David prepares to engage the rebels, ver. 1 - 5.
The total defeat of Absalom, ver. 6 - 8.
His death and burial, ver. 9 - 18.
The news brought to David, ver. 19 - 32.
His lamentation over Absalom, ver. 33.
5: Deal gently - If you conquer (which be presaged they would by
God's gracious answer to his prayer for the turning of Ahithophel's
counsel into foolishness,) take him prisoner, but do not kill him. Which
desire proceeded, from his great indulgence towards his children: from his
consciousness that he himself was the meritorious cause of this rebellion,
Absalom being given up to it for the punishment of David's sins;
from the consideration of his youth, which commonly makes men foolish, and
subject to ill counsels: and from his piety, being loth that he should be
cut off in the act of his sin without any space for repentance. But ''what
means, says Bp. Hall, this ill - placed mercy? Deal gently with a traitor?
Of all traitors with a son? And all this for thy sake, whose crown,
whose blood he hunts after? Even in the holiest parents nature may be
guilty of an injurious tenderness. But was not this done in type of that
unmeasurable mercy, of the true King of Israel, who prayed for his
murderers, Father, forgive them! Deal gently with them for my sake!"
Yea, when God sends an affliction to correct his children, it is with this
charge, deal gently with them for my sake: for he knows our frame.
8: The wood - More people died in the wood, either through hunger,
and thirst, and weariness: or, by the wild beasts, whereof great numbers
were there, which, though they were driven away from the place of the main
battle, yet might easily meet with them when they fled several ways: or, by
falling into ditches and pits, which were in that place, ver.(17), and
probably were covered with grass or wood, so that they could not see them
till they fell into them: and especially by David's men, who pursued
them, and killed them in the wood: and the wood is rightly said to have
devoured them, because it gave the occasion to their destruction, inasmuch
as the trees, and ditches, and pits, entangled them, and stopped their
flight, and made them an easy prey to David's men, who followed them,
and slew them in the pursuit. The sword - In the main battle: the
sword being put for the battle, by a common figure.
9: The servants of David - Who, according to David's command,
spared him, and gave him an opportunity to escape. His head - In which
probably he was entangled by the hair of the head, which being very long and
thick, might easily catch hold of a bough, especially when the great God
directed it. Either he wore no helmet, or he had thrown it away as well as
his other arms, to hasten his flight. Thus the matter of his pride was the
instrument of his ruin.
15: Slew him - The darts did not dispatch him, and therefore they
smote him again, and killed him.
18: A pillar - To preserve his name; whereas it had been more for his
honour if his name had been buried in perpetual oblivion.
24: Gates - For the gates of the cities then were, as now they are,
large and thick; and for the greater security, had two gates, one more
outward, the other inward. Here he sat, that he might hear tidings when
any came into the city.
33: Over the gate - Retiring himself from all men and business, that
he might wholly give up himself to lamentation. My son - This he might
speak from a deep sense of his eternal state, because he died in his sins,
and because David himself had by his own sins been the occasion of his
death. But it seems rather to be the effect of strong passion, causing him
to speak unadvisedly with his lips.