2 Samuel 14
How Absalom threw himself out of his royal father's protection and
favour we read in the foregoing chapter, which left him an exile,
outlawed, and proscribed; in this chapter we have the arts that were
used to bring him and his father together again, and how, at last, it
was done, which is here recorded to show the folly of David in sparing
him and indulging him in his wickedness, for which he was soon after
severely corrected by his unnatural rebellion.
I. Joab, by bringing a feigned issue (as the lawyers speak) to be tried
before him, in the case of a poor widow of Tekoah, gains from him a
judgment in general, That the case might be so as that the putting of a
murderer to death ought to be dispensed with,
2 Samuel 14:1-20.
II. Upon the application of this, he gains from him an order to bring
Absalom back to Jerusalem, while yet he was forbidden the court,
2 Samuel 14:21-24.
III. After an account of Absalom, his person, and family, we are told
how at length he was introduced by Joab into the king's presence, and
the king was thoroughly reconciled to him,
2 Samuel 14:25-33.
|Joab's Stratagem in Absalom's Favour; The Art of Joab.
||B. C. 1029.|
1 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart
was toward Absalom.
2 And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and
said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and
put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but
be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:
3 And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So
Joab put the words in her mouth.
4 And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on
her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O
5 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she
answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
6 And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together
in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one
smote the other, and slew him.
7 And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine
handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that
we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we
will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal
which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name
nor remainder upon the earth.
8 And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I
will give charge concerning thee.
9 And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king,
the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house: and the king
and his throne be guiltless.
10 And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring
him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more.
11 Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD
thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to
destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the
LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the
12 Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak
one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on.
13 And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a
thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this
thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch
home again his banished.
14 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the
ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God
respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished
be not expelled from him.
15 Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my
lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid:
and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be
that the king will perform the request of his handmaid.
16 For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the
hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out
of the inheritance of God.
17 Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall
now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the
king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be
18 Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not
from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the
woman said, Let my lord the king now speak.
19 And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in
all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth,
my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left
from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant
Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of
20 To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab
done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom
of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.
I. Joab's design to get Absalom recalled out of banishment, his crime
pardoned, and his attainder reversed,
2 Samuel 14:1.
Joab made himself very busy in this affair.
1. As a courtier that was studious, by all ways possible, to ingratiate
himself with his prince and improve his interest in his favour: He
perceived that the king's heart was towards Absalom, and that,
the heat of his displeasure being over, he still retained his old
affection for him, and only wanted a friend to court him to be
reconciled, and to contrive for him how he might do it without
impeaching the honour of his justice. Joab, finding how David stood
affected, undertook this good office.
2. As a friend to Absalom, for whom perhaps he had a particular
kindness, whom at least he looked upon as the rising sun, to whom it
was his interest to recommend himself. He plainly foresaw that his
father would at length be reconciled to him, and therefore thought he
should make both his friends if he were instrumental to bring it about.
3. As a statesman, and one concerned for the public welfare. He knew
how much Absalom was the darling of the people, and, if David should
die while he was in banishment, it might occasion a civil war between
those that were for him and those that were against him; for it is
probable that though all Israel loved his person, yet they were much
divided upon his case.
4. As one who was himself a delinquent, by the murder of Abner. He was
conscious to himself of the guilt of blood, and that he was himself
obnoxious to public justice, and therefore whatever favour he could
procure to be shown to Absalom would corroborate his reprieve.
II. His contrivance to do it by laying somewhat of a parallel case
before the king, which was done so dexterously by the person he
employed that the king took it for a real case, and gave judgment upon
it, as he had done upon Nathan's parable; and, the judgment being in
favour of the criminal, the manager might, by that, discover his
sentiments so far as to venture upon the application of it, and to show
that it was the case of his own family, which, it is probable, she was
instructed not to proceed to if the king's judgment upon her case
should be severe.
1. The person he employed is not named, but she is said to be a
woman of Tekoah, one whom he knew to be fit for such an
undertaking: and it was requisite that the scene should be laid at a
distance, that David might not think it strange that he had not heard
of the case before. It is said, She was a wise woman, one that
had a quicker wit and a readier tongue than most of her neighbours,
2 Samuel 14:2.
The truth of the story would be the less suspected when it came, as was
supposed, from the person's own mouth.
