15 After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
And at the end of four years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the LORD, in Hebron. For your servant vowed a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the LORD will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the LORD.’” The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron. But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.
David Flees Jerusalem
And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.” Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” And the king’s servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.” So the king went out, and all his household after him. And the king left ten concubines to keep the house. And the king went out, and all the people after him. And they halted at the last house.
And all his servants passed by him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king. Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.
And Abiathar came up, and behold, Zadok came also with all the Levites, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city. Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.” The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Go back to the city in peace, with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.
But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”
While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Behold, their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son, and by them you shall send to me everything you hear.” So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 15 Commentary
by Hank Workman
One by one Absalom won the hearts of the people. He cleverly laid out his approach, gave an impression he was one of them, when he was the furthest thing from it. This overly indulgent, self-motivated, upper echelon of society had the weak eating out of his hands. His evil deception would go from the light of a match to a roaring fire as he burned away his father’s support and gave an impression of being a worthy king.
He looked the part with chariots, horses and men running before him. He acted the part as he stood at the gate and heard people’s complaints and lawsuits. Stirring dissatisfaction with the current government. He spoke the part in how he would rule if he were king. The fickleness of the people, the charming deception of Absalom has by the end of the chapter him proclaiming himself king and David running away from the city.
It’s hard to understand why David ran but he did. Seemingly never able to pull the trigger in discipline with this son of his he paid for it personally. But in this even, he trusted God. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? But even as he was on foot and sending someone to infiltrate the council of the men to Absalom, he prayed for that plan to work. Psalm 3 is the recorded prayer David wrote when this entire chapter of his life unfolded.
“O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. 2 Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” 3 But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. 4 I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain.”Psalm 3:1-4
Although everything looked bleak, things seemed to be of no good outcome as people weighed in stating it was over for him, David looked toward God to rule the situation. It’s worth noting here that as the prayer opens, he’s praying simply for God to lift his head. He’s asking for God to protect him. Sometimes that’s the best thing to pray. We don’t know the outcome of whatever situation we may be in, but we do know God can bring the lifting of our head, our thoughts, our perspective to where it needs to be. We do know that He can be that shield about us as things go from bad to worse.
2 Samuel 15 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Absalom was good looking, charismatic, and a cutthroat politician. Modern-day politicians would do well to study the strategy of Absalom. First, he didn’t run a smear campaign against David. In fact, he doesn’t say anything negative about his father. He woke up early and made it his mission to find all the people who were troubled by the current administration. Then, he used his craftiness to illustrate that King David’s advisors would not meet their needs, but if he was king, he would.
The strategy worked brilliantly. People began to swarm around this upcoming and promising “king” who could actually relate to their struggles! Absalom’s plan made it seem like he was trying to help David with all these societal issues when, in reality, he was dividing the kingdom.
David flees, though many wonder why. He was strong enough to stand and fight this rebellion, but once again, he steps back and waits believing that it is possible the Lord has willed this to happen.
“There does not appear any reason why such a person, in such circumstances, should not act on the defensive; at least till he should be fully satisfied of the real complexion of affairs. But he appears to take all as coming from the hand of God; therefore he humbles himself, weeps, goes barefoot, and covers his head! He does not even hasten his departure, for the habit of mourners is not the habit of those who are flying before the face of their enemies. He sees the storm, and he yields to what he conceives to be the tempest of the Almighty.”Adam Clarke
It is remarkable to me that David’s fellow countrymen turned against him while the foreigners come to his defense. As he flees his city, all he can do is weep. He knows deep in his heart that the unfolding circumstances are the result of his own sinful actions. Although David would sometimes step back passively to evaluate the situation, he was always transparent and honest with God. He was willing to accept the tough love of God if necessary.