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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 14

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-33

2 Samuel 14:2 . Tekoah; a city of Judah, twelve miles south of Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 11:6.

2 Samuel 14:6 . The one smote the other, probably with some weapon, or sharp instrument. The lord Ellenborough’s Act directs that all persons cutting and maiming with such instruments, shall be capitally convicted.

2 Samuel 14:26 . He weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels. Poole, in his Synopsis of the Critics, has a long note here. The Septuagint, followed by Josephus and the Vulgate, reads,” He set,” or valued, “his hair at two hundred shekels;” for it is said to have been bought by the ladies in Jerusalem. Two hundred shekels, or five Roman pounds, would be too heavy for one year’s growth of his hair.

2 Samuel 14:33 . The king kissed Absalom; a full token of the royal favour as a son, and as a prince. Had Absalom been now a good man, all this had passed without regret: in this pardon of a fratricide David was too precipitate.


David, too indulgent to Amnon, was not less so, after a while, to Absalom. His feelings as a father gradually gained the ascendency over his prudence and fortitude as a judge and a king. David was perfectly aware of the atrocity of the crime, however mitigated by the provocation; and though the lapse of time did not diminish the guilt, yet it removed the painful recollections to a greater distance; while the affections of a father to an exiled son were invariably the same, David, long an exile himself, pitied the soul of his son, exposed to the pagan morals of Talmai’s court.

Joab, though a good general, and faithful to the king in all his troubles, here discovered a policy but too common to those who surround the throne. He studiously turned the king’s passion to his private interest. Chileab being dead, as is supposed, Joab saw that Absalom was the heir apparent; and he thought by bringing him back, he would lay him under such obligations as to ensure his own ascendency in the affairs of state, and in the military command. Joab had yet farther views, and views intimately connected with his internal repose. He well knew that the king’s conscience accused him for not executing judgment upon him for the blood of Abner; and he thought, if the king in regard to Uriah, if Absalom in regard to Amnon, stood in a similar situation of guilt, no man in Israel could then either make him afraid or ashamed. How mean is the policy, how many are the artifices of men, oppressed with conscious guilt, and loaded with public reproach. But all this finesse merely encreased his own and his country’s troubles. The web was so thin that the king immediately saw through it; and the web of the wicked, intended to cover their crimes, has generally some hole left, into which justice thrusts a finger and gives the whole a terrible rent. So in the issue it proved to Joab. But how contrary is all this artifice to the simplicity of the kingdom of heaven. Indeed, in earthly courts, the tinsel is soon worn off; and in God’s presence it is totally inadmissible. Except a man be converted, and become as a little child, he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Joab, knowing that the assassination of Amnon, when invited as a brother and intoxicated at a feast, was regarded with horror, wished to confer the honour of his recal on a third person, a widow of Tekoah, who no doubt had an only son in exile; and the relations, more wishful of the family estate than of justice, had still kept him abroad. The speech he put into the mouth of this woman is a specimen, that he was well skilled in the human heart. She pleads well for the life and liberty of her son; and so far she is a fine model for a sinner in pleading with God for pardon and salvation. He should take words with him, and fill his mouth with arguments, nor rest till he receive a pardon sealed with promises.

A kindness conferred on the wicked is but to make them the more ungrateful, and afford them opportunities of greater wickedness. To Absalom a limited pardon was insupportable; for he had no shame, no repentance, no love but to himself. He preferred liberty at Geshur, to the smallest restraints at home: and when fair speeches failed with Joab, he took the liberty of burning his corn. He wanted to see the king’s face, but more through pride than filial affection. Here is a true portrait of a bad man under national or ecclesiastical displeasure: the pride and naughtiness of his heart reproach the fairest sentence, and revolt at the mildest strokes of justice. To rise gradually by repentance, piety and virtue, the only way in which an offender can rise in the eyes of heaven, is to him insupportable. He therefore justifies himself, and demands with threats immediate restoration: and the receiving of such a character to the peace of the church, is too often as the restoration of Absalom, pregnant with greater mischiefs than all his former faults. What wisdom, what firmness, what compassion should distinguish the ministers of justice, and those entrusted with discipline in the church.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 14". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/2-samuel-14.html. 1835.
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