2 Samuel 15:34
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.
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(34) Say unto Absalom.—David here counsels fraud and treachery, and Hushai willingly accepts the part assigned to him, in order to thwart Ahithophel’s counsel and weaken Absalom’s rebellion. The narrative simply states the facts without justifying them. But while we cannot too strongly condemn such a stratagem, two things are to be remembered: first, that like frauds in time of war and rebellion have been practised in all ages, and still continue; and, secondly, that David and Hushai had but slender knowledge of the Divine revelation of truth and righteousness which enables us to condemn them, and, therefore, did with a clear conscience many things which we see to be wrong.

2 Samuel 15:34. Say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king, &c. — This crafty counsel of David to Hushai, advising him to use such great dissimulation, cannot be justified. It must, of necessity, be reckoned among his sins, as being a plain violation of the law of truth, and only intended to deceive. Nevertheless, as this was with David the hour of temptation, and this evil advice was suggested by his present and pressing straits, God was mercifully pleased to pardon and direct it to a good end. Thou mayest for me defeat, &c. — That is, by advising different measures, which, considering the great reputation that Hushai had for wisdom, David judged Absalom would be inclined to hearken to, rather than to those proposed by Ahithophel.

15:31-37 David prays not against Ahithophel's person, but against his counsel. He prayed this, in firm belief that God has all hearts in his hand, and tongues also. But we must second our prayers with endeavours, and David did so, else we tempt God. But we do not find wisdom and simplicity so united in any mere man, that we can perceive nothing which needs forgiveness. Yet, when the Son of David was treated with all possible treachery and cruelty, his wisdom, meekness, candour, and patience, were perfect. Him let us follow, cleave to, and serve, in life and in death.Render ... "when David was come to the top of the mount where people worship God." The top here, and in 2 Samuel 16:1, is used almost as a proper name. No doubt there was a high-place upon the top of the Mount of Olives. 32. when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped—looking towards Jerusalem, where were the ark and tabernacle.

Hushai the Archite—A native of Archi, on the frontiers of Benjamin and Ephraim (Jos 16:2). Comparing the prayer against Ahithophel with the counsel to Hushai, we see how strongly a spirit of fervent piety was combined in his character with the devices of an active and far-seeing policy.

i.e. I will be as faithful to thee as I have been to thy father; which he neither was nor ought to be; and therefore the profession of this was great dissimulation. And David’s suggesting this crafty counsel may be reckoned amongst his errors; which, proceeding from a violent temptation, and his present and pressing straits, God was pleased mercifully to pardon, and to direct this evil advice to a good end.

But if thou return to the city,.... To the city of Jerusalem, from whence it seems he came:

and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as he was by usurpation, and by the proclamation of the people with him. David directs him to address him thus, that he might have no suspicion of him, having been an old friend of his:

as I have been thy father's servant hitherto; perhaps in the character of a counsellor, as it should seem, since as such he was afterwards employed by Absalom:

so will I now also be thy servant; in whatsoever thou shall please to employ me under thee:

then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel; for being taken into Absalom's service, and made one of his counsellors, he would be privy to the advice of Ahithophel, and so be able to work against him.

But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy {u} 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.

(u) Though Hushai was deceitful here at the king's request, we may not use this example to excuse our deceit.

34. and say unto Absalom] “Hushai’s conduct is certainly no model of Christian uprightness. It is therefore curiously instructive to see it made the warrant of a similarly questionable act in modern times. Sir Samuel Morland, Secretary of State to Cromwell, in describing his betrayal of his master to Charles II., says, ‘I called to remembrance Hushai’s behaviour towards Absalom, which I found not at all blamed in Holy Writ, and yet his was a larger step than mine.’ ” Stanley’s Lect. II, 99. Stratagems of this kind, involving deliberate falsehood and treachery, have been employed in all ages, but the morality of them cannot be approved. In connexion with this question it may be remarked, (1) that wrong actions are often related in Scripture without express condemnation, because the healthy and enlightened conscience can discern at once they are wrong: (2) that many actions, allowable under the Old Testament dispensation, are not allowable to those who have received the light of Christ’s revelation: (3) that Scripture gives no sanction to the doctrine, maintained even now in some quarters, that political and social morality are not governed by the same rules. See also the notes on 1 Samuel 27:11; 1 Samuel 29:8.

Verse 34. - Then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel. David was thus meeting treachery by treachery, and we cannot approve of it, even granting that Ahithophel's conduct was base and selfish, while Hushai was risking his life for his master. Still, he was sent back to tell a falsehood, and his excuse was necessity; for Ahithophel was so sagacious that, if his counsel were not upset, David's cause was lost. It was not Christian morality, but yet it has a sort of nobleness about it in Hushai's devotion to his king. And even now, in war and diplomacy, such acts are not uncommon, and a distinction is unhappily drawn between political and social morality. Even in common life immoral doings are often sanctioned by use. Thus many customs of trade are frauds, considered legitimate because generally practised. Even among ourselves Christian morality is far below the level of our Master's teaching; and the Old Testament must not be taken as approving all that it records. Similar blame does not attach to Zadok and Abiathar. They were known to be David's friends, and had even tried to go with him, bearing with them the ark. They professed no friendship for Absalom, and returned for no covert purpose, looking for protection, not to guile, but to their sacred office. And Absalom would be glad to have them in his power, and would make them continue the customary sacrifices, and, if his rebellion proved successful, would force them to anoint him, and so give his usurpation a religious sanction. But he would tell them none of his plans, nor would they try to insinuate themselves into his confidence. They would have a perfect right to be useful in any way they could to their true master, but would do so at the risk of severe punishment. Hushai's way of defeating Ahithophel was treacherous; but there was no deceit in the young men carrying a message from him, for they were openly David's friends. 2 Samuel 15:34On David's arrival at the height where people were accustomed to worship, i.e., upon the top of the Mount of Olives, the Archite Hushai came to meet him with his clothes rent and earth upon his head, that is to say, in the deepest mourning (see 1 Samuel 4:12). It is evident from the words וגו אשׁר־ישׁתּחוה that there was a place of worship upon the top of the Mount of Olives, probably a bamah, such as continued to exist in different places throughout the land, even after the building of the temple. According to 2 Samuel 15:37; 2 Samuel 16:16, and 1 Chronicles 27:33, Hushai was רעה, a friend of David, i.e., one of his privy councillors. הארכּי (the Archite), if we may judge from Jos 16:2, was the name of a family whose possessions were upon the southern boundary of the tribe of Ephraim, between Bethel and Ataroth. Hushai was probably a very old man, as David said to him (2 Samuel 15:33, 2 Samuel 15:34), "If thou goest with me, thou wilt be a burden to me. But if thou returnest to the city and offerest Absalom thy services, thou canst bring for me the counsel of Ahithophel to nought. If thou sayest to Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; servant of thy father (i.e., as regards this) I was that of old, but now I am thy servant." The ו before אני introduces the apodosis both times (vid., Ewald, 348, a.).
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