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In what is happening in this chapter, we see part of David’s harvest of what he sowed for the flesh. His son Absalom revolts against him, expels him from the throne, and expels him from Jerusalem. This is the side of responsibility. At the same time we also see that God in grace is doing His work in David. The LORD is busy forming him further for His honor. We see how Da-vid submits to the will of the LORD.
Absalom Manipulates the People
The answer to the kiss Absalom became from his father is that he is preparing for a coup. He answers his father’s goodness with betrayal. He provides the right means and people around him. He gets up early – he is not lazy in the execution of his program – and also goes ‘on the street’, between the people. He acts as if he has the greatest possible interest in what is happening among the people. It resembles the cunning politicians of today who also operate in this way to acquire the favor of the people. They also all promise to make up for all the wrong things when they are in power.
Absalom cleverly responds to the feelings of the people for David. People will no longer have been so pleased with him, for his spiritual judgment has become weak, and the people will have noticed this. Now Absalom presents himself as the better candidate and promises that he will listen to them. He undermines the authority of the king to promote himself. He tells the people that he wants a post as a judge, because as things stand, nothing will come of the law. If he were a judge, it would be different. Everyone would get his right from him.
Without any enquiry, he tells the people who wanted to go to the king with a dispute that their affairs were “good and right”. That says the man who should have been sentenced to death for murder himself. It is the audacity at its peak. Nothing in what we read of Absalom indicates that he possesses any wisdom or familiarity with the laws. Nor has he provided any evidence of his love for the people, rather the opposite. Nevertheless, he wishes to be a judge. It is often the people who are least suited to an office who are most ambitious in their pursuit of it. Those who are gifted are usually modest and have no high opinion of themselves.
Inward Absalom is extremely cunning and hateful. He really is a picture of the antichrist. Saul was so too, but then as the one who pursued the remnant in David. In Absalom we see the picture of the antichrist who presents himself to the people, while the Lord Jesus has already come among His people, but has not yet subjected all His enemies to Himself.
If we apply this to today, we know that the Lord Jesus now has His kingdom in the hearts of all who follow Him. In this time, the spirit of the antichrist is working to deceive all who confess to belong to God’s people (1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:1-Numbers :). In Saul we see more the picture of the antichrist who manifests himself in the wilderness of Judah. In Absalom we see more the picture of the antichrist who manifests himself in the apostasy of Christendom. John mentions both aspects in his first letter (1 John 2:22).
Absalom also acts as if he is humble and the other is important to him, but he is a great hypocrite and does everything out of self-love. Thus he palms in the people. Through flattery Absalom steals the hearts of the Israelites who seek justice with David. The fact that Absalom gets them so easily behind them, says something about these people themselves, who are so easily influenced. They will not have known David either. Those who do not have a close relationship with the Lord Jesus can be influenced by other words. This is a real danger to all believers.
Conspiracy Against David
The number of “forty years” should in all probability be “four years”. After four years, Absalom has reached the point where he does the grip to power. The introduction to this is that Absalom acts as if he still has a promise to fulfil which he claims to have made at least four years earlier. The fulfillment of this so-called promise also comes very late. He says that his promise is a service to the LORD, which comes down to the fact that he wants to make the LORD sacrifices (cf. 2 Samuel 15:8; 2 Samuel 15:12). He uses the Name of the LORD vainly. He speaks only of Him to deceive David. There is in him no trace of respect for the LORD.
David has no knowledge of the hidden and corrupt intentions of his son. He lets Absalom go and even wishes him peace on his way. He has lost his spiritual discernment. In this history he is not a picture of the Lord Jesus. Here we see a father who has back a ‘lost son’, a son who now tells him that he has promised to serve the LORD! What would you rather hear as a father? It is the credulity of a parent who has not punished his child for his sins and now perceives with “gratitude” that his child “is seriously working with God”.
Absalom goes, with the blessing of his father, to Hebron, a place of remembrance. It is the place where he was born, it is also the place where David was anointed king over Judah and ruled for seven years. Absalom expects to have the majority of supporters there. That place is tactically chosen by him to be declared king. The two hundred men who go with him know nothing of Absalom’s plans. He knows how to keep his true intentions well hidden from others.
