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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.
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.
And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, to put forth his hand, and took kim and kissed him.
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.
And it came to pass 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.
And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose and went to Hebron.
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.
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.
And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom.
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.
And the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.
And the king went forth, and all his houshold after him and the king left ten women to keep the house. And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off.
And all his servants passed on beside him: and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath passed on before the king.
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 camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee to 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.
And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.
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.
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 of the wilderness.
And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of GOD, and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city.
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, kear am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him. The king said also unto Zadok, the priest, Art not thou a seer? return into the city in peace, and thy two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
See I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify me.
Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of GoD again to Jerusalem; and they tarried there.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It is reasonable to think, that David, as his sons grew up, gave each of them some patrimony; and perhaps Absalom's might be increased by presents from his grandfather, the king of Geshur. It seems he was determined to make a figure, and to have an equipage suitable to the king's eldest son; he had learnt how the princes of other nations were attended, and resolved to multiply horses to himself, instead of riding on a mule like his father. David's tenderness prevented his taking any
measures to repress the pride of Absalom, or correct his folly, and the next step of this ungracious son was to steal the hearts of the people. Nothing is easier, than for an artful person to prejudice the idle and ignorant part of a nation against its governors, for people are too apt to impute all the evils which are naturally attendant on the lower stations of life, to the oppression and injustice of those who have the administration of public affairs; and to think the king, in particular, accountable for every thing they suffer. It does not appear that David was at all remiss or negligent in state affairs; on the contrary, he determined all great causes himself, and had appointed men of abilities and integrity to decide others: those persons therefore, who listened to the wicked insinuations of his son, were very ungrateful.
David was struck with the utmost consternation, when he heard that Absalom had actually raised a conspiracy against him; and we may imagine, from his behaviour on this occasion, that the remembrance of his sin in respect to Uriah rushed full on his mind, and the threatening denounced by Nathan, that evil should rise up against him out of his own house: he therefore called no council, but, like a true penitent, humbly submitted to the dispensation of the Almighty. He had such a preference for Jerusalem on account of the Ark, that he could not bear to make that holy city a scene of blood, but resolved on an hasty flight, lest Absalom should come upon it suddenly.
Notwithstanding Absalom had drawn away so many, David had still some faithful friends left, who were determined to support him in every extremity.
It is supposed that the Philistines, having heard of Absalom's rebellion, had resolved to take that opportunity
Delany's Life of David,
of freeing themselves from their subjection to Israel; and for that purpose had driven out all those who favoured David's government, amongst whom was Ittai and his followers, whose arrival was very providential for David at this juncture; though they were by birth Philistines of Gath, it is imagined they were proselytes to the true religion.
David would not presume to have the Ark carried before him, when he was sensible he was suffering the chastisement of the LORD; for this reason he sent back the priests, after having settled the means of carrying on a correspondence with them.
No wonder that the people wept at such an affecting sight, for the bare relation of it must raise painful emotions in the mind of every reader. Let us suppose that we behold a king, venerable for his years and victories, renowned for wisdom and piety, and honoured as a prophet of the LORD, reduced to such distress, that he was forced to flee from the city which he had built and fortified, to seek shelter in a desert, whilst a whole country loudly lamented his fate!
AND David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him, covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.
And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O VOL. III.