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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

2 Samuel 15

Verses 25-26

DISCOURSE: 319
DAVID DRIVEN FROM HIS THRONE BY ABSALOM

2 Samuel 15:25-26. And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city; if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation: but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.

SIN, though forgiven, rarely passes unpunished in this present world: on the contrary, God marks his indignation against it here, in order to embitter it the more to the offender who has committed it, and to endear to him the more that mercy which has been exercised towards him. At the very time that he forgave the sin of David, he declared to the pardoned penitent, that the sword should never pass from his house, even to the latest hour. Accordingly we find, that David was afflicted in no common degree in his own family; and in such a way as strongly to bring his sins to his remembrance. He had dishonoured the wife of his friend Uriah; and his own son Amnon violates his daughter Tamar. He had contrived and accomplished the death of Uriah; and his son Absalom contrived and accomplished the death of his own brother Amnon. He had dishonoured God in the face of the whole world; and he himself is driven with scorn and infamy from his throne. Yet, though in this respect a monument of God’s displeasure, he was now living nigh to God, in the exercise of all holy duties, and heavenly affections. At no period of his life was grace more in exercise within him, as appears from the spirit which he manifested under his afflictions. To exhibit this spirit in its true colours, and to make a suitable improvement of it for our own souls, is the scope and object of our present discourse.

I.

Mark his spirit and conduct under his afflictions—

To two points in particular the text calls our attention:

1.

His reverence for God—

[David having suddenly fled from Jerusalem in order to escape from the sword of Absalom, Zadok and the Levites brought forth the ark to David, that he might be able in this emergency to consult it. But David ordered Zadok to carry it back: for, though nothing in the world was so desirable to him as the presence of God, he regarded this measure as highly inexpedient.
It was unauthorized; and therefore wrong. That sacred symbol of the Deity was not to be moved about according to the wishes or conceits of men. In the wilderness it had never moved, but as the pillar and the cloud, in which the Deity resided, led the way. And to dispose of it in this manner, without any direction from God, was such an act of impious presumption as he dared not to commit. He well remembered the rebuke which he himself had met with, when, with the best intentions, he had moved the ark without attending to the forms prescribed by God himself; suffering it to be drawn in a cart by oxen, instead of carrying it on the shoulders of the Levites: for the smiting of Uzzah was a testimony of God’s displeasure against him for his inattention, no less than against Uzzah himself for his presumption [Note: 1 Chronicles 15:13.]. He remembered too the judgments inflicted on above fifty thousand men of Bethshemesh for daring to look into the ark [Note: 1 Samuel 6:19.]: and therefore he trembled at the thought of acting towards it with irreverence or indiscretion.

It was also unnecessary. He knew by experience that God’s presence was not confined to the ark; but that he was accessible to his people at all times, and in all places. Often had he, when driven out from Jerusalem by Saul, made known his requests in prayer to God, and obtained from him the most gracious answers: and therefore he doubted not but that God would still continue to him his gracious communications in the time of need, notwithstanding the absence of that symbol, through which, under other circumstances, he ought to have been approached.

It was moreover unavailing. What could the ark do, unless accompanied by God himself? What had it done for Israel when taken from Shiloh to protect them against the Philistines? Of itself it had no power: and therefore it was taken prisoner by the Philistines, whilst those who bare it were slain [Note: 1 Samuel 4:11.]. And what if this unauthorized measure should lead to a similar result? How could he ever lift up his head again, after having brought such dishonour upon God?

It was impious. What was this, but to transfer to a creature the attributes of Deity, and to expect from, the ark the help which could proceed from God alone? This would have been to provoke God to jealousy, and to excite his displeasure at the very time that he most needed an interest in his favour.

On these grounds David sent back the ark; and humbly committed his cause into the hands of his invisible but almighty Protector.]

2.

His submission to God—

[Exceeding heavy were the afflictions of David at this time. He was driven from his throne; in hourly danger of being destroyed with all his faithful attendants; and this through the ambition and cruelty of his favourite son. Forsaken by some of his most endeared friends, and loaded with curses by his envenomed enemies, he fled in the most disconsolate state that can be imagined. Hear the pathetic account given of him in the following context: “David went up by the ascent of Mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered; and he went barefoot. And all the people that were with him covered every man his head; and they went up, weeping as they went up [Note: ver. 30.].” But his afflictions were great, no less in a spiritual than in a temporal view. Indeed it is in this view that he chiefly complains of them throughout the Psalms [Note: See Psalms 42:1-5; Psalms 42:10; Psalms 43:3-4; Psalms 84:1-4.] — — —

But in the midst of all, he submitted meekly to the painful dispensation, leaving it to God to order for him whatsoever in His wisdom he should see fit. He knew that, if God should interpose in his behalf, all should yet issue well, and he should yet again worship God in his sanctuary: but, if God had ordained otherwise, he was prepared to kiss the rod, and to bless the hand that chastised him with it. “If I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both the ark and his habitation: but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do unto me as seemeth good unto him.”
In all this he was doubtless actuated by a sense of his own extreme unworthiness: he saw that the affliction which was laid upon him, was an accomplishment of the threatening long since denounced against him by God himself, and “he received it as the punishment of his iniquity.” At the same time, assured in his own mind that the strokes were inflicted by a loving Father, and not by an avenging Judge, he desired only that God should glorify himself in any way which he saw best: “I was dumb, and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it [Note: Psalms 39:9.].”]

