2 Samuel 18
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
2 Samuel 18:1-8. - (MAHANAIM.)
Having found refuge in the fortified city of Mahanaim (2 Samuel 2:8), and recruited their exhausted energies, David and those who were with him prepared for the conflict which now seemed inevitable. Meanwhile (during several weeks) Absalom collected a great army (2 Samuel 17:11), appointed Amasa captain, crossed the Jordan, and encamped in the land of Gilead (2 Samuel 17:24-27). Here, "in the wood of Ephraim" (ver. 6; Judges 12:4), he was met by the forces of David, and the issue was quickly decided. "The traveller who only knows Palestine to the west of the Jordan, can form no idea of the luxuriance of the hillsides of Gilead. Here we crossed sparkling rivulets, where the sunlight glinted through the foliage of handsome oak, terebinth, and carob trees, and traversed glades seldom disturbed by the foot of man, which led into the deep solitudes of the forest. In one of these Absalom met his end; and one could well understand, as one came suddenly upon the brink of some rock or gorge, why possibly, in headlong and disastrous flight, so many of the combatants on that fatal day should have been numbered among the missing, that it was said the wood devoured more than the sword" (Oliphant). Attention is especially directed to David, concerning whom observe -

I. THE RENEWED ENERGY OF HIS CHARACTER. After his deep humiliation, the old king is himself again. His youth is "renewed like the eagle's." Passive submission is succeeded by active exertion, to which he is urged by inward impulses and new circumstances. There is a time to pray, and a time to work.

1. He actively musters his friends around him; and constantly attracts and receives reinforcements from the people who dwell on the east of the Jordan (2 Samuel 17:27-29; Psalm 27; Psalm 28; Psalm 110:3).

2. He skilfully organizes his forces, appointing captains of thousands and captains of hundreds, and arranging them in three divisions under Joab, Abishai, and Ittai (2 Samuel 15:19-22), well knowing the worth of able leaders and of strict order and discipline (2 Samuel 8:15-18).

3. He courageously purposes to go forth himself into the conflict (2 Samuel 21:17), and is prevented from doing so only by their considerate determination (ver. 4). "Those who engage others in arduous and perilous attempts must be willing to take their full share of hardship; but true courage and firmness of mind are very different from rashness and obstinacy, and wise men are always must ready to listen to prudent counsel, even from their inferiors" (Scott).

4. He specially charges them to do his son no harm. "Gently for me with the young man Absalom" (ver. 5); "Beware, whoever it be," etc. (ver. 12). A general and intense feeling of resentment is naturally felt against him; and none are concerned about his welfare, save his father, whom he has chiefly wronged. "See what a thing a godly father's affection is to his child. No undutifulness, no practice on a child's part, no, nor death itself, can divide between him and his child. What though Absalom can forget David, yet David cannot forget him; what though he be a very ungracious imp, yet 'he is my child, my child,' saith David, 'I cannot but love him;' and, indeed, he over loves him; which I do not commend, but only observe, to note the strength of parents' love, if it be natural - a love indeed as strong as death. Is the love of an earthly father so great? What, then, is the affection of our heavenly Father towards us?" (R. Harris: 1610).

II. THE ARDENT ATTACHMENT OF HIS FOLLOWERS; in contrast with the disaffection and hostility of others.

1. They offer themselves willingly to his service, and readily risk their lives for his sake.

2. They set an inestimable value on his life in comparison with their own. "Thou art worth ten thousand of us" (ver. 3). How much often depends on one man! The safety, unity, religion, prosperity, of a whole nation. Both patriotism and piety require the utmost care for his preservation.

3. They see the peculiar peril to which he is exposed, and seek to guard him against it. "They will pay no attention to us," etc. Of Washington, one of his officers wrote, "Our army love their general very much; but they have one complaint against him, which is the very little care he takes of himself."

4. They deem it expedient to provide, in case of need, for receiving his aid. "It is better that thou succour us out of the city." Their proposal is prudent, courteous, and honourable. Whilst he waits in the city with the "reserves," he still commands them, prays for them, and cooperates with them. They go forth under his sanction (ver. 4), are animated on the battlefield by the remembrance of him, and look forward to his approval as their recompense (2 Samuel 19:3). Such devotion is rare, not merely towards an earthly commander, but even on the part of those who war a spiritual warfare towards the heavenly Leader and "Captain of their salvation."

III. THE SIGNAL OVERTHROW OF HIS ADVERSARIES (vers. 7, 8); which is accomplished by the valour, discipline, and devotion of his "servants," and chiefly:

1. By the interposition of Divine providence (vers. 28, 31). "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong" (Ecclesiastes 9:11). "Providence is" by no means "always on the side of big battalions."

2. In retribution upon the disobedient and ungodly, over whom mercy lingers long, but not forever, and who, though used as instruments of chastising others, are themselves ultimately broken in pieces.

3. For the deliverance of the faithful, the restoration of the "Lord's anointed," and the maintenance of the theocracy.

4. As a preparation for, and a foreshadowing of, the nobler victories of the King Messiah. It was another of the decisive battles of the world. "The contest was of short duration. The victors were soon vanquished. The storm was like a whirlwind, and like a whirlwind it passed away, leaving the enemies of God under the foot of the Messiah. To the depth of David's fall, to the height of his exaltation, there is but one parallel. We see it in the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The two Davids fell in a manner alike mysterious to their astonished friends. The two Davids rose again in a manner alike terrible to their astonished foes" (M. Hill, 'The Typical Testimony to the Messiah'). - D.

Thou art worth ten thousand of us. The doctrine that all men are equal is true in some important respects, but its application and use are very limited. It is equally true that all men are unequal, that no man is of exactly the same weight and worth as any other man. Men differ infinitely in body and mind, in intelligence and goodness, in position and influence, in their value to society; and so in the degrees of their responsibility to God. In domestic and social, civic, national, and Church life, one man is often worth many others. David's "people" felt this now that they were going forth to meet the forces of Absalom in battle; and they give as a reason why he should be content to remain in the city instead of exposing himself to the dangers of the battlefield, that he was worth ten thousand of them; that it was better that ten thousand of them should be slain than he, though he was only one. This sentiment underlies and justifies the natural feeling of loyalty to a sovereign, the willingness to protect him at the cost of many lives. In personal worth he may not be equal to many a single soldier or subject; but he represents the state; in his life may be involved the welfare of a nation, to protect which it is worth while for many to die. Such thoughts might well console the private soldier dying in obscurity on the field or in hospital. His king, his country, is worth a multitude of such as he. His life is worthily sacrificed for them. The same sentiment is applicable to the commanders of an army in contrast with common soldiers; to great statesmen and other leaders of men in contrast with the multitude. It is no disparagement of these to say that it would require many of them to equal in value to society one of those; and that, if necessary, it would be better that the many should die rather than the one. We may use the words emphatically in reference to our great King and Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ. True, he is no longer in personal peril from his enemies. "He lives beyond their utmost rage" (Watts). But his cause, influence, hold of mankind, place in their esteem and affection, in a word, his kingdom, may be endangered; and his true disciples will be ready to die in thousands rather than he should in these respects perish or even suffer loss. And the justification of their feeling is that he, personally and in his cause, "is worth ten thousand of them."


