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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
2 Samuel 15

 

 

Verse 1

2 Samuel 15:1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.

Ver. 1. And it came to pass after this.] Two years after, saith Josephus: all which while, Absalom had been hammering and hatching this following insurrection; God raising up evil against David out of his own house, as he had threatened, 2 Samuel 12:11.

That Absalom prepared him chariots and horses.] Pride buddeth, [Ezekiel 7:10] and ambition rideth without reins. Absalom will needs have a train and port like a prince and successor to the kingdom, so to dazzel the eyes of the common people, who are apt to judge of inward worth by outward gaiety, and to dote upon glittering shows, as they did upon Herod in his cloth of silver, [Acts 12:21-22] and upon Agrippa with his Bernice, when they came to the tribunal with a great deal of pomp. [Acts 25:23]


Verse 2

2 Samuel 15:2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was [so], that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city [art] thou? And he said, Thy servant [is] of one of the tribes of Israel.

Ver. 2. And Absalom rose up early.] As ambition is restless, and like the crocodile, groweth as long as it liveth. Hereby, also, he would make the people believe that he was very solicitous of their good, since up so early for the purpose.

That when any man that had a controversy.] So he showeth himself, as Jerome (a) calleth Crates, Gloriae animal, popularis aurae vile mancipium, basely popular.


Verse 3

2 Samuel 15:3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters [are] good and right; but [there is] no man [deputed] of the king to hear thee.

Ver. 3. See, thy matters are good and right.] Right or wrong, he, to steal away their hearts, smoothed them up with fair words, which are light cheap: telling them that their cause was very good, and condemning the judges as corrupt, saith Josephus, who had given sentence against them. This was very taking with the rude multitude.

But there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.] This was a base slander, as appeareth from 2 Samuel 8:15. But that is a small matter with graceless ambitionists.


Verse 4

2 Samuel 15:4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!

Ver. 4. Oh that I were made judge in the land.] It were pity else, you are so worthy a wight; let Pellican say for you. Absalom was an absolute villain, saith he, ungrateful, ambitious, arrogant, a hypocrite, a liar, a persecutor of his father, a subverter of the people, an example and monument of rebellious sons, and of all that persecute God’s servants. And was not this a fit man to make a supreme judge! Surely, such while they seek the greatest dignities, find the greatest shame; and like apes, when they be climbing, they do the more show their deformities.


Verse 5

2 Samuel 15:5 And it was [so], that when any man came nigh [to him] to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.

Ver. 5. To do him obeisance.] But should men bow to a molten calf, because made of golden earrings?

And took him, and kissed him.] By a counterfeit courtesy, which, in high degree, easily ailureth men’s minds, as do fair flowers, in the spring, the passengers’ eyes.


Verse 6

2 Samuel 15:6 And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

Ver. 6. And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel.] Courting them, and colloguing with them all alike, of what degree soever; so basely could this proud wretch stoop, that he might get into the throne. (a)

So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel,] sc., From David the right owner; and this he did slyly and secretly, so as neither the people nor David himself did discover it.


Verse 7

2 Samuel 15:7 And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron.

Ver. 7. And it came to pass after forty years.] Not after four years, as Josephus hath it, but after forty years, via, after David’s first anointing by Samuel, say some, [1 Samuel 16:13] seven or eight years before he began his reign in Hebron, and ending about seven years before his death. Others of good note begin the computation of these forty years at the time that Israel asked a king, as if it intimated thus much, - They would needs have a king. They shall now have so many kings that they know not well which to follow; and many of them shall perish in following the usurper. Samuel had foretold the people then - but they regarded not his words - that a king would "take their sons and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and some to run before his chariots." [1 Samuel 8:11] Now they see it fulfilled in Absalom, who affected the kingdom; and by this passage, after forty years, are reminded of their sin, and what a heavy burden they had brought upon themselves. Codomannus gathereth, that for the time of the year, it was between the feasts of the passover and Pentecost; because Barzillai the Gileadite brought to David for a present "parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse." [2 Samuel 17:28]

Let me go and pay my vow.] Here religion is made a cloak to rebellion, as in the Papacy is ordinary. He knew well that his pious father would be full glad to hear that he was a votary, and would further him all that might be.


Verse 8

2 Samuel 15:8 For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD.

Ver. 8. Then I will serve the Lord,] viz., With gratulatory oblations and peace offerings; when in truth his design was, not to serve the Lord, but to serve himself upon the Lord, by pretending his worship to his own wicked practices, and by drawing together as guests at that feast of his - usual at such sacrifices - as many as he thought meet to join with him in his intended conspiracy.


