Trouble and danger bring sin to remembrance; and

those who remember their sin are quick to perceive the chastening hand of

God where others see only the wrathful hand of man. In the view of faith,

wicked men are instruments employed by the supreme and righteous Judge.

Resentment toward them is thereby moderated, the sense of sin deepened,

and suffering borne in a different manner. “Wherefore doth a living man

complain?” etc. (Lamentations 3:39; Micah 7:9).


Ø      He is persuaded of the folly of resistance to the Divine power. Such

resistance can be of no avail against the Almighty; it ought not to be

attempted; and it can only result in defeat and ruin (as in the case of Saul).

If he should remain and defend the city, David had no inward assurance, as

in former conflicts, that God would be with him. He rather felt that in

resisting Absalom at this moment he would be resisting God. He did not

even deem it needful to consult the oracle (v. 24).


Ø      He acquiesces without murmuring in the Divine will (v. 26), “accepts

the punishment of his iniquity” (Leviticus 26:41-42), and patiently endures

the wrath of man, knowing that it is subject to Divine control. When a

hurricane sweeps over the land, the things that cannot bend are broken; but

those that bow beneath it are preserved, and rise up again when it has

passed by. “Humble yourselves,” etc. (James 4:10).


Ø      He hopes for deliverance in the Divine mercy (v. 25; ch. 16:12). “But as

     for me, I trust in thee” (Psalm 55:23). Herein lay the secret of David’s

     passivity, tranquillity, and forbearance during his flight.


  • POLICY; or prudent counsel against the assaults of the wicked. Piety

without policy is too simple to be safe.


Ø      He does not presume upon the protection of God, without, on his part,

exercising proper caution and energy. A good man’s submission to Divine

chastisement does not require that he should always remain in the way of

danger or voluntarily invite human hostility and cruelty. “When they

persecute you in this city, flee ye into another” (Matthew 10:23).


Ø      He does not undertake an enterprise rashly, or without adequate means

of success. David probably deemed the number of his “servants” present

with him in Jerusalem insufficient for the defense of the city. If, indeed, he

had the assurance of Divine help, he might have thought otherwise

(ch. 5:19). “His departure was an admirable means of testing the real

strength of both parties” (Ewald).


Ø      He does not place an undue confidence in man. “David was perhaps

afraid that Jerusalem might fall into Absalom’s power through treachery”

(Keil). “Beware of men” (Matthew 10:17; John 2:24; Psalm 118:8-9).


4. He makes use of the means which are most likely to ensure safety and

success. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself”

(Proverbs 22:3). If there must be conflict, delay appeared to him

desirable; it would afford time for his faithful adherents to assemble; and,

in the open field, the tried valor and discipline of his veterans would give

them an advantage. Pious men are not unfrequently deficient in prudence

(Luke 16:8); since, however, they are sometimes beset by ravening

wolves, it is necessary that they should be “wise as serpents” (Matthew

10:16), taking care nevertheless to avoid guile, and to be “harmless as

doves.” “When he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered,

he threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth

righetously.”  (I Peter 2:23).


  • PITY; or generous concern for the preservation of the imperiled.

Foreseeing the misery and bloodshed likely to ensue from awaiting the

attack of Absalom, he sought by flight not merely to save his own life, but



Ø      To secure the safety of his helpless household, and aid the escape of his

faithful followers (vs. 19-20).


Ø      To spare the city the horrors of a siege. “He preferred the safety of the

people to his own; and was thus also a figure of him who said, in the

garden of Gethsemane, ‘If ye seek me, let these go their way. ‘“

John 18:8  (Wordsworth).


Ø      To save the life of his rebellious son (ch.  18:12); for which he

would have given his own (ibid. v. 33).


Ø      To prevent the miseries of civil war (ch.  2:26; 3:1), and promote the

      welfare of the divided and misguided people. If collision could

be now avoided, it might perchance be altogether averted (v. 25), or at

least occur with less injurious consequences. He was willing to sacrifice

himself for the good of the “sheep” (ch. 5:2; 24:17). “Let thy

blessing be upon thy people” (Psalm 3:8). His piety was honored, his

policy justified, his pity succeeded by renewed attachment (ch. 19:14),


DISPLAYED!   He left Jerusalem in humiliation and grief; he returned

(three months afterwards) in triumph (ch. 19:39-40). Having practically

resigned his sceptre to God, from whom he received it, God gave it back

into his hands. “As David falls away from Jehovah to be more firmly

bound to Him, so Israel turns away from David to be (as the close of

the history shows) more devoutly attached to him. The prelude to this

first clearing up of the relations between king and people is given in

the conduct of the faithful band who stand firmly by David in the

general defection”


19 “Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also

with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a

stranger, and also an exile.  20 Whereas thou camest but yesterday,

should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither

I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with

thee.  21 And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth, and

as my Lord the king liveth, surely in what place my Lord the king be.” 

Ittai the Gittite. Ittai was not one of the six hundred, though

there was an Ittai among them, a Benjamite. He was a citizen of Gath, who

had lately come (“yesterday,” see v. 20), with all his household of slaves

and dependents, his clan, Hebrew, his taf — translated in v. 22 his “little

ones.” He had evidently been a person of importance in his own country,

whence he had been driven, perhaps by political troubles, and was now,

therefore, an exile and a foreigner (Authorized Version, “stranger”) at

Jerusalem. As David made him joint commander of his army with Joab and

Abishai (ch. 18:2), he must also have been a general of recognized military skill.

As he was thus not personally interested in the government of Israel, and, in fact,

had only lately come thither, David recommends him to return… and abide with

the king, that is, with the de facto king, Absalom. But so great was the fascination

which David exercised upon those around him, that this foreigner boldly threw in

his lot with him, and accompanied him in his flight. Return to thy place. This is a

very daring transposition, as the Hebrew is, Return and abide with the

king; for thou art a foreigner, and also an exile art thou to thy place. The

Revised Version gives the same sense as the Authorized, though it shows

more respect to the grammar. But the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, by

“his own place” understand Gath, either taking the words as meaning “an

exile as to thy own place,” or having a different reading. The Hebrew then

proceeds, Yesterday was thy coming, and shall 1 today make thee wander

to go with us, seeing I go whither I go? that is, I go I know not whither.

Return thou, and take back thy brethren — in mercy and truth. This gives

a very good sense, but the Septuagint and Vulgate have a different reading:

“Take back thy brethren with thee, and the Lord shew thee mercy and

truth.” The Syriac gives the genera] sense of the Hebrew, rendering, “Take

back thy brethren well.”



                               A Farewell Blessing (v. 20)


“Mercy and truth be with thee.” Times of adversity are testing times. They

try and make manifest the character both of the sufferer and of his friends.

The base and the noble in men, their selfishness and their disinterestedness,

their faithlessness and their fidelity, are revealed and heightened. David

never appeared in better light (in all but, perhaps, courage) than at the

fearful crisis when his son was usurping his throne and ready to take his

life, and he himself became for a time an exile from home and metropolis

and sanctuary; and while some of his servants made manifest their inherent

baseness, the virtues of others shone forth in new luster. The conversation

between David and Ittai illustrates these remarks. It is a contest of

nobleness, in which both appear to great advantage. The words of the text

were intended by David as a farewell.  Ittai would not, however, accept

them as such, but persisted in accompanying him whithersoever he might

go. They contain a prayer suitable for all in addressing their friends in

parting, or indeed at any time. “Mercy and truth” are, of course, those of

God. “May God exercise towards thee His mercy and truth.



            Man is entirely dependent on the kindness of God both as a creature and as

a sinner. All in some degree are its objects; but in desiring that it may be

with any, we wish that they may enjoy it to the fullest extent, both in body

and soul, in time AND IN ETERNITY!  It thus includes all manifestations

and exercises of DIVINE GRACE!


Ø      Providential.

Ø      Pardoning.

Ø      Sanctifying.

Ø      Defending and preserving.

Ø      Comforting and gladdening.

Ø      Eternally saving.