1. In personal excellence. It is well when the monarch of a country is distinguished for mental and moral endowments. Even when the personality of the ruler is of less account in the actual government, it adds much to the welfare of the state that he is noble in the qualities of his mind and heart. This has been made manifest in the long reign of our beloved and honoured queen. Where the power of government is very largely trusted to the will of the sovereign, it is of incalculable importance that he should be both wise and good. David's kingdom sprang very mainly from, and was maintained by, his personal qualities. And this is more emphatically true of his great Son Jesus. He is "chiefest among ten thousand," chiefest among and above all creation. The perfections of God and the perfections of man are combined in this one glorious Person. In himself he is worthy of the utmost love and self-devotion.

2. In position and dignity. As "King of kings and Lord of lords;" "Lord of all;" King of souls; "Head of the Church" "Head over all things." These are not empty titles; but represent facts, actual glory and power. To serve such a King may well be esteemed the highest possible honour; to die for him, a great glory.

3. In relation to the good of men. Who shall say how much Christ is "worth" in this view? of how much value his work for and amongst men? how essentially their welfare in time and in eternity is bound up with his unchanging existence and power, and the manifestation of himself in the world through his Church? Every believer experiences his preciousness (1 Peter 2:7), and desires that all should have a like experience, through a "like precious faith" (2 Peter 1:1); and to keep him living in the memory of men, and secure the wider exercise of his saving power, would cheerfully sacrifice himself. We are insignificant, and if we die it matters little; but for him to perish from the life of men, or become feeble in his influence among them, would be disastrous indeed.

4. In power to succour and aid his servants. David was requested to remain in the city with the reserves, that, if it were required, he might send them to the succour of those fighting in the field. Our Lord can, "out of the city" in which he dwells, aid his servants in more effectual manner. Not only has he numberless reserves eager to do his bidding, but he is able to gather around him, from the very ranks of his foes, fresh hosts to fight his battles. And, beyond all this, he can himself be - yea, he is with his people everywhere and evermore, to inspirit them by his presence, and render them victorious. Who of them, what "ten thousand" of them, could fill his place?

5. In power to reward those who die in his service. Earthly rulers are powerless to recompense the soldiers who are slain in fighting their battles. Not so our great King. He is able to promise eternal life and glory to his faithful followers; and what he promises he performs (see Mark 8:35; John 12:25).


1. Satisfaction that he lives safe above all the hostility of his enemies. Lives, not in heaven only, but on earth in spirit and power, working in and, with his people and confirming his Word (John 14:19; Mark 16:20). Human leaders and teachers die, but "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). That One of so much worth to men, and so needful to them, should be thus immortal and immutable, is matter for joy and thankfulness. He needs not, like David, the plans and efforts of his servants to preserve him; but we can and should rejoice that he lives and reigns, and "mast reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25).

2. Devoted loyalty to him even unto death. The readiness with which David's friends hazarded and gave up their lives for him, nay, the similar devotedness of many a common soldier, may well put most Christians to the blush.

3. Contentment in view of the enormous sacrifice of human lives which has been made for his sake. It is not waste; the willing deaths of martyrs, missionaries, Christian workers of all grades, have not been unreasonable. He and his cause are worthy of it all.

4. Confidence in respect to ultimate victory over all his foes. With such a King and Captain, final defeat is impossible.

5. Assurance of ample recompense for whatever we lose, were it life itself, in his service.

6. Concern to be on the side of Christ rather than of a multitude in opposition to him. We are tempted to follow the crowd, and (with or without thinking) to esteem that to be the right course which the greater number pursue. But truth goes not necessarily, or even ordinarily, with the majority. With the one Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, are truth, safety, victory, ultimate gain. His judgment is worth more than that of "ten thousand" others; his favour of infinitely more value than theirs. If adherence to him were to lead to the separation from us of all besides, and we were to find ourselves alone, we might say after his manner, "I am not alone, because the Master is with me" (John 16:32). - G.W.

2 Samuel 18:9-14. - (THE WOOD OF EPHRAIM.)
Though I should receive [literally, 'weigh'] a thousand pieces of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son (ver. 12). While pursuing the enemy, a brave soldier came upon their leader, suspended from "the entangled branches of the great terebinth," in which his head was fastened so that he could not extricate himself. He forthwith reported what he had seen to Joab, who asked him why he had not despatched him, and said that he would have given him ten pieces of silver and a military girdle for doing so. A less scrupulous man might have sought even yet to secure the reward. But he replied that nothing would induce him to disobey the king. "So genuine was the reverence with which the loyalty of even a common soldier then invested the royal dignity" (Ewald). His fidelity may serve to illustrate that of "a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3), as it appears in -

I. HIS RESPECT FOR THE KING'S COMMANDMENT; which, unlike that of an earthly ruler, is always wise, just, and good.

1. He reverences the authority by which it is given, as rightful, all-powerful, supreme.

2. He regards it as obligatory on each and all to whom it is given (ver. 12).

3. He remembers it constantly in the absence as well as the presence of the King, from whom "there is no matter hid" (ver. 13).

4. He is resolved on performing it with all his might. "Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently" (Psalm 119:4, 11, 106).

II. HIS REJECTION OF STRONG TEMPTATION. He will not disobey the order received, though urged to do so by:

1. The impulse of resentment against the common enemy.

2. The plea of expediency, or what may seem to be for the common good.

3. The approval of a fellow soldier, or the sanction of any "captain" inferior to the King.

4. The promise of reward, certain, immediate, and great. "The Law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver" (Psalm 119:72, 31, 36).

III. HIS REBUKE OF ANOTHER'S PRESUMPTION. Joab must have felt himself reproved by this faithful and honest soldier; though he turned away contemptuously, recklessly, and presumptuously to do the deprecated deed. A dutiful soldier may and ought to rebuke the undutifulness of another by:

1. Reminding him of the word which has been spoken by the King.

2. Avowing his own determination to obey it in spite of all inducements to the contrary.

3. Predicting the certainty of the King's displeasure, which outweighs all present gain (Proverbs 16:14; Proverbs 19:12). "What is a man profited," etc.? "In the King's favour is life."

4. Intimating the unreliability of one who favours disobedience and presumes on impunity. "Thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me;" leaving me alone to bear the blame and suffer the penalty. "He must be a very bad man who is not attracted to what is good by the good example of his subordinates" (S. Schmid). "Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect to all thy commandments" (Psalm 119:6, 29, 51, 53). - D.

I should have wrought falsehood against my own life. Another reading, preferred by the Old Testament Revisers, substitutes "his" for "my own;" but they place in the margin that adopted in the Authorized Version. Taking the passage, then, as it stands in the Authorized Version. the meaning of the speaker is that if he had slain Absalom, he would have brought death upon himself, since the king would have been made acquainted with the deed, and would have sentenced him to death. The form of the expression is worthy of notice. Doing what would have cost him his life is called working falsehood against it. A man's life is entrusted to him to guard and nourish. When he does this, he acts truly towards it; when he does what injures or destroys his life, he acts falsely towards it; he violates his trust. Every man virtually professes to be concerned for the safety and well being of his life; when he does what endangers or terminates it, he may be said to deal falsely with it, to act treacherously towards it. This is the case with those who put themselves to death, or shorten their days by intemperance or licentiousness; or who, by crime, bring themselves to the gallows (see homily on 2 Samuel 17:23). But we may take the words as suggesting that there are persons who work falsehood against their lives in the higher sense, as beings immortal, and capable of that, life which is life indeed, - the life everlasting.


1. By taking the course which surely leads to death. In violating the laws of God they bring on themselves the sentence of death, and separate themselves from God, in whose favour is life.

2. By refusing the new life which is proffered them in the gospel. Life under the Law having become impossible through sin, God has interposed with another method of imparting life. His Son came to be our Life. He died that we might live. He lives evermore to bestow life on all who believe on him. "He that hath the Son hath life," etc. (1 John 5:12); "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," etc. (John 3:36). To reject him is to reject life. It is to deal falsely with our own lives, our own souls.

3. By neglecting the means by which the life of the soul is preserved and nourished. Reading of the Word, meditation, prayer, watchfulness, ordinances of public worship, union and communion with Christians, etc., whatever is intended and adapted to keep the soul in vital union with him who is "the Life" (John 14:6).

II. ITS UNNATURALNESS AND WICKEDNESS. The man implied that to deal falsely with his own life was a thing utterly inadmissible. So it ought to be in respect to the life of the soul. For:

1. It is the life which is concerned. It is not a mere question of more or less health, comfort, or other subordinate good. "It is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life" (Deuteronomy 32:47).

2. It is the most precious kind of life. Unspeakably more important than the life of the body, or even of the mind, or of any of the principles and affections which relate us to the family or society. Because of

(1) its nature,

(2) its blessedness,

(3) its duration.

3. It is our own life. Which should be specially dear to us, and has been specially entrusted to us: which we are therefore especially bound to care for and conserve.

4. To imperil or sacrifice it is to deal falsely against it and against God. We are under a covenant to care for it. Nature binds us, and Scripture, and perhaps religious vows, voluntarily made and often repeated.

5. Such a course will bring upon us the Divine displeasure. We shall not only lose our souls, but shall find ourselves involved in awful penalties for doing so; not only shall we fail of "eternal life," but shall "go away into eternal punishment" (Matthew 25:46). The words may be a safeguard against temptation. "In doing this thing I should deal falsely against my own life." - G.W.

There is no matter hid from the king. This is given, by the man who informed Joab that Absalom was hanging in an oak, as a reason why he might have been sure of death himself if he had killed Absalom. It shows how well informed David was understood to be of all that took place amongst his subjects. Such an impression respecting governors and magistrates in general as this man had respecting David, would go far to extinguish crime. The assertion here made as to King David's knowledge may be made absolutely, and without exception, in reference to our great King.

I. THE OMNISCIENCE OF CHRIST. This is claimed for and by him in Holy Scripture (see John 2:24, 25; Revelation 2:23; and the repeated declarations in the letters to the seven Churches, Revelation 2. and 3., as to his acquaintance with their works and condition. Also John 10:14, 15).

1. The sources of his knowledge. His own essential Divine faculty of knowing. He does not depend, like ordinary rulers, on informants. His "eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3).

2. The extent of his knowledge. He knows, not only the actions of men, but their hearts; all thoughts, emotions, motives, plans, purposes; all movements and events that can affect his kingdom. His enemies take counsel against him under his very eyes.

3. The impossibility of concealing anything from him. "There is no matter hid from the King." Nothing can hide aught from him. Not physical darkness; not distance; not efforts at concealment; no hypocrisy; no simulation or dissimulation; no excuses, contradictions, or evasions. The assertions in Psalm 139.; Job 34:21, 22; 2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 4:13, are as applicable to the Son as to the Father.


1. To confirm our confidence in his fitness to be King. Rule over such a kingdom as his - extending over numbers so vast, and reaching to the inmost souls of his subjects - requires omniscience as one of the attributes of the Ruler.

2. To deter us from wrong doing. As a similar knowledge deterred this Israelite from slaying the king's son.

3. To assure us that judgment will fall on the guilty, and only on them; and on each according to the measure of his guiltiness. For want of better knowledge in human rulers and magistrates, some innocent persons suffer as guilty, and many guilty ones escape punishment.

4. To encourage us in all that is good. Christ's perfect knowledge of us is a great comfort for Christians who are unknown or unacknowledged amongst men; for the maligned and misunderstood; for workers in obscurity; for such as do good quietly and secretly. "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee" (John 21:17). "Thy Father" - thy Redeemer and Lord - "which seeth in secret shall recompense thee" (Matthew 6:4, Revised Version). "Who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God" (1 Corinthians 4:5, Revised Version).

"Men heed thee, love thee, praise thee not,
The Master praises: what are men?"

5. To comfort us in all troubles. "Thou hast seen my affliction; thou hast known my soul in adversities" (Psalm 31:7, Revised Version). A special comfort for those whose troubles are too peculiar or too sacred to communicate to others. Though our King be so exalted, he interests himself in each one of his subjects, even the least, knows all that pains them, and sympathizes with them in all. - G.W.

