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2 Samuel 15

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Absalom's Conspiracy

1 After this Absalom 1got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
2 And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside 2the 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,"
3 Absalom would say to him, "See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you."
4 Then Absalom would say, 3"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."
5 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.
6 Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
7 And at the end of four[a] years Absalom said to the king, "Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the LORD, in Hebron.
8 For your servant 4vowed a vow 5while I lived at Geshur in Aram, saying, 'If the LORD will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to[b] the LORD.'"
9 The king said to him, 6"Go in peace." So he arose and went to Hebron.
10 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!'"
11 With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem 7who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing.
12 And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for[c]8Ahithophel the Gilonite, 9David's counselor, from his city 10Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom 11kept increasing.

David Flees Jerusalem

13 And a messenger came to David, saying, 12"The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom."
14 Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, "Arise, and let us 13flee, 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."
15 And the king's servants said to the king, "Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides."
16 So the king went out, and all his household after him. And the king left 14ten concubines to keep the house.
17 And the king went out, and all the people after him. And they halted at the last house.
18 And 15all his servants passed by him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from 16Gath, passed on before the king.
19 Then the king said to 17Ittai 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.
20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go 18I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the LORD show[d] steadfast love and faithfulness to you."
21 But Ittai answered the king, 19"As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, 20wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be."
22 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.
23 And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed 21the brook 22Kidron, and all the people passed on toward 23the wilderness.
24 And 24Abiathar came up, and behold, 25Zadok came also with all the Levites, 26bearing 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.
25 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 27bring me back and let me see both it and his 28dwelling place.
26 But if he says, 'I have no 29pleasure in you,' behold, here I am, 30let him do to me what seems good to him."
27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, "Are you not a 31seer? Go back[e] to the city in peace, with 32your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
28 See, I will wait at 33the fords of 34the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me."
29 So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.
30 But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, 35barefoot and 36with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, 37weeping as they went.
31 And it was told David, "Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom." And David said, "O LORD, please 38turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness."
32 While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai 39the Archite came to meet him 40with his coat torn and 41dirt on his head.
33 David said to him, "If you go on with me, you will be 42a burden to me.
34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, 43'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.
35 Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king's house, 44tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.
36 Behold, 45their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, and Jonathan, Abiathar's son, 46and by them you shall send to me everything you hear."
37 So Hushai, 47David's friend, came into the city, 48just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 15 Commentary

Chapter 15

Absalom's ambition. (1-6) His conspiracy. (7-12) David leaves Jerusalem. (13-23) David sends back the ark. (24-30) He prays against Ahithophel's counsel. (31-37)

Verses 1-6 David allows Absalom's pomp. Those parents know not what they do, who indulge a proud humour in their children: many young people are ruined by pride. And those commonly are most eager for authority who least understand its duties.

Verses 7-12 See how willing tender parents are to believe the best concerning their children. But how easy and how wicked is it, for children to take advantage of good parents, and to deceive them with the show of religion! The principal men of Jerusalem joined Absalom's feast upon his sacrifice. Pious persons are glad to see others appear religious, and this gives occasion for deceptions. The policy of wicked men, and the subtlety of Satan, are exerted to draw good persons to countenance base designs.

Verses 13-23 David determined to quit Jerusalem. He took this resolve, as a penitent submitting to the rod. Before unrighteous Absalom he could justify himself, and stand out; but before the righteous God he must condemn himself, and yield to his judgments. Thus he accepts the punishment of his sin. And good men, when they themselves suffer, are anxious that others should not be led to suffer with them. He compelled none; those whose hearts were with Absalom, to Absalom let them go, and so shall their doom be. Thus Christ enlists none but willing followers. David cannot bear to think that Ittai, a stranger and an exile, a proselyte and a new convert, who ought to be encouraged and made easy, should meet with hard usage. But such value has Ittai for David's wisdom and goodness, that he will not leave him. He is a friend indeed, who loves at all times, and will adhere to us in adversity. Let us cleave to the Son of David, with full purpose of heart, and neither life nor death shall separate us from his love.

Verses 24-30 David is very careful for the safety of the ark. It is right to be more concerned for the church's prosperity than our own; to prefer the success of the gospel above our own wealth, credit, ease, and safety. Observe with what satisfaction and submission David speaks of the Divine disposal. It is our interest, as well as our duty, cheerfully to acquiesce in the will of God, whatever befalls us. Let us see God's hand in all events; and that we may not be afraid of what shall be, let us see all events in God's hand. David's sin was ever before him, ( Psalms 51:3 ) ; but never so plain, nor ever appearing so black as now. He never wept thus when Saul hunted him, but a wounded conscience makes troubles lie heavy, ( Psalms 38:4 ) .

