and all his servants marched past him--all the Cherethites and Pelethites, and six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath.
1. Leaving the palace, on receiving news from Hebron (after the harvest and vintage, 2 Samuel 16:1; 2 Samuel 17:28; Psalm 4:7).
2. At "the Far House" (Beth-hammerhak), on the outskirts of the city (ver. 17); and at "the olive tree in (on the road to) the wilderness of Judah" (LXX.); the procession formed; Ittai the Gittite.
3. Passing over the Kidron; the signal of flight; loud and general wailing (ver. 23).
4. Commencement of the ascent of Mount Olivet; Zadok and Abiathar (vers. 24-29).
5. Ascending the mountain amidst loud wailing (ver. 30); tidings concerning Ahithophel (ver. 31).
6. At the top (about noonday), "where God was worshipped" (ver. 32); Hushai the Archite (vers. 32-37).
7. Descending, on the other side; Ziba, with refreshments (ch. 16:1-4).
8. At Bahurim; Shimei (ch. 16:5-13).
9. Coming "weary" (or, to "Ayephim") (2 Samuel 16:14); 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 (2 Samuel 17:21, 22); and marching onward "by the morning light" toward Mahanaim (2 Samuel 17:24, 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 (2 Samuel 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," LXX.) "after him," etc. At first, no doubt, struck with consternation, he yet speedily regained his composure (Psalm 112:12); and came to his decision not from abject fear, or personal cowardice (2 Samuel 18:2), but (as others should do in similar critical and perilous positions) from motives of -
I. 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 fulfilment of predicted judgment (2 Samuel 12:10, 11).
1. He discerns therein the operation of Divine justice on account of his sin (2 Samuel 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).
2. 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 (ver. 24).
3. He acquiesces without murmuring in the Divine will (ver. 26), "accepts the punishment of his iniquity" (Leviticus 26:41), 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).
4. He hopes for deliverance in the Divine mercy (ver. 25; 2 Samuel 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.
II. POLICY; or prudent counsel against the assaults of the wicked. Piety without policy is too simple to be safe.
1. 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).
2. 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 defence 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).
3. 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 valour 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," etc. (1 Peter 2:23).
III. PITY; or generous concern for the preservation of the imperilled. 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 chiefly:
1. To secure the safety of his helpless household, and aid the escape of his faithful followers (vers. 19, 20).
2. 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 '" (Wordsworth).
3. To save the life of his rebellious son (2 Samuel 18:12); for which he would have given his own (2 Samuel 18:33).
4. To prevent the miseries of civil war (2 Samuel 2:26; 2 Samuel 3:1), and promote the welfare of the divided and misguided people. If collision could be now avoided, it might perchance be altogether averted (ver. 25), or at least occur with less injurious consequences. He was willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the "sheep" (2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Samuel 24:17). "Let thy blessing be upon thy people" (Psalm 3:8). His piety was honoured, his policy justified, his pity succeeded by renewed attachment (2 Samuel 19:14), and, in all, the overruling providence of God was displayed. He left Jerusalem in humiliation and grief; he returned (three months afterwards) in triumph (2 Samuel 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" (Baumgarten). - D.
And the king went forth and tarried in a place which was far off.
1. I remark that Christ was an imperial exile. He gob down off a throne. He took off a tiara. He closed a palace gate behind Him. His family were princes and princesses. Vashti was turned out of the throne-room by Ahasuerus. David was dethroned by Absalom's infamy. The five kings were hurled into a cavern by Joshua's courage. Some of the Henrys of England and some of the Louises of France were jostled on their thrones by discontented subjects. But Christ was never more honoured, or more popular, or more loved than the day He left heaven. Exiles have suffered severely, but Christ turned himself out of throne-room into sheep-pen, and down from the top to the bottom. He was not pushed off. He was not manacled for foreign transportation. He was not put out because they no more wanted him in celestial domain, but by choice departing and descending into an exile five times as long as that of Napoleon at St. Helena, and a thousand times worse; the one exile suffering for that he had destroyed nations, the other exile suffering because He came to save a world. An imperial exile. King eternal.
2. But I go further, and tell you He was an exile on a barren island. Christ came to this small Patmos of a world. When exiles are sent out they are generally sent to regions that are sandy or cold or hot. Christ came as an exile to a world scorched with heat and bitten with cold, to deserts simoom-swept, to a howling wilderness. It was the backdoor yard, seemingly, of the universe.
