2 Samuel 18:9-14
And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode on a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak…
Though I should receive [literally, 'weigh'] a thousand pieces of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son (ver. 12). While pursuing the enemy, a brave soldier came upon their leader, suspended from "the entangled branches of the great terebinth," in which his head was fastened so that he could not extricate himself. He forthwith reported what he had seen to Joab, who asked him why he had not despatched him, and said that he would have given him ten pieces of silver and a military girdle for doing so. A less scrupulous man might have sought even yet to secure the reward. But he replied that nothing would induce him to disobey the king. "So genuine was the reverence with which the loyalty of even a common soldier then invested the royal dignity" (Ewald). His fidelity may serve to illustrate that of "a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3), as it appears in -
I. HIS RESPECT FOR THE KING'S COMMANDMENT; which, unlike that of an earthly ruler, is always wise, just, and good.
1. He reverences the authority by which it is given, as rightful, all-powerful, supreme.
2. He regards it as obligatory on each and all to whom it is given (ver. 12).
3. He remembers it constantly in the absence as well as the presence of the King, from whom "there is no matter hid" (ver. 13).
4. He is resolved on performing it with all his might. "Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently" (Psalm 119:4, 11, 106).
II. HIS REJECTION OF STRONG TEMPTATION. He will not disobey the order received, though urged to do so by:
1. The impulse of resentment against the common enemy.
2. The plea of expediency, or what may seem to be for the common good.
3. The approval of a fellow soldier, or the sanction of any "captain" inferior to the King.
4. The promise of reward, certain, immediate, and great. "The Law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver" (Psalm 119:72, 31, 36).
III. HIS REBUKE OF ANOTHER'S PRESUMPTION. Joab must have felt himself reproved by this faithful and honest soldier; though he turned away contemptuously, recklessly, and presumptuously to do the deprecated deed. A dutiful soldier may and ought to rebuke the undutifulness of another by:
1. Reminding him of the word which has been spoken by the King.
2. Avowing his own determination to obey it in spite of all inducements to the contrary.
3. Predicting the certainty of the King's displeasure, which outweighs all present gain (Proverbs 16:14; Proverbs 19:12). "What is a man profited," etc.? "In the King's favour is life."
4. Intimating the unreliability of one who favours disobedience and presumes on impunity. "Thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me;" leaving me alone to bear the blame and suffer the penalty. "He must be a very bad man who is not attracted to what is good by the good example of his subordinates" (S. Schmid). "Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect to all thy commandments" (Psalm 119:6, 29, 51, 53). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
WEB: Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the sky and earth; and the mule that was under him went on.