XV Absalom steals the hearts of the people, ver. 1-6. He conspires against David, ver. 7-12. David flies from Jerusalem, ver. 13-18. He confers with Ittai, and passes overKidron, ver. 19- 23. Sends back Zadok with the ark, ver. 24-29. His prayer on this occasion, ver. 30, 31. He concerts with Hushai, ver. 32-37.
Verse 1. Prepared - As being the king's eldest son, now Amnon was dead; for Chileab, who was his eldest brother, chap. iii, 3, was either dead, or incapable of the government. And this course he knew would draw the eyes of the people to him, and make them conclude that David intended him for his successor.
Verse 2. Early - Thereby making a shew of solicitude for the good of the public, and of every private person. Called him - Preventing him with the offers of his assistance. And as if he were ready to make particular enquiry into the state of his cause.
Verse 3. See - Upon some very slight hearing of their cause, he approved it, that he might oblige all. No man - None such as will do thee justice. The other sons and relations of the king, and the rest of the Judges and rulers under him and them, are wholly corrupted; or, at least not careful and diligent as they should be: and my father being grown in years, is negligent of publick affairs. It is the way of turbulent, aspiring men, to reproach the government they are under. Even David himself, the best of kings, could not escape the worst of censures.
Verse 7. After forty years - From the change of the government, into a monarchy, which was about ten years before David began to reign. So this fell out about the thirtieth year of his reign.
Verse 9. Hebron - This place he chose as being an eminent city, and next to Jerusalem, the chief of the tribe of Judah, and the place where his father began his kingdom, which he took for a good omen. And where it is probable he had secured many friends. It was also at a convenient distance from Jerusalem.
Verse 11. Called - Such as Absalom had picked out as fit for his purpose; such as were of some reputation with the king and people, which would give a countenance to his undertaking, and give occasion to people at first to think that this was done by his father's consent, as being now aged, and infirm, and willing to resign the kingdom to him. It is no new thing, for good men to be made use of by designing men to put a colour upon ill practices.
Verse 12. Sacrifices - Which he did not in devotion to God; but merely that upon this pretense he might call great numbers of people together.
Verse 14. Let us flee - For though the fort of Zion was strong, and he might have defended himself there; yet he had not laid in provisions for a long siege; and, if he had been once besieged there, Absalom would have got speedy possession of his whole kingdom; whereas if he marched abroad, he might raise a considerable army for his defense. Besides, the greatest part of Jerusalem could not be well defended against him.
Verse 16. After him - Or, on foot, which the king chose to do, to humble himself under the hand of God; to encourage his companions in this hard and comfortless march; and to move compassion in his people towards him. Concubines - For he supposed that their sex would protect them, and their relation to David would gain them some respect, or at least, safety from his son.
Verse 17. Far off - At some convenient distance, tho' not very far.
Verse 18. Gittites - Or rather strangers, as Ittai their head is called, ver. 19, and they are called his brethren, ver. 20. Probably they were Philistines by birth, born in the city or territory of Gath, as the following words imply, who by David's counsel, and example, were won to embrace the true religion, and had given good proof of their militaryskill, and valour, and fidelity to the king.
Verse 19. Thy place - To Jerusalem, where thy settled abode now is. The king - With Absalom who is now made king. An exile - Not much concerned in our affairs, and therefore not fit to be involved in our troubles.
Verse 20. Brethren - Thy countrymen the Gittites, ver. 18. Mercy, &c. - Since I am now unable to recompense thy kindness and fidelity to me, my hearty prayer to God is, that he would shew to thee his mercy, in blessing thee with all sorts of blessings, and his faithfulness in making good all these promises which he had made, not to Israelites only, but to all true hearted proselytes, such as thou art.
Verse 21. Will thy servant be - He is a friend indeed, who loves at all times, and will cleave to us in adversity. Thus should we cleave to the Son of David, that neither life, nor death may separate us from his love.
Verse 22. Little ones - For being so deeply engaged for David, he durst not leave his little ones to Absalom's mercy.
Verse 23. Kidron - Or, Cedron, which was near Jerusalem. The very same brook that Christ passed over when he entered upon his sufferings, John xviii, 1. Wilderness - Which was between Jerusalem and Jericho.
Verse 24. Went up - From the ark to the city, which was on higher ground, that so he being high-priest, might use his authority with the people, to persuade them to do their duty; and there he staid until all those whom he could persuade were gone forth.
Verse 25. Carry back - Out of care and reverence to the ark, which though it might be carried our to a certain place; yet he might justly think unfit to carry it from place to place he knew not whither, and out of respect to the priests, whom, by this means, he thought he should expose to the rage of Absalom, as he had before exposed them to Saul's fury. Habitation - That is, the tabernacle which David had lately built for it, chap. vi, 17, in which the ark, and God, by means hereof, ordinarily dwelt.
Verse 26. Let him do - That we may not complain of what is, let us see God's hand in all events. And that we may not be afraid of what shall be, let us see all events in God's hand.
Verse 27. A seer - A seeing, discerning, or observing man: for so the Hebrew verb raah is often used. And this suits well with David's mind: Thou art a wise man, and therefore fit to manage this great business, which requires prudence and secrecy.
Verse 30. Barefoot - In testimony of his deep sorrow, and humiliation and shame for his sins.
Verse 34. And say - That is, as faithful to thee, as I have been to thy father. David's suggesting this crafty counsel must be reckoned amongst his sins. Nevertheless God was pleased to direct this evil advice to a good end.
Verse 36. There - Not in Jerusalem, but in a place near it, to which they could easily send upon occasion.
Verse 37. Absalom came, &c. - How soon do royal cities and royal palaces change their masters? But we look for a kingdom which cannot be moved.