Verses 31-37 David prays not against Ahithophel's person, but against his counsel. He prayed this, in firm belief that God has all hearts in his hand, and tongues also. But we must second our prayers with endeavours, and David did so, else we tempt God. But we do not find wisdom and simplicity so united in any mere man, that we can perceive nothing which needs forgiveness. Yet, when the Son of David was treated with all possible treachery and cruelty, his wisdom, meekness, candour, and patience, were perfect. Him let us follow, cleave to, and serve, in life and in death.

Cross References 48

  • 1. 1 Kings 1:5
  • 2. See Ruth 4:1
  • 3. Judges 9:29
  • 4. Genesis 28:20, 21; 1 Samuel 1:11
  • 5. 2 Samuel 13:38
  • 6. 1 Samuel 1:17
  • 7. [1 Samuel 9:13; 1 Samuel 16:3, 5]
  • 8. ver. 31; 2 Samuel 16:20; 2 Samuel 17:1, 14, 23
  • 9. 1 Chronicles 27:33; [Psalms 41:9; Psalms 55:12-14]
  • 10. Joshua 15:51
  • 11. Psalms 3:1
  • 12. Judges 9:3
  • 13. 2 Samuel 19:9
  • 14. 2 Samuel 16:21, 22; 2 Samuel 20:3
  • 15. See 2 Samuel 8:18
  • 16. 1 Samuel 27:2
  • 17. 2 Samuel 18:2
  • 18. [1 Samuel 23:13]
  • 19. See Ruth 3:13
  • 20. [Ruth 1:16, 17]
  • 21. 1 Kings 2:37; 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Kgs. 23:4, 6, 12
  • 22. [John 18:1]
  • 23. 2 Samuel 16:2; 2 Samuel 17:16, 29
  • 24. Numbers 4:15
  • 25. 1 Samuel 22:20
  • 26. 2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 20:25
  • 27. Psalms 43:3
  • 28. Exodus 15:13; Jeremiah 25:30
  • 29. 2 Samuel 22:20; Numbers 14:8; 1 Kings 10:9; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Psalms 18:19; Psalms 22:8; Isaiah 62:4
  • 30. 1 Samuel 3:18
  • 31. See 1 Samuel 9:9
  • 32. 2 Samuel 17:17
  • 33. 2 Samuel 17:16
  • 34. [See ver. 23 above]
  • 35. Isaiah 20:2-4
  • 36. 2 Samuel 19:4; Esther 6:12; Jeremiah 14:3, 4
  • 37. Psalms 126:6
  • 38. 2 Samuel 16:23; 2 Samuel 17:14, 23
  • 39. Joshua 16:2
  • 40. See Joshua 7:6
  • 41. See Joshua 7:6
  • 42. 2 Samuel 19:35
  • 43. 2 Samuel 16:19
  • 44. 2 Samuel 17:15, 16
  • 45. 2 Samuel 17:17
  • 46. 2 Samuel 17:17
  • 47. 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Chronicles 27:33
  • 48. 2 Samuel 16:15

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew forty
  • [b]. Or will serve
  • [c]. Or sent
  • [d]. Septuagint; Hebrew lacks may the Lord show
  • [e]. Septuagint The king also said to Zadok the priest, "Look, go back

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates how that Absalom by various artful methods stole away the hearts of the people of Israel, 2Sa 15:1-6; that pretending a vow he had made, he got leave of the king to go to Hebron to perform it, 2Sa 15:7-9; where he formed a considerable conspiracy, 2Sa 15:10-12; of which David having information, thought it advisable to depart from Jerusalem, both for his own safety, and the good of the city, which he did with his family, and guards, and much people, 2Sa 15:13-18; though he would have persuaded Ittai the Gittite to have returned, but could not prevail upon him, 2Sa 15:19-23; however, he sent back the priests and the Levites with the ark, lest any harm should come to that, 2Sa 15:24-29; and as he and the people went up the mount of Olives weeping, it was told him that Ahithophel was among the conspirators, on which he put up a prayer that his counsel might be infatuated, 2Sa 15:30,31; and Hushai the Archite coming to him at that juncture, he sent him back to Jerusalem to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, and to send him word by the priests what he should hear there from time to time, 2Sa 15:32-37.

2 Samuel 15 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.