Absalom also manages to get Ahithophel, David’s counsel, on his side. Bathsheba is the daughter of Eliam and Eliam is the son of Ahithophel. Ahithophel is the grandfather of Bathsheba and that is probably the reason why he came to David’s court as David’s counsellor. This man is also a picture of the antichrist, that is to say of one aspect of it, in the evil advice he gives Absalom to get rid of David. In Absalom and Ahithophel we have the combination of the royal character of the antichrist in his moderation to be the king of God’s people and the spiritual or religious character of the antichrist as the false prophet.
David Flees for Absalom
If David gets the message that everyone in Israel is with Absalom, all that remains for him is to flee. The man who felled Goliath flees for his son. It does not seem brave, but it is still wisdom to flee now. David bows down under the discipline of God. It is not written that way, but his attitude shows it. Here in David we see a picture of the spirit of Israel’s remnant in the last days, when the antichrist is in charge.
When God-fearing people suffer, it is their desire that their suffering be shared as little as possible by others. We see that here with David. He flees out of love for the city. He goes out, which means “on foot”. It shows his humiliation and at the same time it shows his identification with his followers, whom he does not wish to hurry forward in his run. Absalom possesses horses and he makes use of them. It is the inverted world (Ecclesiastes 10:7).
His run seems to be a loss, but from this moment on there is an upward trend in David’s life. With God, winning is always through loss. We see David taking the lead again. He behaves royally again.
The fact that he leaves ten concubines to take care of the house, seems to be a somewhat naive action. If he has thought that Absalom will leave them alone, he will be deceived. Absalom will, according to the word of Nathan (2 Samuel 12:11-2 Kings :), engage in horrible, open fornication with these concubines (2 Samuel 16:21-Song of Solomon :).
His servants stand behind him, and also his whole house and all the people. Further there are “all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites” and six hundred Gittites. The Cherethites and the Pelethites and the Gittites are all Philistines. Except a remnant, the whole people of Israel are unfaithful to David, but from the uncircumcised nations there are those who follow him. From this we can learn for ourselves that if we follow the Lord Jesus, we cannot have high thoughts about our origin.
On his flight for Absalom David wrote Psalm 3 (Psalms 3:1). He also wrote Psalm 41 then, where he most probably speaks about Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 15:10. This verse is applied by the evangelist John to Judas (John 13:18), who is also a picture of the antichrist. With Ahithophel it is mainly his intelligence that we see as a characteristic of the antichrist. In his time his counsel was accepted as the word of God (2 Samuel 16:23).
From the strangers who follow David, Ittai, the Gittite, is specially highlighted. This is done by letting us hear a conversation between the king and Ittai. What Ittai says in it is an example for us. Ittai is a stranger, he is not an Israelite, yet he chooses David. The question also comes to us: ‘Who do you belong to? Do you belong to those who have the power today, or to Him Who is rejected and fleeing?’
As often happens in crisis situations, the people who are on the right side come to the surface. David asks Ittai why he is going with him. The answer Ittai gives will be the rendition of what is present in the hearts of the many. It resembles what the Lord Jesus asks of His twelve followers, when many others of His disciples no longer follow Him: “You do not want to go away also, do you?” The answer comes from Peter’s mouth: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:67-Judith :). Thus each of us is asked why we want to stay with the Lord. What is our answer?
In what David says in 2 Samuel 15:20 to Ittai, it is as if we hear Naomi speak to her daughters-in-law Orpah and Ruth. Naomi wants to prevent her daughters-in-law from following her on her way back to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:7-Ezra :). In what Ittai answers the king in 2 Samuel 15:21, it is as if we hear Ruth’s answer to her mother-in-law (Ruth 1:16-Esther :). He chooses to follow David without hesitation. He is like a young convert with a burning heart for the Lord Jesus. He wants to be where David is. This is not only true for him, but also for all who belong to him. He takes them all with him, after David.
