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The afflictions of David are not over, and therefore in this chapter we are presented with the preliminary step leading to a new scourge. By the ministry of Joab methods are adopted for a reconciliation between David and his son Absalom. The king permits him to come back, and after some little difficulty a good understanding is established between them.
2 Samuel 14:1
(1) ¶ Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom.
Observe, that it was David's natural tenderness to his son which Joab took advantage of. If the Reader will take the pains to examine David's history more closely, he will find that, for the most part, his sins and consequent chastisements, were induced by consulting the feelings of nature more than the glory of God. His winking at Absalom's murder was contrary to God's law. Alas! how little do we keep a steady eye to what the Lord hath said, instead of what we feel.
(2) And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead: (3) And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth. (4) And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king. (5) And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead. (6) And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him. (7) And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth. (8) And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee. (9) And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house: and the king and his throne be guiltless. (10) And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee anymore. (11) Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy anymore, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.
The Reader, to enter into the full beauties of this speech, will recollect how much it was the custom in the eastern world to discourse by story and parable. Nathan had adapted this plan to David in his own instance. See 2 Samuel 12:0 . And here the woman of Tekoah so represents the outlines of Absalom's assassination of his brother Amnon, that the king for the moment overlooked his own family distresses on the same occasion, in the supposed history of this woman. But the Reader to enter into the principal beauty of this story, must be careful not to overlook the grand point in that law, which made provision that an Israelite should not have, upon any consideration, the right of his inheritance cut off, nor his name destroyed from among the people. This inheritance, no doubt, had an eye to the covenant of redemption; cause the same law that made provision for this inheritance; made provision also for its recovery by redemption in the next of kin, in case of loss. See Numbers 27:1-11 compared with Deuteronomy 25:5-10 . Then turn to Ruth 4:1-7 . Hence you see how sweetly the whole of this gracious provision, respecting the inheritance of Israel, pointed to the Lord Jesus, our Goel, our kinsman-Redeemer, who both stops the avenger of blood in becoming our city of refuge, and redeems our justly forfeited inheritance, as our relation, by his redemption. David therefore, no doubt, perfectly well understanding the grand point referred to, concerning the inheritance of which the woman of Tekoah complained she should be deprived, and the coal be quenched, whereby a name, or remainder, would not be left to her husband; entered with more earnestness into the burden of her petition, and with an eye to Christ sware to the woman by an oath, that her case should be as she wished. Reader! think then, how eternally secure must be our inheritance, when Jesus himself, our kinsman-Redeemer, hath purchased it, and how sure the name he hath preserved to his people. This is to be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Isaiah 42:2 .
(12) Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on. (13) And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished. (14) For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him. (15) Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid. (16) For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God. (17) Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee.
The wise woman of Tekoah having obtained her end, as suited to her own case as it appeared to the king's view, now goes on to make application of it, as it suited the king's in the case of Absalom. And she touches upon that string which might vibrate most on the affectionate feelings of David; namely, that Absalom was not only banished, but, says she, it is thy son, thy banished one, Absalom. I think it hardly necessary to remark, what I should conceive, unobserved by me, the pious Reader would himself instantly suggest; that if David's heart felt for his banished son, what must be the heart of our God towards his poor banished ones, who by sin have committed murder on their own souls, and, but for his clemency in calling them home, must continue banished forever. O Israel (saith God) thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help. Hebrews 13:9 .
(18) Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak. (19) And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid: (20) To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.
If David could discern under all coverings, and all disguise, think how open must be all the thoughts and imaginations of our hearts to his view, with whom we have to do! Hosea 4:12-13 .
(21) ¶ And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again. (22) And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, Today thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant. (23) So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
Recollect, Reader, that before Joab sent the woman of Tekoah in favour of Absalom, it is said that the king's heart was toward him. The everlasting love of God to poor sinners is in himself and from himself; the springs of grace have no other source, but God's own infinite love and mercy. The Lord Jesus hath indeed purchased our redemption with his blood: but not the love of God, which gave rise to, and manifested itself in that redemption. I would beg the Reader to read a blessed scripture of our dear Lord's upon this point, that never can be read too often, nor too warmly cherished in remembrance, in the heart. The passage I mean is, that wherein Jesus prays for all the fruits of his Father's love for his people; but not for the Father's love itself. I say not unto you (said Jesus) that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you. And indeed it was this love of God which gave birth to the coming of the Saviour. See Joh_16:26-27; Joh_3:16 . And was it not this love originally; nay, is it not the same love now, which leads our gracious God and Father to call us to him in and by the Lord Jesus, our Almighty Intercessor for us at the right hand of power? Oh! glorious united source of all our joys! The sovereign, free grace of the Father; and the everlasting righteousness and advocacy of the Son; whereby the council of peace between the Persons of the Godhead is fulfilled, and grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:21 .
(24) And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king's face. (25) But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. (26) And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight. (27) And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.
Amidst all the beauty of Absalom's person, we hear nothing of the graces of his mind! Alas! what are all outward attractions but vanity. The Lord seeth not as man seeth. Concerning Absalom's family, the record of his children is but of short note, for they were soon cut off, as appears, 2 Samuel 18:18 .
(28) ¶ So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face. (29) Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come. (30) Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab's field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom's servants set the field on fire. (31) Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire? (32) And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king's face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me. (33) So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.
I did not notice, in its proper place, what was said of the king's refusing to see Absalom when Joab first brought him from Geshur; knowing that the same train of thoughts would meet us here. I pass over the mere history of the subject to remark what is much more interesting for us to regard, and which, as an improvement, seems to be suggested in the earnestness Absalom had to see the king's face; namely, how earnest ought we to be, to be brought to court, to see our father's face in the person of our adorable Redeemer! What are all the ordinances of worship in the house of prayer, except Jesus be seen in them. Oh! blessed Jesus! I would say to thee in the language of thy church of old, Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. Song of Solomon 2:14 .
BLESSED Jesus! Let me find grace from thee, dearest Lord, in the perusal of this chapter, to consider how very like to Absalom my heart is, when by sin and shame I have been running away from thee. But how superior, dearest Lord, art thou to the tenderness of the tenderest parents, in calling home thy banished ones to thy presence; for thou seekest them out, and instead of allowing them to return, thou bringest them home, and bringest them in, and takest them to the bosom of thy love and mercy. Oh! dearest Lord! how often hath sin and Satan made me their captive; and how often hast thou recovered me from their snares. Keep me, blessed Jesus, near thyself, and suffer me to wander no more. Let Jesus kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for thy love is better than wine.
In the mistaken tenderness of David to his unworthy son, Lord, lead me to see, and as strongly to feel, the evil tendency of nature's affection, when those affections are striving against God. Oh! bring down every proud thought and disobedient lust, which would tend to dishonor my God. Let me have strength from thee to pluck out an eye, to cut off a right hand, and do all holy violence to the improper demands of nature, when my God and Saviour makes it the mark of my duty towards him. I would be found, dearest Lord, wholly thine; and like Levi, not acknowledge my brethren, nor know my own children, which have not observed thy word, nor kept thy covenant. I would bend the knee, and bow myself with my face to the ground, in token that thou art my rightful Sovereign, and that I am thy servant; thou hast loosed my bonds. Therefore shall every good man sing of thy praise without ceasing, O my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 14". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany