Then Absalom and all the men of Israel came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel was with him.
Is this thy kindness to thy friend? (ver. 17; 2 Samuel 15:37
). On his unresisted and triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, Absalom was met by Hushai with the exclamation, "Long live the king!" (1 Samuel 10:24
). Such a display of loyalty to himself on the part of "David's friend" (companion, favourite) appeared to him so inconsistent that he asked, in ironical astonishment, "Is this," etc.? "One might have said to him, 'Is this thy duty to thy father?'" (Patrick). But Hushai's answer was, in effect, that (being bound to prefer the public good before his own private obligations or affections) he could do no other than abide with him whom Jehovah and the people had chosen king, and would as gladly and faithfully serve the son as he had served the father. Although proceeding from a good motive and serving its special purpose, it was marked by flattery and dissimulation; and these, in common with other sins, are certainly inconsistent with the proper character of a "friend of God" and of Christ (1 Samuel 18:4
). The question may be regarded (in the latter application) as expressive of -
I. RECOGNIZED OBLIGATION. (Proverbs 18:24; Job 6:14.) "Absalom had not so little sense as not to consider that no man ought to forsake a friend in his distress." If kindness (love, gratitude, faithfulness, useful service) be due to others, how much more to him who said, "I have called you friends" (John 15:15)! What does his friendship require? To be with him, to follow him, to share his sufferings; to "walk as he walked" (1 John 2:6), without guile, in truth, purity, self-denial, etc.; to be separate from "the evil that is in the world," to confess his Name before men, to seek his honour, to aid his friends, and to promote the accomplishment of his purposes.
II. SURPRISING INCONSISTENCY; too often observed (1 Samuel 29:1-11) in those who are his real or supposed friends:
1. When they exhibit indifference to his transcendent claims.
2. When they refuse to bear "the cross."
3. When they love "the friendship of the world" (James 4:4).
4. When they solace themselves with his friendship in secret, but shrink from confessing him openly.
5. When they profess that they know him, but "in works deny him."
6. When they employ deception and other "carnal weapons" (2 Corinthians 10:4) in his behalf.
7. When they honour success irrespective of the means by which it is attained.
8. When they neglect and despise those whom he loves.
9. When they are zealous for him in some things, but not in others of greater moment.
10. When they are much concerned for their own safety and advantage, and little concerned for his glory and the welfare of mankind. Alas! how often is he "wounded in the house of his friends"!
III. SEARCHING INQUIRY. Is there not ground for it in the conduct and speech of many? Is the answer which may be given to it satisfactory? Will good intentions and beneficent ends justify unrighteous means (Romans 3:8)? Should the answer satisfy others and even ourselves, will it satisfy him "who searcheth the heart"? "Search me, O God," etc. (Psalm 139:23).
IV. DESERVED REPROACH; which the enemies (and not merely the friends) of Christ are ready to utter, and an enlightened conscience confirms. "As many as I love I rebuke," etc. (Revelation 3:10). But he rebukes that he may restore. "When thou hast driven him away and lost him, to whom wilt thou then fly? and where wilt thou find a friend? Without a friend, life is unenjoyed; and unless Jesus be thy chosen Friend, infinitely loved and preferred above all others, life will be to thee a scene of desolation and distress. Of all that are dear to thee, then, let Jesus be the peculiar and supreme Object of thy love" (A Kempis, 'Of the Friendship of Jesus'). - D.
And Absalom, and all the people of the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem.
