May 16.—Morning. [Or September 28.]
“A flattering mouth worketh ruin.”
THE chastisements of God fell very heavily upon David from the time of his great sin, even to the end of his life. His children became the source of his trials. Amnon fell into the foulest sin, and Absalom his brother slew him on account of it. Absalom having obtained forgiveness for the murder, returned to the court and commenced at once to plot against his own father, who loved him far too well. In his attempts to undermine his father’s authority he acted very cunningly, using every art to win popular applause.
2 Samuel 15:1–12
1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. (Outward pomp often catches the attention of the populace, and therefore Absalom added to the attraction of his own handsome person the unusual magnificence of chariots and running footmen.)
2, 3 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. And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.
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!
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.
Absalom’s ambition led him to take great pains to appear affable and attentive to all. He was early at the palace gate and spoke with all suitors, being “hail-fellow well met” with them all. He flattered each one that his cause was good, and pretended to regret that justice was much neglected; and applicants were kept waiting. If he were king, matters would be seen to at once, and no one should have to complain of delay or injustice. Everybody said “What a courteous prince! What a just and careful ruler Absalom would be!”
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.
The hearts of the people were not won, but stolen, for the vain young prince deceived them. While pretending such zeal for their welfare, he was only advancing his own traitorous schemes.
7, 8 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. 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.
To crown all his other deceit, Absalom pretended to be exceedingly devout, and declared that he must make a pilgrimage to Hebron, in order to keep a holy vow which he had made in the days of his exile. He is a bad man indeed who uses religion as a stalking horse for his base ambition.
9 And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron.
10, 11 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. 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.
These persons accompanied Absalom to join with him in his devotions, and out of respect for the king’s son; but they were not in the secret of the plot. Absalom, however, used their presence for his own ends, by making the common people believe that these honourable men had left David and gone over to his rebel son.
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.
Ahithophel was the intimate friend as well as the counsellor of David; but he appears to have selfishly gone over to the faction of the young prince, because he judged it to be stronger than the party of the king. Thus David was brought into sore distress, his friends were forsaking him, his enemy was growing stronger and aiming to dethrone him; and worst of all, that enemy was his favourite son. What mists and black days befell David after he so sadly swerved from the way of holiness.
May 16.—Evening. [Or September 29.]
“The King also himself passed over the brook Kidron.”
2 Samuel 15:13–26
AND there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. (This must have sounded like a thunder-clap in the ear of David. While rejoicing in the belief that his son was religiously employed in paying his vows, the news of his rebellion was suddenly brought to him. David had rebelled against his God and king, and now he sees his own son in arms against him. How well had God kept his threatening that evil should arise to him out of his own house!)
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. (The city could not be defended, for its walls were not built; therefore, David had prayed, “Build thou the walls of Jerusalem.”)
15 And the king’s servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.
16, 17 And the king went forth, and all his household after him, and tarried in a place that was far off. (He must needs go on foot, though his wicked son had horses: he took his family with him, for he was always a loving father, and would not leave them in danger. Who can tell the sorrow which filled poor David’s heart? God’s rod smote him heavily.)
18 And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites (or executioners), and all the Pelethites (or messengers), and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.
These were his body-guard, and remained faithful when others deserted to the popular side. May we always adhere to our Lord Jesus, even though all the world should wander after the beast and the false prophet.
19, 20 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. Whereas thou earnest 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.
David was too generous to wish to bring troubles upon others; much as he needed Ittai’s help, he would not impose upon his kindness.
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. (After this true-hearted fashion we ought to follow Jesus.)
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. (The Lord did not leave his servant quite alone, but found him friends in his need.)
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. (The common people mourned with their king, and well they might. There was a yet sadder sight when Jesus, “the King, also himself passed over the brook Kidron.” O Lord, we see thee typified by David, and our hearts adore thee.)
24, 25, 26 And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: 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. (He was jealous for the safety of the ark and the priests, and therefore would not have them exposed to the same dangers as himself. He was also deeply submissive to the Lord’s will, and thereby showed how much his trials had been sanctified to him. It is a blessed thing when the visitations, which God sends upon us for sin, bow us in lowly reverence and humble acquiescence at the Master’s feet. So may the Lord always bless our family afflictions to each one of us.)
Jesus, whom angel hosts adore,
Became a man of griefs for me;
In love, though rich, becoming poor,
That I, through him, enrich’d might be.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 286–287). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.