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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 17

Verses 1-29

2 Samuel 17:17 . En-rogel was near Jerusalem. Joshua 15:7-8.

2 Samuel 17:21 . Thus hath Ahithophel counselled. This disclosure of Absalom’s plans saved David from being surprised, and drove him across the Jordan, where he received strength in Gilead, and supplies from Shobi, viceroy of the Ammonites. In this case wisdom was more than might. The royal person is safer to be surrounded with pious men, than with an assembly of atheists.

2 Samuel 17:25 . Amasa, whose mother was David’s niece, but being a love-child he had not been much noticed by the king. He now hoped to find a princely rank with Absalom. Abigail had formed a connection with Ithra while in exile on account of David, as it would seem. Amasa’s father is here called an Israelite, which must have been mis-written. The LXX read Jezreelite, and in 1 Chronicles 2:17, he is called an Ishmaelite.

2 Samuel 17:27 . Shobi, brother of king Hanun, who had contumeliously treated David’s messengers of peace and congratulation. He now made a grateful return for being placed on his brother’s throne.

REFLECTIONS.

Absalom, flushed to find himself at once in the palace and fortress of his father, instantly convened his council. But though he had the ark and the priests, he never thought of consulting the Lord. To that sanctuary the wicked, having no hope, do not presume to approach. We proceed now to the second act of the council, in which Ahithophel, once for all, discovered his secret policy. This man, full of pride, as though doubtful of the talents of his prince, wished to select twelve thousand men, and to pursue the king while his army was weak and unorganized; that he might kill the king, gain over his army, and consequently reign himself, while Absalom enjoyed the name. What will not a depraved heart devise, while in the full career of crime.

The prince, and all his council, dazzled with the idea of instant victory, precipitately applauded the haughty speech; and with regard to the prompt and decisive execution of the plan, it certainly had a fair appearance; and speeches to the same effect, have often been made in the councils of Greece and of Rome. But that Absalom should applaud the killing of his father; a father who had pardoned his crime; who had called him from exile, received him to favour, and indulged him with guards as successor to the throne, fills the mind with horror and indignation. Wicked and abandoned man, are these thy returns? Surely thou art infatuated, and nigh to destruction. Let parents learn to curb every rising of wickedness in their children, for if bad propensities are suffered to grow, we know not what the fruits may be.

Though Ahithophel had dazzled the council by a brilliant address, and a specious scheme, Hushai had the stronger powers of wisdom and knowledge; for it often occurs, that the most popular have not the best talents. This statesman being called to give his opinion, began by opposing his opponent in modesty of language. Addressing himself to Absalom he said, “The counsel of Ahithophel is not good.” Thy father is a valiant man, for he dared not now to call him king, and his generals and guards have long distinguished themselves in the field; and their minds being now highly exasperated, they will fight as bears robbed of their whelps. Hence the force proposed by Ahithophel is too small. Thy father being weak in forces, but consummate in skill, will have recourse to the stratagems of war. He will hide in ambush; and if he should give Ahithophel but the slightest defeat, it will intimidate the nation, and be regarded as an omen of ruin to thee and thy kingdom. Therefore as every thing depends on the events of the approaching battle, I advise that the whole strength of Israel be collected; and if thy father, intimidated by so great a force, shall retreat to a fortified town, we will approach it with ropes and engines, and rase it to the ground. So shall all the enemies of my lord the king be in his power. This luminous speech irradiated every countenance in the assembly, except Ahithophel’s; for an audience listening to a consummate speaker, and not prepossessed against his plans, seem for the time to be deprived of reason, and completely in his power. All his sentences throw light on the subject, and every argument carries conviction. Thus the plan of Hushai was warmly applauded, and effectively adopted.

Hearing this, where did the haughty and impious Ahithophel hide his face? After hearing his nefarious project so warmly applauded, how did he bear, and in the same sitting, to hear the speech of his rival expose his folly, and sway the council? Bear it he could not. His daring hauteur was overpowered with the weight of shame; the gloom of death overshadowed his countenance, and the anguish of hell seized his soul. Unable to bear the sight of a board, where no man before had scarcely dared to combat his opinion, he retired; and inspired by the terrors of his conscience, he predicted the ruin of Absalom, and the consequent restoration of the king. Though he well knew the clemency of David, yet he concluded that his crime, in every view, was too great to receive a pardon. Besides, his pride, which had aspired at being the virtual king, was too great to support the public odium. Therefore, settling his affairs, he suspended himself by a cord, and died in full revolt against his king, and against his God. Yea, he died a proverb of folly, who had lived famed for wisdom. The Lord make us humble in heart, and keep us back from presumptuous sins.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/2-samuel-17.html. 1835.