2. The character she put on was that of a disconsolate widow,
2 Samuel 14:2.
Joab knew such a one would have an easy access to the king, who was
always ready to comfort the mourners, especially the mourning widows,
having himself mentioned it among the titles of God's honour that he is
a Judge of the widows,
God's ear, no doubt, is more open to the cries of the afflicted, and
his heart too, than that of the most merciful princes on earth can
3. It was a case of compassion which she had to represent to the king,
and a case in which she could have no relief but from the chancery in
the royal breast, the law (and consequently the judgment of all the
inferior courts) being against her. She tells the king that she had
buried her husband
(2 Samuel 14:5),--that
she had two sons that were the support and comfort of her widowed
state,--that these two (as young men are apt to do) fell out and
fought, and one of them unhappily killed the other
(2 Samuel 14:6),--that,
for her part, she was desirous to protect the manslayer (for, as
Rebekah argued concerning her two sons, Why should she be deprived
of them both in one day?
but though she, who was nearest of kin to the slain, was willing to let
fall the demands of an avenger of blood, yet the other relations
insisted upon it that the surviving brother should be put to death
according to law, not out of any affection either to justice or to the
memory of the slain brother, but that, by destroying the heir (which
they had the impudence to own was the thing they aimed at), the
inheritance might be theirs: and thus they would cut off,
(1.) Her comfort: "They shall quench my coal, deprive me of the
only support of my old age, and put a period to all my joy in this
world, which is reduced to this one coal."
(2.) Her husband's memory: "His family will be quite extinct, and they
will leave him neither name nor remainder,"
2 Samuel 14:7.
4. The king promised her his favour and a protection for her son.
Observe how she improved the king's compassionate concessions.
(1.) Upon the representation of her case he promised to consider of it
and to give orders about it,
2 Samuel 14:8.
This was encouraging, that he did not dismiss her petition with
"Currat lex--Let the law take its course; blood calls for blood,
and let it have what it calls for:" but he will take time to enquire
whether the allegations of her petition be true.
(2.) The woman was not content with this, but begged that he would
immediately give judgment in her favour; and if the matter of fact were
not as she represented it, and consequently a wrong judgment given upon
it, let her bear the blame, and free the king and his throne from
2 Samuel 14:9.
Yet her saying this would not acquit the king if he should pass
sentence without taking due cognizance of the case.
(3.) Being thus pressed, he made a further promise that she should not
be injured nor insulted by her adversaries, but he would protect her
from all molestation,
2 Samuel 14:10.
Magistrates ought to be the patrons of oppressed widows.
(4.) Yet this does not content her, unless she can get her son's
pardon, and protection for him too. Parents are not easy, unless their
children be safe, safe for both worlds: "Let not the avenger of
blood destroy my son
(2 Samuel 14:11),
for I am undone if I lose him; as good take my life as his.
