2 Samuel 14:29
Then he sent for Joab to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come to him. So Absalom sent a second time, but Joab still would not come.
The Barley Field on FireCharles Haddon Spurgeon 2 Samuel 14:29
Restored, But Act ReformedB. Dale 2 Samuel 14:28-33
Burning the Barley Field2 Samuel 14:29-32
Compulsory MeasuresJ. Parker, D. D.2 Samuel 14:29-32
The Barley-Field on FireSpurgeon, Charles Haddon2 Samuel 14:29-32

Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it were better for me that I were there still; and now I will see the king's face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him put me to death (ver. 31). While in Geshur Absalom showed no repentance for his crime; sought no forgiveness of it; rather justified himself in its commission. On this account, perhaps, David would not permit him, when recalled, to see his face, but ordered him to remain at his own house (ver. 24); testifying his abhorrence of the crime, and desiring "to carry further the discipline of approval, to wait till his son was more manifestly penitent." If Absalom had been in a proper frame of mind, it might have been beneficial; as it was, "this half forgiveness was an imprudent measure, really worse than no forgiveness at all, and bore very bitter fruit" (Keil). "The end showed how fatal the policy of expectation was, how terribly it added bitterness to the sense of alienation that had already been growing only too strong within him" (Plumptre)."A flash of his old kingliness blazes out for a moment in his refusal to see his son. But even that slight satisfaction to justice vanishes as soon as Joab chooses to insist that Absalom shall return to court. He seems to have no will of his own. He has become a mere tool in the hands of his fierce general; and Joab's hold upon him was his complicity in Uriah's murder. Thus at every step he was dogged by the consequences of his crime, even though it was pardoned sin" (Maclaren). Yet immediate and full forgiveness might have failed to subdue the heart of Absalom, and win filial confidence and affection. "Let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness," etc. (Isaiah 26:10). In his spirit and conduct we observe:

1. Ingratitude for the favour shown toward him. He estimated it lightly (knowing little of the fatherly love from which it proceeded), save as a means to his own honour and advancement. Than ingratitude nothing is more odious.

2. Impatience, fretfulness, discontent under restraint and chastisement; which a true penitent would have endured humbly and cheerfully; increased as time passed away (two years) and no further sign of royal favour appeared.

3. Presumption on account of the privilege already granted to him, but which be repudiated as worthless, unless followed by other privileges, such as became his royal birth and involved his reinstatement in his former dignity. He looked upon himself as rightful heir to the throne. He may, however, have suspected a rival in the youthful Solomon (now six or eight years old), and feared the influence of Bathsheba on behalf of her son.

4. Resentment and revenge for the neglect, contempt, and wrong which (as he conceived) he suffered (ver. 29). "See, Joab's field is beside mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire" (ver. 30). This appears to have been an act of passion rather than of policy. Joab's slackness, in contrast with his former zeal (ver. 23), was doubtless due to his desire to make the most of his influence with the king, to constrain Absalom humbly to entreat his intercession, and so to increase his feeling of dependence and obligation; it was only when he perceived that he had to deal with "a character wild, impulsive, and passionate," that he deemed it necessary again to alter his tactics.

5. Wilfulness in seeking the attainment of his ambitious aims. "I will see the king's face." His presence at court was essential to the accomplishment of the daring design upon the crown, which he may have already formed; and he would brook no denial. Possibly his bereavement (ver. 27; 2 Samuel 18:18) intensified his determination. "The strongest yearning of an Israelite's heart was thrown back upon itself, after a short-lived joy, and his feelings towards his own father were turned to bitterness and hate."

6. Defiance of conviction of guilt. "If there be any iniquity in me," etc. "The manner in which he sought to obtain forgiveness by force manifested an evident spirit of defiance, by which, with the well known mildness of David's temper, he hoped to attain his object, and in fact did attain it" (Keil). He also doubtless relied on the support of a party of the people, dissatisfied with the king's severity toward him, and favourable to his complete restoration. Even Joab yielded for the present to his imperious and resolute demand.