The Lord Jesus said: “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also” (John 12:26). Whoever says he serves the Lord Jesus will show it by following Him and being with Him. This means sharing on earth in His rejection and later sharing in His glorification. If this really lives for us, we will wish it for all who belong to us, our children and family members.
The Ark Goes Back to Jerusalem
The crossing of David over the brook Kidron has a strong parallel with the crossing over the ravine of the Kidron by the Lord Jesus (John 18:1). The Lord Jesus also crosses this ravine to leave the city. He goes the way of suffering, on the way to the cross. He does so, while He is innocent and to bear the guilt of others. The Lord Jesus goes with His disciples, that is that remnant of Israel with which He makes Himself one. David’s fault is his own. David is here a picture of the remnant that also confesses guilt to the blood of the Lord Jesus.
Then come Zadok and the Levites with the ark. Zadok and Abiathar, who represent the priestly family, want to take the ark, but David does not. He doesn’t want to make the ark a mascot like in the days of Eli (1 Samuel 4:3-1 Kings :). He is not superstitious. He knows that God is with him and that he is not dependent on a visible sign. David orders the ark to be brought back to the city, because there he belongs. His heart goes out to God’s home. There he longs for, there he wants to be.
In view of this – and not in view of his return as king – he puts his life in the hand of the LORD. The words in which he expresses this are those also spoken by Eli (1 Samuel 3:18). With Eli it is resignation to the judgment that has been given to him, without it changing anything with him. With David it is different. He bows down and continues in the power of the LORD.
Of the return of the ark to Jerusalem we can make the following application. The ark is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus. The return of the ark to Jerusalem shows the situation that in the local church the Lord Jesus is again placed in the center and He becomes all authority. We live in a time when human ideas increasingly decide how things should go in the church of God. What right is there still to be able to say that believers come together in the Name of the Lord? As far as we are concerned, every right to it has been forfeited.
Yet it is still possible to come together to the Name of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 18:20). That is when we stand on the basis of grace and put everything in the hands of the Lord Jesus. Then we will be able to find Him – of whom the ark is a picture – and the place where He is among the two or three – of which the temple in Jerusalem is a picture.
Ahithophel and Hushai
The way of David, up to the Mount of Olives, is the way that the Lord Jesus also went. The Lord has wept twice, and both times this was done in this neighborhood: once at the grave of Lazarus, near Bethany, close to Jerusalem, and once when approaching Jerusalem (John 11:17-Job :; John 11:35; Luke 19:41). So it is here at David. He weeps, just like the Lord Jesus, because of the absence of peace for the city. We see the same feeling in all who follow him. They too weep.
When David hears that Ahithophel is with Absalom, he turns unto the LORD about this. With a short prayer, actually a sigh, he passes on his need to the LORD about this. It is as if David’s prayer about Ahithophel is answered by the LORD through the coming of Hushai, the Archite. The Archites are pagans. Hushai also is a disciple of David, a stranger among his countrymen. He comes to David on the summit of the Mount of Olives, “where God was worshiped”. Nice is that: the help David gets, and we get, is in a place that speaks of worshiping God.
When Hushai is with him, David also takes his responsibility. He acts after he has prayed. Prayer and our actions are connected to each other and not opposite to each other. He sees again clearly what needs to be done. Hushai is much more useful if he joins Absalom than if he joins David. With Absalom he can give David the best service. The sons of Zadok and Abiathar can act as couriers to keep David informed of the plans of Absalom Hushai found out. Further on we see that God uses this tactic of David to destroy the advice of Ahithophel.
In the last verse (2 Samuel 15:37) Hushai is called “David’s friend” (2 Samuel 16:16-Esther :; 1 Chronicles 27:33). Hushai has a unique place. Hushai is a counselor, but as a friend, someone with whom one shares one’s deepest feelings. Abraham was the friend of God. The Lord Jesus, when He is rejected, calls us His friends (John 15:14-Ezra :). He does not hide from us what He is going to do.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Samuel 15". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/