Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom.
Was towards — He desired to see him, but was ashamed to shew kindness to one whom God's law and his own conscience obliged him to punish; he wanted therefore a fair pretence, which therefore Joab gave him.
 And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:
Anoint — As they used to do when they were out of a mourning state.
 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
Widow — One of them who most need thy compassion, and whom thou art by God's law obliged in a singular manner to relieve.
 And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house: and the king and his throne be guiltless.
Be guiltless — If through thy forgetfulness or neglect of this my just cause, my adversaries prevail and destroy my son, my desire is, that God would not lay it to the king's charge, but rather to me and mine, so the king may be exempted thereby. Whereby she insinuates, that such an omission will bring guilt upon him; and yet most decently orders her phrase so as not to seem to blame or threaten the king. This sense seems best to agree with David's answer, which shew's that she desired some farther assurances of the king's care.
 Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.
Remember — Remember the Lord, in whose presence thou hast made me this promise, and who will be a witness against thee, if thou breakest it.
 And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.
Wherefore then — If thou shouldst not permit the avengers of blood to molest me, or to destroy my son, who are but two persons; how unreasonable is it that thou shouldest proceed in thy endeavours to avenge Amnon's blood upon Absalom, whose death would be grievous to the whole commonwealth of Israel, all whose eyes are upon him as the heir of the crown, and a wise, and valiant, and amiable person, unhappy only in this one act of killing Amnon, which was done upon an high provocation, and whereof thou thyself didst give the occasion by permitting Amnon to go unpunished? Faulty - By thy word, and promise, and oath given to me for my son, thou condemnest thyself for not allowing the same equity towards thy own son. It is true, Absalom's case was widely different from that which she had supposed. But David was too well affected to him, to remark that difference, and was more desirous than she could be, to apply that favourable judgment to his own son, which he had given concerning hers.
 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.
We — We shall certainly die, both thou, O king, who art therefore obliged to take care of thy successor, Absalom; and Absalom, who, if he do not die by the hand of justice, must shortly die by the necessity of nature: and Amnon too must have died in the common way of all flesh, if Absalom had not cut him off.
Respect — So far as to exempt him from this common law of dying.
Not expelled — He hath given laws to this purpose, that the man-slayer who is banished should not always continue in banishment, but upon the High-priest's death return to his own city.
 Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid.
The people — The truth is, I was even forced to this bold address to thee by the disposition of thy people, who are discontented at Absalom's perpetual banishment, lest, if Absalom by his father-in-law's assistance invade the land, the people who have a great kindness for him, and think he is very hard used, should take up arms.
 For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.
Hear — For I know the king is so wise and just, that I assure myself of audience and acceptation.
Deliver — To grant my request concerning my son, and consequently the peoples petition concerning Absalom.
My son — Implying that her life was bound up in the life of her son, and that she could not outlive his death; (and supposing that it might be David's case also, and would therefore touch him in a tender part, though it were not proper to say it expressly:) and thereby suggesting, that the safety and comfort of the people of Israel, depended upon Absalom's restitution.
Inheritance — That is, out of that land which God gave to his people to be their inheritance, and in which alone God hath settled the place of his presence and worship: whereby she intimates the danger of Absalom's living in a state of separation from God, and his house, amongst idolaters.
 Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee.
Angel — In wisdom, and justice, and goodness.
Therefore — Because thou art so wise and gracious to those who in strict justice deserve punishment, God will own and stand by thee in this thy act of grace: or God will prosper thee in thy enterprizes.
 And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid:
Of Joab — Hast thou not said and done this by Joab's direction.
Said — It is even so, thou hast discovered the truth.
These words — As to the substance of them, but not as to all the expressions; for these were to be varied as the king's answer gave occasion.
 To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.
To fetch — That is, to propose his, and the peoples desire of Absalom's restitution in this parabolical manner.
In the earth — Or, in this land, in all thy kingdom; all the counsels and devices of thy subjects.
 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.
Fulfilled — But it seems David had no power to dispense with God's laws, nor to spare any whom God appointed him to destroy: for the laws of God bound the kings and rulers, as well as the people of Israel. How justly did God make this man, whom he had so sinfully spared, a scourge to him?
 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king's face.
Let him turn — Lest whilst be shewed some mercy to Absalom, he should seem to approve of his sin. Likewise by this means Absalom might be drawn to a more thorough humiliation and repentance.
 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.
Beauty — This is noted as the occasion of his pride, and of the people's affection to him.
 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight.
Weighed — Others understand this not of the weight, but of the price of his hair.
 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.
Sons — All which died not long after they were born, as may be gathered from chap. 18:18, where it is said, that Absalom had no son.
 And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king's face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.
Kill me — For it is better for me to die, than to want the sight and favour of my dear father. Thus he insinuates himself into his father's affections, by pretending such respect and love to him It seems that by this time Absalom having so far recovered his father's favour, began to grow upon him, and take so much confidence as to stand upon his own justification, as if what he had done, had been no iniquity, at least not such as to deserve death. See how easily wise parents may be imposed on by their children, when they are blindly fond of them.
 So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.
Kissed — Did the bowels of a father prevail to reconcile him to an impenitent son? And shall penitent sinners question the compassion of him who is the Father of mercy? If Ephraim bemoan himself, God soon bemoans him, with all the expressions of fatherly tenderness. He is a dear son, a pleasant child.