7. Heartless formality. "He bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom" (ver. 33). His heart was not humbled, but lifted up in pride; yet he openly received the pledge of reconciliation; and herein David's blindness and weakness reached their culmination. "He did not kiss the ill will out of the heart of his son" (Krummacher). "When parents and rulers countenance such imperious characters, they will soon experience the most fatal effects." (Here is another "meeting of three remarkable men," 1 Samuel 19:22-24, Joab, Absalom, David.) Remarks.

1. No hard and impenitent heart is prepared to receive and profit by forgiveness.

2. Such a heart is capable of turning the greatest benefits into means of further and more daring rebellion; and "treasures up for itself wrath against the day of wrath."

3. Whilst "God is good and ready to forgive," he grants forgiveness only to those "who call upon him" in humility and sincerity, confessing and forsaking their sins (Psalm 86:5; Psalm 138:6; Psalm 32:5; Psalm 51:17). - D.

Absalom sent for Joab... but he would not come to him.
Absalom had fled from Jerusalem under fear of David's anger; he was after a time permitted to return, but he was not admitted into the presence of the king. Earnestly desiring to be restored to his former posts of honour and favour, he besought Joab to come to him, intending to request him to act as mediator. Joab, having lost much of his liking for the young prince, refused to come; and, though he was sent for repeatedly, he declined to attend at his desire. Absalom therefore thought of a most wicked, but most effective plan of bringing Joab into his company. He bade his servants set Joab's field of barley on fire. This brought Joab down in high wrath to ask the question, "Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?" This was all that, Absalom wanted; he wished an interview, and he was not scrupuluous as to the method by which he obtained it. The burning of the barley-field brought Joab into his presence, and Absalom's ends were accomplished. Omitting the sin of the deed, we have here a picture of what is often done by our gracious God with the wisest and best design. Often he sendeth for us, not for his profit, but for ours; he would have us come near to him and receive a blessing at his hands, but we are foolish, and cold-hearted and wicked, and we will not come. He, knowing that we will not come by any other means, sendeth a serious trial — he sets our barley-field on fire, which he has a right to do, seeing our barley-fields are far more his than they are ours. In Absalom's case it was wrong; in God's case he has a right to do as he wills with his own. He takes away from us our most choice delight, upon which we have set out heart, and then we enquire at, his hands, "Wherefore contendest thou with me?"

I. THE TEXT WITH REFERENCE TO BELIEVERS IN CHRIST. We cannot expect to avoid tribulation. If other men's barley-fields are not burned, ours will be. If the Father uses the rod nowhere else, he will surely make his true children smart. Your Saviour hath left, you a double legacy, "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in Me ye shall have peace." Gold must be tried in the fire: and truly the Lord hath a fire in Zion and his furnace in Jerusalem.

1. You have first, this sweet reflection, that there is no curse in your cross.

2. That your troubles are all apportioned to you by Divine wisdom and love. As for their number, if He appoint them ten they never can be eleven. As for their weight, he who weigheth the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance, takes care to measure your troubles, and you shall not have a grain more than His infinite wisdom sees fit.

3. That under your cross you have many special comforts. There are cordials which God giveth to sick saints which He never putteth to the lips of those who are in health. Dark caverns keep not back the miners, if they know that diamonds are to be found there: you need net fear suffering when you remember what riches it yields to your soul. There is no hearing the nightingale without night, and there are some promises which only sing to us in trouble. It is in the cellar of affliction that the good old wine of the kingdom is stored. You shall never see Christ's face so well as when all others turn their backs upon you." When you have come into such confusion that human wisdom is at a nonplus, then shall you see God's wisdom manifest and clear.

4. That your trials work your lasting good by bringing you nearer and nearer to your God.(1) Our heavenly Father often sends for us and we will not come. He sends for us to exercise a more simple faith in Him.(2) At another time He calls us to closer communion with Himself. We have been sitting on the doorstep of God's house, and He bids us advance into the banquetting hall and sup with Him, but we decline the honour. He has admitted us into the inner chambers, but there are secret rooms not yet, opened to us; He invites Us to enter them, but we hold back. Jesus longs to have near communion with His people.(3) Frequently the call is to more fervent prayer.(4) Often, too, He calls us to a higher state of piety.