3. I go further, and tell you that He was an exile in a hostile country. Turkey was never so much against Russia, France was never so much against Germany as this earth was against Christ. It took Him in through the door of a stable. It thrust Him out at the point of a spear.
4. I go further, and tell you that this exile was far from home. It is ninety-three million miles from here to the sun, and all astronomers agree in saying that our solar system is only one of the smaller wheels of the great machinery of the universe turning around some one great centre, the centre so far distant it is beyond all imagination and calculation, and if, as some think, that great centre in the distance is heaven, Christ came far from home when He came here. Have you ever thought of the homesickness of Christ? — I have read how the Swiss, when they are far away from their native country, at the sound of their national air get so homesick that they fall into melancholy and sometimes they die under the homesickness. But oh I the homesickness of Christ. You have often tried to measure the other pangs of Christ, but you have never tried to measure the magnitude and ponderosity of the Saviour's homesickness.
5. I take a step further, and tell you that Christ was in an exile which He knew would end in assassination. Holman Hunt, the master painter, has a picture in which he represents Jesus Christ in the Nazarene carpenter-shop. Around Him are the saws, the hammers, the axes, the drills of carpentry. The picture represents Christ as rising from the car-pouter's working-bench and wearily stretching out His arms as one will after being in contracted or uncomfortable posture, and the light of that picture is so arranged that the arms of Christ, wearily stretched forth, together with His body, throw on the wall the shadow of the cross. Oh! that shadow was on everything in Christ's lifetime. Shadow of a cross on the Bethlehem swaddling clothes. Shadow of a cross on the road over which the three fugitives fled into Egypt. Shadow of a cross on Lake Galilee as Christ walked its mosaic floor of opal and emerald and crystal. Shadow of a cross on the road to Jerusalem. Shadow of a cross on the brook Kedron, and on the Temple, and on the side of Olivet. Shadow of a cross on sunrise and sunset. Constantine, marching with his army, saw just once a cross in the sky, but Christ saw the cross all the time. For this royal exile I bespeak the love and service of all the exiles here present, and, in one sense or the other, that includes all of us. All of us exiles. This is not our home. Heaven is our home. Oh, I am so glad when the royal exile went back lie left the gate ajar, or left it wide open! "Going home!" That is the dying exclamation of the majority of Christians.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
PeopleAbiathar, Absalom, Ahimaaz, Ahithophel, Aram, Arkite, Cherethites, David, Gittites, Hushai, Israelites, Ittai, Jonathan, Kerethites, Levites, Pelethites, Zadok
PlacesAram, Gath, Geshur, Giloh, Hebron, Jerusalem, Kidron, Mount of Olives
TopicsAccompanied, Along, Beside, Cherethite, Cherethites, Cher'ethites, Followed, Front, Gath, Gittites, Hundred, Ittai, Kerethites, Marched, Passed, Passing, Past, Pelethite, Pelethites, Pel'ethites, Servants, Six
Outline1. Absalom, by fair speeches and courtesies, steals the hearts of Israel.
7. By pretense of a vow, he obtains leave to go to Hebron
10. He makes there a great conspiracy
13. David upon the news flees from Jerusalem
19. Ittai will leave him
24. Zadok and Abiathar are sent back with the ark
30. David and his company go up mount Olivet weeping,
31. He curses Ahithophel's counsel
32. Hushai is sent back with instructions
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 15:18
LibraryA Loyal Vow
'And the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.'--2 SAMUEL xv. 15. We stand here at the darkest hour of King David's life. Bowed down by the consciousness of his past sin, and recognising in the rebellion of his favourite son the divine chastisement, his early courage and buoyant daring seem to have ebbed from him wholly. He is forsaken by the mass of his subjects, he is preparing to abandon Jerusalem, and to flee as an …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Ittai of Gath
Pardoned Sin Punished
Loyal to the Core
The Will of God
A Light to Lighten the Gentiles
The Daily Walk with Others (iii. ).
And V the Kingdom Undivided and the Kingdom Divided
That Whereas the City of Jerusalem had Been Five Times Taken Formerly, this was the Second Time of Its Desolation. A Brief Account of Its History.
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
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