Therefore let the king remember the Lord thy God," that is,
[1.] "Let him confirm this merciful sentence with an oath, making
mention of the Lord our God, by way of appeal to him, that the sentence
may be indisputable and irreversible; and then I shall be easy." See
[2.] "Let him consider what good reason there is for this merciful
sentence, and then he himself will be confirmed in it. Remember
how gracious and merciful the Lord thy God is, how he bears long
with sinners and does not deal with them according to their deserts,
but is ready to forgive. Remember how the Lord thy God
spared Cain, who slew his brother, and protected him from the avengers
Remember how the Lord thy God forgave thee the blood of
Uriah, and let the king, that has found mercy, show mercy." Note,
Nothing is more proper, nor more powerful, to engage us to every duty,
especially to all acts of mercy and kindness, than to remember the Lord
(5.) This importunate widow, by pressing the matter thus closely,
obtains at last a full pardon for her son, ratified with an oath as she
desired: As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son
fall to the earth, that is, "I will undertake he shall come to no
damage upon this account." The Son of David has assured all that put
themselves under his protection that, though they should be put to
death for his sake, not a hair of their head shall perish
though they should lose for him, they shall not lose by him. Whether
David did well this to undertake the protection of a murderer, whom the
cities of refuge would not protect, I cannot say. But, as the matter of
fact appeared to him, there was not only great reason for compassion to
the mother, but room enough for a favourable judgment concerning the
son: he had slain his brother, but he hated him not in time
past; it was upon a sudden provocation, and, for aught that
appeared, it might be done in his own defence. He pleaded not this
himself, but the judge must be of counsel for the prisoner; and
therefore, Let mercy at this time rejoice against
5. The case being thus adjudged in favour of her son, it is now time to
apply it to the king's son, Absalom. The mask here begins to be thrown
off, and another scene opened. The king is surprised, but not at all
displeased, to find his humble petitioner, of a sudden, become his
reprover, his privy-counsellor, an advocate for the prince his son, and
the mouth of the people, undertaking to represent to him their
sentiments. She begs his pardon, and his patience, for what she had
further to say
(2 Samuel 14:12),
and has leave to say it, the king being very well pleased with her wit
(1.) She supposes Absalom's case to be, in effect, the same with that
which she had put as her son's; and therefore, if the king would
protect her son, though he had slain his brother, much more ought he to
protect his own, and to fetch home his banished,
2 Samuel 14:13.
Mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur--Change but the name, to you
the tale belongs. She names not Absalom, nor needed she to name
him. David longed so much after him, and had him so much in his
thoughts, that he was soon aware whom she meant by his banished. And in
those two words were two arguments which the king's tender spirit felt
the force of: "He is banished, and has for three years undergone the
disgrace and terror, and all the inconveniences, of banishment.
Sufficient to such a one is this punishment. But he is
thy banished, thy own son, a piece of thyself, thy dear son,
whom thou lovest." It is true, Absalom's case differed very much from
that which she had put. Absalom did not slay his brother upon a hasty
passion, but maliciously, and upon an old grudge; not in the field,
where there were no witnesses, but at table, before all his guests.
Absalom was not an only son, as hers was; David had many more, and one
lately born, more likely to be his successor than Absalom, for he was
called Jedidiah, because God loved him. But David was himself
too well affected to the cause to be critical in his remarks upon the
disparity of the cases, and was more desirous than she could be to
bring that favourable judgment to his own son which he had given
(2.) She reasons upon it with the king, to persuade him to recall
Absalom out of banishment, give him his pardon, and take him into his
[1.] She pleads the interest which the people of Israel had in him.
"What is done against him is done against the people of God, who
have their eye upon him as heir of the crown, at least have their eye
upon the house of David in general, with which the covenant is made,
and which therefore they cannot tamely see the diminution and decay of
by the fall of so many of its branches in the flower of their age.
Therefore the king speaks as one that is faulty, for he will
provide that my husband's name and memory be not cut off, and yet takes
no care though his own be in danger, which is of more value and
importance than ten thousand of ours."
[2.] She pleads man's mortality
(2 Samuel 14:14):
"We must needs die. Death is appointed for us; we cannot avoid
the thing itself, nor defer it till another time. We are all under a
fatal necessity of dying; and, when we are dead, we are past recall, as
water spilt upon the ground; nay, even while we are alive, we are so,
we have lost our immortality, past retrieve. Amnon must have died, some
time, if Absalom had not killed him; and, if Absalom be now put to
death for killing him, that will not bring him to life again." This was
poor reasoning, and would serve against the punishment of any murderer:
but, it should seem, Amnon was a man little regarded by the people and
his death little lamented, and it was generally thought hard that so
dear a life as Absalom's should go for one so little valued as Amnon's.