When Absalom came to the city there was no trace of an enemy to oppose him. His supporters in Jerusalem would no doubt go out to meet him, and conduct him to the palace with great demonstrations of delight. Once within the palace, he would receive the adherence and congratulations of his friends. Among these, Hushai the Archite presents himself, having returned to Jerusalem, at David's request, and it is to Hushai's honour that Absalom was surprised to see him. The sight of Hushai impressed Absalom as the sight of an earnest Christian in a gambling saloon or on a racecourse would impress the greater part of worldly men. For even the world has a certain faith in godliness — to this extent, at least, that it ought to be consistent. There is a fitness of things to which the world is sometimes more alive than Christians themselves. But Hushai was not content with putting in a silent appearance for Absalom. When his consistency is challenged, he must repudiate the idea that he has any preference for David. But can we justify these professions of Hushai? It is plain enough he went on the principle of fighting Absalom with his own weapons. Absalom had dissembled so profoundly, he had made treachery, so to speak, so much the current coin of the kingdom, that Hushai determined to use it for his own purposes. Having established himself in the confidence of Absalom, Hushai gained a right to be consulted in the deliberations of the day. He enters the room where the new king's counsellors are met, but he finds it a godless assemblage. The first to propose a course is Ahithophel, and there is something so revolting in the first scheme which he proposed that we wonder much that such a man should ever have been a counsellor of David. Without hesitation Absalom complied with the advice. It is a proof how hard his heart had become, that he did not hesitate to mock his father by an act which was as disgusting as it was insulting. The next piece of Ahithophel's counsel was a masterpiece alike of sagacity and of wickedness. He proposed to take a select body of twelve thousand out of the troops that had already flocked to Absalom's standard, and follow the fugitive king. That very night he would set out; and in a few hours they would overtake the king and his handful of defenders; they would destroy no life but the king's only; and thus, by an almost bloodless revolution, they would place Absalom peacefully on the throne. It is with counsel as with many other things: what pleases best is thought best; solid merit gives way to superficial plausibility. The counsel of Hushai pleased better than that of Ahithophel, and so it was preferred. Satan had outwitted himself. He had nursed in Absalom an overweening vanity, intending by its means to overturn the throne of David; and now that very vanity becomes the means of defeating the scheme, and laying the foundation of Absalom's ruin. The turning-point in Absalom's mind seems to have been the magnificent spectacle of the whole of Israel mustered for battle, and Absalom at their head. He was fascinated by the brilliant imagination. The council is over; Hushai, unspeakably relieved, hastens to communicate with the priests, and through them send messengers to David; Absalom withdraws to delight himself with the thought of the great military muster that is to flock to his standard; while Ahithophel, in high dudgeon, retires to his house and commits suicide.
1. This council-chamber of Absalom is full of material for profitable reflection. The manner in which he was turned aside from the way of wisdom and safety is a remarkable illustration of our Lord's principle — "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." We are accustomed to view this principle chiefly in its relation to moral and spiritual life; but it is applicable likewise even to worldly affairs. Absalom's eye was not single. Success, no doubt, was the chief object at which he aimed; but another object was the gratification of his vanity. This inferior object was allowed to come in and disturb his judgment. For even in worldly things, singleness of eye is a great help towards a sound conclusion, "To the upright there ariseth light in the darkness." And if this rule hold true in the worldly sphere, much more in the moral and spiritual. It is when you have the profoundest desire to do what is right that you are in best way to know what is wise.
2. But again, from that council-chamber of Absalom and its re-suits we learn how all projects founded on godlessness and selfishness carry in their bosom the elements of dissolution. They have no true principle of coherence, no firm, binding element, to secure them against disturbing influences arising from further manifestations of selfishness on the part of those engaged in them.
3. Men that are not overawed, as it were, by a supreme regard to the will of God; men to whom the consideration of that will is not strong enough at once to smite down every selfish feeling that may arise in their minds, will always be liable to desire some object of their own rather than the good of the whole. They will begin to complain if they are not sufficiently considered and. honoured. They will allow jealousies and suspicions towards those who have most influence, to arise in their hearts. They will get into caves to air their discontent with those like-minded. All this tends to weakness and dissolution. Selfishness is the serpent that comes crawling into many a hopeful garden, and brings with it division and desolation. In private life, it should be watched and thwarted as the grievous foe of all that is good and right. The same course should be taken with regard to it in all the associations of Christians.
