Then Joab came to Absalom's house and demanded, "Why did your servants set my field on fire?"
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.
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.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
PeopleAbsalom, Joab, Tamar, Zeruiah
PlacesGeshur, Jerusalem, Tekoa
TopicsAbsalom, Ab'salom, Absalom's, Allotment, Burned, Field, Fire, Joab, Jo'ab, Portion, Riseth, Servants, Wherefore
Outline1. 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 Themes2 Samuel 14:1-33
LibraryGod'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
The Blessed Privilege of Seeing God Explained
The Hebrew Sages and their Proverbs
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