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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 17

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


The history of Absalom's rebellion, and David's difficulties in consequence thereof, is prosecuted through this chapter. Ahithophel's counsel being rejected by Absalom, and Hushai's accepted, Ahithephel hangeth himself. David receiveth secret intelligence how to act.

Verses 1-4

(1) ¶ Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night: (2) And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid: and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only: (3) And I will bring back all the people unto thee: the man whom thou seekest is as if all returned: so all the people shall be in peace. (4) And the saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel.

No doubt the advice of Ahithophel was founded in strong human policy. Poor David, considered in himself and his little army, could have made but feeble resistance. But what a wretch was Absalom, and how lost to all grace the elders of Israel, to be pleased with such an infamous counsel. Reader! do pause here, to remark how different the conduct of the father and the son in the pursuit of a kingdom. David, though anointed by the LORD's command to the kingdom many years before Saul's death, yet waited patiently his death, and even after that, was content to reign only in Hebron, until the LORD should bring him over the whole kingdom. But Absalom, an usurper, and an usurper against the throne and life of his own father, hastens to universal monarchy in defiance of the LORD. But, Reader, let us drop David and his history, to attend to David's LORD. As David was an eminent type of JESUS, we may safely look for the outlines of JESUS'S history, upon all occasions of importance which we meet with in David's life. Was not then this persecution of David by his own son, a lively resemblance of the persecution of the LORD JESUS, by his own people the Jews? And as to the personal attack on David, according to Ahithophel's advice, I will smite the king only; can there be a more striking circumstance of the personal hatred the Jews had to our dear LORD, whose dislike the LORD figured out, under the similitude of the parable; Come, let us kill the heir, and the inheritance shall be ours. Matthew 21:38 . And who is there that can read the counsel of Ahithophel, that all the people should have peace, if the man whom Absalom sought alone to destroy was taken off; who is there that can read this, and overlook the striking affinity between this advice of Ahithophel, and Caiaphas's prophetical declaration, though unconscious what he said, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. Precious JESUS! of what infinite importance must have been thy death, that the HOLY GHOST in glorifying of thee, was graciously pleased to sketch the outlines of it in so gracious a manner! Oh! LORD! fulfil the precious part of this prophecy yet to be fulfilled; and as thou art the Shiloh, to whom Jacob, when dying, prophesied that the gathering of the people should be; do thou hasten, LORD, the hour, and gather together in one the people of GOD which are yet scattered abroad. John 11:49-52 , compared with Genesis 49:10 .

Verses 5-14

(5) Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he saith. (6) And when Hushai was come to Absalom, Absalom spake unto him, saying, Ahithophel hath spoken after this manner: shall we do after his saying? if not; speak thou. (7) And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time. (8) For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people. (9) Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom. (10) And he also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt: for all Israel knoweth that thy father is a mighty man, and they which be with him are valiant men. (11) Therefore I counsel that all Israel be generally gathered unto thee, from Daniel even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine own person. (12) So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground: and of him and of all the men that are with him there shall not be left so much as one. (13) Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there. (14) And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.

The close of those verses throws a light upon the whole matter contained in them. Nothing but the overruling power of GOD could have made Absalom and his party attend to such advice as Hushai's. It was impolitic: it was foolish: it was cowardly. But, the LORD taketh the wise in their own craftiness. Job 5:13 . But, Reader, here again, as in the former instance, behold a nobler subject suggested to our meditation in the view of JESUS: Though the Ahithophels of our LORD's day, and the whole council of the Jews all joined together to kill the LORD of life and glory; yet in all they designed, and in all they wrought, they only (as the apostles, in the prayer, beautifully expressed it) did that which the hand and counsel of the LORD determined before to be done. Acts 4:27-28 . Oh! it is a precious thing in our holy faith, ever to eye the LORD in all events concerning JESUS and his people.

Verses 15-16

(15) ¶ Then said Hushai unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and thus have I counselled. (16) Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, Lodge not this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily pass over; lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that are with him.

Hushai, the faithful friend of David, here followed up his services. He was not certain that Absalom, though at present well pleased with his counsel, might not alter his opinion; and if so, David could not be safe. Our dear LORD had frequent occasion, before his final sufferings and death, to secure himself from the immediate malice of his foes. See Luk_4:28-30; Luk_13:31-32 .

Verses 17-21

(17) Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by Enrogel; for they might not be seen to come into the city: and a wench went and told them; and they went and told king David. (18) Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom: but they went both of them away quickly, and came to a man's house in Bahurim, which had a well in his court; whither they went down. (19) And the woman took and spread a covering over the well's mouth, and spread ground corn thereon; and the thing was not known. (20) And when Absalom's servants came to the woman to the house, they said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They be gone over the brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. (21) And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David, and said unto David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water: for thus hath Ahithophel counselled against you.

Here we behold a renewed instance of the LORD's overruling power. It would be incredible, but for this, to account how it was that Absalom's suspicion had not been more excited by the departure of the two sons of Zadok and Abiathar. And the least suspicion would have ruined the whole plan, and involved Hushai, Zadok, and all the priests at Jerusalem in it. But the scripture before us explains all: The LORD had appointed to bring evil upon Absalom. Awful, when men are given up to a deluded blindness! See that instance of Eli's sons; 1 Samuel 2:25 .

