2 Samuel 18:29
And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.
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(29) Is . . . Absalom safe?—The king’s whole interest is centred in Absalom, and he cares for no other tidings. Ahimaaz skilfully, though untruthfully, evades the question. He had just been trained to untruthfulness in David’s service.

The king’s servant.—This can only refer to the Cushite; but by omitting the single letter which forms the conjunction in Hebrew, the phrase becomes “When Joab, the king’s servant, sent thy servant,” and so the Vulg. reads.

18:19-33 By directing David to give God thanks for his victory, Ahimaaz prepared him for the news of his son's death. The more our hearts are fixed and enlarged, in thanksgiving to God for our mercies, the better disposed we shall be to bear with patience the afflictions mixed with them. Some think David's wish arose from concern about Absalom's everlasting state; but he rather seems to have spoken without due thought. He is to be blamed for showing so great fondness for a graceless son. Also for quarrelling with Divine justice. And for opposing the justice of the nation, which, as king, he had to administer, and which ought to be preferred before natural affection. The best men are not always in a good frame; we are apt to over-grieve for what we over-loved. But while we learn from this example to watch and pray against sinful indulgence, or neglect of our children, may we not, in David, perceive a shadow of the Saviour's love, who wept over, prayed for, and even suffered death for mankind, though vile rebels and enemies.Ahimaaz called - This marks the eager haste with which, before he had quite reached the king, he shouted out the pithy decisive word of good tidings, "Shalom!" Peace!

Hath delivered - See the margin. The figure seems to be that of confining a person within the power of his enemy, in opposition to "giving him his liberty" "in a large room," to work what mischief he pleases.

24-32. David sat between the two gates—that is, in the tower-house on the wall that overhung the gate of Mahanaim. Near it was a watchtower, on which a sentinel was posted, as in times of war, to notify every occurrence. The delicacy of Ahimaaz' communication was made up by the unmistakable plainness of Cushi's. The death of Absalom was a heavy trial, and it is impossible not to sympathize with the outburst of feeling by which David showed that all thoughts of the victory he had won as a king were completely sunk in the painful loss he had sustained as a father. The extraordinary ardor and strength of his affection for this worthless son break out in the redundancy and vehemence of his mournful ejaculations. The king’s servant, Cushi.

I knew not what it was; he seems to tell an untruth, as is evident from 2 Samuel 18:20, because he now plainly perceived what Joab foretold him, that such tidings would be very unwelcome to David. But he made a bad choice, to offend God with a lie, rather than to displease the king with a truth. Yet thus far it might be true, that though he had reason to think Absalom was dead, yet was not able to give account of the particulars which concerned it, wherewith Cushi was intrusted.

And the king said, is the young man Absalom safe?.... Or, is there "peace" (f) to him? you say there is peace, and that prosperity and success have attended my army; but what peace has Absalom? is he well, and in safety? David seemed more concerned for him than for his army and the success of it; and even suggests as if it was nothing if Absalom was not safe, so great were his affections towards him:

and Ahimaaz answered, when Joab sent the king's servant; which was Cushi, the first messenger, whose office perhaps it was to be one of the king's messengers, and therefore called his servant:

and me thy servant: Ahimaaz himself who was sent after the other:

I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was; he perceived that the tidings of the death of Absalom would be disagreeable to the king, and therefore concealed it from him; and though a good man, he cannot be excused from lying, for certainly he knew that Absalom was dead, as appears from 2 Samuel 18:19; though indeed what he said might be true, that after Joab had sent him and Cushi, as the Targum paraphrases it, he saw a company of people gathered together in a tumultuous manner, the meaning of which he knew not; but then this was no other than an evasion.

(f) "estne pax puero?" V. L. "pax puero", Pagninus, Montanus.

And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's {k} servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.

(k) That is, Cushi, who was an Ethiopian.

29. Is the young man Absalom safe] Taking up the exclamation of Ahimaaz; Is it well with the young man Absalom? lit. Is there peace to the young man Absalom? Cp. 2 Kings 4:26. “Not only the question itself, but the very terms of it, breathe the tenderness of David’s feelings. Absalom is ‘the youth,’ as if his youth were a full excuse for his conduct.” Speaker’s Comm.

the king’s servant] The Cushite, to whom Ahimaaz points as he comes up. But it is not improbable that the king’s servant is an alternative reading for thy servant, originally written in the margin, and afterwards inserted in the text, so that we should read simply when Joab sent thy servant.

I knew not what it was] Ahimaaz was eager to be first with the good news, but deliberately concealed the bad. Can it be wondered at that his regard for truth had been weakened when we remember the business he had been engaged in at David’s command?

Verse 29. - Is the young man Absalom safe! literally, Is there peace to the lad Absalom? Was this mere love for the handsome but rebellious son, whose image comes back to the father as he was when just reaching manhood? Certainly not. David was thinking of the ominous words, "The sword shall never depart from thine house" (2 Samuel 12:10). The sword had devoured one son; was it now to claim another? And then? and then? Where would it stop? And Ahimaaz saw the king's distress, and gave an evasive answer. He understood now Joab's unwillingness to let him carry such painful tidings, and was glad that this part of the news had been entrusted to the Cushite. When Joab sent the king's servant, and (me) thy servant. This distinction is strange, and probably one of these phrases has crept in from the margin. But if the Ethiopian was technically "the king's slave," and Ahimaaz "thy slave" (by courtesy), we might imagine that the attendants already formed part of the state of kings. It was long afterwards that Ebedmelech was a Cushite in the service of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 38:7). 2 Samuel 18:29In answer to the king's inquiry, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" Ahimaaz replied, "I saw the great tumult (that arose) when Joab sent off the king's servant, and thy servant, and know not what" (sc., had occurred). Ahimaaz spoke as if he had been sent off before Absalom's fate had been decided or could be known. "The king's servant" is the Cushite, whom Ahimaaz saw just approaching, so that he could point to him. Joab is the subject, which is sometimes written after the object in the case of an infinitive construction (vid., Gesenius, 133, 3 Anm.); and the expression "thy servant" is a conventional one for "me" (viz., Ahimaaz).
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