      That perfection of the Divine nature which assures us

that God will ever act in a manner true to Himself as He reveals Himself in

His Word, and to the promises He has given us. In desiring that the truth of

God may be with any, we pray that they may to the fullest extent

experience how trustworthy are the revelations He has made of Himself,

how faithfully His promises are fulfilled, how happy they are who confide

in Him.




IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS. They exhibit the two aspects of the nature

of God with which we are chiefly concerned; and, taken comprehensively,

include His whole moral character. To desire, therefore, that they may be

with any one is to pray that God may be with him in the fullness of His

Being, as his God; that he may experience for himself all that He can be to

one of His creaturesHis kindness in the utmost meaning of His faithful

representations; His truth, not in the accomplishment of His threatenings,

but in the amplest fulfillment of His gracious promises.



ARE EXERCISED FOR OUR GOOD. This often takes place when they

are not present to our consciousness. But the highest blessedness is to

enjoy their exercise in the full consciousness that it is the “mercy and truth”

of God that are blessing our lives. The crowning bliss is to enjoy their

uninterrupted exercise towards us, AND THAT FOREVER!




FOREVER. Hence these words express all that the wisest, kindest, and

best can address to their friends in parting with them, or on birthdays, new

year’s days, etc. We cannot be so certain, that we are pronouncing a

blessing on them when we wish them health, wealth, long life, abundance

of friends, etc.



TRUTH” is to produce their own likeness in those with whom they dwell,

making them kind and loving, true and faithful. The possession and

cultivation of these qualities are a necessary part of the evidence that we

have experienced the Divine grace and faithfulness, and a necessary

condition of our continuing to enjoy them (see  Proverbs 3:3-4).




                               Ittai an Example to Christians (v. 21)


It is interesting to find a Gentile, and he a Gittite, so attached to David, so

devoted in duty to him, and so honored as to have (ch. 18:2)

been entrusted with the command of one-third of the army in the battle

with Absalom and his forces. The proposal of David (vs. 19-20) was

generous and reasonable; but to Ittai’s loyal spirit was quite inadmissible.

He expresses his determination to cleave to David whether for life or for

death; and swears to do so by the life of God and the life of the king. His

devotedness presents an example to subjects and soldiers, to servants and

friends. His language is worthy of adoption by us in addressing our

glorious King, the Divine Son of David. It reminds us of the words of

Peter, when speaking for all the twelve (John 6:68) and when speaking

only for himself (John 13:37), and which expressed his genuine

determination, notwithstanding his subsequent fall. It reminds us also of the

exhortation of Barnabas to the new converts at Antioch, “that with

purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23) — an

exhortation which meets with a cordial response in every Christian’s heart.

His resolve, his vow, is to cleave unto Christ for life and death; to follow

Him whithersoever He may lead.



marvelous power of Christ to attract and attach to Himself the hearts of

men. David had a similar power, of an inferior kind and on a smaller scale.

Christ draws and influences, not only by His character and works, but by

His Spirit working directly in the heart. But regarded as springing from the

Christian’s heart, the resolve and vow are the result of:


Ø      Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Saviour and King of men.

Who has, therefore, a right to supreme homage and service (John 6:69).


Ø      Ardent love to Him. In return for His love (II Corinthians 5:14-15);

and as the result of knowledge and experience, perception of His

Divine and human excellences, delight in His society and service.


Ø      Desire and hope to make Him some suitable return for His love

      and self-sacrifice, and the invaluable blessings He has secured and

      conferred. The ardent Christian will pant for, and delight in, opportunities

      for serving Christ at the cost of peril, loss, suffering, disgrace with the

      world, or even sacrifice of life; and for showing his fidelity when others

      forsake Him.


Ø      Conviction that safety, happiness, and life everlasting are to be found

only with Christ.


“Whither, ah! whither should I go,

A wretched wanderer from my Lord?

Can this dark world of sin and woe

One glimpse of happiness afford?

Depart from thee! ‘Tis death; ‘tis more —

‘Tis endless ruin, deep despair!”


Ø      Memory of past vows. “I have sworn, and I will perform it” (Psalm



  • HOW IT IS TO BE FULFILLED. Not merely by warm feelings at

times of special devotion, or by words of endearment, or promise, or

lavish praise; but by:


Ø      Bold confession of Christ before men. Wearing His uniform, marching

under His banner, acknowledging Him openly as King and Captain.


Ø      Union and communion with His people. In profession of His Name, in

worship, at the Lord’s table, in social life, etc. Christ is in His Church;

they are His visible representatives; openly with them all should be

who wish to be “in what place their Lord the King may be.”


Ø      Visiting constantly the places where Christ is specially to be found,

and avoiding those which He avoids. Frequenting the closet, the

sanctuary, the houses of poor, sick, and dying brethren. Avoiding

the haunts of dissipation and iniquity. Going nowhere where we

cannot think with satisfaction that Christ is near and approving.


Ø      Active and zealous cooperation with Him. Doing, daring, enduring, in

promoting His kingdom and the welfare of mankind. “Always abounding in

the work of the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58). “Enduring hardship, as a

good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3). Pressing eagerly to the

front with Christ where his battles are to be fought, as Ittai with David,

regardless of difficulties, danger, or death.


Ø      Perseverance in all. Which is the crowning proof of the deep sincerity

of the determination.




Ø      Now. Further opportunities of, calls to, and fitness for, service, suffering,

and honor.


“What his guerdon here?

Many a sorrow, many a labor,

Many a tear.”


But with these, the manifested presence of Christ, and His smile and words

of approval; the pleasures which accompany the exercise of the powers in

the noblest possible employment, and those which arise from association

with the noblest of God’s creatures in earth and heaven.


Ø      Hereafter. To be with Christ and share His glory and bliss evermore.

“Enter into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21). If we endure, we

shall also reign with Him” (II Timothy 2:12, Revised Version).


22 “And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the Gittite

passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.”

All the little ones; Hebrew, all the taf; in v. 20 called “his brethren,”

that is, all the relatives and dependents who had accompanied

him in his exile. Their presence with him proves that he had entirely broken

with the Philistines, and left his country for good. He may have taken this

step for religious reasons, though his swearing by Jehovah (v. 21) does

not prove it, as Achish did the same (I Samuel 29:6); or Ittai, after the

capture of Gath by David (ch. 8:1), may have made himself

unpopular by becoming the ally of the conqueror, and so finally have

determined to leave the city, and find a home in Israel.




                               The Devotedness of Ittai (vs. 19-22)


“...As Jehovah liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place

my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will

thy servant be.” (v. 21). In his flight from Jerusalem:


1. David experienced much alleviation of his trouble; as in his flight from

the court of Saul (nearly forty years before). He was not left alone

(I Samuel 22:1-2). His “servants” gathered round him, and professed their

readiness to follow him (v. 15). Halting with his household at “the Far

House,” he found himself accompanied by his bodyguard, the Cretans and

Philistines (under Benaiah, ch. 8:18); his six hundred veterans

(under Abishai, ch.  23:17-39) who had been with him in his early

wanderings and followed him from Gath onward (Gittites, equivalent to

“Gibborim,” I Samuel 23:13; 27:2; 30:9; here chps. 2:3; 5:6); and a

part at least of the regular soldiery — the host (under Joabm ibid. ch. 8:16;

18:1-2). His attention was arrested by the presence of Ittai the Gittite

(who, from some unknown cause, had recently come from Gath) with his

brethren (kinsfolk) and children. “The Lord has the hearts of all men in his

hands, and if He be our friend, we shall not want friends” (Guild). “Our

foremost friends are sometimes raised up among persons from whom we

had the least expectations” (Scott).


2. He exhibited noble generosity in his conduct. “Wherefore goest thou

with us?” etc. (vs. 19-21). “This unexpected meeting with Ittai appeared

to the royal fugitive almost like a friendly greeting of his God, and dropped

the first soothing balsam drops into the painful wounds of his deeply

lacerated heart” (Krummacher). But David, now himself a wanderer, had

no desire to make the condition of this “stranger and exile” more homeless

and distressing by dragging him into his own misfortunes; released him

from whatever obligations of service he may have incurred; advised him to

offer his services to the new king; and expressed the wish, “Mercy and

truth [from God] be with thee” (ch. 2:6).