Verse 22

(22) ¶ Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over Jordan: by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over Jordan.

It is supposed that David wrote Psalms 42:1-11 and Psalms 43:1-5 upon this occasion; because he speaks there of his remembrance of GOD, as his GOD in covenant, from the land of Jordan and the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar; and I think it more than probable. The HOLY GHOST doth evidently pour out, in a more copious manner, his precious effusions to endear JESUS, when all other comforts run low. Jordan's sacred river, and the land of Hermon, refreshed the recollection of David concerning former trials. And, Reader, have you not found that past afflictions have brought to the recollection present joy. I believe that GOD'S people would have been strangers to many an holy joy and sweet fellowship with their JESUS, had they been without some of their deepest crosses. We may say, therefore, in this sense, the hill of Mizar, in the sweets of recollecting grace, and mercy after, abundantly overpays the painful ascent of it, in the day of David's trouble. But let us drop David: let us view JESUS passing over the brook Kidron with his disciples. And, as David and all his troop by the morning light were safely landed on the other side, and there lacked not one of them; so, depend upon it, in the everlasting morning, on the eternal hills, when all the followers of JESUS have waded through the Jordan of death, JESUS will again say, Of all that thou hast given me I have lost none. John 17:9 .

Verse 23

(23) And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.

Here we see the dreadful end of bad men. Like another Judas, he falls unpitied, unregarded. His name Ahithophel, which signifies the brother of a fool, best marked his end; for he died as a fool died. If, as some suppose, David wrote Psalms 55:1-23 on this man's account, when he prayed GOD to turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness, we see how fully the LORD answered his prayer. There are several verses in this Psalm striking to this point. See Psalms 55:12-15; Psalms 55:12-15 .

Verses 24-29

(24) Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. (25) And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother. (26) So Israel and Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead. (27) And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, (28) Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse, (29) And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.

We have here a view of the different armies. But behold, Reader, him the LORD provided for his servant, and raised up friends to support him in the wilderness. But oh! how infinitely short are these things, to what the LORD JESUS is doing for his little army, in all their wilderness dispensations. Yes! dear LORD! thou knowest that thy people are hungry, and weary, and thirsty; but thou givest them that bread of life and that water of life in secret, which is thyself; and thou art to them, that rest wherewith thou causeth the weary to rest, and their refreshment; of which the honey, and butter, and sheep, and beds, and basons, and parched corn, given to David, were but faint resemblances! John 6:51 , etc.

Verse 29


READER! let not this chapter pass away from our review, until that we have first gathered from it those gracious instructions, the HOLY GHOST so kindly gives us in it. Do you not behold, in the restraints of Ahithophel's advice, a resemblance of that restraining power of our gracious GOD, over the enemies of our salvation? Would not the Absaloms of the present day, like mad horses, come upon us while we are weary and weak-handed, and tread down and trample us under their feet? And how is it that our enemies are prevented from destroying us? LORD, it is the bridle of thy providence, which thou hast put into their jaws; and thy fear, by which thou overrulest the designs of their hearts. Yes! dearest JESUS! it is thou which, by keeping the reins of government in thine hands, controlest their power; and thou speakest to them as to the proud waves; Hitherto shall ye come, and no further! Methinks I hear thee saying now to my soul, as to the church of Smyrna of old; Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer: though the devil will cast some of you into prison, it is only that you may be tried; and though you have tribulation for ten days, yet fear not. No! blessed LORD! be thou my Counsellor, my strength, my confidence, and I shall never fear. I know that the devil would, but for thee, cast us (not into prison, but) into hell. And I know that in his prison he would keep thy people until they rotted, and died there. But he dare not: ten days only, is his limitation! Oh! keep me faithful unto death, and I shall have from thee, the crown of life which fadeth not away.

Reader! let David's troubles, sweetened and sanctified as they were at the river Jordan, and the hill Mizar, bring with them to our view, this gracious conviction; sanctified sorrows are precious things. A real sanctified sorrow, in the present wilderness, can never come too often. JESUS parcels them out to his people from his own unerring wisdom and love; and the cover of everyone of them is marked in his own blessed hand: as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Depend upon it, in David's view, when he came to sum up his mercies, those he counted most precious, which had brought with them most of GOD. And in our estimate of real blessings, whether trouble or joy, our calculation will be the same, if so be we know the LORD, as he did. Lead me then, dearest LORD JESUS! lead me as it seemeth best to thy infinite wisdom and love, through all the various paths of the present wilderness state, whether marked from the land of Jordan, or the Hermonites, the hill Mizar. Let the way be ever so intricate, ever so rough or thorny; yet if thou art with me, I know it will be a right way to a city of thy habitation. And oh! LORD GOD, fill my soul, my heart, all my faculties, all my powers, with the same love to thee as thou didst David's; for then my very tears, like his, which were his meat day and night, will be; to me, sweeter than the spiced wine of the pomegranate. Then shall the goings forth of my soul, bear a sweet correspondence to his devout aspirations, and my heart will be the echo to his, when he said: As the hart panteth after the water brooks; so panteth my soul after thee, O GOD . My soul thirsteth for GOD ; yea, for the living GOD : when shall I come and appear before GOD!

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/2-samuel-17.html. 1828.
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