2 Samuel 17:1-14. - (JERUSALEM.)2 Samuel 16:20); and took possession of the harem, "the first decided act of sovereignty" (subsequently he was also solemnly anointed, 2 Samuel 19:10, probably by Zadok and Abiathar). "Absalom's next step was to endeavour his father's destruction, in the conviction that his own throne would never be secure so long as he lived. The son had no relentings. He had knowingly subjected himself to the inevitable necessity of taking his father's life, and he only desired to learn how that object might be most effectually secured. A council was held on this question, and it is the first cabinet council to which history admits us. It was doubtless conducted in the same form as other royal councils; and, from the instance before us, it appears that the members who had anything to suggest, or rather such as the king called upon for their opinion, described the course they thought best suited to the circumstances" (Kitto, 'Daily Bible Illust.'). It was the turning point of the revolt (Psalm 92:7-9); and in it we see -
I. A RENOWNED COUNSELLOR urging promptitude with oracular wisdom. "And Ahithophel said," etc. (vers. 1-5; 2 Samuel 15:31); "this night" (2 Samuel 16:14; vers. 2, 16); instant action being, in his view, necessary to the accomplishment of the death of David and the success of the revolution. His counsel was the result of an unerring judgment, expressed with the utmost confidence, and thoroughly adapted (ver. 14, "good counsel") to effect its end. It was worthy of his great reputation. Extraordinary human wisdom is sometimes:
1. Employed against the servants of God and against his kingdom, of which they are the most conspicuous representatives. "This wisdom descendeth not from above," etc. (James 3:15).
2. Stimulated, in its exercise, by personal hatred toward them. "I will smite the king only" (perhaps exulting in the prospect of inflicting vengeance with his own hand).
3. Fraught with deadly peril to them (ver. 4). David himself, as he came "wearied and weak handed" to the plain of the Jordan and rested there, knew not yet his imminent danger and "marvellous escape" (1 Samuel 23:24-28). "But a higher power than the wisdom of the renowned Gilonite guided events." The Lord is the Defence of his people; and his promise concerning his Church is that "the gates (counsels) of Hades shall not prevail against it."
II. A RIVAL ORATOR advising delay with plausible arguments. "And Hushai said," etc. (vers. 7-13). "He was not a member of the council; but he had been well received by Absalom, whose greater treachery against his father made him give ready credence to the pretended treachery of his father's friend. It was at Absalom's suggestion that he was called in, and, being informed of the course Ahithophel had advised, he saw at once the danger that this course threatened to David; and, in fulfilment of his mission to defeat this man's counsel, he advanced divers reasons against it, all tending to delay" (Kitto). "It would not only ward off David's present danger, but would also, as Tacitus observes, give ill men time to repent, and the good to unite" (Delany). His counsel was the result of a profound acquaintance with human nature, and given with a persuasive eloquence equal to his wisdom. Advice favourable to God's servants:
1. Is often given in unlikely places, among their adversaries and by persons unsuspected of sympathy with them (Acts 5:38).
2. Derives its power from the selfish dispositions of the ungodly themselves: their fears (vers. 8-10) and their vainglory (vers. 11-14). Hushai's speech was "full of a certain kind of boasting which pleased the younger men" (Clericus).
3. Succeeds far beyond what might have been naturally expected, in making wisdom appear foolishness (vers. 4, 14).
III. AN INFATUATED USURPER adopting a policy fatal to his own designs. His decision was the result of:
1. His misjudgment of the effect of delay upon the nation; for he did not consider that "only the discontented part of the people formed the kernel of the insurrection, that no small portion still remained true to David, and that another part, now for the moment fallen away, would return after the first fit of revolution had passed" (Erdmann).
2. His over confidence in his power and success.
3. His love of personal display (his ruling passion). "The new made king gave the preference to a proposal which promised him, at any rate for a few days, the enjoyment of complete repose and the gratifications of his high position" (Ewald).
4. But herein the sacred historian indicates (what so often appears in the Books of Samuel) the overruling providence of God (1 Samuel 2:1-10; 1 Samuel 9:1-25; 1 Samuel 31:7-10; 2 Samuel 1:19) which:
(1) Pervades all thoughts and actions of men; all places and events. In the council chamber of Absalom, where there seemed to be nothing but godless ambition, political wisdom, and "the strife of tongues," there was an unseen presence, observing, directing, controlling all. "The king's heart," etc. (Proverbs 21:1).
(2) Employs (without approving) the cunning craftiness of some men to check and punish that of others.
(3) "Permits evil to work out its own consequences, and the wicked to entangle themselves in their own snares, that he may reveal his justice and holiness in the self-condemnation and self-destruction of the power of evil" (ver. 23; 2 Samuel 18:7, 14). "When God is contriving misfortunes for man, he first deprives him of his reason" (Euripides). - D.
Shimei the son of Gera; he came forth, and cursed still as he came.I. THE PROVOCATION DAVID RECEIVED.