Verse 9

2 Samuel 15:9 And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron.

Ver. 9. Go in peace.] David was so blinded with fond affection, that he could see nothing amiss in Absalom; though otherwise he were sagacious enough, yea, suspicious without cause, as of good Mephibosheth. The Dutch have a proverb, Where God intendeth to destroy any man, he first putteth out his eyes.

And went to Hebron.] The fittest place for his purpose, because ancient and famous, the place of his birth, and where he had many friends. See 9:1. {See Trapp on " 9:1"}


Verse 10

2 Samuel 15:10 But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron.

Ver. 10. But Absalom sent spies.] Under a show of messengers and invitants to Absalom’s feast, but indeed to underfeel the chief of each tribe, and to acquaint them with the intent of the meeting at Hebron. And hereunto probably Ahithophel - that old fox - had paved a way by his persuasions; though for the present he had withdrawn himself, and lay close, as having learned to put others before him in dangerous actions, and, with the ape, to take nuts out of the fire with the paw of the cat.


Verse 11

2 Samuel 15:11 And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, [that were] called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing.

Ver. 11. And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem.] These were, doubtless, the principal men of the city; and this was likewise done by the policy of Ahithophel, (1.) That the plot might be the better concealed, since such confiding men were invited; (2.) That other cities, thinking that Jerusalem was for Absalom, might the sooner be drawn to follow him also.

And they went in their simplicity.] So did many of our forefathers after Antichrist, by whom, being kept in gross ignorance, they had the happiness not to know those depths of Satan, that is, the chief and most pernicious corruptions of Popery, God’s providence so disposing, Ut sub Antichristi sacerdotibus Christi populus non accideret, as Hillary hath it, that the people of Christ should not perish under the priests of Antichrist.


Verse 12

2 Samuel 15:12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, from his city, [even] from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.

Ver. 12. And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite.] Who doubtless of all his virtues made best vice of his dissimulation; as our historian saith of that Earl of Warwick in Edward VI’s days. See on 2 Samuel 15:10. Some think that Ahithophel joined with Absalom against David, in revenge of the abuse done by him to Bathsheba, - who is supposed to be Ahithophel’s grand-daughter, - and the murdering of Uriah, her husband.

For the people increased continually with Absalom.] Bewitched by his flatteries, as 2 Samuel 15:6, affecting novelties, αει γαρ το παρον βαρυ, (a) and incensed by Absalom’s boutefeaus, whose work was to black and blast good David and his government; but above all, God’s holy hand was in it for the chastising of David, according to what had been forethreatened.


Verse 13

2 Samuel 15:13 And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom.

Ver. 13. The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom.] So little trust there is to be put in the many headed multitude, a dangerous and heady water when once it is out. David had better deserved of this people: but he might now complain, as afterwards Frederick III, Emperor of Germany, did, that he found his good turns were forgotten, his favours ill placed upon those that proved treacherous. Or rather he might say, as Alphonsus, king of Arragon, since did, that he wondered not so much at his subjects’ ingratitude to him - who had raised various of them from mean to great estates - as at his own to God.


Verse 14

2 Samuel 15:14 And David said unto all his servants that [were] with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not [else] escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.

Ver. 14. Arise, and let us flee.] And so prevent, what in us lieth, the misery of a civil war, and the sacking of the city.

And bring evil upon us.] Impellatque super nos malum, push evil upon us by a sudden surprise. This he spake, not for want of courage, {witness Psalms 3:1-8} or of good company about him, but out of prudence, and willingness to serve God’s providence.


Verse 15

2 Samuel 15:15 And the king’s servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants [are ready to do] whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.

Ver. 15. Behold, thy servants are ready.] Though his own son rebelled against him, yet his servants remained faithful to him. So did they not to Muleasses, that wicked king of Tunis, in Africa, deserted of his servants then, when his son Amida rose up against him, and possessing himself of the kingdom, slew his captains, polluted his wives, took the castle of Tunis, and afterwards put out the eyes of his father and brethren. (a)


Verse 16

2 Samuel 15:16 And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, [which were] concubines, to keep the house.

Ver. 16. And all his household after him.] Heb., At his feet, or, On his feet. (a) He stayed not so long till a mule could be made ready for him. See 2 Samuel 15:30. Fuga fuit pedestris et lugubris.

And the king left ten women.] As hoping that they would not hurt those weak women: but God had a further hand in it, for the fulfilling of that threat in 2 Samuel 12:11.


Verse 17

2 Samuel 15:17 And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off.

Ver. 17. And tarried in a place that was far off.] Aloof from the city; and yet not very far off neither, as appeareth by that which followeth.


