2 Samuel 17 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 2 Samuel 17)

Verse 2

[2] And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid: and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only:

And I will, … — That such a wretch as Absalom should aim at his father's throat is not strange. But that the body of the people, to whom David had been so great a blessing, should join with him in it, is amazing. But the finger of God was in it. Let not the best of parents, or the best of princes think it strange, if they are injured by those who should be their support and joy, when they (like David) have provoked God to turn against them.

Verse 5

[5] Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he saith.

Call Hushai — A wonderful effect of Divine Providence, influencing his heart, that he could not rest in Ahithophel's counsel, though it was so evidently wise, and approved by the general consent of his whole party; and that he should desire Hushai's advice, though neither his reputation for wisdom was equal to Ahithophel's, nor had he yet given anyone proof of his fidelity to Absalom. But there is no contending with that God who can arm a man against himself, and destroy him by his own mistakes and passions.

Verse 9

[9] Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom.

Pit — Having been often accustomed to that course, and well acquainted with in all hiding-places from Saul's time. In one of them, unknown to us, he will lurk with some of his chosen men, and lie in ambush for us; and, when they see a fit opportunity, they will suddenly come forth and surprize some of our men, when they least expect it, and probably at first put them to flight.

Some — Namely, of Absalom's men sent against David.

At the first — Implying, that their good success at first would mightily animate David's men to proceed vigorously in the fight, and intimidate Absalom's army, and consequently would be both a presage and an occasion of their total defeat.

Verse 11

[11] Therefore I counsel that all Israel be generally gathered unto thee, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine own person.

I counsel — His pretence was, that they might make sure, though slow work: his design was to gain David time, that he might increase his army, and make better provision for the battle; and that the present heat of the people might be cooled, and they might bethink themselves of their duty, and return to their allegiance.

Thou — For thy presence will put life and courage into thy soldiers, who will be ambitious to shew their skill and courage in defending thy person, when they know that all their actions are observed by him who hath the distribution of rewards and punishments in his hands. Besides, the glory of the victory will be wholly thine, which now Ahithophel seeks to get to himself.

Verse 12

[12] So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground: and of him and of all the men that are with him there shall not be left so much as one.

As dew — That is, plenteously, suddenly, irresistibly, and on all sides; for so the dew falls.

Verse 13

[13] Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there.

Bring ropes — It is an hyperbolical expression, suited to the vain-glorious temper of this insolent young man: implying, that they would do so if they could not destroy him another way: or, that they should be enough to do so, if there were occasion.

River — Adjoining to the city; it being usual to build cities near some river, both for defence, and for other accommodations.

Verse 14

[14] And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.

Absalom and all, … — Be it observed, to the comfort of all that fear God, he turns all mans hearts as the rivers of water. He stands in the congregation of the mighty, has an over-ruling hand in all counsels, and a negative voice in all resolves, and laughs at mens projects against his children.

Verse 16

[16] Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, Lodge not this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily pass over; lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that are with him.

Lodge not — Lest the king's and people's mind's change, and Ahithophel persuade the king to pursue you speedily.

Verse 17

[17] Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by Enrogel; for they might not be seen to come into the city: and a wench went and told them; and they went and told king David.

Enrogel — Or, the fullers well. A place near Jerusalem, Joshua 15:7; 18:16.

Wench — Pretending to go thither to wash some cloaths, or to draw water.

Verse 19

[19] And the woman took and spread a covering over the well's mouth, and spread ground corn thereon; and the thing was not known.

Spread corn — Under pretence of drying it by the sun: which shews it was summer-time.

Verse 20

[20] And when Absalom's servants came to the woman to the house, they said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They be gone over the brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

Over the brook of water — That is, over Jordan. This was a manifest lie.

Verse 23

[23] And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.

Hanged himself — See here contempt poured upon the wisdom of man! He that was more renowned for policy than ever any man was, played the fool with himself more than ever any man did. See likewise honour done to the justice of God! The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

Verse 24

[24] Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him.

Passed — Not speedily, but when all the men of Israel were gathered together according to Hushai's counsel.

Verse 25

[25] And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother.

Nahash — Nahash is the name of Jesse's wife, by whom he had this Abigail, as he had Zeruiah by another wife; so they were sisters by the father, but not by the mother.

Verse 27

[27] And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim,

Shobi — Who, as it may seem, disliked and disowned that barbarous action to the ambassadors; and therefore, when the rest were destroyed, was left king or governor of the residue of the Ammonites.

Machir — See above chap. 9:4.

Verse 29

[29] And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.

In — Having been in the wilderness. Thus God sometimes makes up to his people that comfort from strangers, which they are disappointed of in their own families.