So David's army marched into the field to engage Israel in the battle, which took place in the forest of Ephraim.
I. THE SURPASSING WORTH OF CHRIST.
1. In personal excellence. It is well when the monarch of a country is distinguished for mental and moral endowments. Even when the personality of the ruler is of less account in the actual government, it adds much to the welfare of the state that he is noble in the qualities of his mind and heart. This has been made manifest in the long reign of our beloved and honoured queen. Where the power of government is very largely trusted to the will of the sovereign, it is of incalculable importance that he should be both wise and good. David's kingdom sprang very mainly from, and was maintained by, his personal qualities. And this is more emphatically true of his great Son Jesus. He is "chiefest among ten thousand," chiefest among and above all creation. The perfections of God and the perfections of man are combined in this one glorious Person. In himself he is worthy of the utmost love and self-devotion.
2. In position and dignity. As "King of kings and Lord of lords;" "Lord of all;" King of souls; "Head of the Church" "Head over all things." These are not empty titles; but represent facts, actual glory and power. To serve such a King may well be esteemed the highest possible honour; to die for him, a great glory.
3. In relation to the good of men. Who shall say how much Christ is "worth" in this view? of how much value his work for and amongst men? how essentially their welfare in time and in eternity is bound up with his unchanging existence and power, and the manifestation of himself in the world through his Church? Every believer experiences his preciousness (1 Peter 2:7), and desires that all should have a like experience, through a "like precious faith" (2 Peter 1:1); and to keep him living in the memory of men, and secure the wider exercise of his saving power, would cheerfully sacrifice himself. We are insignificant, and if we die it matters little; but for him to perish from the life of men, or become feeble in his influence among them, would be disastrous indeed.
4. In power to succour and aid his servants. David was requested to remain in the city with the reserves, that, if it were required, he might send them to the succour of those fighting in the field. Our Lord can, "out of the city" in which he dwells, aid his servants in more effectual manner. Not only has he numberless reserves eager to do his bidding, but he is able to gather around him, from the very ranks of his foes, fresh hosts to fight his battles. And, beyond all this, he can himself be - yea, he is with his people everywhere and evermore, to inspirit them by his presence, and render them victorious. Who of them, what "ten thousand" of them, could fill his place?
5. In power to reward those who die in his service. Earthly rulers are powerless to recompense the soldiers who are slain in fighting their battles. Not so our great King. He is able to promise eternal life and glory to his faithful followers; and what he promises he performs (see Mark 8:35; John 12:25).
II. THE EFFECT WHICH CONTEMPLATION OF THE SURPASSING WORTH OF CHRIST SHOULD HAVE UPON US.
1. Satisfaction that he lives safe above all the hostility of his enemies. Lives, not in heaven only, but on earth in spirit and power, working in and, with his people and confirming his Word (John 14:19; Mark 16:20). Human leaders and teachers die, but "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). That One of so much worth to men, and so needful to them, should be thus immortal and immutable, is matter for joy and thankfulness. He needs not, like David, the plans and efforts of his servants to preserve him; but we can and should rejoice that he lives and reigns, and "mast reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25).
2. Devoted loyalty to him even unto death. The readiness with which David's friends hazarded and gave up their lives for him, nay, the similar devotedness of many a common soldier, may well put most Christians to the blush.
3. Contentment in view of the enormous sacrifice of human lives which has been made for his sake. It is not waste; the willing deaths of martyrs, missionaries, Christian workers of all grades, have not been unreasonable. He and his cause are worthy of it all.
4. Confidence in respect to ultimate victory over all his foes. With such a King and Captain, final defeat is impossible.
5. Assurance of ample recompense for whatever we lose, were it life itself, in his service.
6. Concern to be on the side of Christ rather than of a multitude in opposition to him. We are tempted to follow the crowd, and (with or without thinking) to esteem that to be the right course which the greater number pursue. But truth goes not necessarily, or even ordinarily, with the majority. With the one Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, are truth, safety, victory, ultimate gain. His judgment is worth more than that of "ten thousand" others; his favour of infinitely more value than theirs. If adherence to him were to lead to the separation from us of all besides, and we were to find ourselves alone, we might say after his manner, "I am not alone, because the Master is with me" (John 16:32). - G.W.
Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom.
PeopleAbishai, Absalom, Ahimaaz, Cushi, David, Israelites, Ittai, Joab, Zadok, Zeruiah
PlacesKing's Valley, Mahanaim
TopicsArmy, Battle, Ephraim, E'phraim, Field, Fight, Forest, Fought, Marched, Meet, Wood, Woods
Outline1. David viewing the armies in their march gives them charge of Absalom
6. The Israelites are sorely smitten in the wood of ephraim
9. Absalom, hanging in an oak is slain by Joab, and cast into a pit
18. Absalom's place
19. Ahimaaz and Cushi bring tidings to David
33. David mourns for Absalom
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 18:1-8
LibraryThe Wail of a Broken Heart
'Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale; for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance; and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's Place. 19. Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the Lord hath avenged him of his enemies. 20. And Joab said unto him. Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day; but …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Church and the Young Man.
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