“I am a poor fallen man, unworthy now

To be thy lord and master; seek the king…

Neglect him not; make use now, and provide

For thine own future safety.”

                                                 (‘King Henry VIII.’)


3. He exerted a powerful attraction on his followers; as aforetime. His

language was really a pathetic appeal; not unlike that of Jesus, “Will ye also

go away?” etc. (John 6:66-69). “Ittai declared his resolution (with a

fervor which almost inevitably recalls a like profession made almost on

the same spot to the great Descendant of David, Matthew 26:35,

centuries afterwards) to follow him in life and death” (Stanley). It was “a

beautiful instance of loyal constancy and faithful devotion in a Philistine

soldier at a time of apostasy and defection. His truth and fidelity are

brought out in a stronger and clearer light by the contrast with the

treachery of Absalom, Ahithophel, and eventually of Joab and Abiathar”

(Wordsworth). He may be regarded, in his devotion to David, as a pattern

of devotion to Christ. It was:


  • SEVERELY TESTED. Like him, the follower of.Christ is often tried

and proved, by:


Ø      The prospect of difficulties, privations, and perils in his service. These

are all known to the Lord, for He has Himself endured them; and He

forewarns His disciples of them (Luke 9:57-58; 14:25-33). He would

not have them follow Him from mere impulse.


Ø      The promise of ease, safety, and advantage in other service; worldly

pleasure, treasure, power, honor, in devotion to the prince and “god of

this world.”


Ø      The example and influence of many persons; bound by stronger ties to

serve their rightful king; but forsaking their allegiance to Him, joining in

revolt against His authority, seeking His life, and heaping reproaches on His

head (ch.  16:11). “From that time many of his disciples went back,

and walked no more with Him.” (John 6:66;  Mark 14:50; II Timothy 4:10;

II Peter 3:17).


Ø      The peculiar circumstances in which he is placed, the special

inducements suggested thereby, and the favorable opportunities afforded

for the exercise of his freedom. There are times in which the Lord

(however much he values and desires his aid) does not urge him to

continue, but seems to do the opposite, and give him liberty, if he be

disposed, to depart. So he tests his disciples, sifts the false from the true,

and, though it cause the former to fall away, it makes the latter cling to him

more closely than ever. The decision between Christ and antichrist has to

be made, not only at first, but also often afterwards.


  • WORTHILY DISPLAYED, as it should be by every follower of “the

Son of David,” in:


Ø      The deliberate preference of his service to any other. “Just as in the

great French Revolution, the famous Swiss Guard showed a brave, though

mercenary fidelity, so Ittai, having eaten of the king’s salt, determines that

where his lord the king is, in life or death, he will be.”


Ø      The disinterested motives by which he is actuated (Ruth 1:16). Ittai

was not a mere mercenary, serving David for advantage (see Job 1:9). He

was influenced possibly by gratitude for the kind reception he met with on

coming from Gath as “a stranger and an exile,” by a sense of obligation

imposed by friendship and previous engagements, by a conviction of the

rectitude of the king’s cause; certainly by admiration and affection for his

person. Hence he wished to be with him, to share his sufferings and to aid

in his defense. He was ready “to lay down his life for his sake.” An

intelligent, sincere, passionate love to the Person of Christ is essential to

His service. “Lovest thou me?”


Ø      The open and solemn pledge of loyalty and fidelity. “As Jehovah liveth,”

etc,  (I Samuel 29:6; II Samuel 4:9). Ittai was doubtless a convert to

the faith of Israel. “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will

I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32;

Romans 10:10).


Ø      The practical, unconditional, whole hearted consecration of himself and

all he possessed to the king’s service. “And Ittai the Gittite passed over,

and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.” “Who then is

willing to consecrate himself this day unto the Lord?” (I Chronicles 29:5).


  • GRACIOUSLY APPROVED. “And David said to Ittai, Go and pass

over” (v. 22), “with me” (Septuagint). If he said no more, his look and

manner would give peculiar significance to his words. The Lord testifies His

reception and approval of every devoted servant by:


Ø      Giving him the assurance thereof in his heart.

Ø      Fulfilling his desire to be with Him. “If any man serve me, let him

follow me.”  (John 12:26).

Ø      Appointing him to his post of duty, and making his way plain (John


Ø      Exalting him to a position of responsibility and honor (ch. 18:2),

      in which He aids the king in gaining a great victory, and shares the

joy of a great triumph. The latter, like the former life of this Philistine,

is wrapped in obscurity. But his devotion to “the Lord’s anointed”

shines like a star among the heathen, and condemns the luke-warmness,

selfishness, and unfaithfulness of many “who profess and call

themselves Christians.”


                                                             “Lo: of those

Who call, ‘Christ! Christ!’ there shall be many found,

In judgment, further off from Him by far

Than such to whom His Name was never known.

Christians like these the Ethiop shall condemn;

When that the two assemblages shall part —

One rich eternally, the other poor.”

                                         (Dante, ‘Purg.,’ 19.)


23 “And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people

passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron,

and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness.”

All the country wept. This general lamentation proves that

David was not really unpopular in Jerusalem, though it was there that

Absalom had dazzled the people by his magnificence, and sought to win

favor by his gracious ways. By the country the inhabitants are meant, who

watched the king’s departure; while the people are David’s followers —

his retinue and attendants. The brook Kidron. This is a winter torrent, dry

during most of the year, but serving at the rainy seasons to carry off the

rainfall from the Valley of Jehoshaphat. It lay on the east of Jerusalem, and

beyond it was Mount Olivet. The direction of David’s flight was toward

the wild country on the east of the Jordan, in which Ishbosheth had found a

refuge after the defeat of Gilboa. To reach it he must pass by Jericho, and

thence through the Arabah (Jeremiah 39:4) to the ford of the Jordan,

after crossing which he would be in comparative safety. Ahithophel would

have followed that very night, and have attacked before David had placed

the river between himself and his pursuers.


24“And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the

ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and

Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city.

25  And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the

city: if I shall find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me

again, and shew me both it, and his habitation:”  And Abiathar went up.

This rendering, though confirmed by the versions, is very unintelligible.

Whither did Abiathar go up? And moreover it is said that he continued going

up until all David’s followers had passed out of the city. Another possible

rendering is, “And Abiathar offered (sacrifices) until all the people had done

passing out of the city.” Passages quoted in proof that the verb may be so

rendered without the addition of the word “sacrifice” are I Samuel 2:28 and

 here, ch. 24:22; but in both these places the context makes the sense plain.

Such a sacrifice would, of course, sanctify both king and people in their flight;

but as none of the versions support this method of translating the text, it seems

unsafe to adopt it, and the passage must remain obscure. On the one hand,

it is unlikely that there would be time to offer sacrifices at so hasty a flight;

but on the other hand, the removal of the ark was a solemn thing, which

probably required some such religious ceremonial, and Cahen and other

Jewish authorities translate, “Abiathar offered burnt offerings.”


26 “But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let

Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him.”  Let Him do to me as seemeth

good unto Him. David’s answer is full, not only of devout resignation and trust

in God, but is remarkable also for the absence of superstition. He feels that God

will not judge him by any mere outward sign or privilege, but in truth and equity.

If he deserves condemnation, he will not escape it by carrying the ark about

with him. If, on the contrary, God accepts him, he will restore him to the

enjoyment of his spiritual privileges, and bring him back to worship at the

place which He has chosen for His dwelling. We must notice that he

addresses these words to Zadok, who had remained with the ark. This was

natural if Abiathar was occupied in offering, but hard to understand if he

had gone up, that is, in advance of the ark, to acquaint David with their





               David’s Resignation to the Will of God (vv. 25-26)


David’s character shone most brightly amid the darkness of adversity — in

the early struggles and perils, and in these later ones. In these verses we see

his superiority to a superstitious dependence on the presence of the ark as

ensuring the presence and aid of God. He was thus much in advance of the

Israelites, elders and people alike, in the days of Eli (I Samuel 4:3-5).