2 Samuel 18:14-18. - (THE WOOD OF EPHRAIM.)
After a long course of flagrant and persistent wickedness, Absalom (at the age of twenty-seven) met his deserved doom. There is not in all history a more signal instance of retribution. In it we see punishment following crime, in the way of natural consequence, and corresponding with it in the manner of its infliction. The sinner reaps as he sows.

"But Justice hastes t' avenge each impious deed:
Some in day's clear and open light;
Some in the dusky evening's twilight shads;
Or, by delay more furious made,
Some in the dreary gloom of night."

(AEsehylus.) Absalom was -

I. ARRESTED BY DIVINE JUSTICE, IN THE PERVERSITY OF HIS WAY. (Vers. 9, 10.) When the battle went against him he sought to escape. Possibly he met with some of David's soldiers, who durst not "touch" him (ver. 12); "but though they let him go, yet God met with him, and put a stop to his flight" (Patrick). His eagerness and impetuosity, his tall form, his long hair, "the king's mule" on which he rode, all contributed to the result. Entangled by the tresses of his hair, and fastened by his neck in a forked bough, he was left hanging "between heaven and earth" (Deuteronomy 21:23); "rejected as a traitor by both." None of his companions in crime remained with him, but all left him alone to his fate. "A man whom the Divine vengeance is pursuing does not escape" (S. Schmid). Insensate trees, dumb animals, apparently trivial and accidental circumstances, the devices and efforts of the transgressor, are so ordered that he shall not go unpunished (Proverbs 11:19, 31; Proverbs 13:21; Proverbs 22:5; Proverbs 28:17, 18).

II. EXECUTED BY HUMAN VIOLENCE, SIMILAR TO HIS OWN. (Vers. 14, 15.) As he had slain Amnon (2 Samuel 13:28, 29), so was he slain by Joab. "He that was a solicitor for the king's favour (2 Samuel 14:1, 2, 33) is his executioner against the king's charge" (Hall); influenced partly by zeal for the king's interest and the public good, partly by revenge for private injury (2 Samuel 14:30), and jealousy for his own position (2 Samuel 3:27; 2 Samuel 19:10). He shared the resentment felt by his men against Absalom; was an instrument by which the wrath of Heaven was inflicted; and perhaps deemed himself justified in becoming such, because of the excessive fondness and blamable weakness of David toward his son; but herein he punished disobedience by disobedience, exhibited a pitiless severity and daring presumption, incurred the king's displeasure (2 Samuel 19:13), involved himself in deeper crime (1 Kings 2:5), and ultimately in a violent death (1 Kings 2:32).

III. BURIED IN A SHAMEFUL GRAVE, in contrast with the splendid monument which "in his lifetime he had taken and reared up for himself," etc. (ver. 18). "He had thought that he would be there, some time or other, buried as king; but he is now buried as an outlawed evil doer, as an outcast from among men. Till this hour that grave speaks to us with a loud awakening voice. Violations of the commandment, 'Honour thy father and thy mother,' for the most part, indeed, escape the judgment of human authorities; but the Almighty has reserved it to himself to inflict punishment with his own hand, and for the most part even on this side eternity, as he has promised for this world also a gracious reward to those who keep it holy, according to the promise annexed to the commandment, 'that it may go well wire thee'" (Krumreacher). "The great pit in the wood," with "a very great heap of stones laid upon him" - this was the end of his ambitious career (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23; Joshua 7:26; Joshua 8:29). The site both of his grave and of the "marble pillar in the king's dale, two furlongs distant from Jerusalem" (Josephus), has been for ages unknown; and even the monolith in the valley of the Kidron (probably of the Herodian age, but associated with his name) is "unto this day" regarded with scorn by the passer by, as he casts another stone, and mutters a curse upon his memory. "Shame shall be the promotion of fools" (Proverbs 3:35; Proverbs 30:17). "Hear this, ye glorious fools, that care not to perpetuate any memory of yourselves to the world, but of ill-deserving greatness. The best of this affectation is vanity; the worst infamy and dishonour; whereas the memory of the just shall be blessed, and, if his humility shall refuse an epitaph and choose to hide himself under the bare earth, God himself shall engrave his name upon the pillar of eternity" (Hall). - D.

2 Samuel 18:18. - (THE KING'S DALE.)
Absalom's place (literally, "hand," equivalent to "monument," or "memorial," 1 Samuel 15:12). To live in the memory of men after death is, in a sense, to be immortal on earth (2 Samuel 7:9). Of this earthly immortality observe that:

1. It is an object of natural and legitimate desire. To be wholly forgotten as soon as we are laid in the dust is a prospect from which we instinctively turn away with aversion, as from death itself. The natural love of life, of reputation, of power, of pre-eminence, implies the desire of their continuance, in so far as it is possible, not merely of exerting a continued influence (as every one must do), but also of having one's name kept in continued remembrance; and this desire exists in those who have little or no knowledge of personal immortality. It is well that men's thoughts should extend beyond the narrow span of their own lifetime. But the memory of themselves which they wish to be perpetuated should not be of their shining qualities and extraordinary achievements, but of their genuine faith, their holy character, and their beneficent deeds, as an incentive to the like (Psalm 78:7; Proverbs 13:22; Hebrews 11:4); for such a wish alone is of any moral worth.

2. The desire of it often leads to mistaken and unworthy endeavours in order to its attainment. Absalom "had taken and reared up for himself the pillar," etc. Imbued with selfish and vainglorious ambition, he imagined that the sight of it would call forth the admiration of posterity. In the same spirit he subsequently made his attempt upon the throne. So others have reared imposing monuments, built huge pyramids and palaces, fought great battles, and rushed into daring enterprises, heedless of the rectitude of their conduct or the welfare of mankind (Genesis 11:4; Ezekiel 29:3; Daniel 4:30). "Their inward thought is," etc. (Psalm 49:11-13). The character of their aim determines the nature of their efforts; and only those efforts which proceed from a right spirit ensure an enduring and honourable "name."

