Darby's Bible Synopsis
And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.
The following commentary covers Chapters 14 through 20.
David's partiality for Absalom had yet other and more painful results, and heavy chastisements. It is painful to see the conqueror of Goliath driven from his home and his throne by his beloved son, and that under God's hand. For if God had not allowed it, who could have driven God's elect from the royal seat in which Jehovah had placed him? The sword was in his house; the word of God, sharper than a two-edged sword. How just is Jehovah! But whom He loves He chastens. Accordingly, whilst all this is a manifestation of the righteous rule of God, it is to David an occasion of deep heart-exercise, and of a more real and more intimate knowledge of God; for his heart was truly and eternally bound to God, so that all his sorrows bore fruit, although they were occasioned by his faults.
In this respect also, although the cause of his grief was so widely different from that of the Lord's grief, he becomes the type of Christ in suffering, and the vessel of the expression of His sympathy for His people. This is even so much more the case, because with a faithful heart, and in a certain sense with perfect integrity towards God, the king's faults and transgressions gave rise to those confessions and to that humiliation which the Spirit of Christ will produce in the remnant of Israel; so that on the one hand he speaks of his integrity, while on the other he confesses his faults. Now that is what Christ causes His people to say, and what He says for them. Nevertheless we must remember it is not David himself, as a godly man, who speaks in the Psalms; it is by the inspiration of the Spirit he utters them; and it is a very precious thing for us that, in circumstances where faith might fail and the heart be discouraged, the word supplies us with language suitable to faith, and to faith in one who has perhaps been unfaithful: a precious testimony that, even in this condition, God does not cast us off, and that Christ sympathises with us, since He furnishes us with expressions and sentiments adapted to such a condition.
The Psalms supply this, and in especial suitability to the remnant of Israel in the last days. They are characterised by integrity of heart and confession of sin. The Spirit of Christ gives the sentiments, and assures of His sympathy. Psalm 16 gives us very strikingly this position of Christ. His goodness extends not to God. It is not His divine place, "equal with God," which He is taking. He calls Jehovah His Lord; but of the saints on earth He says, "in whom is all my delight." By His baptism, which was the expression of this, He connected Himself, not with Israel in their sin, but with the first movement of the Spirit responding in the remnant to the condemnation of the people as such. This is the principle of the Psalms-the upright and faithful man in the midst of the perverse nation, the object of the counsels and purposes of God. The book opens with this distinction drawn by God; it next presents us with the King in Zion according to the decree of God, rejected by the nation and hated by the heathen who oppress the people. All this develops itself through a variety of circumstances, and all the relationships of the remnant are there depicted, as well as all affections of the heart. All connected with it is gone over by the hand and the pen of God, and according to the Spirit and the sympathies of Christ.
Chapter 20 ends this part of David's history, and his history in general. He is re-established on his throne, and has overcome the efforts of his enemies and the rebellion of his own people. The order of his court and officers is restored in peace. Sundry details are added by the Spirit of God.
And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.
But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city.
And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.
And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.
So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;
Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men.
For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.
And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle.
And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.
Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me.
Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him.
And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people.
And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.
Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place.
Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the LORD hath avenged him of his enemies.
And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king's son is dead.
Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran.
Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?
But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.
And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone.
And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth. And he came apace, and drew near.
And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone. And the king said, He also bringeth tidings.
And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings.
And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the LORD thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.
And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.
And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still.
And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.
And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.
And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!