We take the verses, however, as evidencing David’s profound submission

to the will of God, and illustrating the nature and excellence of godly



  • TO WHAT HE WAS RESIGNED. To whatever might be the will of

God. To the enjoyment of the Divine favor, or the experience of the

Divine displeasure. In particular:


Ø      To defeat or victory in the contest with his unnatural son; and, as

results of one or the other:

Ø      To the permanent loss or the regaining of his throne.

Ø      To exile from Jerusalem or return to it.

Ø      To banishment from the ark and house of God or restoration to them.

This is specially referred to in v. 25. To death or life.




Ø      It was not insensibility or indifference. How much he felt the position in

which he was placed is evident from his language here, and his tears and

other signs of mourning referred to in v. 30. Those who do not feel their

troubles cannot cherish resignation to them. Troubles which do not trouble

require no exercise of submission. Resignation may be most eminently

displayed by those who are most susceptible of suffering.

Ø      It was not a stoical submission to the inevitable. This is better than vain

struggles and useless murmurs, but is not godly resignation.

Ø      Nor did it involve abandonment of all prayer and effort to secure what

was felt to be desirable. David, while surrendering himself to the disposal

of the Most High, carefully planned and labored, and was prepared to

fight, that he might obtain the victory. Christian resignation is not fatalism.

Ø      It was trustful, loving submission to whatever might prove to be the will

of God. David recognized the hand of God in his adversities, saw that the

issue of events would be according to the Divine appointment, and on this

account was prepared to acquiesce in it. “Let Him do to me as seemeth

good unto Him.”




Ø      The rightful sovereignty of God. He does rule over all, whether we will

or no; and the recognition of His right to rule will much aid in producing

willing submission to His will. “You know, my dear,” said a poor man to

his wife, when they were mourning the loss of a peculiarly interesting and

affectionate child, “this family is God’s garden, and he has a right to come

into it and pluck any flower that pleases Him best.”

Ø      His omnipotence. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God”

(I Peter 5:6). Because He is almighty, Hhis will must be accomplished;

resistance is futile. At the same time, He is almighty to support, to bring

good out of evil, and to “exalt in due time” (ibid.).

Ø      His wisdom and goodness. Which assure us that He does not act

according to arbitrary choice, but that what “seemeth good unto Him” is

really good; so that in submitting to Him we are acquiescing in our own

ultimate well being.

Ø      Our sinfulness and unworthiness. David was doubtless aided in

resigning himself to the will of God by the memory of his heinous sins

(compare Judges 10:15; Nehemiah 9:33; Lamentations 1:18; 3:39;

Daniel 9:14; Micah 7:9). We deserve more suffering than is inflicted

upon us; we merit no good thing; the more readily, therefore, should we

resign ourselves to whatever may be appointed for us.

Ø      The blessings enjoyed by us or assured to us. The memory of past

enjoyments, which tends to embitter present griefs, should nevertheless

awaken a gratitude which tends to reconcile us to them. “Shall we receive

good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).

The mercies still remaining to us, duly appreciated and acknowledged, will

have a similar beneficial effect. The way in which God has led us through

past difficulties should strengthen confidence in Him, and render us

willing to trust Him with our future. Specially, if we are Christians indeed,

let us keep in mind:

o        The relation in which we stand towards God, as His children,

§    redeemed,

§    reconciled,

§    renewed; and

§    the childlike spirit which becomes us.

Ø      The unspeakable blessings which as Christians we enjoy.

o        Pardon,

o        peace with God,

o        access to him,

o        assurance of his fatherly pity and love,

o        the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, with His special:

§    guidance,

§    support, and

§    consolation.

Ø      The promises made to us:

o        of all needful good (Psalm 84:11; Matthew 6:33);

o        the cooperation of all things for our good (Romans 8:28);

o        the Divine care, sympathy, and support (Psalm 55:22;

            Hebrews 13:5-6); and

o        final deliverance from all affliction, and

o        enjoyment of eternal glory — glory far outweighing all

     present trouble, and prepared for and increased through

     its right endurance (Revelation 21:4; Romans 8:18;

    II Corinthians 4:17-18).


Ø      The cross of Christ illustrates and enhances all other motives. The love

of God in Christ assures us in the darkest hours that He is love, and His

ways are love. The sufferings of Jesus as our atoning Saviour make sure to

us all spiritual and ETERNAL BLESSINGS. His greater sufferings are

adapted to reconcile us to our so much lesser ones. In His resignation we have

the brightest and most powerful example, and reasons for imitation of it. As

our fellow Sufferer we know that He can, and are assured that He does,

sympathize with us; and that he is the better able to succor us.

“For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able

to succor them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18) 

Ø      The benefits which flow from resignation. 

o        “The peace of God” (Philippians 4:7), and with it strength

      to endure: power also to do whatever may be possible towards


o        Evidence to our own consciousness that we are the children of God.

o        Good influence over others. Proof to them of the worth of religion.

             In conclusion, let us lay to heart that in any case we must suffer

            affliction.  The only question is how and with what results? Shall

            we suffer in faith and hope and submission, and thus secure

            Divine approval, support, and blessing? or shall we suffer

            impatiently and rebelliously, thus adding to our sufferings,

            and gaining no blessing from them? “Woe unto him that striveth

            with his Maker!” (Isaiah 45:9).


27 “The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a seer?

return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz

thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.”  Art thou (not) a seer?

Both the Authorized Version and the Revised Version evade the difficulty of

this passage by inserting the word “not.” It is one of the merits of the Revised

Version that usually it does not take these liberties. But “Art thou a seer?”

is meaningless; and the attempts, moreover, to show that Zadok was a seer

fail entirely in proof.  The receiving revelations by Urim and Thummim was

a priestly, and not a prophetic, function. Without altering the text, the words

may be correctly translated, “Seest thou?” This was probably a colloquial phrase,

of which the Septuagint gives the sense by rendering it in the imperative, “See;”

while the Syriac, regarding it as an expletive, boldly omits it.


28 “See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until there come

word from you to certify me.  29  Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried

the ark of God again to Jerusalem: and they tarried there.” 

In the plain of the wilderness. The Revised Version has “at

the fords of the wilderness,” that is, it rightly keeps to the written Hebrew

text (the K’tib), while the Authorized Version adopts a conjecture of the

Massorites (the K’ri). This conjecture is the substitution of arboth for

abroth, and they have made the same alteration at ch. 17:16. But

the substitution is uncalled for and mischievous; for David would not halt

indefinitely in the plain, the Arabah (of which Arboth is the plural), but

would press on to the fords, where some delay must take place, and where

the king’s presence would be important in giving instructions for what was

by no means an easy operation (compare ch. 19:18). At the river,

moreover, David could be assailed only in front, where his “mighties”

would make a strong defense, while in the Arabah they might be

surrounded; and, encumbered as they were with women, their line must be

so extended as to be weakened. We find, too, in Judges 3:28 that the

fords of the Jordan formed a good military position. In ch.17:22

it is expressly said that the fording of the river did not take place until

Jonathan and Ahimaaz came with their reports; and their words there, in

v. 21, show that David was on the bank when they arrived, with his

preparations so complete, that, in the next few hours, all his company were

safely carried over to the other side. Ahimaaz was a famous runner (see

ch. 18:27), and, if David was ready, the time gained by him upon

any body of troops leaving Jerusalem at the same hour, would have

enabled the king to get his people across; but if he had still some miles to

march, with a number of women and children, Ahimaaz’s fleetness would

have been rendered useless.