[3.] She pleads God's mercy and his clemency towards poor guilty
sinners: "God does not take away the soul, or life, but devises
means that his banished, his children that have offended him, and
are obnoxious to his justice, as Absalom is to thine, be not for
ever expelled from him,"
2 Samuel 14:14.
Here are two great instances of the mercy of God to sinners, properly
urged as reasons for showing mercy:--First, The patience he
exercises towards them. His law is broken, yet he does not immediately
take away the life of those that break it, does not strike sinners
dead, as justly he might, in the act of sin, but bears with them, and
waits to be gracious. God's vengeance had suffered Absalom to live; why
then should not David's justice suffer him? Secondly, The
provision he has made for their restoration to his favour, that though
by sin they have banished themselves from him, yet they might not be
expelled, or cast off, for ever. Atonement might be made for sinners by
sacrifice. Lepers, and others ceremonially unclean, were banished, but
provision was made for their cleansing, that, though for a time
excluded, they might not be finally expelled. The state of sinners is a
state of banishment from God. Poor banished sinners are likely to be
for ever expelled from God if some course be not taken to prevent it.
It is against the mind of God that they should be so, for he is not
willing that any should perish. Infinite wisdom has devised proper
means to prevent it; so that it is the sinners' own fault if they be
cast off. This instance of God's good-will toward us all should incline
us to be merciful and compassionate one towards another,
6. She concludes her address with high compliments to the king, and
strong expressions of her assurance that he would do what was just and
kind both in the one case and in the other
(2 Samuel 14:15-17);
for, as if the case had been real, still she pleads for herself and her
son, yet meaning Absalom.
(1.) She would not have troubled the king thus but that the people made
her afraid. Understanding it of her own case, all her neighbours made
her apprehensive of the ruin she and her son were upon the brink of,
from the avengers of blood, the terror of which made her thus bold in
her application to the king himself. Understanding it of Absalom's
case, she gives the king to understand, what he did not know before,
that the nation was disgusted at his severity towards Absalom to such a
degree that she was really afraid it would occasion a general mutiny or
insurrection, for the preventing of which great mischief she ventured
to speak to the king himself. The fright she was in must excuse her
(2.) She applied to him with a great confidence in his wisdom and
clemency: "I said, I will speak to the king myself, and ask
nobody to speak for me; for the king will hear reason, even from so
mean a creature as I am, will hear the cries of the oppressed, and will
not suffer the poorest of his subjects to be destroyed out of the
inheritance of God," that is, "driven out of the land of Israel, to
seek for shelter among the uncircumcised, as Absalom is, whose case is
so much the worse, that, being shut out of the inheritance of
God, he wants God's law and ordinances, which might help to bring
him to repentance, and is in danger of being infected with the idolatry
of the heathen among whom he sojourns, and of bringing home the
infection." To engage the king to grant her request, she expressed a
confident hope that his answer would be comfortable, and such as angels
bring (as bishop Patrick explains it), who are messengers of divine
mercy. What this woman says by way of compliment the prophet says by
way of promise
that, when the weak shall be as David, the house of David shall be
as the angel of the Lord. "And, in order to this, the Lord thy
God will be with thee, to assist thee in this and every judgment
thou givest." Great expectations are great engagements, especially to
persons of honour, to do their utmost not to disappoint those that
depend upon them.
7. The hand of Joab is suspected by the king, and acknowledged by the
woman, to be in all this,
2 Samuel 14:18-20.
(1.) The king soon suspected it. For he could not think that such a
woman as this would appeal to him, in a matter of such moment, of her
own accord; and he knew none so likely to set her on as Joab, who was a
politic man and a friend of Absalom.
(2.) The woman very honestly owned it: "Thy servant Joab bade
me. If it be well done, let him have the thanks; if ill, let him
bear the blame." Though she found it very agreeable to the king, yet
she would not take the praise of it to herself, but speaks the truth as
it was, and gives us an example to do likewise, and never to tell a lie
for the concealing of a well-managed scheme. Dare to be true;
nothing can need a lie.
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21 And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this
thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.
22 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself,
and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth
that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that
the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.
23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to
24 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let
him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and
saw not the king's face.
25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as
Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the
crown of his head there was no blemish in him.
26 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end
that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him,
therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two
hundred shekels after the king's weight.