Confine not however your views to David; but,

II.

Improve the subject for the benefit of your own souls—

1.

See here the sufferings of that Saviour whom he typified—

[David was a most remarkable type of Christ, no less in his sufferings than in his exaltation to the throne of Israel. In all the Psalms where he speaks of his sufferings, he speaks quite as much in the person of the Messiah as in his own person [Note: See Psalms 22, 69.] — — — Even where he seems most exclusively to refer to his own case, he is quoted by St. Paul as pre-eminently typifying the Lord Jesus: “Innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart faileth me.” Doubtless these words, as far as they relate to Christ, speak of him only as bearing the sins of others, whilst David suffered only for his own: but the whole Psalm is in a very peculiar degree descriptive of the Lord Jesus [Note: Compare Psa 40:6-8 with Hebrews 10:5-9.]. Behold Jesus then as cast out by his whole nation, who said, “We will not have this man to reign over us [Note: ver. 23 with John 18:1.]!” Behold him forsaken by his own Disciples whom he loved, and betrayed by one who had eaten bread with him, even by Judas, who was actually typified by Achitophel [Note: Psa 41:9 with John 13:18.]! Behold him going over that very brook Kedron [Note: John 18:1.], pursued by armed bands [Note: John 18:3.], who sought and laboured to destroy him!

But behold more particularly His deportment under his afflictions. Here was David pre-eminently a type of Him. When the bitter cup was put into his hands, though he prayed for the removal of it, he said, “Not my will, but thine be done.” When loaded with execrations, as David was by Shimei, he submitted meekly to the insults, as the Apostle says; “When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” As David too was chiefly solicitous for the welfare of the very man who sought his life, (giving express charge to all to spare the life of Absalom,) so did our blessed Lord pray and plead for his murderers; “Father, forgive them! for they know not what they do.”
Thus whilst you admire the spirit and conduct of David, you may well take occasion to admire the infinitely sublimer spirit of the Lord Jesus.]

2.

Look to him as an example under any sufferings which you yourselves may be called to bear—

[This is the improvement which an inspired Apostle teaches us to make of the subject: “Take, my brethren,” says St. James, “the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” We ourselves are all exposed to sufferings, even as David was: for “we are born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward:” nor do we know how soon troubles may come upon us. The possession of a crown was no exemption to David; nor can any situation, in which we may be, prove an exemption to us. The more secure we are in our own apprehension, the more reason we have to expect that some calamity is near at hand. The saying, “My mountain stands strong; I shall not be moved;” will be a prelude to the hiding of God’s face, and the incursion of some heavy trouble [Note: Psalms 30:6-7.]. The very things to which we looked for comfort may become an occasion of the bitterest anguish. Absalom was considered as the most beautiful youth in all Israel, and no doubt had often been looked upon by David with inexpressible delight; yet this was the man who assassinated his brother and dethroned his father. And thus it is often found, at this day, that the objects of our fondest delight become, not the innocent occasions only, but even the guilty sources, of our bitterest affliction.

Are there then any amongst us oppressed with trouble? Let us look to David, and after his example commit our cause to God with meek submission and with humble affiance. Let us see the hand of God in our trials, and view men only as his instruments, raised up by him to fulfil and execute his will [Note: Psalms 17:13; Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 10:15.]. Let us view men and devils only as the axe or saw in the hand of him that uses it; and, under a sense of our own extreme unworthiness, let us “receive evil at the Lord’s hands as well as good,” and “bless him” equally for whichever in his providence he ordains for us [Note: Job 1:21.].]

3.

Seek a kingdom of which you can never be dispossessed—

[David was at that time the mightiest monarch upon earth: yet how soon, and how easily, was he dispossessed of his throne. To what then can we look as stable and permanent? Alas! like Shebna, we may in an instant be cast out from all that we possess, even as a stone is cast out from a sling [Note: Isaiah 22:15-19.]. But there is “a kingdom which cannot be moved,” and “against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.” This is the inheritance which our Lord Jesus Christ will give to all who truly believe in him — — — Of this David was secure: and therefore he regarded not the loss of an earthly kingdom; but willingly submitted to it, if God had so ordained. Do ye likewise secure a portion that is out of the reach of any enemies. Have God for your friend; and you need not care who is your enemy: for “if He be for you, none can with any effect be against you.” You may look with complacency on the gathering storm, and defy all the powers of earth and hell to hurt you. So did David [Note: Psalms 46:1-3.]; and so did Paul [Note: Romans 8:35-39.]: and so may the least and weakest of the human race: for “the lame shall take the prey [Note: Isaiah 33:23; Isaiah 26:6.]:” though they were prisoners too, “they should take those captives, whose captives they were; and should rule over their oppressors [Note: Isaiah 14:2.]:” yea, though they were even skin, yet should they rise to resume the conflict; and “their enemies should fall under the slain [Note: Isaiah 10:4.].” “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom [Note: Luke 12:32.]:” and, once possessed of that, “all tears shall be wiped away from your eyes for ever [Note: Revelation 21:3-4.].”]


