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.
When David was come to Mahanaim.Genesis 32:27, 29): — Let us go even unto Mahanaim and see these great sights. .First, let us go with Jacob and see the two camps of angels, and then with- David to observe his troops of friends.
I. GOD HAS A MULTITUDE OF SERVANTS, AND ALL THESE ARE ON THE SIDE OF BELIEVERS. The great army of the Lord of hosts consists largely of unseen agents, of forces that are not discernible except in vision or by the eye of faith. Jacob saw two squadrons of these invisible forces, which are on the side of righteous men.
1. We know that a guard of angels always surrounds every believer. Ministering spirits are abroad, protecting the princes of the blood royal. They cannot be discerned by any of our senses, but they are perceptible by faith, and they have been made perceptible to holy men of old in vision.
2. All these agents work in order, for it is God's host, and the host is made up of beings which march or fly, according to the order of command. "Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path."
3. All punctual to the Divine command. Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
4. All engaged personally to attend upon Jacob.
5. Those forces, though in themselves invisible to the natural senses, are manifest to faith at certain times. Our Mahanaims occur at much the same time as that in which Jacob beheld this great sight. Jacob was entering upon a more separated life. He was leaving Laban and the school of all those tricks of bargaining and bartering which belong to the ungodly world.
6. Again, the reason why the angels met Jacob at that time was, doubtless, because he was surrounded with great cares.
7. Again, the Lord's host appeared when Jacob felt a great dread. His brother Esau was coming to meet him armed to the teeth, and, as he feared, thirsty for his blood. In times when our danger is greatest, if we are real believers, we shall be specially under the Divine protection, and we shall know that it, is so.
8. And, once again, when you and I, like Jacob, shall be near Jordan, when we shall just be passing into the better land. then is the time when we may expect to come to Mahanaim.
9. There is no doubt whatever that they are sent for a purpose.
10. Mahanaim was granted to Jacob, not only to refresh his memory, but to lift him out of the ordinary low level of his life.
II. If such a special vision be granted to us let us keep it in memory. Jacob called the name of that place Mahanaim.
II. This brings me to my second text; FOR ANGELS DID NOT MEET DAVID, BUT LIVING CREATURES OF ANOTHER NATURE MET HIM, who answered the purpose of David quite as well as angels would have done.
1. Who is yonder prominent friend? He speaks like a foreigner. He is an Ammonite. What is his name? Shobi. the son of Nahash, of Rabbah, of the children of Ammon. I have heard of those people: they were enemies, were they not — cruel enemies to Israel? That man Nahash, you recollect his name; this is one of his sons. Yes! God can turn enemies into friends when His servants require succour. Those that belong to a race that is opposed to Israel can, if God will it, turn to be their helpers. The Lord found an advocate for his Son Jesus in Pilate's house — the governor's wife suffered many things in a dream because of him. He can find a friend for his servants in their persecutor's own family, even as he raised up Obadiah to hide the prophets and feed them in a cave: the chamberlain to Ahab himself was the protector of the saints, and with meat from Ahab's table were they fed.
2. Here comes another person we have heard of before, Machir of Lodebar. That is the large farmer who took care of Mephibosheth. He seems to have been a truly loyal man, who stuck to royal families, even when their fortunes were adverse. As he had been faithful to the house of Saul so was he to David.
3. Here comes Barzillai, an old man of fourscore, and as the historian tells us, "a very great man." His enormous wealth was all at the disposal of David and his followers, and "he provided the king of sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim." This old nobleman was certainly as useful to David as the angels were to Jacob, and he and his coadjutors were truly a part of God's forces. The armies of God are varied: he has not one troop alone, but many. On this occasion Mahanaim well deserved its name, because the help that came to David from these different persons came in a most noble way, as though it came by angels. I infer from this that if at any time a servant of God is marching onward in his Master's work, and he needs assistance of any sort, he need not trouble about it, but rest in the Lord, for succour and help will surely come, if not from the angels above, yet from the church below. Conclusion: While I have shown you God's invisible agents, and God's visible agents, I want to call to your mind that in either case, and in both cases, the host is the host of God: that is to say, the true strength and safety of the believer is his God. The presence of God with believers is more certain and constant than the presence of angels or holy men. God hath said it — "Certainly I will be with thee." He hath said again, "I will not leave thee, nor forsake thee." When you are engaged in Christ's service you have a special promise to back you up — "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. If, then, God is pleased to grant us help by secondary causes, as we know He does — for to many of us He sends many and many a friend to help in his good work — then we must take care to see God in these friends and helpers. When you have no helpers, see all helpers in God: when you have many helpers, then you must see God in all your helpers. Herein is wisdom.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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, Advice, Advises, Ahithophel, Ahith'ophel, Carry, Hushai, Manner, Opinion, Plan, Saying, Says, Spake, Speak, Speaketh, Spoke, Spoken, Suggestion, Thus
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 17:1-16
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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