27 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one
daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair
I. Orders given for the bringing back of Absalom. The errand on which
the woman came to David was so agreeable, and her management of it so
very ingenious and surprising, that he was brought into a peculiarly
kind humour: Go (says he to Joab), bring the young man
2 Samuel 14:21.
He was himself inclined to favour him, yet, for the honour of his
justice, he would not do it but upon intercession made for him, which
may illustrate the methods of divine grace. It is true God has thought
of compassion towards poor sinners, not willing that any should perish,
yet he is reconciled to them through a Mediator, who intercedes with
him on their behalf, and to whom he has given these orders, Go,
bring them again. God was in Christ reconciling the world to
himself, and he came to this land of our banishment to bring us to
God. Joab, having received these orders,
1. Returns thanks to the king for doing him the honour to employ him in
an affair so universally grateful,
2 Samuel 14:22.
Joab took it as a kindness to himself, and (some think) as an
indication that he would never call him to an account for the murder he
had been guilty of. But, if he meant so, he was mistaken, as we shall
1 Kings 2:5,6.
2. Delays not to execute David's orders; he brought Absalom to
2 Samuel 14:23.
I see not how David can be justified in suspending the execution of the
Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, in
which a righteous magistrate ought not to acknowledge even his
brethren, or know his own children. God's laws were never designed
to be like cobwebs, which catch the little flies, but suffer the great
ones to break through. God justly made Absalom, whom his foolish pity
spared, a scourge to him. But, though he allowed him to return to his
own house, he forbade him the court, and would not see him himself,
2 Samuel 14:24.
He put him under this interdict,
(1.) For his own honour, that he might not seem to countenance so great
a criminal, nor to forgive him too easily.
(2.) For Absalom's greater humiliation. Perhaps he had heard something
of his conduct when Joab went to fetch him, which gave him too much
reason to think that he was not truly penitent; he therefore put him
under this mark of his displeasure, that he might be awakened to a
sight of his sin and to sorrow for it, and might make his peace with
God, upon the first notice of which, no doubt, David would be forward
to receive him again into his favour.
II. Occasion taken hence to give an account of Absalom. Nothing is said
of his wisdom and piety. Though he was the son of such a devout father,
we read nothing of his devotion. Parents cannot give grace to their
children, though they give them ever so good an education. All that is
here said of him is,
1. That he was a very handsome man; there was not his equal in all
Israel for beauty,
(2 Samuel 14:25),
a poor commendation for a man that had nothing else in him valuable.
Handsome are those that handsome do. Many a polluted deformed soul
dwells in a fair and comely body; witness Absalom's, that was polluted
with blood, and deformed with unnatural disaffection to his father and
prince. In his body there was no blemish, but in his mind nothing but
wounds and bruises. Perhaps his comeliness was one reason why his
father was so fond of him and protected him from justice. Those have
reason to fear affliction in their children who are better pleased with
their beauty than with their virtue.
2. That he had a very fine head of hair. Whether it was the length, or
colour, or extraordinary softness of it, something there was which made
it very valuable and very much an ornament to him,
2 Samuel 14:26.
This notice is taken of his hair, not as the hair of a Nazarite (he was
far from that strictness), but as the hair of a beau. He let it grow
till it was a burden to him, and was heavy on him, nor would he cut it
as long as ever he could bear it; as pride feels no cold, so it feels
no heat, and that which feeds and gratifies it is not complained of,
though very uneasy. When he did poll it at certain times, for
ostentation he had it weighed, that it might be seen how much it
excelled other men's, and it weighed 200 shekels, which some reckon to
be three pounds and two ounces of our weight; and with the oil and
powder, especially if powdered (as Josephus says the fashion then was)
with gold-dust, bishop Patrick thinks it is not at all incredible that
it should weigh so much. This fine hair proved his halter,
2 Samuel 18:9.
3. That his family began to be built up. It is probable that it was a
good while before he had a child; and then it was that, despairing of
having one, he set up that pillar which is mentioned
2 Samuel 18:18,
to bear up his name; but afterwards he had three sons and one daughter,
2 Samuel 14:27.
Or perhaps these sons, while he was hatching his rebellion, were all
cut off by the righteous hand of God, and thereupon he set up that
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28 So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not
the king's face.
29 Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the
king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the
second time, he would not come.