               The Ark Restored to Its Place (vs. 23-29)


“Carry back the ark of God to the city” (v. 25). Having crossed the

Kidron ravine amidst the loud wailing of the people, and halted for a

moment in the ascent of Olivet, David was met by Zadok (of the elder

branch of the Aaronic family), with the Levites, carrying the ark,

and by Abiathar (a descendant of Eli, of the younger branch). The former

had come to him at Hebron (about thirty years before), “a young man

mighty of valor” (I Chronicles 12:28); the latter was a still older

friend of David (I Samuel 22:23), occupying the highest official

position (Zadok being his vicar only, or sagan, I Kings 2:27, 35;

I Chronicles 16:39), but not taking the most prominent part in active service,

and perhaps entertaining “jealousy of his rival” (Blunt). They doubtless

intended to render valuable service to the king by bringing the ark. Why,

then, did he send it back? Not from want of proper regard for it (v. 25,

latter part). He did not, indeed, put a superstitious confidence in it, like

Hophni and Phinehas. He esteemed and reverenced it as an appointed

symbol of the Divine presence and favor, and a valuable means of

Divine worship and service (I Samuel 4:11), just as highly as when he

conducted it in triumph to its resting place (ch. 6:16). But “he

would not use the ark as a charm; he had too much reverence for it to risk

it in his personal peril” (Stanley). He looked upon it as belonging to God

and to His people, not to himself; considered, not only that it would be of

no advantage to him in present circumstances, but also that he was not

justified in removing it from the city and depriving the people of its

presence; that rather it was the will of God that he should himself be

deprived of it, at least for a season; and thus he honored God in adversity

as he had formerly done in prosperity. “David is always great in affliction.

His conduct throughout, his goodness, resignation, and patience, are

clearly evinced in all these trying scenes” (Kitto). Consider him as an

example of:


1. Spiritual insight. He perceived the true nature and worth of the ark; that

the symbol was distinct from the reality of the Divine favor, did not

necessarily ensure its possession, was not an essential condition of it; that

its value depended upon the relation of men to God (I Samuel 6:1-9).

Affliction often teaches us how to regard the outward privileges and

ordinances of religion. “He was contented at this time to forbear the

presence of the ark, having his confidence in God, and not relying

altogether upon the external sacrament” (Willet).


2. Deep humility. Having acted unworthily of the ark of the “testimony,”

and disobeyed the commandments of God, he deemed himself unworthy of

the honor of its presence. His deprivation of it was a just chastisement for

his misuse and abuse of it. “I am not worthy,” etc. (Genesis 32:10;

Luke 5:8; Matthew 8:8).


3. Holy affection toward the “habitation” of God (Psalm 26:8); toward

God Himself; and toward His people. Hence, although banished from the

ark of God, he desired that the God of the ark should still be honored by

others, and do them good. “Observe his disinterested self-sacrifice for the

good of the people. He would not punish his subjects for his son’s sins”

(Wordsworth). “It argues a good principle to be more concerned for the

Church’s prosperity than for our own, to prefer Jerusalem before our chief

joy, the success of the gospel and the flourishing of the Church above our

own wealth, credit, ease, safety, even when they are most at hazard”

(Matthew Henry). “Let thy Name be magnified forever” (ch. 7:26).


4. Lofty faith in the presence of God in all places, His superintendence of all

events, His acquaintance with all hearts, His righteousness and goodness,

favor, guidance, mercy, and truth (v. 20). It is “an instance of David’s

clear faith in the omnipresence of God and of his spiritual elevation from

the outward symbols of the sanctuary to the Divine essence that was

symbolized by them.” “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord,” etc. (Psalm

3:8; 4:3; 5:7).


5. Unquenchable hope. “If I find favor,” etc. (v. 25). So far from

despairing of God’s favor, he cherished the expectation of being delivered

“out of all his troubles,” brought back to Jerusalem, seeing the ark again,

and worshipping in His tabernacle with joy. “My hope is in thee” (Psalm

39:7; 42:5; 71:14).


6. Entire resignation, “And if He thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold,

here am I, let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him” (v. 26; I Samuel 3:18;

here, ch. 12:15-23). “He besought God, as Alexander Severus told his soldiers

a generous and a wise man should; praying for the best things and bearing

whatever should befall” (Delany). “This marks strongly his subdued and

right spirit, partly induced, we doubt not, by the humility of his own conscious

transgressions. He fell; but it was the fall of the upright, and he rose again;

submitting himself meekly in the mean time to the will of God” (Chalmers).


7. Practical wisdom. “Art thou a seer? return to the city,” etc. (vs. 27-29);

“Behold! return,” etc. (Septuagint). “The peculiar exercises of religion

ought to precede, but not to exclude, the use of every prudent means of

securing success in lawful undertakings” (Scott). When, in time of

adversity, we decline the aid of our friends in one form, because it seems to

us injudicious and improper, we should gladly avail ourselves of it in

another; knowing that by such instrumentality the help for which we look

to God is most commonly vouchsafed. “Among the few faithful amidst the

faithless, the first place belongs to the priests, whom loyalty and interest

alike bound to the throne. So they were ready if they had been permitted to

have carried even the ark to share the exile of the king. They will have their

loyalty crowned by seeing the ark, the tent of a once nomad worship,

signifying by its flame a spiritual life, set up in Jerusalem; the younger

amongst them may see a temple rise, the scene of as noble a worship as the

world has yet known” (R. Williams).


30 “And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he

went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all

the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they

went up, weeping as they went up.”  The ascent of mount Olivet; Hebrew,

the ascent of the olive trees. The hill never was called Olivet, which is a

word formed from the Latin mons oliveti, the mount of the olive grove.

David had his head covered. This was a sign of grief among the Persians,

Egyptians, and Romans, as well as the Hebrews (for whom see Ezekiel 24:17),

it being originally a natural movement to conceal an outburst of tears. So we in

great sorrow bury our faces in our hands. In this mark of mourning all joined,

but David added the going barefoot as a sign of deeper humiliation.

According to the Jewish Midrash, it was upon the Mount of Olives that

David composed the third psalm. More probably it was at the fords of the

Jordan, after David, wearied with the fatigues of the march, had enjoyed a

short refreshing slumber, and while he was waiting for his two young

friends, that he comforted himself by this outpouring of his heart to God.



(vs. 13-30) The facts are:


1. David, being informed of the rising in favor of Absalom, calls upon his

friends to flee from Jerusalem, in order to avoid its being smitten by a

sudden attack.

2. His servants being willing to go with him, he leads out his entire

household, with the exception of a few to take care of the house.

3. In his departure he is accompanied by his bodyguard, and the six

hundred men which followed him from Gath.

4. Observing Ittai in the company, he suggests that, being a stranger and

exile, he should not risk his fortunes with his own; but, on receiving an

assurance that it was his deliberate desire so to do, he permits him to pass on.

5. The people of the district weep with a loud noise as he crosses the brook

Kidron, and passes on toward the wilderness.

6. The ark of the covenant being brought out into the procession, when the

people have passed the brook, David urges on Zadok that the ark be

conveyed back to the city, expressing his humble hope that it might please

God to allow him to see it once more, and, in any case, he submits to the

appointments of Providence.

7. David requests Zadok and others with the ark to return to the city, and

to inform him in the wilderness should anything of great importance arise.

8. The king expresses his grief by passing up the Mount of Olives, with

covered head and weeping, accompanied by a covered and weeping



                    Submission in the Day of Adversity (13-30)


The order of the narrative of David’s departure from Jerusalem is rather

involved, as may be seen by comparing vs. 17, 19, 23, 30; but the actual

facts are clear enough. As soon as he became aware of the extent of the

rebellion, he resolved to leave the city, and we have a record of the fact

and the incidents accompanying it. The first and most obvious impression

produced on the mind of the reader is the prompt and quiet submission of

the king to the force of circumstances, not because he was of cowardly

spirit, but because he saw in what was happening the providence of God. If

we analyze the conduct and words of David in their relation to the great

fall and Nathan’s prophecy (ch. 12:9-13), we shall see the leading features

characterizing his submission, and in so doing we shall get a view of the main

characteristics of all true Christian submission in the day of adversity.