3. The result of such endeavours is shame and everlasting contempt, instead of immortal honour and glory. "Absalom's hand," which was intended to indicate to future generations his magnificence, indicated only his ignominy. Even that at length perished (Psalm 9:6; Proverbs 10:7). And his memory remains as a solemn warning against transgression. "In what different lights, in what different aspects of character, the human beings of past time are presented to our thoughts! How many of them are there that an odious and horrid character rests upon! They seem to bear eternal curses on their heads. A vindictive ray of Heaven's lightning seems continually darting down upon them. They appear as the special points of communication and attraction between a wicked world and the Divine vengeance" (J. Foster). But "the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance" (Psalm 112:6; Matthew 26:13; Acts 10:4; 2 Peter 1:15). - D.

The contrast between ver. 17 and ver. 18 is touching. Absalom, whose three sons (2 Samuel 14:27) were dead, desirous that his name should not therefore die, erected a monument to perpetuate it, probably connecting with it a tomb in which he purposed that his body should lie, and in which possibly he may have placed the remains of his deceased children. But he was buried in another sepulchre, and had another monument reared to his memory. A pit in the forest of Ephraim became his grave, and "a very great heap of stones" his memorial. The contrast appears more marked in the original than in our version. The same Hebrew word is translated "laid" in ver. 17, and "reared" in ver. 18. "They took Absalom ... and raised a very great heap of stones upon him... Absalom in his lifetime had taken and raised up for himself a pillar," etc. The desire to have our name perpetuated is natural, and in some becomes a passion. It is one of the pleasures parents have, that, when they are gone, their children (especially their sons) will keep their names in the memory of men. Failing this, the hope of a tombstone to fulfil in some measure the same purpose may give satisfaction; it is only a very few who can hope for a "pillar" as a monument. But, after all, these are poor memorials, and they may preserve a very undesirable memory of a deceased person. There are better methods of ensuring that we shall not be soon forgotten amongst men, and, at the same time, that the image thus perpetuated shall be both desirable and useful. These methods, moreover, are open to the multitude who cannot hope for either pillar or tombstone to commemorate them, "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance" (Psalm 112:6).


1. By eminent piety and holiness. "The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot" (Proverbs 10:7).

2. By the faithful discharge of private and public duties.

3. By zeal for the spiritual good of others. Instructing them ourselves. Providing for their instruction. Those who have wealth may erect a house of prayer, which will be a better monument than a pillar. The childless man may thus have spiritual children that shall perpetuate his memory and good influence. Loving work amongst the young is likely to be most successful, both in respect to their good and the long perpetuation of our memory. Our name will be written on their hearts, and repeated by them with gratitude in their conversation and in their thanksgivings to God.

4. By large general benevolence. Devotedness in the relief of suffering and the promotion in other ways of the good of others. Some secure a lasting name by building, enlarging, or endowing hospitals, almshouses, or schools. But little acts of kindness, especially if they become the habit of a life, may secure even a warmer place in the memory and affection of those whom we benefit.

II. THE MONUMENTS THUS ERECTED. It follows from what has been said that these will be:

1. Souls saved or greatly profited.

2. Happiness produced or increased.

3. Grateful remembrance and mention of us. By those we have benefited. By all acquainted with our lives who rightly estimate goodness and benevolence.

4. In the case of some, religious and philanthropic institutions and agencies, which they have founded or greatly strengthened, and with which their names will continue to be associated.

III. THE SUPERIORITY OF SUCH MONUMENTS. In comparison with pillars, etc., erected to our memory.

1. In their nature. Memorials of stone bear no comparison with those written on the hearts, and in the characters and happiness, of men; or indissolubly associated with permanent agencies for their well being.

2. In their fruitfulness. The good done reproduces itself; the memory of the doer, thus perpetuated, more surely excites to imitation of his character and works.

3. In their duration. The less durable of such memorials will outlast any material monument; the spiritual ones will survive the last fires, and be everlasting. To conclude:

1. It is a solemn thing to reflect that shortly all that will.remain of us in this world will be our memorials. We ourselves must soon be gone, be we princes or peasants, rich or poor, learned or ignorant. The only advantage of the rich over the poor is that of more costly monuments. But the choicest monuments may be secured by the poor as well as the rich.

2. The securing for ourselves a lasting name amongst men ought not to be the chief motive, nor one of the chief motives, of our conduct, it should hardly be a motive at all. Of Christian conduct and works, it cannot be a main motive; for a life so produced is not Christian. To act in order to "have glory of men" (Matthew 6:2) after our death differs not in principle from seeking to have such glory now. Had Mary (Matthew 26:6-13) lavished her precious ointment on our Lord in order that she might be memorable to all ages, he would not have commended her. Our chief motives should be love to God and Christ and men, the desire to be approved of God, and to have our names recorded indelibly in the book of life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5).

3. An enduring name may be obtained by ill-doing as well as by well doing. The name of Judas will last as long as that of Mary, and be perpetuated by the same means. And the memory of a good man's failings may be as enduring as that of his virtues.

4. The grand instance of a Name after death synonymous with all that is great and good in the highest sense and degree, without any admixture of evil, and productive of the highest and most lasting good in others, is that of our blessed Lord. - G.W.

He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings. Underlying this phrase is probably the feeling that there is a congruity between good tidings and a good man. David may have thought that such a messenger as Ahimaaz would not have been sent with bad news; and, indeed, Joab was unwilling that he should run with the news, because he knew how grievous part of it would be to David. It may be permissible to take these words as applicable to the proclaimers of the heavenly good news - the gospel of God. It should be true of every Christian minister and teacher, yea, of every Christian, that "he is a good man, and cometh with good tidings." We are the more readily led to such an accommodation of the words, because the terms used throughout this section of the narrative are in the Septuagint identical with those (εὐαγγέλια εὐαγγελίζω) with which we are so familiar in the New Testament.

I. THERE ARE GOOD TIDINGS TO BE PROCLAIMED. Christianity is pre-eminently "gospel" (equivalent to "good news"), and is often called by this name. It is good tidings from the region and the Person from whence we might reasonably expect bad; and about the Being and the things which are of most importance to us. It declares to us the love of God to sinful men. It announces the coming and the work of a Divine Saviour; the reign of a Divine King; an all-sufficient propitiation for sin; a full and free redemption; an almighty, most loving and ever abiding Comforter and Helper. It proclaims pardon for the guilty, cleansing for the impure, life for the dead, comfort for the sad and sorrowful, Divine righteousness for the unrighteous, Divine strength for the weak, peace and joy on earth, perfection alike of holiness and happiness in heaven. It offers all these blessings on the simple condition of "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).