30 Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab's field is
near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And
Absalom's servants set the field on fire.
31 Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and
said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?
32 And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying,
Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore
am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been
there still: now therefore let me see the king's face; and if
there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.
33 So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had
called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his
face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.
Three years Absalom had been an exile from his father-in-law, and now
two years a prisoner at large in his own house, and, in both, better
dealt with than he deserved; yet his spirit was still unhumbled, his
pride unmortified, and, instead of being thankful that his life is
spared, he thinks himself sorely wronged that he is not restored to all
his places at court. Had he truly repented of his sin, his distance
from the gaieties of the court, and his solitude and retirement in his
own house, especially being in Jerusalem the holy city, would have been
very agreeable to him. If a murderer must live, yet let him be for ever
a recluse. But Absalom could not bear this just and gentle
mortification. He longed to see the king's face, pretending it was
because he loved him, but really because he wanted an opportunity to
supplant him. He cannot do his father a mischief till he is reconciled
to him; this therefore is the first branch of his plot; this snake
cannot sting again till he be warmed in his father's bosom. He gained
this point, not by pretended submissions and promises of reformation,
but (would you think it?) by insults and injuries.
1. By his insolent carriage towards Joab, he brought him to mediate for
him. Once and again he sent to Joab to come and speak with him, for he
durst not go to him; but Joab would not come
(2 Samuel 14:29),
probably because Absalom had not owned the kindness he had done him in
bringing him to Jerusalem so gratefully as he thought he should have
done; proud men take every service done them for a debt. One would
think that a person in Absalom's circumstances should have sent to Joab
a kindly message, and offered him a large gratuity: courtiers expect
noble presents. But, instead of this, he bids his servants set Joab's
corn-fields on fire
(2 Samuel 14:30),
as spiteful a thing as he could do. Samson could not think of a greater
injury to do the Philistines than this. Strange that Absalom should
think, by doing Joab a mischief, to prevail with him to do him a
kindness, or to recommend himself to the favour of his prince or people
by showing himself so very malicious and ill-natured, and such an enemy
to the public good, for the fire might spread to the corn of others.
Yet by this means he brings Joab to him,
2 Samuel 14:31.
Thus God, by afflictions, brings those to him that kept at a distance
from him. Absalom was obliged by the law to make restitution
yet we do not find either that he offered it or that Joab demanded it.
Joab (it might be) thought he could not justify his refusal to go and
speak with him; and therefore Absalom thought he could justify his
taking this way to fetch him. And now Joab (perhaps frightened at the
surprising boldness and fury of Absalom, and apprehensive that he had
made an interest in the people strong enough to bear him out in doing
the most daring things, else he would never have done this) not only
puts up with this injury, but goes on his errand to the king. See what
some men can do by threats, and carrying things with a high hand.
2. By his insolent message (for I can call it no better) to the king,
he recovered his place at court, to see the king's face, that is, to
become a privy counsellor,
(1.) His message was haughty and imperious, and very unbecoming either
a son or a subject,
2 Samuel 14:32.
He undervalued the favour that had been shown him in recalling him from
banishment, and restoring him to his own house, and that in Jerusalem:
Wherefore have I come from Geshur? He denies his own crimes,
though most notorious, and will not own that there was any iniquity in
him, insinuating that therefore he had been wronged in the rebuke he
had been under. He defies the king's justice: "Let him kill me, if he
can find in his heart," knowing he loved him too well to do it.
(2.) Yet with this message he carried his point,
2 Samuel 14:33.
David's strong affection for him construed all this to be the language
of a great respect to his father, and an earnest desire of his favour,
when alas! it was far otherwise. See how easily wise and good men may
be imposed upon by their own children that design ill, especially when
they are blindly fond of them. Absalom, by the posture of his body,
testified his submission to his father: He bowed himself on his face
to the ground; and David, with a kiss, sealed his pardon. Did the
bowels of a father prevail to reconcile him to an impenitent son, and
shall penitent sinners question the compassion of him who is the Father
of mercy? If Ephraim bemoan himself, God soon bemoans him, with all the
kind expressions of a fatherly tenderness: He is a dear son, a