The history of the person, whom the text introduces to your view, is among the finest pieces of the Old Testament. It abounds with incidents, which touch the tenderest feelings of nature, and occur in the dearest relations of life; and is full of useful and impressive instructions to every serious observer. All may contemplate with improvement this inspired story of the beautiful, accomplished, and brave, yet base and unhappy Absalom. He is first introduced to us by the sacred historian, as avenging his sister's wrongs, by the murder of his eldest brother. Resentment even of the greatest wrongs, to trample upon the sacred commands of God, in his anger to slay a man, yea with premeditated and deceptive malice to slay a brother, discovers thus early that inconsiderate, unprincipled spirit, which strengthened with his age, and was the cause of his ruin. It is seldom that a life, which is uncontrolled by religious fear, is marked with only one criminal act. There is an infatuating power in vice. One step beyond the line of virtue renders another less difficult. There is no trusting to self command, when the barriers of duty are down. Vice is rarely single in the human heart. The man, who can be hurried by anger to murder a brother, will easily be induced by ambition to dethrone a father. Amnon's blood on Absalom's robes was white in comparison with the spots which afterwards defiled them. Having fled because of his guilt to Geshur in Syria, he abode there three years, with the royal relations of his mother. Time had now soothed the wound in David's bosom; and, forgetting the dead, he longed to embrace his living, his favourite child. His servants, perceiving the tender anxiety which filled his heart, contrived by an ingenious stratagem to obtain permission to bring the beloved fugitive back to Jerusalem. One would suppose that henceforth we should see nothing but filial reverence and a virtuous life, in this hitherto careless character. Alas, how slender are our hopes of those in whom the religious principle has no place! How terrible is the progress of the wicked, who have once given the reins to their will, and follow the guidance of their evil imaginations l Restored to favour, this unprincipled young man uses the riches of paternal bounty in procuring the gratification of vain desires, and the attendants, force, and equipage, which may add strength to his subtility when he shall need it." With mad ambition, he resolves to depose his fond and venerable parent from the throne. With worse than mad ambition, with the vilest, blackest treachery, he plots his father's disgrace and destruction. But how is it possible? Surely the people wilt cleave to the good king, to whom they owe such victories and prosperity? This vicious, inexperienced man will never be able to drive the renowned David from his throne. When the passions are engaged in any evil pursuit, and the mind has given itself to its attainment, there is nothing at which it will stop. Truth or falsehood, affection or enmity, piety or depravity is assumed by it with equal ease. We may be surprised to think that in so short a time this daring youth should be emboldened to attempt his enterprise. But there are always weak men, to be the tools of such characters; and wicked men to be their abettors. There accompanied him many, who, the narrative says, "went in their simplicity, and knew not anything," and the subtle, famous Ahithophel came from his city to aid the unnatural conspiracy. By the aid of this evil man, new followers of Absalom were daily added, and he succeeded so far as to compel the king to flee with his adherents from Jerusalem. It is happy indeed for men, that there is a Deity, whose providence rules the events of life. By a wonderful interposition the counsel of Ahithophel, which would most probably have been successful, was rejected, and the advice of Hushai, a friend of David in disguise, .was unanimously approved. And now the time approached when the Most High would bring upon this wicked, rebellious son the vengeance which his crimes deserved. The armies entered the field; and Absalom with his hosts were defeated. He took to flight. But as he rode in his haste through the wood, in which the battle was fought, "his head caught hold of the thick boughs of a great oak." Joab' hasted to the place, and thrust him through with darts, and the adherents of the king took down his body, and cast it into an ignominious grave. From this interesting story we may derive many useful reflections.(1) In the first place, it teaches us all, and especially the young, the solemn importance of acquiring a control over our passions and desires. These, if left to be their own directors, may make us base, will make us miserable.(2) The story further teaches parents the solemn importance of implanting and cultivating in their offspring those principles which are the only sure preservatives from debasement and crime.(3) We may learn from this history the barbarity and odiousness of filial disobedience.(4) We may learn from our subject the folly and danger of priding ourselves in t, he possession of personal accomplishments and external charms.
