2 Samuel 15
Absalom gets political and works to gain a personal following
2 Samuel 15:1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 15:2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.
David was neglecting his responsibilities and did not appoint judges and justice for the people and this was a legitimate grievance. David should also have been aware that Absalom was undermining and usurping him, by exalting himself and not making recommendations to the king, and should have taken steps to correct this situation before the rebellion developed.
Isn’t this exactly what many leaders and elders are doing when they say follow me, and they condemn any zeal to live by every Word of God our KING? Such elders are fomenting rebellion against the King of kings!
15:3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. 15:4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! 15:5 And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.
Absalom enticed the hearts of Israel to follow him in place of following the king; just like so many of today’s elders have stolen the hearts of the brethren to follow themselves instead of living by every Word of God the GREAT KING.
15:6 And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
Absalom then requests to go to Hebron [where David had been made king of Judah].
15:7 And it came to pass after forty [not forty years later, since David’s entire reign was only forty years, but properly four years after Absalom had returned to Jerusalem] years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron. 15:8 For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD. 15:9 And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron.
David’s entire reign was only forty years.
2 Samuel 5:4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5:5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.
David’s entire kingship was only 40 years and he ruled for some time after the death of Absalom!
The forty years mentioned below is clearly a scribal error and is a reference to FOUR years after the beginning of Absalom’s political usurpation.
2 Samuel 15:10 But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron.
200 men accompanied Absalom to Hebron not knowing of the conspiracy, this company was used to deceive the others gathering there that Absalom was a man of authority, while Israel was being called to Hebron to declare Absalom king without realizing what was happening.
15:11 And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing.
Ahithophel David’s chief adviser and the grandfather of Bathsheba entered the picture, joining the rebellion of Absalom. Here the tragedy of Tamar and Absalom was joined with the tragedy of Bathsheba and Uriah as David’s chief adviser joins David’s son in a conspiracy against him in accordance with the prophecy and curse of God for David’s evil deeds.
As more and more people began to come to Absalom, David was forced to flee for his life.
15:12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.
15:13 And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. 15:14 And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.
David’s servants remained loyal to him
15:15 And the king’s servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.
Besides his many wives David also had many concubines, ten of which he left at Jerusalem.
15:16 And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house. 15:17 And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off.
The original 600 men who had been with him from the days of Saul remained faithful to David.
15:18 And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.
The foreigner Ittai was also loyal to David
15:19 Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a stranger, and also an exile.
David’s friend Ittai had come to visit only the day before and was caught up in the turmoil.
15:20 Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee. 15:21 And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.
Then David fled with his six hundred men, his family and friends and with the priests and Ark of YHVH.
15:22 And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him. 15:23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness.
15:24 And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city.
Then David commanded Zadok to return with the Ark into Jerusalem, and placed himself voluntarily in the hands of God.
15:25 And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation: 15:26 But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him. 15:27 The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a seer? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
David tells the priests that he will remain in the wilderness until they send for him.
15:28 See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify me. 15:29 Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem: and they tarried there.
David then covered his head and removed his shoes in abject submission before God, and went out weeping in mourning and weeping in submissive repentance the others also weeping; for they knew that this was from God fulfilling the curse for David’s sin against Uriah, so many years before.
15:30 And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.
Ahithophel, whose counsel was wise beyond the understanding of most men, had joined with Absalom and David knew he was bested; so he prayed to God for deliverance.
15:31 And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.
While David worshiped [remember the Hebrew meaning of that word which is to OBEY God] his friend Hushai came to him and it was decided that Hushai would return to Absalom to secretly defeat any further moves against David.
15:32 And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head:
The aged Hushai would be a burden to David on the run, but could aid him by taking a place in the court of Absalom and keeping the priests informed; the priests could then send their son’s as messengers to keep David informed.
15:33 Unto whom David said, If thou passest on with me, then thou shalt be a burden unto me: 15:34 But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father’s servant hitherto, so will I now also be thy servant: then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel.
15:35 And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king’s house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 15:36 Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok’s son, and Jonathan Abiathar’s son; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear.
15:37 So Hushai David’s friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 16
Ziba the servant of Saul’s son who had been given charge over all the estate of Saul, brings food and transportation for David.
2 Samuel 16:1 And when David was a little past the top of the hill [of olives], behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine. 16:2 And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king’s household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.
Subplot: While Ziba helps David to flee, Mephibo-sheth thinks that by remaining in Jerusalem he can subvert Absalom and take the kingdom for himself.
16:3 And the king said, And where is thy master’s son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father.
Then David challenged Ziba to asertain if he is loyal to Mephibo-sheth and is hoping that David will flee away and never return. Ziba then pledges his loyalty to David.
16:4 Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth [David then gives Ziba the possessions of the disloyal Mephibo-sheth]. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.
All of Saul’s descendants are dead except Mephibo-sheth; and Shimei a more distant relative of Saul also hates David for the kingdom’s departure from Saul.
16:5 And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. 16:6 And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.
Shemia cursed David for Saul’s sake, yet these things had come upon David for Uriah and Bathsheba. This Shemai was a very rich and a powerful chieftain of Benjamin as we shall see, and this matter was political in support of the attempt to take the kingdom by Mephibo-sheth, Saul’s son.
16:7 And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: 16:8 The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.
Abishai the brother of Joab then asked David to let him kill this man, and David acknowledged that this curse was because of his own sins against God.
16:9 Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.
16:10 And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?
David says that his own son Absalom seeks his life and he cares for nothing. David extends mercy to Shemai in the hope that God will extend mercy to him.
16:11 And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. 16:12 It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.
Shemai chased them across the Mount of Olives cursing and throwing stones as they went. Shemai was doubtless taking his vengeance and rejoicing over what he saw to be retribution for Saul and rejoicing over the thought that Saul was being restored by his descendant Mephibo-sheth.
16:13 And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.
David and his band came to Jordan and rested and refreshed there.
16:14 And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there.
Absalom comes up from Hebron to Jerusalem
16:15 And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.
David’s friend Hushai then appeared and declared “God save the king” which words were intended to be mistaken as loyalty to Absalom; but Hushai meant them as words for the rightful king David.
16:16 And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king.
Absalom then asks Hushai if this was loyalty to his friend David [Absalom might well have asked himself if his actions were the actions of a loyal son]; Hushai then wisely replied that he was loyal to God. Absalom thinking that he was God’s choice, was ignorant that Hushai had meant that David was God’s choice.
Let today’s brethren beware of this kind of double speak from leaders and elders today, and demand straight answers from them. Many say that we should be loyal to God while meaning and demanding that we be loyal to them because they consider themselves as having God’s authority.
16:17 And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend? 16:18 And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide. 16:19 And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father’s presence, so will I be in thy presence.
Then Absalom asked for advice from his counselors; and Ahithophel gave his evil counsel to revenge his family against David’s rape of Bathsheba and murder of her husband, thereby causing the prophecy of God by Nathan to be further fulfilled.
16:20 Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do.
16:21 And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father’s concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong. 16:22 So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
Atithophel was considered to be very wise and his advice was followed, fulfilling the prophecy.
2 Samuel 12:11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12:12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
2 Samuel 16:23 And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel [respected] both with David and with Absalom.