II. A few words TO THE SINNER.

I. God also has sent for you, O unconverted man, God has often sent, for you. Early in your childhood your mother's prayers sought to woo you to a Saviour's love, and your godly father's first instructions were as so many meshes of the net in which it was desired that you should be taken; but you have broken through all these and lived to sin away early impressions and youthful promises.

2. If God is sending these, are you listening to them?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Now, just as the shrewd young prince dealt with Joab in order to bring him unto him, so God employs a regimen of discipline very often in order to bring wayward hearts to Himself. Many a reader may have had his barley-field set on fire; there are some even now whose fields are wrapped in flames or are covered with the ashes of extinguished hopes. With backsliders this method is often God's last resorts. He sees that the wayward wanderers care more for their earthly possessions than they do for His honour or His service. So He touches them in the tenderest spot, and sweeps away the objects they love too well. They have become idolaters, and He sternly dashes their idols to atoms.

For two whole years Joab paid no attention to the returned son of David, but the moment his barley-field was set on fire he paid Absalom a visit of inquiry. It was crafty on the part of Absalom. Perhaps he looked upon it as a last resort and thought the end would lustily the means. But there is a spiritual use of this incident which is well worth considering. Is it not so that when we will not go to God lovingly, voluntarily, He sets our barley-fields on fire, saying, Now they will pray? We desert His Church, we abandon His book, we release ourselves from all religious responsibilities; God calls, and we will not hear; then He sets all the harvest in a blaze, and we become religious instantaneously. We are richer if we have lost a barley-field, and found the God of the harvest. He will make up the barley-field to us, if so be we accept the providence aright, and say, "This is God's thought concerning us."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Absalom, Joab, Tamar, Zeruiah
Geshur, Jerusalem, Tekoa
Absalom, Ab'salom, Joab, Jo'ab, Order, Refused, Willing
1. Joab, suborning a widow of Tekoah to incline the king's heart to fetch Absalom,
21. brings him home to Jerusalem
25. Absalom's beauty, hair, and children
28. After two years, Absalom is brought into the king's presence by Joab

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 14:29

     5883   impatience

2 Samuel 14:1-33

     6684   mediator

2 Samuel 14:24-32

     5150   face

God's Banished Ones
'God doth devise means, that His banished be not expelled from Him.' 2 SAMUEL xiv. 14. David's good-for-nothing son Absalom had brought about the murder of one of his brothers, and had fled the country. His father weakly loved the brilliant blackguard, and would fain have had him back, but was restrained by a sense of kingly duty. Joab, the astute Commander-in- chief, a devoted friend of David, saw how the land lay, and formed a plan to give the king an excuse for doing what he wished to do. So
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Barley Field on Fire
Omitting the sin of the deed, we have here a picture of what is often done by our gracious God, with the wisest and best design. Often he sendeth for us, not for his profit, but for ours. He would have us come near to him and receive a blessing at his hands; but we are foolish and cold-hearted and wicked, and we will not come. He, knowing that we will not come by any other means, sendeth a serious trial: he sets our barley-field on fire; which he has a right to do, seeing our barley-fields are far
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 10: 1864

The Blessed Privilege of Seeing God Explained
They shall see God. Matthew 5:8 These words are linked to the former and they are a great incentive to heart-purity. The pure heart shall see the pure God. There is a double sight which the saints have of God. 1 In this life; that is, spiritually by the eye of faith. Faith sees God's glorious attributes in the glass of his Word. Faith beholds him showing forth himself through the lattice of his ordinances. Thus Moses saw him who was invisible (Hebrews 11:27). Believers see God's glory as it were
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

The Hebrew Sages and their Proverbs
[Sidenote: Role of the sages in Israel's life] In the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jer. xviii. 18; Ezek. vii. 26) three distinct classes of religious teachers were recognized by the people: the prophets, the priests, and the wise men or sages. From their lips and pens have come practically all the writings of the Old Testament. Of these three classes the wise men or sages are far less prominent or well known. They wrote no history of Israel, they preached no public sermons, nor do they appear
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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