  • A RECOGNITION OF PERSONAL DESERT. The prompt action, the

surrender of regal state, the broken spirit, the barefooted departure from

the seat of authority, and the tender references to God doing with him as

seemed him good (v. 26), all point to more than a forced submission to

mere military necessity. There may have been a deep inexpressible anguish

on account of filial ingratitude, and the father’s heart could not but weep in

silence over an erring lost child; but the remembrance of his own great sin,

and the words of the prophet of God, furnished the chief theme of

reflection; for the son’s ingratitude base as it was, had become the rod to

chastise for the errors of the past. A forgiven man does not the less think of

the sin as a disgrace and worthy of being branded as evil. Adversities come

to us all — happily, few know the sorrow of such filial ingratitude — and

the enlightened mind sees in them more than physical sequence. The

doctrine that every sorrow that falls is for a specific sin need not be held.

Yet all trouble is connected with the fact that sin is in the world, and a

consciousness of personal shortcomings makes us feel, when adversity in

home, estate, or health falls, that we deserve every pain that enters the

heart. There is no assertion of right to be free from the trouble; rather the

true heart says, It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed”

(Lamentations 3:22).



observer it might seem that it was a very unrighteous thing for the Supreme

Ruler to allow so wise and good a king to be set aside and humiliated by a

man so base and vain as Absalom, and many a man in his anguish might

question the equity which allowed such sorrow to fall upon him when he

had recovered from his special sins. David’s spirit was the reverse of this.

Not a word of complaint, not a murmur or a fret in trouble. During his long

exile, when death encompassed him about, and he had washed his hands in

innocency, and all the blame lay with Saul and Doeg the Edomite, he

trusted in the justice of God; and this confidence, won in the days of

comparative innocence, failed him not now, when, after his recovery from

a fall, the storm burst upon him with more terrible violence. He knew and

rested in the precious truth that the Lord reigned in righteousness and

brought correction to his servants for their good. Yes; this is the faith of

the faithful. Never do they, however terrible the disaster in this life, distrust

the righteousness of God. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him,” was

true for Job and all of kindred spirit. (Job 13:15)  Men who know not the

new life cannot understand this. It is the alphabet of religious experience

to all who are really born again and are accepted in Christ. None of these

things move them.



not yield to fretfulness and irresolution. He vacates his home, provides for

his house, goes out to a place of safety, and, by his discreet arrangement

with Zadok and Abiathar, keeps up means of connection with the city

(vs. 27-28). Utter prostration under calamity does not come where there

is the counteractive element of recognition of personal unworthiness and of

the righteousness of God. Whether this trouble would pass he knew not,

but as a wise man he adapted himself to the storm. As Jacob to his exile

(Genesis 28:10-22.), as Moses to his deprivation (Deuteronomy 3:25-27;

compare  34:1-6), so David makes the best of his position. Providential

chastisements are not designed to paralyze action; their benefit is secured

when, in a spirit of resignation and trust, we use our powers to bear them

and to mitigate their incidence (Hebrews 12:5-12). Adversity becomes

truly educational when we are stirred up to adjust our life to its conditions.




into the open country was partly from policy and partly from feelings of

kindness. He probably had suspicions, seeing that his trusty counselor had

been drawn over to Absalom (v. 12; compare Psalm 41:9; 55:10-14), that

Absalom had many friends in the city, and should he in concert with them

come suddenly upon him and his friends, multitudes would fall victims to

his malice. It was the same generous feeling that prompted him to suggest

that Ittai, not being a Hebrew, should not embroil himself in this sad

conflict, and so run a risk in case another king should reign. We see the

same David as in earlier years, ever mindful of others, and magnanimous to

the extreme. The dreadful sin had not destroyed his noble qualities, but had

given a sadly tender form to their expression. There are beautiful instances

in Christian life of this kindly consideration for others. Fathers and mothers

strive to shield their children from the woes which they may connect with

their own want of wisdom or goodness. The great Saviour Himself, in His

dire trouble, sought to shield his faithful followers (John 14:1, 27; 17:9-12;




voluntary sympathy and aid of the faithful bodyguard, and the six hundred

who had shared his fortunes prior and subsequent to his departure from

Gath, was as cool water to a thirsty soul; and the free services of Ittai and

Zadok were greatly valued. In the adversities which Providence permits to

come for purposes of discipline there is the merciful admixture of some

provision to meet the pressing need of the hour — some human channel for

Divine sympathy and compassion to enter the heart. Submission to the

inscrutable will always includes a grateful recognition of this relief. The

love and presence of Ruth was as balm to the desolate heart of Naomi as

she mourned her forlorn condition (Ruth 1:14-18), imparted a sweet

gentleness to her, and enabled her to submit to the blow that had shattered

her early joys. David and she had herein a common experience.



INTERESTS OF RELIGION. It was very beautiful conduct on the part of

Zadok and Abiathar to bring out the ark of the covenant (v. 24), to form

a prominent object in the sad procession out of the city; it revealed a tender

consideration for the man who in his prosperity had associated his purest

joys and most glorious triumphs with that precious symbol of the Divine

presence. The ark could not but remind David of the mercy that endureth

forever, and its presence with him would be regarded as a pledge of

blessing in his wandering. But he desired the priests to take back the

treasure, and he, meekly bowing to the chastisement, would go out and

suffer the loss of the outward privileges of the sanctuary. The reason of

this no doubt was that, as he had been the means of procuring a permanent

resting place for the ark (ch. 6:17-19), and constituting Jerusalem the

center of religious influence for the nation, he would not now undo that

work and serve his own personal advantage at the cost of the people.

No; the religious institutions should remain intact, the blessings of

public worship and spiritual comfort should abide for Jerusalem, though

he a poor exile pine in solitude and peril for the “beauty of the Lord”

(Psalms 42:1-4; 43:1-2). How beautiful this tender care for the interests

of religion appears in true submission to adverse providences is known to

all acquainted with Christian biography. Not a deed, not a word, not a

thought is allowed that might be prejudicial to the kingdom of God. Storms

may come, hopes may be blasted, if only the Name that is above every

name be still honored.



INTERESTS INTO THE HANDS OF GOD. “If I shall find favor in the

eyes of the Lord, He will bring me again, and show me both it, and His

habitation. But if He thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here

I am, let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him” (vs. 25-26). O blessed

trust! O sweet resignation! O modest yet unshaken hope! Truly the

discipline was already bearing precious fruit. The spiritual barrenness of

those hot days of prosperity (ch. 11.) was clean gone. The temporal

chastisement was in process, but the wandering child was a wanderer no

more. Enviable beyond expression is this surrender of all interests to the

wise and gracious hands of the covenant keeping God. Here comes out the

essence of the true submission in the season of adversity. “He will,” if he

“delight” in me! “Let Him do as seemeth Him good!” No self-will, no

boast of claim, no thought of shame; God is over all and can do all; all

is in His care, and what He does shall be deemed the best and kindest

and most just. Who does not see the purifying power of the grace of God?

Holy David once fallen!


  • APPENDIX. The sorrowing king, passing over the ridge of the Mount of

Olives, on bare feet and weeping, bearing on his heart a terrible woe, and

full of pity for the people rejecting his authority, and at the same time

entirely submissive to the sovereign will that so ordains, reminds us of the

other King, greater, wiser, more holy, and bearing on His heart

the woes of many sins not His own, pacing the slopes of that same mount,

weeping bitter tears, lamenting for the rebellious people, bearing all for

others’ good, and submitting with unparalleled gentleness and trust to the

sovereign will that ordained that so He must suffer.  (Matthew 26:36-56;

Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46)



                               Fidelity in Misfortune  (vs. 13-30)


It is believed by many that more remarkable virtues are developed in

seasons of adversity than in those of prosperity. Their precise form will

depend on the individuals concerned and the stress of the time. The

conduct of the Gittites, and Ittai, and Zadok, and Abiathar is in pleasing

contrast with that of Ahithophel and his coconspirators. In these men we

may trace the characteristics of fidelity in misfortune.



probably been with David and shared in his trials prior to his departure

from Gath (I Samuel 27:2). They knew him better than any others;

they had formed a sympathy for him based on true knowledge, and they

stood the test of the evil time. Of Ittai we do not know so much, but the

words of the man prove that he appreciated the real character of David in

spite of the slanders which such men as Ahithophel may have insinuated.

