2 Samuel 15:14
And David said to 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 on us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Let us flee.—The sequel abundantly proved the wisdom of David’s course. Ahithophel also (2Samuel 17:1-2) and Hushai (2Samuel 17:7-13) recognised that delay would be fatal to Absalom’s cause. His rebellion was thoroughly unreasonable, and must lose ground with time given for reflection. By this course also much of the horror of civil war was averted, and Jerusalem saved from “the edge of the sword.”

2 Samuel 15:14. David said, Arise, and let us flee — As soon as he had received information of what had passed, he saw the danger was instant, and took his measures accordingly. He knew Absalom would lose no time to accomplish his design, and that the nature of it required him to strike home at once. David therefore orders his servants, soldiery, and friends, to depart from Jerusalem immediately. For, though the fort of Zion was strong, and he might have defended himself there for some time, 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 an enemy. And if it could, “he did not care to expose a favourite city, built by himself, and the residence of the tabernacle of God, to all the evils incident to sieges, and almost inseparable from them. Nor, perhaps, did he incline to trust the inhabitants of a place so long exposed to the taint of Absalom’s temptations.” This, some think, appears from the 55th Psalm, which, they suppose, was meditated and poured out in prayer to God upon the discovery of Absalom’s conspiracy. And from thence it is evident that he had discerned the seeds and workings of a conspiracy in the city, and that Ahithophel was at the bottom of it: and not only so, but that David foresaw his sudden and sad end. — Delaney. For we shall not else escape from Absalom — He was well acquainted with the young man’s impetuosity, and the madness of the people, and therefore judged that the only method to be pursued, in order to safety, was to give way to the fury of the flood, and not attempt to stem it in the fulness of its overflowing.15:13-23 David determined to quit Jerusalem. He took this resolve, as a penitent submitting to the rod. Before unrighteous Absalom he could justify himself, and stand out; but before the righteous God he must condemn himself, and yield to his judgments. Thus he accepts the punishment of his sin. And good men, when they themselves suffer, are anxious that others should not be led to suffer with them. He compelled none; those whose hearts were with Absalom, to Absalom let them go, and so shall their doom be. Thus Christ enlists none but willing followers. David cannot bear to think that Ittai, a stranger and an exile, a proselyte and a new convert, who ought to be encouraged and made easy, should meet with hard usage. But such value has Ittai for David's wisdom and goodness, that he will not leave him. He is a friend indeed, who loves at all times, and will adhere to us in adversity. Let us cleave to the Son of David, with full purpose of heart, and neither life nor death shall separate us from his love.And smite the city - David's kind nature induced him to spare Jerusalem the horrors of a siege, and the risk of being taken by assault. He had no standing army with which to resist this sudden attack from so unexpected a quarter. Possibly too he remembered Nathan's prophecy 2 Samuel 12:10-12. 14. David said … Arise, and let us flee—David, anxious for the preservation of the city which he had beautified, and hopeful of a greater support throughout the country, wisely resolved on leaving Jerusalem. Arise, and let us flee; for though the fort of Zion was strong and impregnable, 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 and quiet possession of his whole kingdom; whereas if he marched abroad, he might raise a considerable army for his defence, and the suppression of the rebels. Besides, the greatest part of Jerusalem could not be well defended against him. And he suspected that a great number of the citizens might take part with Absalom, and possibly deliver him up into Absalom’s hands. Besides, if he had made that the seat of the war, he feared the destruction of that city, which he vehemently desired to preserve, because it was the chief and royal city, and the place in which God had appointed to put his name and worship. Moreover, when David considered that God’s hand was now against him, and that he was now bringing evil upon him out of his own house, as he had threatened, 2 Samuel 12:11, it is no wonder if he was intimidated and disposed to flee. And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem,.... His courtiers and ministers of state, the officers of his household, as many of them as were with him in the city; for some of them very probably were in the country, as Ahithophel was, and some might be along with Absalom, whom he had invited to his peace offerings:

arise, and let us flee; it is much that a man of such courage and valour as David should be so intimidated at once as to make a flight as soon as he heard of a conspiracy forming against him:

for we shall not else escape from Absalom; his fears ran so high, that he fancied he would be upon them presently:

make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly; which still more clearly shows the panic he was in:

and bring evil upon us; kill them, or make them prisoners:

and smite the city with the edge of the sword; the inhabitants of it, should they make resistance.

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 {h} 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.