Verse 30

DISCOURSE: 320
DAVID’S SUBMISSION TO HIS AFFLICTIONS

2 Samuel 15:30. And David went up by the ascent of Mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.

A CONSCIOUSNESS of ill desert has a tendency to reconcile us to the afflictions with which our sins are visited. In some respect indeed it embitters our trials, which the testimony of a good conscience would alleviate: but in other respects it has a good effect, in that it silences every murmur against the dispensations of a righteous Providence. The troubles which David had experienced in his family as the punishment of his own sins, had already been great and manifold: but in the rebellion of Absalom they were risen to their height: they were borne however with a spirit of piety suited to his state, and worthy of his high character.
Let us consider,

I.

The circumstances in which he was placed—

These were most afflictive—
[He was now driven from his throne, banished from the ordinances of religion, and in danger of immediate destruction. Now considering him as a man, such adversity must be painful in the extreme; and still more when we recollect that he was a king, and therefore susceptible of pain in proportion to the degradation which he suffered. But view him as a man of humanity, and then how distressing must it be to see his country involved in civil war, and to be himself on the eve of a bloody engagement with thousands of his own subjects! View him also as a man of piety, driven from the ordinances of religion, and suffering under the rebukes of an offended God; what can be conceived more distressing than such a state as his?]

But they derived ten-fold poignancy from the source from whence they flowed—
[The people that inflicted these wounds were his own subjects. Had he been attacked by foreign enemies, he would have gone forth against them with alacrity: but to be constrained to fight with those over whom he had reigned so many years, in whose defence he had so often exposed his own life, and for whose benefit he had laboured all his days, this filled him with the deepest grief [Note: Psa 55:1-8 with Zechariah 13:6.].

But amongst the insurgents was his own peculiar friend, from whose counsel and assistance he might have derived the greatest benefit. How keenly he felt this disappointment, we learn from the lamentation he poured out on this memorable occasion [Note: Psalms 55:12-14.]: and who that has known the sweets of friendship must not sympathize with him? But the bitterest ingredient in his cup was, that it was mixed for him by his own son; that son, whom he had so recently, and so undeservedly received to favour, and in whose professions of piety he had begun to rejoice [Note: 2 Samuel 15:7-9.]. As the most exalted joys, so also the acutest sorrows, flow from those who stand to us in the relation of children: and in proportion as this worthless son was beloved by him, was the anguish occasioned by his rebellious conduct. The insulting language of Shimei was of no account in the mind of David; that he was willing to bear [Note: 2 Samuel 16:5-11.]: but to be so treated by his beloved Absalom, was a grief almost insupportable [Note: ver. 30.]. And we doubt not but that every tender parent will readily understand how greatly such a consideration must have overwhelmed his mind.]

Let us next proceed to notice,

II.

His conduct under those circumstances—

Zadok and Abiathar had brought to him the ark, judging that it must be a comfort and a benefit to him to have access to God under his heavy trials. But David ordered them to carry back the ark, being himself prepared for every event, inasmuch as he enjoyed in his own soul,

1.

A confidence in God’s care—

[David well knew that God’s presence was not confined to the ark, nor his agency necessarily connected with it. He knew that wherever his enemies might drive him, God’s ear would be open to his prayer, and his arm be extended for his relief. Hence, though he honoured the ark as the symbol of God’s presence, he did not confide in it: but trusted in God, who was represented by it. He knew that, if God should be on his side, the efforts of his enemies would be all in vain; and that, however menacing their aspect at the present, he should in due time be brought back again in safety.

Such is the confidence which God’s people should maintain under all the trials which they may be called to endure. “The name of God is a strong tower to which they may run,” and in which they may defy their bitterest enemies. “If He be for them, none can be against them;” “nor can any weapon that is formed against them prosper.” It is the privilege of every saint to know, that his affairs are in God’s hands; and that as nothing can be done but by the divine permission, so nothing shall be done, which shall not work for his spiritual and eternal good. The language of his soul therefore should at all times be, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” — — —]

2.

A submission to his will—

[What God might have ordained respecting him, David did not know; nor was he curious to inquire: but, whatever might be the issue of his present afflictions, he was contented and satisfied. Well he knew that he deserved all that God could lay upon him; and he was ready to say, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him [Note: Micah 7:9.].” This is one fruit of sin, if I may so speak; or rather, of that humiliation which accompanies true repentance: we become reconciled to whatever God may do, seeing that any chastisement in this world must be less than our iniquities have deserved. O that in the prospect of the heaviest calamities we might have such a view of our ill desert, as should dispose us humbly to commit ourselves into God’s hands, and cordially to welcome every trial which his all-wise providence may appoint for us! Under every affliction, our acquiescence should be like that of Eli, “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.”]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/2-samuel-15.html. 1832.