The priestly functions of Zadok and Abiathar account for their interest in

so devout a man as David. Their fidelity was not based on personal beauty,

vague promises, and outward splendor (vs. 1-6), but on intelligence and

the feeling which accompanies it in a pure heart. So Ruth was true to

Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17). Any promise of attachment not resting on this

foundation is worth nothing.



probably hours when the voice of temptation would come to allure them

from a course so perilous in appearance, to a course promising reputation,

wealth, and honor; for these men were of like passions with us all, and

had no love for poverty and exile in themselves. But they knew David’s

history, and when temptation to prefer the winning side came they would

nourish their vow by thinking of what he had been, how God had

befriended him before, and how he had risen from the fall which once was

his shame. It is something to be attached to a man with a good history.

When we have pledged ourselves to a just though suffering cause, we may

ward off many a temptation by allowing the reflective powers to work on

the antecedents of the cause to which we are pledged. Thus the early

Christians, by reflecting on Christ, His words and work, and all He had

been to them, could endorse the dying words of the aged Polycarp:


“Eighty-six years have I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong.

How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”



The frank and magnanimous way in which David offered to release them

from all risks only drew out into stronger and more pronounced form the

attachment already cherished (vs. 19-21). Zadok could not but feel a

profounder regard for the king after hearing his words concerning the ark

(v. 25). There is something so noble in this frankness and magnanimity in

misfortune that a faithful heart recruits its strength by the very sight and

sound of the nobleness. Holy sentiments grow in exchange. There is no

sure bond between the wicked. Sin is morally a weakness. Holiness is a



  • IT IS CAPABLE OF RISKS. Whatever might befall the king in his

trouble, these faithful ones were prepared to share in it. True affection is

not blind, as some would say; it sees, but it fears not. The faithful mind is

intent on being on the side of right and weakness, not on securing anything

for self. There are risks in adherence to a righteous cause in the day of

adversity. Christ points this out to His followers, and it is the sign of true

as distinguished from professional fidelity that it can bear and is determined

to bear whatever may come. The real clue to the determination is the

conviction that right is supreme in its claims, and that present suffering is

only an incident of a well-directed human existence (Matthew 10:16-18,

38; 20:22; Philippians 3:7-9).




                               David’s Tears on Olivet (v. 30)


1. What a scene of fallen greatness and bitter grief is here depicted! He

who yesterday reigned in Jerusalem, as the anointed (Messiah) of Jehovah,

is today a homeless fugitive (v. 20), toiling up the ascent of Olivet, in

deep humiliation and undisguised sorrow, with head covered (3:31-32; 19:4)

and feet bare; accompanied by stern warriors and tender women and children,

all, like himself, with covered heads “going and weeping.” It is “as one long

funeral procession of men wailing over the fall of all their hopes” (Plumptre).


2. What an instance of moral excellence and overcoming faith is here

afforded! “The greatness of David did not depend on his royal state; it was

within his lofty soul and inseparable from his commanding character”

(Milman). He is:


  1. considerate, generous (v. 19),
  2. submissive (v. 26),
  3. prayerful (v. 31),
  4. grateful (ch. 16:4),
  5. forbearing (ibid. v. 10), and
  6. hopeful (ibid. v. 12).


His suffering manifests his sincerity, his outward shame his inward worth;

and “out of the depths” of his trouble he rises to the loftiest elevation

(ch. 23:13-14; Psalm 130:1; 84:6; Hosea 2:15).


3. What an outline is here furnished of the ideal representation, given by

psalmist and prophet, of the suffering Servant of Jehovah (Psalm 22;

Isaiah 53), and fully realized in Him who, on the same spot, a thousand

years afterwards, wept over the sinning and perishing city! “And when he

was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it.”  (Luke 19:41-44;

23:27-31). Consider:


  • THE SORROWS OF DAVID. Why did he weep? Not so much on

account of his exile, privation, etc., as on account of:


Ø      The grievous transgressions which he had formerly committed

(Psalm 39:12; 6:6), and which were now brought afresh to

remembrance. “My sin is ever before me.”


Ø      The ungrateful treatment which he received, from his son whom he

tenderly loved (ch. 16:11), from his subjects whom he faithfully

served, from his adversaries who hated him “wrongfully” and “without a

cause” (Psalm 69:3-5). Neither his former transgressions nor his recent

defects justified rebellion against his authority as king. Indeed, his personal

piety and theocratic policy made him to many an object of hatred and

reproach; and in him the Divine King of Israel himself was despised.

(Psalm 5:10; 22:8; 42:3; 69:7, 9, 20). “Though David suffered

for his many sins, he had yet through penitence already obtained

forgiveness of sins. Thus he was the righteous sufferer, who could appeal

to God for the purity of his heart and the holiness of his cause” (Erdmann).


Ø      The national calamity which he beheld — the distress of “all the people

that was with him” (v. 23), the distracted condition of the country, the

ruin which thousands would, bring upon themselves: filling him with

commiseration (I Samuel 15:35: Psalm 119:136):


Ø      The Divine displeasure which he experienced against his sin and the sins

of the people; regarding this calamity as a sign thereof, enduring it in

common with them, and bearing it, as far as possible, in his own person

(ch. 24:17). “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my

sorrow,” etc. (Lamentations 1:12; Jeremiah 9:1). “When I fall I

shall arise,” etc. (Micah 7:8-9; Psalm 31:5).


  • THE SORROWS OF CHRIST; arising from:


Ø      His relation to a sinful race, whose nature He assumed and among whom

      He dwelt, “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15); the suffering “which a pure and

                        holy nature must feel from the mere contiguity of evil; and the reflected and

borrowed shame and pain which noble natures feel for the sins of those

with whom they are closely connected” (Caird).


Ø      His rejection by the world, WHICH HE CAME TO SAVE being

      reproached, persecuted, betrayed, deserted, condemned, and crucified;

      and thus made the victim of human wickedness. His righteousness and

      love, His Divine dignity, as the Son of God, the King Messiah (ch. 7:16),

rendered his treatment peculiarly sinful, and reveals the sin of men in

its true light.


Ø      His compassion for human misery loss, suffering, bondage, death, in

the present and the future; the necessary fruit of human sin (Matthew

8:17; John 11:35; Luke 13:34-35).


Ø      His endurance of DIVINE ABANDONMENT to the power of darkness

and death (Psalm 22:1; Luke 22:44; Mark 15:34; Hebrews 5:7).;

wherein (without the sense of personal guilt and remorse) He gathered into

His experience all the grief endured by the servants of God in all ages from

and for transgressors, and all the woes of humanity arising from alienation

from God; and whereby, in unfaltering trust and entire self devotion, He

fulfilled the Father’s will,


o        overcame sin,

o        death, and

o        hell, and


                       “became unto all them that obey him the Author of eternal salvation.”

                       “The chastisement was laid upon him for our peace; and through his

                       stripes we were healed” (Isaiah 53:5, 10; Psalm 22:8, 16, 18, 24-31).


  • THE SORROWS OF THE CHRISTIAN. For everyone who follows

Christ must tread the path of sorrows (not only such as are natural, but

such as are spiritual and Divine), on account of:


Ø      The manifold sins of which he has been guilty against the Lord

             (Matthew 5:4).


“We have not time to mourn. The worse for us.

He that lacks time to mourn lacks time to mend;

Eternity mourns that.”

                               (‘Philip van Artevelde.’)


Ø      The evil effects wrought thereby in himself and others.


“Weep not for broad lands lost;

Weep not for fair hopes crost;

Weep not when limbs wax old;

Weep not when friends grow cold;

Weep not that death must part

Thine and the best loved heart;

Yet weep, weep all thou can —

Weep, weep, because thou art

A sin-defiled man.”