Verse 18

2 Samuel 15:18 And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.

Ver. 18. Six hundred men which came after him from Gath.] That had stuck to him in all his afflictions; then when he was at Gath, and now also that Absalom was up in arms against him. As any of these six hundred died, others of like fidelity were succenturiated, and set in their room; and these were to David as that Sacra cohors was to the Thebans, who esteemed them the prime of all their strength in battle, (a) God likewise setteth a high price on such as keep close to him in evil times. See Zephaniah 3:18, Luke 22:28-29.


Verse 19

2 Samuel 15:19 Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou [art] a stranger, and also an exile.

Ver. 19. Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite.] Who is thought by some, saith Martyr, to have been the king of Gath’s son, who was now become a proselyte, and lived in Jerusalem for religion’s sake: but this is uncertain.

And also an exile.] Tremellius rendereth it, Et etiam remigraturus es in locum tuum: and Diodat, And wilt quietly go to thy place; as if he would say, Thou art old and weak, near to thine end.


Verse 20

2 Samuel 15:20 Whereas thou camest [but] yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth [be] with thee.

Ver. 20. Should I this day make thee go up and down with us?] David had need enough of him; but yet would not do anything that had but a show of unwarrantableness in it.

Mercy and truth be with thee.] Mercy, the fruit of God’s faithfulness, covenant kindness. See Psalms 25:10. So Paul prayeth for Onesiphorus. [2 Timothy 1:18] And such prayers could not be ineffectual; for God will gratify his afflicted; [Zechariah 13:9] they may have even what they will of him.


Verse 21

2 Samuel 15:21 And Ittai answered the king, and said, [As] the LORD liveth, and [as] my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.

Ver. 21. Even there also will thy servant be.] Such fast and faithful friends are gone on pilgrimage; and their return is uncertain.


Verse 22

2 Samuel 15:22 And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that [were] with him.

Ver. 22. Go and pass over.] The river Kidron, [2 Samuel 15:23] since thou art resolved to live and die with me. This was some comfort to David, that strangers were thus stirred up to stick to him, when his own son lifted up his heel against him, and sought to get into the throne by making the dead carcass of his father a step to it.


Verse 23

2 Samuel 15:23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness.

Ver. 23. And all the country wept with a loud voice.] All David’s friends did, when Absalom and his complices were jolly and jocund: but their good times lasted not long.

The king also himself passed over the brook Kidron.] Which had its name from darkness, and was the town ditch. Herein he became a type of Christ, who passed over the same brook, when he was in danger of the Jews. [John 18:1]

Toward the way of the wilderness.] The wilderness of Jericho.


Verse 24

2 Samuel 15:24 And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites [were] with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city.

Ver. 24. And Abiathar went up,] viz., Into some high place to see what store came, and when they left coming out of the city. In a time of common calamity, every man must do his devoir. Hμεις παντες κινδυνευομεν, και ου παιζεις; Are we perishing, and dost thou trifle? said one to another, that in a great tempest at sea asked many frivolous questions. (a)


Verse 25

2 Samuel 15:25 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:

Ver. 25. Carry back the ark.] He believed that in his banishment God would be unto him as "a little sanctuary," [Ezekiel 11:16] and not withdraw from him his powerful presence and assistance.

If I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, &c.] This was a piece of David’s piety, thus patiently and peaceably to submit to God’s holy will and pleasure; well content to be wholly at his disposal. So did David Pareus when forced to flee out of Heidelberg, not long before it was taken by the Spaniard. Hear him in his "Heidelberga Vale."

Sic est, Sancte Deus, sio fert tua sancta voluntas:

Ergo silens oris comprimo labra mei.

Quin me redde meis si vis; si reddere nolis,

En adsum, quo me pergere eunque voles. ”

Of Mr Robert Bolton {a} also, that most eminent preacher, it is reported, that dying and desiring to be dissolved, he was told that it was indeed better for him to be dissolved, but the Church of God could not miss him, nor the benefit of his ministry: he sweetly replied in these very words of David, If I shall find favour, &c.; but if otherwise, lo here I am, let him do what seemeth good in his eyes. The like equanimity was in Ferdinand II, emperor.


Verse 26

2 Samuel 15:26 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.

Ver. 26. But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee.] As justly he may, for my many foul offences and daily disobediences, lay me aside as a broken vessel.