II. THESE GOOD TIDINGS ARE COMMITTED TO GOOD MEN TO MAKE KNOWN. Only good men, real Christians, have a Divine commission to engage in this work. God does not need the services of his enemies in the work of turning enemies into friends and ministering to their good. No unconverted man, no one that is carnal, worldly, unholy, can be a true Christian preacher or teacher.

1. Only good men really know the gospel. (See 1 Corinthians 2:14; Matthew 11:25.) We need to be "taught of God" (John 6:45) in order to our real reception and. understanding of Christian truth.

2. Only good men can rightly make it known. We cannot teach what we do not know; we cannot teach aright that with which we are out of harmony and sympathy. The work of teaching the gospel requires love to God, to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the truth, to the souls of men; sympathy with the mind and heart and purposes of God as revealed in the gospel; a character consistent with it, and adapted to illustrate and recommend it; and the earnest and believing prayerfulness which secures the Divine aid and blessing. "But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?" (Psalm 50:16).

III. GOOD MEN SHOULD MAKE KNOWN THE GOOD TIDINGS ZEALOUSLY, All Christians should do this according to the measure of their abilities and opportunities. They should be incited to do this by:

1. The nature of the tidings. With which only intense earnestness in the messenger is in harmony.

2. Their personal obligations to the redeeming love which they announce.

3. The unspeakable blessings they have received through the knowledge of them.

4. The commands of their Lord.

5. The natural impulses of the Christian heart. Which are the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

6. The good they can thus confer on their fellow men. Good of the most important and lasting kind, and of which they are most of all in need.

IV. THOSE WHO MAKE KNOWN THE GOOD TIDINGS OUGHT MORE AND MORE TO BECOME GOOD. The work of learning and teaching the gospel ought to greatly benefit the teachers. It is adapted to do so, on account of:

1. The nature of the gospel. Its every truth is sanctifying.

2. The special character of the work. It exercises and trains every Christian virtue. It brings into close communion with the infinitely Good, who is also the Inspirer of all good in his creatures.

3. The regard for consistency which the worker is likely to cherish.

4. His desire for success in his work. This will increase his desire and endeavour after greater personal consecration and holiness.

5. The concern which he will feel to be accepted of God. "Lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Corinthians 9:27). In conclusion:

1. The subject appeals to all who have part in the teaching of Christianity. Not only preachers, but parents and other teachers of the young, district visitors, etc.

2. Some need to be reminded that the Christian religion is not all of the nature of good tidings to each one to whom it comes. If it says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," it says also, "He that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). If of the righteous it declares, "It shall be well with him," it also says, "Woe unto the wicked, it shall be ill with him!" (Isaiah 3:10, 11). But its tidings of evil, as well as of good, need good men to bear them properly. It needs faith and faithfulness toward God, tender love and pity toward men, to utter them aright, and with probability of success. - G.W.

2 Samuel 18:29. - (MAHANAIM.)
Youth is a season of intense activity, favourable opportunities, and glowing promise.

"The passion, which in youth
Drives fast downhill, means that the impulse gained
Should speed us up the hill that's opposite."

(Sir H. Taylor.) This question is specially suggestive of -

I. DANGER. No soldier on the battlefield, no traveller on "dark mountains," no ship on a tempestuous sea, is exposed to greater peril than a young man. Of what? Not so much of physical suffering and death, as of sin - the only real evil, and one which involves the loss of his highest life (Matthew 10:28). From what? Chiefly from himself - his "own heart" (Jeremiah 17:9); inexperience; susceptibility to impressions; personal endowments (2 Samuel 14:25); "youthful lusts" (2 Timothy 2:22), the love of pleasure, excitement, "name and fame;" impatience of control, self-confidence, rashness, and presumption. Also from false friends (2 Samuel 13:3), rather than open enemies; sceptical and sensuous literature; "the defilements [miasma] of the age" (2 Peter 2:20); and the peculiar temptations of the place, the occupation, and the society with which he is connected. "Rejoice, O young man," etc. (Ecclesiastes 11:9).

II. SAFETY. "To be forewarned is to be forearmed." "Wherewithal, etc. 9 By taking heed thereto according to thy Word" (Psalm 119:9). The most essential thing is a right state of heart; its supreme affection set on God, its ruling purpose directed to the doing of his will (Proverbs 4:23), its varied powers "united to fear his Name" (Psalm 86:11; Proverbs 1:7). There is also need of watchfulness (1 Corinthians 16:31), keeping out of the way of temptation, trusting in God to be kept by him, unceasing prayer, association with good men, the cultivation of proper habits, profitable reading, seasonable recreation, useful employment, and advancement toward the true end of life. "If ye do these things, ye shall never stumble," etc. (2 Peter 1:10, 11).

III. ANXIETY; on the part of parents, instructors, Christian friends; arising from sincere affection, a clear perception of his danger, and an ardent desire for his welfare; expressed in fervent prayer, appropriate endeavour (ver. 5), and frequent inquiries (ver. 32). Alas! that a young man for whom others are so tenderly concerned should recklessly and wilfully "lose himself and become castaway"! - D.

Is the young man Absalom safe? or, as in the Revised Version, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" The inquiry reveals what was on David's heart equally with, if not more than, the welfare of the state and the continuance of his own reign. While Absalom had accepted with approval plans for accomplishing his father's death, David was more solicitous for the preservation of Absalom's life than his own; and now that the victory of his forces is announced, he cannot rejoice at the tidings until he knows whether his son still lives; and when he learns that he is dead, his grief quite overwhelms his joy, and bursts all bounds. It is not uncommon for worthless sons, who have lost all affection and dutifulness towards their parents, to have parental love still lavished and wasted upon them. The reprobate is not unfrequently the favourite. The inquiry of David is one that may be, and often is, put respecting young men, with reference to various kinds of well being. Is it well with him? Is he in health? Is he getting on in business, etc.? It may well be directed towards welfare of a more essential kind - Is it well with him morally, spiritually, and with reference to eternity?


1. When they have become decided Christians. When of their own free choice they have accepted Christ as their Saviour and Lord, and manfully owned him before men. It cannot be really well with those who are without Christ, living in rebellion towards their heavenly Father, and walking in the way that leads to destruction.

2. When living lives of watchfulness and prayer. Sensible of the perils to which they are exposed, guarding against temptation, and ever imploring Divine protection and help. In such a world as this, it cannot be well for the young and inexperienced to be unaware of their dangers, or heedless respecting them.

