2 Samuel 15:24
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Zadok also.—Zadok appears here as in charge of the ark, and David (2Samuel 15:27) addresses him exclusively, while Abiathar is merely mentioned. This gives no indication of the relations existing between the two, but merely shows how matters went on this day of hurry and confusion. The language is obscure, but probably means that Zadok and the Levites brought the ark out of the city, and set it down while the multitude were assembling; meantime Abiathar led the multitude forward up the Mount of Olives until they had all come out of the city.

2 Samuel 15:24. Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him — They knew David’s great regard for them and their office, notwithstanding his failings; and the arts which Absalom had used to gain the people’s affections had made no impression upon them. They saw that he had little religion in him, and therefore they steadily adhered to David. Bearing the ark of the covenant of God — As a pledge of God’s presence and assistance. And they set down the ark of God — Either in expectation of drawing forth more people to David’s party, if not from their loyalty to their lawful king, yet from their piety and reverence to the ark; or, that all the people might pass along, and the ark might come in the rear of them, for their safeguard and encouragement. Abiathar 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 stayed until all those whom he could persuade were gone forth.

15:24-30 David is very careful for the safety of the ark. It is right to be more concerned for the church's prosperity than our own; to prefer the success of the gospel above our own wealth, credit, ease, and safety. Observe with what satisfaction and submission David speaks of the Divine disposal. It is our interest, as well as our duty, cheerfully to acquiesce in the will of God, whatever befalls us. 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. David's sin was ever before him, Ps 51:3; but never so plain, nor ever appearing so black as now. He never wept thus when Saul hunted him, but a wounded conscience makes troubles lie heavy, Ps 38:4.Abiathar went up - i. e., continued to ascend the Mount of Olives. Abiathar was high priest 1 Kings 2:35. Perhaps Zadok is addressed by David 2 Samuel 15:25 as the chief of those who were actually bearing the ark. 24, 25. Zadok also, and all the Levites …, bearing the ark—Knowing the strong religious feelings of the aged king, they brought it to accompany him in his distress. But as he could not doubt that both the ark and their sacred office would exempt them from the attacks of the rebels, he sent them back with it—not only that they might not be exposed to the perils of uncertain wandering, for he seems to place more confidence in the symbol of the divine presence than in God Himself—but that, by remaining in Jerusalem, they might render him greater service by watching the enemy's movements. Bearing the ark of the covenant of God; as a pledge of God’s presence and assistance, and that David might inquire at it upon occasion.

They set down the ark of God; either in expectation of drawing forth more people to David’s party, if not from their loyalty to their lawful king, yet from their piety and reverence to the ark; or that all the people might pass along, and the ark might come in the rear of them for their safeguard and encouragement.

Abiathar went up; either,

1. From the ark, which now was in the low ground, being near the brook Cedron, to the top of the Mount of Olives, whence he had the prospect of the city and temple, as appears from Mark 13:3, where he could discern when the people ceased to come out of the city after David; which when they did, he gave notice to David that he should wait no longer, but march away and carry the ark with him. Or,

2. From the ark to the city, which was in a higher ground, that so he being high priest, might use his authority and interest with the people to persuade them to do their duty, in going forth to defend and help their king against his rebellious son; and there he staid until all those whom he could persuade were gone forth.

And, lo, Zadok also,.... The priest, as he is called, 2 Samuel 15:27,

and all the Levites were with him: with Zadok, or with David, and indeed with both; but the former is rather meant here, being the immediate antecedent:

bearing the ark of the covenant of God: these were the Kohathite Levites, whose business it was to bear the ark when carried from place to place, Numbers 3:31; called the ark of the covenant, because the law which was the covenant between God and the people, was put into it:

and they set down the ark of God: from off their shoulders, on which they carried it:

and Abiathar went up; who was the high priest, and whose business it was to attend the ark, and inquire before it, as occasion required; he went up very probably to the mount of Olives, later mentioned, 2 Samuel 15:30,

until all the people had done passing out of the city; for from the top of that mountain he could see the city of Jerusalem, and the people as they passed out of it, and observe when they were all come out, or however ceased coming, and so knew when it was a proper time to march forward.

And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, {p} bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went {q} up, until all the people had done passing out of the city.

(p) Which was the charge, of the Kohathites, Nu 4:4.

(q) To stand by the ark.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24–29. The Ark sent back to Jerusalem

24. and Abiathar went up] The Ark halted, to allow the people who were still coming out of the city time to overtake the procession. Meanwhile Abiathar went on up the Mount of Olives, for some purpose which is not stated, possibly to watch the stream of people coming out of the city. He then returned to carry the Ark back. It seems best to suppose that the narrative goes back here, and that the Ark was not taken across the Kidron. Certainly it does not seem to have been carried up the Mount of Olives.

Verse 24. - And Abiathar went up. This rendering, though confirmed by the versions, is very unintelligible. Whither did Abiathar go up? And moreover it is said that he continued going up until all David's followers had passed out of the city. Another possible rendering is, "And Abiathar offered (sacrifices) until all the people had done passing out of the city." Passages quoted in proof that the verb may be so rendered without the addition of the word "sacrifice" are 1 Samuel 2:28 and 2 Samuel 24:22; but in both these places the context makes the sense plain. Such a sacrifice would, of course, sanctify both king and people in their flight; but as none of the versions support this method of translating the text, it seems unsafe to adopt it, and the passage must remain obscure. On the one hand, it is unlikely that there would be time to offer sacrifices at so hasty a flight; but on the other hand, the removal of the ark was a solemn thing, which probably required some such religious ceremonial, and Cahen and other Jewish authorities translate, "Abiathar offered burnt offerings." 2 Samuel 15:24Zadok the priest and all the Levites (who were in Jerusalem) left the city with the fugitive king, bearing the ark of the covenant: "And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar came up, till all the people had come completely over from the city." ויּעל, ἀνέβη, ascendit (lxx, Vulg.), may probably be accounted for from the fact that Abiathar did not come to join the fugitives till the procession halted at the Mount of Olives; so that עלה, like ἀναβαίνειν, merely refers to his actually going up, and ויּעל affirms that Abiathar joined them until all the people from the city had arrived. The rendering proposed by Michaelis and Bttcher ("he offered sacrifices") is precluded by the fact that עלה never means to sacrifice when written without עולה, or unless the context points distinctly to sacrifices, as in 2 Samuel 24:22; 1 Samuel 2:28. The ark of the covenant was put down, because those who went out with the king made a halt, to give the people who were still coming time to join the procession.
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