PeopleAbishai, Absalom, Ahithophel, Arkite, David, Gera, Hushai, Mephibosheth, Saul, Shimei, Zeruiah, Ziba
TopicsAbsalom, Ab'salom, Ahithophel, Ahith'ophel, Entered, Jerusalem
Outline1. Ziba, by presents and false suggestions, obtains his master's inheritance
5. At Bahurim, Shimei curses David
9. David with patience abstains, and restrains others, from revenge
15. Hushai insinuates himself into Absalom's counsel
20. Ahithophel's counsel
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 16:14
LibraryBut Although Patience be a virtue of the Mind...
8. But although patience be a virtue of the mind, yet partly the mind exercises it in the mind itself, partly in the body. In itself it exercises patience, when, the body remaining unhurt and untouched, the mind is goaded by any adversities or filthinesses of things or words, to do or to say something that is not expedient or not becoming, and patiently bears all evils that it may not itself commit any evil in work or word. By this patience we bear, even while we be sound in body, that in the midst …
St. Augustine—On Patience
That Nob was placed in the land of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem, whence Jerusalem also might be seen,--the words of the Chaldee paraphrast, upon Isaiah 10:32, do argue. For so he speaks; "Sennacherib came and stood in Nob, a city of the priests, before the walls of Jerusalem; and said to his army, 'Is not this the city of Jerusalem, against which I have raised my whole army, and have subdued all the provinces of it? Is it not small and weak in comparison of all the fortifications of the Gentiles, …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
David and Jonathan's Son
'And David said, is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake? 2. And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. 3. And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. 4. And the …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Godly are in Some Sense Already Blessed
I proceed now to the second aphorism or conclusion, that the godly are in some sense already blessed. The saints are blessed not only when they are apprehended by God, but while they are travellers to glory. They are blessed before they are crowned. This seems a paradox to flesh and blood. What, reproached and maligned, yet blessed! A man that looks upon the children of God with a carnal eye and sees how they are afflicted, and like the ship in the gospel which was covered with waves' (Matthew 8:24), …
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12
Appendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
Massecheth Berachoth, or Tractate on Benedictions  Mishnah--From what time is the "Shema" said in the evening? From the hour that the priests entered to eat of their therumah  until the end of the first night watch.  These are the words of Rabbi Eliezer. But the sages say: Till midnight. Rabban Gamaliel says: Until the column of the morning (the dawn) rises. It happened, that his sons came back from a banquet. They said to him: "We have not said the Shema.'" He said to them, "If the column …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
Importance in Luke's History of the Story of the Birth of Christ
IT needs no proof that Luke attached the highest importance to this part of his narrative. That Jesus was indicated from the beginning as the Messiah -- though not a necessary part of his life and work, and wholly omitted by Mark and only briefly indicated in mystical language by John -- was a highly interesting and important fact in itself, and could not fail to impress the historian. The elaboration and detail of the first two chapters of the Gospel form a sufficient proof that Luke recognized …
Sir William Mitchell Ramsay—Was Christ Born in Bethlehem?
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. T hat which often passes amongst men for resolution, and the proof of a noble, courageous spirit, is, in reality, the effect of a weak and little mind. At least, it is chiefly owing to the presence of certain circumstances, which have a greater influence upon the conduct, than any inherent principle. Thus may persons who appear to set death and danger at defiance in the hour …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
Meditations for one that is Like to Die.
If thy sickness be like to increase unto death, then meditate on three things:--First, How graciously God dealeth with thee. Secondly, From what evils death will free thee. Thirdly, What good death will bring unto thee. The first sort of Meditations are, to consider God's favourable dealing with thee. 1. Meditate that God uses this chastisement of thy body but as a medicine to cure thy soul, by drawing thee, who art sick in sin, to come by repentance unto Christ, thy physician, to have thy soul healed …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
No Sorrow Like Messiah's Sorrow
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow! A lthough the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophecies (Luke 24:44) , bear an harmonious testimony to MESSIAH ; it is not necessary to suppose that every single passage has an immediate and direct relation to Him. A method of exposition has frequently obtained [frequently been in vogue], of a fanciful and allegorical cast [contrivance], under the pretext …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
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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