3. When carrying Christian principles into consistent practice in every department of their lives.

4. When earnestly devoting themselves to works of piety and benevolence. To do this is well, not only for those whose good they may be seeking, but for themselves. It is a safeguard and an education. Let young men (young women too) thus live, and:

(1) It is well with them whatever their position in life. Such living is well being.

(2) It is likely to be well with them in their relations to others. They will secure esteem, affection, friendships that are worth having, and great influence for good in the Church and the world.

(3) It will probably be well with them as to worldly success and comfort.

(4) Persevering in such a course, it will be well with them throughout this life and forever. Such a youth will lead on to an honourable and happy manhood; such a life on earth to a glorious and blissful life in heaven.


1. By their Christian parents. Natural affection and religious faith combine to produce an anxiety which young people can very partially understand. The happiness of parents is bound up with that of their children. Christians "live" (1 Thessalonians 3:8) when their sons and daughters live to Christ, and "stand fast" in him. Their anxiety on their account is greatly intensified when they have left home for new scenes and associations, involving' new perils to character, without the preservative influence of home and known friends.

2. Ministers and Churches ought to be more concerned about the spiritual welfare of young men than they always are. Their mission is to care for souls; and no souls are more interesting, more exposed to danger, more needing and ready to appreciate sympathy and friendly offices, than those of the young. None are of so much value for the advancement of religion at home and abroad. And of the young, none so need guidance and wise influence as young men; young women are drawn to Christ more readily, and are usually exposed to less powerful temptations. Measures for the good of young men should occupy a prominent place in the agencies of every congregation.

3. Christian citizens may well cherish a like concern. For on the direction that the youth of a country take depends to a large extent the welfare of the state. If the young could but be generally brought under the power of godliness, with its accompanying intelligence, purity, uprightness, and benevolence, a new era of national glory and happiness would have commenced. Is it well with the young, especially with young men? should, then, be a common inquiry from all good men and women; and should be accompanied with such practical proofs of interest in the inquiry as are possible. There are few Christians who could not do something to bring Christian influences to bear upon the young men they know, and to shield them from the opposite influences, which are so numerous and powerful. Finally, young men should be concerned for their own best interests. Because it is right; because the practices of godliness and virtue bring solid happiness; because thus they will make the most of their lives; and because of the concern which those who love them feel on their account. Let them, when tempted to neglect or forsake that which is good, or practise wickedness, remember the counsels and prayers of their fathers and mothers, and. the pain they will inflict on them if they go wrong. - G.W.

2 Samuel 18:33. - (MAHANAIM.)
Would that I had died in thy stead, O Absalom! my son! my son! In a little court between the inner and the outer gate of the fortified city wall, where (in the early morning) he stood and watched his brave soldiers going forth to battle (ver. 4), sits the aged king at eventide (2 Samuel 19:3, 7), awaiting tidings from the battlefield. The watchman, "from the roof of the gate at the wall," calls out to him that he descries, first one man "running alone" (not with others, as in flight, ver. 25), then another, and, as the foremost approaches nearer, says that he thinks his running is like that of the swift footed Ahimaaz (2 Samuel 17:17). On the arrival of the news of victory ("Peace!"), the first words of David (like his last, ver. 5) are of Absalom; "Is there peace (shalom) to [is it well with] the young man Absalom?" and, perceiving his deep concern, Ahimaaz dares not reveal the whole truth (ver. 20). Again; the king makes the same inquiry of the Cushite, who (with less sympathy, but greater fidelity) utters the wish that as the young man, so might all the king's enemies be! "And the king was much moved (greatly agitated with grief), and went up to the upper chamber of the gate, and wept; and thus he said, as he walked (to and fro): My son Absalom! my son! my son Absalom!" etc.

"Is it so far from thee
Thou canst no longer see
In the chamber over the gate
That old man desolate,
Weeping and wailing sore
For his son who is no more?
'O Absalom, my son!'

"Somewhere at every hour
The watchman on the tower
Looks forth, and sees the fleet
Approach of hurrying feet
Of messengers, that bear
The tidings of despair.
'O Absalom, my son!'

"That 'tis a common grief
Bringeth but slight relief;
Ours is the bitterest loss.
Ours is the heaviest cross;
And forever the cry will be,
Would God I had died for thee,
O Absalom, my son!'"

(Longfellow.) Absalom afflicted his father more by his death than by his life (Augustine). This expression of intense and absorbing grief (in which all joy of victory is swallowed up, 2 Samuel 19:2) is indicative of -

I. PARENTAL AFFECTION from which it springs. Five times the afflicted father cries, "My son!" (B'ni); thrice, "Absalom!" A father's love (especially in such a fervid soul as David's) is:

1. The natural, instinctive, spontaneous effect of the relationship which subsists between him and his child. It is the closest relationship of life, and is mercifully joined by the Creator and Father of all with a great and peculiar affection; which, nevertheless (whilst it is intensified and exalted by a proper appreciation of its object, as "the offspring of God") requires to be regulated by intelligence and piety.

2. Deeply rooted, enduring, indestructible. It is not eradicated by a son's estrangement (Luke 15:12), wilfulness, manifold transgressions, or even open rebellion. It makes large allowances, has much patience and forbearance; "believeth all things," etc. (1 Corinthians 13:7), "covereth all sins "(Proverbs 10:12). It feels persuaded that he has "some good thing in him," And cannot endure the thought of his entire abandonment, "Not only the question itself (ver. 29), 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 Commentary').

3. Pitiful, sympathetic, self-sacrificing (Psalm 103:13). "My son, my beloved, my beautiful Absalom! miserably slain, and now lying dead! Would that I had died for thee!" (2 Samuel 24:17; Exodus 32:32; Romans 9:3).

"Thou seest the braided roots that bind
Yon towering cedar to the rock;
Thou seest the clinging ivy twined
As if to spurn the whirlwind's shock; -
Poor emblems of the strings that tie
His offspring to a parent's heart;
For those will, mouldering, yield and die,
But these can never, never part."

II. DISAPPOINTED EXPECTATION AND HOPE. All through the course pursued by Absalom, David doubtless cherished the hope that:

1. He might see the error of his way, and, constrained by his father's affection, repent of his sins. He may have supposed him penitent at the time of his return (2 Samuel 14:23), and that his reconciliation (2 Samuel 14:33) would be followed by filial love and obedience.

