And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
Prepared — As being the king's eldest son, now Amnon was dead; for Chileab, who was his eldest brother, 2 Samuel 3:3, was either dead, or incapable of the government. And this course he knew would draw the eyes of the people to him, and make them conclude that David intended him for his successor.
 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.
Early — Thereby making a shew of solicitude for the good of the public, and of every private person.
Called him — Preventing him with the offers of his assistance. And as if he were ready to make particular enquiry into the state of his cause.
 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.
See — Upon some very slight hearing of their cause, he approved it, that he might oblige all.
No man — None such as will do thee justice. The other sons and relations of the king, and the rest of the judges and rulers under him and them, are wholly corrupted; or, at least not careful and diligent as they should be: and my father being grown in years, is negligent of publick affairs. It is the way of turbulent, aspiring men, to reproach the government they are under. Even David himself, the best of kings, could not escape the worst of censures.
 And it came to pass after forty years, 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.
After forty years — From the change of the government, into a monarchy, which was about ten years before David began to reign. So this fell out about the thirtieth year of his reign.
 And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron.
Hebron — This place he chose as being an eminent city, and next to Jerusalem, the chief of the tribe of Judah, and the place where his father began his kingdom, which he took for a good omen. And where it is probable he had secured many friends. It was also at a convenient distance from Jerusalem.
 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.
Called — Such as Absalom had picked out as fit for his purpose; such as were of some reputation with the king and people, which would give a countenance to his undertaking, and give occasion to people at first to think that this was done by his father's consent, as being now aged, and infirm, and willing to resign the kingdom to him. It is no new thing, for good men to be made use of by designing men to put a colour upon ill practices.
 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.
Sacrifices — Which he did not in devotion to God; but merely that upon this pretence he might call great numbers of people together.
 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.
Let us flee — For though the fort of Zion was strong, and he might have defended himself there; yet he had not laid in provisions for a long siege; and, if he had been once besieged there, Absalom would have got speedy possession of his whole kingdom; whereas if he marched abroad, he might raise a considerable army for his defence. Besides, the greatest part of Jerusalem could not be well defended against him.
 And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house.
After him — Or, on foot, which the king chose to do, to humble himself under the hand of God; to encourage his companions in this hard and comfortless march; and to move compassion in his people towards him.
Concubines — For he supposed that their sex would protect them, and their relation to David would gain them some respect, or at least, safety from his son.
 And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off.
Far off — At some convenient distance, tho' not very far.
 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.
Gittites — Or rather strangers, as Ittai their head is called, verse 19, and they are called his brethren, verse 20. Probably they were Philistines by birth, born in the city or territory of Gath, as the following words imply, who by David's counsel, and example, were won to embrace the true religion, and had given good proof of their military skill, and valour, and fidelity to 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.
Thy place — To Jerusalem, where thy settled abode now is.
The king — With Absalom who is now made king.
An exile — Not much concerned in our affairs, and therefore not fit to be involved in our troubles.
 Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee 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.
Brethren — Thy countrymen the Gittites, verse 18.
Mercy, … — Since I am now unable to recompense thy kindness and fidelity to me, my hearty prayer to God is, that he would shew to thee his mercy, in blessing thee with all sorts of blessings, and his faithfulness in making good all these promises which he had made, not to Israelites only, but to all true hearted proselytes, such as thou art.
 And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.
Will thy servant be — He is a friend indeed, who loves at all times, and will cleave to us in adversity. Thus should we cleave to the Son of David, that neither life, nor death may separate us from his love.
 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.
Little ones — For being so deeply engaged for David, he durst not leave his little ones to Absalom's mercy.
 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 the way of the wilderness.
Kidron — Or, Cedron, which was near Jerusalem. The very same brook that Christ passed over when he entered upon his sufferings, John 18:1.
Wilderness — Which was between Jerusalem and Jericho.
 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.
Went up — From the ark to the city, which was on higher ground, that so he being high-priest, might use his authority with the people, to persuade them to do their duty; and there he staid until all those whom he could persuade were gone forth.
 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:
Carry back — Out of care and reverence to the ark, which though it might be carried our to a certain place; yet he might justly think unfit to carry it from place to place he knew not whither, and out of respect to the priests, whom, by this means, he thought he should expose to the rage of Absalom, as he had before exposed them to Saul's fury.
Habitation — That is, the tabernacle which David had lately built for it, chap. 6:17, in which the ark, and God, by means hereof, ordinarily dwelt.
 But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.
Let him do — That we may not complain of what is, let us see God's hand in all events. And that we may not be afraid of what shall be, let us see all events in God's hand.
 The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a seer? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
A seer — A seeing, discerning, or observing man: for so the Hebrew verb raah is often used. And this suits well with David's mind: Thou art a wise man, and therefore fit to manage this great business, which requires prudence and secrecy.
 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.
Barefoot — In testimony of his deep sorrow, and humiliation and shame for his sins.
 But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father's servant hitherto, so will I now also be thy servant: then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel.
And say — That is, as faithful to thee, as I have been to thy father. David's suggesting this crafty counsel must be reckoned amongst his sins. Nevertheless God was pleased to direct this evil advice to a good end.
 Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok's son, and Jonathan Abiathar's son; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear.
There — Not in Jerusalem, but in a place near it, to which they could easily send upon occasion.
 So Hushai David's friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.
Absalom came, … — How soon do royal cities and royal palaces change their masters? But we look for a kingdom which cannot be moved.