Ø      The sinful opposition of men to Christ, His kingdom, and His people;

unbelief, enmity, and persecution; the effects of which he shares with

His Lord and for His sake (John 16:33; I Peter 4:13; Philippians 1:29;

Colossians 1:24). “For many walk, of whom I told you often, and

now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross

of Christ.”  (Philippians 3:18).


Ø      The miserable condition and gloomy prospects of the impenitent. He

mourns over them “with many tears” (Acts 20:19, 31) “in the tender

mercies of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:8), and is willing to undergo

the greatest sacrifice and suffering for their salvation (Romans 9:2-3).

“If we suffer we shall also reign with Him” (II Timothy 2:12).


(vs. 31-37)  The facts are:


1. David, hearing that Ahithophel was among the conspirators, prays that

God would turn his counsel into foolishness.

2. On reaching the top of the Mount of Olives, the aged Hushai expresses

his desire to go with David into exile, but David declines his offer on

account of his infirmities.

3. On the other hand, David suggests that he can render him good service

by returning to the city and living as a servant of Absalom, and he advises

him to act in concert with Zadok and Abiathar.

4. Acting on this suggestion, Hushai returns to the city, and, some time

after, Absalom also enters. There passed a pang through the heart of David

as he heard of the treachery of his trusty counselor Ahithophel, bitter

because he had relied so much on this wise man’s honesty and sagacity,

and more bitter still as he remembered the cruel conspiracy which he once

entered into with Joab against the life of Uriah. Yet the forgiven and

renewed king, in the fullness of his anguish, was true to his revived religious

instincts in at once raising his heart to God with the prayer that he would

bring his own wisdom to bear so as to defeat the wisdom of this man.


31 “And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators

with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the

counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”  And one told David. The Hebrew

literally is, and David told. But we cannot suppose that David had previously

known of Ahithophel’s defection. The text is evidently corrupt, and the

Authorized Version gives the right sense. On hearing of the defection of a

man so famous for practical sound judgment, David prays to God to frustrate

his counsel, and the opportunity for devising means for this end quickly follows.




                               The Counsel of Ahithophel (v. 31)


“Turn, I pray thee, the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness, O Jehovah.”

(References: vs. 12, 34; ch. 16:15, 20-23; 17:1-7, 15, 23; I Chronicles 27:33.)

While ascending the Mount of Olives, David received intelligence that his

counselor, Ahithophel the Gilonite, had gone over to Absalom. He was the wisest

statesman in Israel, and nothing was more adapted than his counsel to ensure the

success of the revolt. The effect which his defection produced upon David is evident

from the prayer (suggested probably by his name, “brother of a fool”) that forthwith

broke from his lips. As he continued his, journey, he, perhaps, reflected on the

former course of Ahithophel (the Old Testament Judas) in the light of

present knowledge, and indulged some such sentiments as are expressed in

Psalm 41., ‘The comfort of the afflicted and betrayed;’ Psalm 55, ‘Prayer

against a treacherous friend;’ Psalm 69., 109. Observe that:




“Also my friend [literally, ‘man of my peace’], whom I trusted,

Who did eat of my bread,

Hath lifted up his heel against me.”

                                                             (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18.)


“For it is not an enemy, etc.

But thou wast a man on an equality with me,

My companion and familiar friend,” etc.

                                                             (Psalm 55:13-15.)


The motives of Ahithophel are not expressly stated; but they were



Ø      Dislike of the religious earnestness and theocratic policy of David.


Ø      Ambition to be the sole adviser and prime minister of Absalom. “There

may have been jealousy of Joab, or the natural tendency to worship the

rising instead of the setting sun, or the impatience of a hypocrite at the

round of religious services in which he was compelled to bear a part,

affecting a devotion he did not feel, Psalm 55:13-14” (Plumptre).


Ø      Revenge “for the dishonour done to his family in the person of

Bathsheba, which no subsequent marriage could repair or efface” (Delany).

“He was urged by the desire of punishing David’s greatest crime, if he

were not at the bottom of the movement. It is but reasonable to trace in the

conspiring Ahithophel one of the intricate methods by which the judicial

providence of God works out its own ends; suffering a great offender,

notwithstanding his penitence, to eat the fruit of his deeds; yet reserving for

treachery in time its reward” (R. Williams). “This text is a glass wherein

God’s justice is plainly to be seen. David had formerly forsaken Uriah, and

now God suffers Ahithophel to forsake David.


o        Let us learn, when our friends forsake us, to enter into a serious

scrutiny with our own souls.

o        The most politic heads have not always the most faithful hearts.

o        False friends will forsake thee in times of adversity” (T. Fuller).

      “My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook,” etc. (Job 6:15;

      Jacox, ‘Stray Side-Lights on Scripture Texts’).



USES. “That oracular wisdom which made his house a kind of shrine

(ch. 16:23) seems to move the spirit of the sacred writer with an

involuntary admiration” (Stanley). “His great crimes were enhanced by his

immense talents, of which God gave him the use and the devil the

application.” His criminality appears not only in:


Ø      his sanctioning and promoting rebellion against the authority of the

king; but also in


Ø      his lawless and shameless advice against his honor (ibid. vs. 21-22),

      whereby he sought to make reconciliation and compromise impossible

      in the view of all, and to gratify his revenge in the most effective and

      significant manner (ch. 11:2, 4, 11); becoming, consciously or

      unconsciously, an instrument of retribution. “This cursed policy

      showed him rather an oracle of the devil than of God” (Matthew Henry).


Ø      His malicious and cruel proposal to take away David’s life (ch. 17:2).

      None but a man devoid of all moral and religious principle could

have given such counsel. A powerful intellect is, alas! too often united

with a depraved heart. “It is often found true by experience that persons

of superior penetration and wisdom are of bad intentions; they see further

than other men, and are under a temptation to turn their minds to the

overreaching of others, and effecting mischief; their ability in

accomplishing wickedness is a snare and a temptation to them; they find

they can do it, and therefore are ready and willing to do it” (W. Jones,

of Nayland). “This man, while he was one of David’s deep counselors,

was one of David’s fools, that said in their hearts, ‘There is no God;’

else he could not have hoped to make good an evil with worse, to build

the success of treason upon incest.” “Oh the policy of this Machiavelli of

Israel, no less deep than hell itself! Oh the wisdom of the Almighty, that

can use the worst evils well, and most justly make the sins of man his

executioners!” (Hall).



“I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”  -“Either

infatuate him, that he may give foolish counsel; or, let his counsel be

rejected as foolish, or spoiled by the foolish execution of it”

(Poole). “He taketh the wise in their own craftiness,” etc. (Job 5:13;

I Corinthians 3:19). Of this David was persuaded from:


Ø      His supreme and infinite wisdom, in comparison with which the highest

human wisdom is foolishness.


Ø      His abundant and varied resources for the direction and control of men’s

purposes and actions, so that they are made of none effect, or turn out

contrary to what was intended and expected.


Ø      His frequent and extraordinary interpositions for that end. History is full

of such instances (Acts 4:28). So are individual lives (I Samuel 23:24-28).

“Though Ahithophel spoke as an oracle of God (as we often see

statesmen wiser than priests), yet as he turned to treachery his counsel

turned to foolishness.”



TROUBLE, viz. sincere, believing, fervent prayer. “Call upon me,

in the day of trouble:  I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”

(Psalm 50:15).


Ø      However beset by the craft and power of his adversaries, he cannot be

deprived of this privilege, but has ACCESS TO GOD IN ALL


“A Christian cannot always hear, or always read, or always communicate,

but he may pray continually.


o        If he be on the top of a house with Peter, he may pray;

(Acts 10:9)

o        if he he in the bottom of the ocean with Jonah, he may pray;

(Jonah 2:1)

o        if he be walking in the field with Isaac, he may pray when

     no eye seeth him;  (Genesis 24:63)

o        if he be waiting at table with Nehemiah, he may pray when no

     ear heareth him; (Nehemiah 1:4-11)