2. He might fulfil the anticipations formed at his birth, strengthened by the brilliant promise of his early youth, and apparently justified by his more recent diligence and religious zeal (2 Samuel 15:2, 8). The love of a parent often blinds him to the many defects and malicious designs of his son. Until this moment David hoped (ver. 5) that:

3. His life, at least, might be spared and his destruction averted. All is suddenly extinguished; his "sun is gone down while it was yet day;' and the remembrance of its brightness remains only to deepen the gloom of the succeeding night.

III. PERSONAL COMPUNCTION. Had the righteous judgment of God overtaken Absalom because he had "risen up against him" (ver. 31)? Was David himself, then, blameless? He could not but remember that:

1. He had despised the commandment of the Lord, and rebelled against the Divine King of Israel.

2. He had contributed by his own conduct to the misconduct of his son. "The worst ingredient in this cup of anguish would be, I think, the consciousness in David's heart that, if he had himself been all he ought to have been, his son might not thus have perished (W.M. Taylor).

3. He was now suffering the chastisement of Heaven, of which his son's death was a part. "Absalom's sin and shame had two sides - there was in it the curse that David's sin brought on David's house (2 Samuel 12:10), the misdeed of the father's that is visited on the children (Exodus 20:5); and not less, Absalom's own wickedness and recklessness, which made him the bearer of the family curse. David looks at Absalom's deed not on the latter side, but on the former (for his own guilt seems to him so great, that he looks little at Absalom's); hence his deep, boundless compassion for his misguided son" (Kurtz). "The heartbroken cry, 'Would God I had died for thee!' was not only the utterance of self-sacrificing love, but the confession that he himself deserved the punishment which fell upon another" (Kirkpatrick).

IV. IRREPARABLE LOSS AND SEPARATION. "As that young man is;" his life "as water spilt upon the ground," etc. No cries nor tears can restore him to his father or "the land of the living" (1 Samuel 25:29; 2 Samuel 4:11; Psalm 26:9; Psalm 49:8). Whatever David may have thought of his condition in Sheol, no parent can contemplate the death of a rebellious and impenitent son without heart rending grief, arising from the fear of his exclusion from the presence of God, sharing the doom of the Lord's enemies, and endless separation from the fellowship of saints. "All hope abandon, ye who enter here!" (Dante, 'Inferno,' 3.).


1. It is possible, under circumstances most favourable to goodness, to become exceedingly bad.

2. One of the greatest evils in the world is that of disobedience to parents (2 Timothy 3:3).

3. The love of on earthly parent toward his children is a shadow of the eternal Father's love to men. "He is affected with fatherly love towards the whole human race. Inasmuch as we are men, we must be dear to God, and our salvation must be precious in his sight" (Calvin, on Ezekiel 18:4).

4. The Divine sorrow over men when they fall into sin and ruin, as revealed in the holy tears of Jesus, indicates their final state in "the world of infinite mourning." - D.

The stroke which David feared fell upon him at last. In spite of all his desire to save his rebellious son, and his commands to each of the generals to "deal gently" with him for his sake, he had been slain. When the father learnt the unwelcome truth from "the Cushite" (Revised Version), he was overwhelmed with grief; and retiring to "the chamber over the gate" he burst out in the pathetic lamentation, "O my son Absalom!" etc., and continued crying with a loud voice, "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Samuel 19:4:). These loud demonstrations of grief were in a high degree impolitic, as Joab soon convinced him (2 Samuel 19:5-8), but they were the natural outburst of his tender heart and his unquenchable love for his worthless son. He had grieved sorely in the expectation of the death of his infant child (2 Samuel 12:16, 21, 22); much more must he grieve over this young man, on whom his heart had been set for so many years, and for whom he had done and borne so much. Moreover, Absalom had died suddenly, and by violence, and in sinful war against his father - unrepentant, unforgiven. David might even, in his passionate grief, reflect on himself as the occasion, however innocently, of his death, since it arose from the measures he had taken in defence of himself and his throne. Still more bitter would be the reflection that, by his foolish fondness, his evil example, his laxity of discipline, his refraining from merited punishment of his son's earlier sins and crimes, and his neglect to crush his treasonable practices at their commencement, be had greatly contributed to the formation of his evil character, and to his untimely and miserable end.

I. THE SORROW OF PARENTS BEREFT OF GROWN-UP CHILDREN. It is composed of various elements.

1. Sorrow of natural affection. Which cannot always give account of itself, but is implanted by the Creator for most important purposes, is increased by years of exercise and mutual endearments and services, and often survives when these have ceased, and parental love is requited with ingratitude, neglect, injury, or deadly hostility.

2. Sorrow of disappointed hope. Parents picture to themselves a career of prosperity and honourable activity for their children, and try to ensure it by the education and start in life which they give them. Or they may have looked to their son to be the prop of their own old age. How can they but sorrow bitterly when all their hopes are scattered by death?

3. Their sorrow may be increased by painful fears. It may be a sorrow uncheered by hope, because over the death of one who lived and died in sin.

4. Self-reproach may, as in the ease of David, accompany and embitter the grief. The highest parental duties - those which have respect to the souls of children - may have been neglected. The home may have been, through parental indifference and worldliness, if no worse, a quite unfit place of preparation for holy service on earth or entrance into heaven. The sorrow arising from the consciousness of this cannot be assuaged by remembrance of the education given to prepare for this world's business, or the accomplishments imparted to render life refined and agreeable.

5. The sorrows of bereaved parents are increased and from time to time renewed by observing the happiness of other parents whose children are continued to them, and are living in habits of piety, rectitude, and benevolence.

II. CONSOLATIONS FOR SUCH SORROW. These are to be found in:

1. Profound submission to the will of God. The death we mourn, however it comes, was his doing who has the right to dispose of us and ours according to his pleasure; and who is infinite in wisdom and goodness - "our Father." "Thou didst it" (Psalm 39:9); "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away" (Job 1:21).

2. Assurance of his fatherly compassion. That he sympathizes while he chastises (Psalm 103:13).

3. A good conscience. Happy the fathers, the mothers, who have the consoling reflection that they did their best to fit their departed children for this world or the. next.

4. In the case of the death of godly children, the assurance of their blessed existence and happy commencement of nobler careers than those cut short by death. The assurance also of future reunion where "there shall be no more death" (Revelation 21:4). In conclusion:

1. Let parents think of their children as mortal; and be concerned so to train and influence them as to fit them for both living and dying.

2. Let children live in view of a possibly early death. Seek safety in Christ. Let life be a constant following of him. Dread to have life shortened and death made terrible by sins and vices. Let your parents have the consolation of knowing, should you die young, that you are "not lost, but gone before." - G.W.

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