After four years had passed, Absalom said to the king, "Please let me go to Hebron to fulfill a vow I have made to the LORD.
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-fulfilment, especially as he had allowed four years (ver. 7, not "forty") to elapse before taking steps for its fulfilment. But David's foolish fondness prepared him to be easily imposed upon by favourite 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, ver. 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 -
I. HYPOCRITICAL PRETENCES IN RELIGION.
1. 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.).
2. The motives frets 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 practise 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 favour 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 girls to churches and chapels might be thus accounted for! Or the motive may be to secure the favour 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 honoured. 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 neighbourhood 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.
II. THEIR ENORMOUS WICKEDNESS AND SURE DOOM.
1. They evince such knowledge of the nature, grounds, and obligations of piety as enhances the guilt of their impiety.
2. 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.
3. They deceive and defraud men. Imposing upon them with a mere appearance of goodness; inducing them to honour what is detestable and reward the unworthy; and diverting from genuine goodness its due notice and reward.
4. 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.
5. 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 (1 Corinthians 4:5). - G.W.
I pray thee let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the Lord.
Of royal dissemblers like Absalom history records numerous parallels, notably Charles II., who, in his dealings with the Scots, solely to win them over to his cause, took the Covenant with all the solemnity of a pious Covenant, also Napoleon Bonaparte, who, when in Egypt seeking to reconcile the people to his rule, announced: "We Frenchmen are true Mussulmans. Have not we destroyed the Pope, who called upon Europe to make war upon the Mussulmans." After the capture of Cairo this adept at diplomatic insincerity was to be seen " seated in the great mosque at the feast of the prophets, sitting cross-legged as he repeated the words of the Koran, and edified the sacred college by his piety."
, Mount of Olives
TopicsAbsalom, Ab'salom, Complete, Effect, Forty, Fulfill, Hebron, Oath, Pass, Pay, Please, Vow, Vowed
Outline1. Absalom, by fair speeches and courtesies, steals the hearts of Israel.7. By pretense of a vow, he obtains leave to go to Hebron10. He makes there a great conspiracy13. David upon the news flees from Jerusalem19. Ittai will leave him24. Zadok and Abiathar are sent back with the ark30. David and his company go up mount Olivet weeping,31. He curses Ahithophel's counsel32. Hushai is sent back with instructions
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 15:1-13
2 Samuel 15:7-8
2 Samuel 15:7-10
2 Samuel 15:7-12
5468 promises, human
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
'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 shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.'--2 SAMUEL xv. 21. It was the darkest hour in David's life. No more pathetic page is found in the Old Testament than that which tells the story of his flight before Absalom. He is crushed by the consciousness that his punishment is deserved--the bitter fruit of the sin that filled all his later life …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Pardoned Sin Punished
'And It came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 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 …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Loyal to the Core
On the other hand, look at Ittai, perfectly free to go, but in order to end the controversy once for all, and to make David know that he does not mean to leave him, he takes a solemn oath before Jehovah his God, and he doubles it by swearing by the life of David that he will never leave him; in life, in death, he will be with him. He has cast in his lot with him for better and for worse, and he means to be faithful to the end. Old Master Trapp says, "All faithful friends went on a pilgrimage years …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 26: 1880
"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 shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be."--2 Samuel 15:21. SOME men have a very remarkable power of creating and sustaining friendship in others. David was a man brimming over with affection--a man, notwithstanding all his rough soldier-life, of an exceedingly tender heart--a man, I was about to say--the word was on my tongue--a man of vast …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 62: 1916
The Will of God
"Here am I, let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him."--2 Sam. xv. 26. G. Ter Steegen. tr., Emma Frances Bevan, 1899 Thou sweet beloved Will of God, My anchor ground, my fortress hill, The Spirit's silent fair abode, In Thee I hide me and am still. O Will, that willest good alone, Lead Thou the way, Thou guidest best; A silent child, I follow on, And trusting, lean upon Thy Breast. God's Will doth make the bitter sweet, And all is well when it is done; Unless His Will doth hallow it, The glory …
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen and Others (Second Series)
A Light to Lighten the Gentiles
P. G. 2 Sam. xv. 19-22; John xii. 26 "Wherefore goest thou with me?" Said the king disowned-- Said the king despised, rejected, Disenthroned. "Go, return unto thy place, To thy king of yore-- Here a pilgrim and a stranger, Nothing more. "Not for thee the cities fair, Hills of corn and wine-- All was portioned ere thou camest, Nought is thine. "Wandering forth where'er I may, Exiled from mine own, Shame, rejection I can grant thee; That alone. "Turn and take thy brethren back, With thy people …
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others
The Daily Walk with Others (iii. ).
Thrice happy they who at Thy side, Thou Child of Nazareth, Have learnt to give their struggling pride Into Thy hands to death: If thus indeed we lay us low, Thou wilt exalt us o'er the foe; And let the exaltation be That we are lost in Thee. Let me say a little on a subject which, like the last, is one of some delicacy and difficulty, though its problems are of a very different kind. It is, the relation between the Curate and his Incumbent; or more particularly, the Curate's position and conduct …
Handley C. G. Moule—To My Younger Brethren
And V the Kingdom Undivided and the Kingdom Divided
THE HISTORICAL BOOKS: I and II Samuel. I and II Kings. I and II Chronicles. NOTE.--As these three pairs of books are so closely related in their historical contents, it is deemed best to study them together, though they overlap the two divisions of IV and V. I. CHARTS Chart A. General Contents +--+ " I AND II SAMUEL " +-------------+-----+------+ "Samuel "Saul "David " +-------------+-----+------+----------+ " " " " I AND II KINGS "NOTE.--Biblical …
Frank Nelson Palmer—A Bird's-Eye View of the Bible
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.
1. And thus was Jerusalem taken, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, on the eighth day of the month Gorpeius [Elul]. It had been taken five  times before, though this was the second time of its desolation; for Shishak, the king of Egypt, and after him Antiochus, and after him Pompey, and after them Sosius and Herod, took the city, but still preserved it; but before all these, the king of Babylon conquered it, and made it desolate, one thousand four hundred and sixty-eight years and …
Flavius Josephus—The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, K ING OF K INGS AND L ORD OF L ORDS T he description of the administration and glory of the Redeemer's Kingdom, in defiance of all opposition, concludes the second part of Messiah Oratorio. Three different passages from the book of Revelation are selected to form a grand chorus, of which Handel's title in this verse is the close --a title which has been sometimes vainly usurped by proud worms of this earth. Eastern monarchs, in particular, …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2
Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book 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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