1. The most irritating by which the patience of man was ever tried. The reason why God was pleased to allow this insult to be added to the other trials of David, is obvious. He wished to teach him how low his iniquities had sunk him, and to show him that the cup of the Divine indignation against him was not even yet exhausted. It tells us that the servant of God must expect to meet with insults and provocations from his fellow-sinners. We are not dwelling among angels, but among men. We are living in a fallen world, in a world that has renounced the authority of the God of peace, and thrown itself under the dominion of the prince of discord. It would be madness, then, to think of passing through it, as though it were a world of love.
2. The conduct of Shimei was cruel also, as well as irritating. The condition of David at this period appeared calculated to disarm by its misery the most inveterate of his enemies. We are ready to suppose in the hour of affliction that every heart must feel for us, and that the malice of our bitterest enemies must now for a season be changed into pity. But experience proves that the most afflicted are generally the most persecuted. Their calamities leave their adversaries nothing to hope from their favour, and little perhaps to dread from their displeasure.
3. The provocation which David received was also undeserved. It here was indeed blood which cried from the ground for vengeance on his head, but he had never injured Shimei; and as for his having been guilty of the death of Saul, and his family, no charge could be more unjust. But the ungodly are always selfish. They judge of others, not by the laws of impartial justice, but by the standard of self-interest.
II. But let us turn from the cruel and irritating conduct of this disappointed Israelite, and consider THE FORBEARANCE WHICH DAVID MANIFESTED.
1. He received the provocation of Shimei with meek silence. He heard his accusations, and he knew them to be false; but he answered him not a word. There are indeed cases in which it becomes absolutely necessary to vindicate our characters at any risk from the calumnies of the ungodly; but these occasions do not often occur. When our enemies are much incensed against us, it will generally be found that to reply to their aspersions serves only to increase their violence, and perhaps to give them an advantage over us. Silence under provocation is safety. To govern our lips is, in most instances, to govern our hearts.
2. But there may be silence where there is no meekness. No angry word may proceed from the lips, while the deadliest revenge is cherished in the heart. It is necessary therefore that we should observe, further, that David forgave the provocation of Shimei. His friends around him were incensed to the utmost, and were eager to vindicate the honour of their insulted monarch with their swords. Would the conduct of David have been either unlawful, or sinful, if he had commanded his attendants to take immediate vengeance on Shimei? It might not have been unlawful, for the laws of Judaea would undoubtedly have condemned the traitor, and the power of carrying them into execution was vested in David's hands; but laws were not designed by God to gratify vindictive passions. It is as sinful to seek revenge by the arm of the law as to seek it by the violence of our own arm. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."CONCLUSION.
1. A review of this history, as far as we have considered it, is calculated to leave impressed on us a conviction of the power of true religion; its power, not only to touch the fears and hopes of the soul. but the mighty power which it exercises over the dispositions, the temper, the heart.
2. This history reminds us also of the dignity which a meek and forgiving spirit imparts. The Bible tells us that "it is the glory of a man to pass over a transgression," and it gives us in this chapter a confirmation of the saying. Here, then, is a lesson for those who are striving to raise themselves to honour. You wish to be highly esteemed among men, and, in order to procure their respect, you imagine that no real or supposed insult must pass unnoticed, and that you must commence a struggle for superiority in rank and consequence. Is, then, the object of your wishes to be attained by such means as these? Impossible. Cease from the foolish attempt. Go and sit at the feet of David, and let him teach you that the readiest, the surest, the safest way to exalt yourselves is to lie low and be humble, to be "meek and lowly in heart," to triumph over the pride and folly which have hitherto been leading you captive.
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
PeopleAbiathar, Abigail, Absalom, Ahimaaz, Ahithophel, Amasa, Ammiel, Ammonites, Arkite, Barzillai, Dan, David, Hushai, Ithra, Jesse, Jether, Joab, Jonathan, Machir, Nahash, Shobi, Zadok, Zeruiah
PlacesBahurim, Beersheba, Dan, En-rogel, Gilead, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Lo-debar, Mahanaim, Rabbah, Rogelim
TopicsAbsalom, Ab'salom, Ahithophel, Ahith'ophel, Arise, Choose, David, Furthermore, Moreover, Please, Pursue, Pursuit, Thousand, Tonight, To-night, Twelve
Outline1. Ahithophel's counsel is overthrown by Hushai's
15. Secret intelligence is sent unto David
23. Ahithophel hangs himself
25. Amasa is made captain
27. David at Mahanaim is furnished with provisions
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 17:1
Library"The King Kissed Barzillai. " 2 Sam. xix. 39
And no wonder, for David could appreciate a real man when he saw him, and so does David's Lord. I.--LOYALTY IS PRECIOUS TO THE KING OF KINGS. In the days when the son of Jesse had but few friends, it was a precious thing to be treated in the style Barzillai and his neighbours entertained him (see 2 Sam. xvii. 27-29). They were rich farmers, and had land which brought forth with abundance, so were able to act with princely hospitality to the fugitive monarch. But plenty may live with avarice, and …
Thomas Champness—Broken Bread
The Nations of the South-East
David and Jonathan's Son
Mr. John Bunyan's Dying Sayings.
Letter xxxvi (Circa A. D. 1131) to the Same Hildebert, who had not yet Acknowledged the Lord Innocent as Pope.
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Tiglath-Pileser iii. And the Organisation of the Assyrian Empire from 745 to 722 B. C.
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