(h) Whose heart he saw that Satan had so possessed that he would leave no mischief unattempted.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. let us flee] For the moment David’s courage seems to have failed him. The calamities predicted by Nathan (ch. 2 Samuel 12:11), stared him in the face: a sack of Jerusalem with all the horrors of civil war seemed imminent: he could not face them, and retreat proved in the end to be the wisest course. Time was gained; the first violence of rebellion spent itself; his loyal subjects recovered from their alarm and rallied to defend him. Ahithophel was perfectly right in discerning that delay would be fatal to the enterprise (ch. 2 Samuel 17:1-2).Verse 14. - Arise, and let us flee. The rebellion of Absalom, and David's humiliating flight, bring out all the better parts of the king's character, and set him once again before us as a man after God's own heart. For this period is richly illustrated by the psalms which were written under the pressure of this great affliction, and which are marked by firm confidence in God, and an assured sense of the Divine nearness and protection. Psalm 41. shows how poignant was his anguish at Ahithophel's treachery, but it inspired no fear: "As for me, thou up. holdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face forever" (Psalm 41:12). It was a firm faith which prompted such words. In Psalm 63, written "in the wilderness of Judah," before David had reached the Jordan, he gives utterance to his grief at the loss of his religious privileges at Jerusalem; but Jehovah is still his strong Tower, and his dwelling will be in God's tabernacle forever. Psalm 3. and 4. are his morning and evening hymns written "when he fled from Absalom his son." Psalm 55 is one more sad even than Psalm 41. He describes in it his panic stricken feelings when the news reached him, his longing to escape from the turmoil of life, and flee into the wilderness and be at rest; and his grief at his desertion by men in whose company he had worshipped in the house of God. Upon this follows an outburst of vehement indignation, made the more bitter by the sense of the treachery whereby he had been duped into connivance with Absalom's plans (ver. 21); but amidst it all his confidence was unshaken that if he cast his burden upon God, "he would sustain him, and never suffer the righteous to be moved." Finally, in Psalm 27, we have the contrast between Jehovah's abiding goodness and the inconstancy of men; while Psalm 61. and 62. were probably written at Mahanaim, when David s anguish of mind was being assuaged, and a calm confidence was taking its place. Everywhere in all of them David speaks as one who had now given all his heart to God. As regards his terror and flight (Psalm 55:5-8), it may seem strange that David should have withdrawn so hurriedly from a city so strong as Jerusalem. But we must not suppose that he had a standing army, and his few Cherethites and Pelethites could have made no head against the nation. Probably, too, the fortifications of the city were incomplete (Psalm 51:18); and even if in good order, yet, cooped up in Jerusalem, David would have left the whole country in Absalom's power, and finally, after a long blockade, he must have been driven by famine to surrender. Away from Jerusalem he was the centre whither all who disliked Absalom's attempt would gather, and every day as it passed would make men reflect more and more upon what David had done for them, and the more steady and thoughtful of them would finally decide in his favour. There would be, moreover, the secret conviction that David, with such men round him as Joab and Abishai, if free to take his own course, would be more than a match for Absalom and his larger numbers. This was what Ahithophel foresaw, and was so convinced that, if David were not crushed at once, he would gain the day, that he did not even wait to see, but destroyed himself. Abarbanel thinks that the wish of the people had never been for more than the association of Absalom with David on the throne, according to what he had himself suggested (ver. 4); and that there was a great revulsion of feeling when they saw that they must choose absolutely between father and son, and that whoever lost the crown must lose his life as well. Some commentators consider that Psalm 31. also belongs to this period, though others ascribe it to Jeremiah. Parts of it are singularly applicable to the circumstances of David's flight, as where the psalmist speaks of Jehovah as being his Fortress in contrast with Jerusalem, and adds, "Thou hast not shut me up into the hands of the enemy, but hast set my feet in a large space," as though "the net which the conspirators had privily laid for him" had been the design to coop him up within the walls of the city, There are touching words, too, of distress at the slander and reproach breaking forth on every side, and at the completeness of his fall, so that whereas but a few days before he had been a king, now "he was clean forgotten, as a dead man out of mind; and east aside as though he were now of no more account than the shards of a broken vessel." But, with the calm strength of faith he adds, "My times are in thy hand;" "Thou shalt hide all who trust in thee in the secret of thy presence;" "Oh, then, love Jehovah, and be of good courage! for he shall strengthen the heart of all whose hope is fixed on him." Absalom's rebellion. - 2 Samuel 15:7, 2 Samuel 15:8. After the lapse of forty (?) years Absalom said to the king, "Pray I will go (i.e., pray allow me to go) and perform a vow in Hebron which I vowed to the Lord during my stay at Geshur" (2 Samuel 15:8). The number forty is altogether unsuitable, as it cannot possibly be understood either as relating to the age of Absalom or to the year of David's reign: for Absalom was born at Hebron after David had begun to reign, and David only reigned forty years and a half in all, and Absalom's rebellion certainly did not take place in the last few weeks of his reign. It is quite as inappropriate to assume, as the terminus a quo of the forty years, either the commencement of Saul's reign, as several of the Rabbins have done, as well as the author of the marginal note in Cod. 380 of De Rossi (שאול למלכות), or the anointing of David at Bethlehem, as Luther (in the marginal note) and Lightfoot do; for the word "after" evidently refers to some event in the life of Absalom, to which allusion has previously been made, namely, either to the time of his reconciliation with David (2 Samuel 14:33), or (what is not so probable) to the period of his return from Geshur to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 14:23). Consequently the reading adopted by the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate, also by Theodoret and others, viz., "four years," must certainly be the correct one, and not "forty days," which we find in Codd. 70 and 96 in Kennicott, since forty days would be far too short a time for maturing the rebellion. It is true, that with the reading ארבּע we should expect, as a rule, the plural שׁנים. At the same time, the numbers from two to ten are sometimes construed with a singular noun (e.g., 2 Kings 22:1; cf. Gesenius, 120, 2). The pretended vow was, that if Jehovah would bring him back to Jerusalem, he would serve Jehovah. את־יהוה עבד, "to do a service to Jehovah," can only mean to offer a sacrifice, which is the explanation given by Josephus. The Chethib ישׁיב is not the infinitive, but the imperfect Hiphil: si reduxerit, reduxerit me, which is employed in an unusual manner instead of the inf. absol., for the sake of emphasis. The Keri ישׁוּב would have to be taken as an adverb "again;" but this is quite unnecessary.
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