Behold, here am I.] Alexander the emperor in Herodian could say, χρη ανδρας γενναιους και σωφρονας ευχεθαι μεν υπαρχειν τα βελτισττα, φερειν δε τα προστπιπτοντα; It behoveth generous and wise men to pray that all may go well with them, but to bear patiently whatsoever shall befall them. A Christian followeth his suit for earthly things coldly and negligently, saith a reverend man, (a) as one indifferently disposed to them: or rather generously and nobly, tanquam Candidatus Caesaris, as a favourite of Caesar, as they were wont to say at Rome.


Verse 27

2 Samuel 15:27 The king said also unto Zadok the priest, [Art not] thou a seer? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.

Ver. 27. Art not thou a seer?] i.e., A prophet. [1 Samuel 9:9] And is it not, therefore, fit that thou shouldst abide with the people to teach and instruct them in the will of God according to thine office especially, since in so doing, thou mayst also do me singular good service?


Verse 28

2 Samuel 15:28 See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify me.

Ver. 28. See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness.] Where in times past he had lived, when he fled from Saul, and had found that God was not "a wilderness unto him, or a land of darkness." [Jeremiah 2:31]


Verse 29

2 Samuel 15:29 Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem: and they tarried there.

Ver. 29. Carried the ark again to Jerusalem.] From whence they were to help David by their prayers, and otherwise: like as David was afterwards to help the people out of Mahanaim. [2 Samuel 18:3]


Verse 30

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.

Ver. 30. And wept as he went up.] Bewailing his own sins, and the deplorable state of the commonwealth at that time.

And had his head covered.] As was and is still the guise and garb of mourners, [2 Samuel 19:4 Esther 6:12 Jeremiah 14:3] partly for secrecy’s sake, and partly for seriousness, that their minds might not be diverted or distracted. For which cause also our modern Jews do in their synagogues put on each man his taleth or square vestment, turning it back about their neck, that so they may be the more attentive at their prayers, without looking aside any way. (a)

And he went barefoot.] In token of sorrow and shame. [Isaiah 20:3-4] Whether his bare feet by the hard stones were forced to yield bloody tokens of his humiliation, as our Henry II did when he went on pilgrimage to Becket’s sepulchre, (b) we have not to say. Muleasses, king of Tunis, fleeing from his son Amida (another Absalom), was betrayed and taken by the sweet odours he had about him, and could not be without, no not in so great a danger.

And all the people.] Regis ad exemplum, &c. They sympathised.


Verse 31

2 Samuel 15:31 And [one] told David, saying, Ahithophel [is] among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.

Ver. 31. Turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.] This was done accordingly: great is the power of faithful prayer, The queen-mother of Scotland was heard to say, that she more feared the prayers of John Knox than an army of fighting men.


Verse 32

2 Samuel 15:32 And it came to pass, that [when] David was come to the top [of the mount], where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head:

Ver. 32. Where he worshipped God.] Looking toward the ark which was yet in sight; and himself not like to see it again in haste. His prayer might be like that of Pareus driven from Heidelberg as above said.

Da veniam, exaudi gemitus dextramque precantis,

Et pro me gnati suscipe λυπρα tui.

Hushai the Archite came to meet him.] As a sensible return of prayer.


Verse 33

2 Samuel 15:33 Unto whom David said, If thou passest on with me, then thou shalt be a burden unto me:

Ver. 33. Thou shalt be a burden unto me.] For at this time David was, as Henry king of Navarre was wont to say of himself, a king without a kingdom, a husband without a wife, and a soldier without money.


Verse 34

2 Samuel 15:34 But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; [as] I [have been] thy father’s servant hitherto, so [will] I now also [be] thy servant: then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel.

Ver. 34. And say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king.] Here David teacheth Hushai at the best ambiguo sermone ludificari, to mock Absalom with ambiguities, if not to dissemble with him. It is an easy thing, saith a grave interpreter (a) here, for the best men in their extremities to settle upon such counsels as are not exactly such as they ought to be.


Verse 35

2 Samuel 15:35 And [hast thou] not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, [that] what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king’s house, thou shalt tell [it] to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.

Ver. 35. Zadok and Abiathar the priests?] Qui facilem et fidelem operam tibi praestabunt.


Verse 36

2 Samuel 15:36 Behold, [they have] there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok’s [son], and Jonathan Abiathar’s [son]; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear.

Ver. 36. And by them ye shall send unto me.] Good intelligence of the enemy’s counsels and motion in war, is of greatest consequence.


Verse 37

2 Samuel 15:37 So Hushai David’s friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.

Ver. 37. So Hushai David’s friend.] This was honos aulicus proper to Hushai: but such honour have all the saints. [John 15:14-15]

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-15.html. 1865-1868.

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Friday, October 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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