2 Samuel 15:1-37
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.…
I. IN HOW MANY WAYS MEN SERVE THEMSELVES IN SERVING OTHERS.
1. We may serve ourselves, strengthen our position, advance our temporal interests, when we are truly serving others, But when we are doing them disservice, encouraging them, helping them, to evil, we are our own enemies as well as theirs. We have something higher than temporal interests to think of. Gold is far from everything. In the protest of conscience how the fine gold becomes dim! And when conscience is seared, and the heat dead to all sensibility, at what a cost has anything, how-ever desired by men, been secured.
2. We truly befriend ourselves by unselfishly serving others. And this we can do as we make everything a Divine service. Sometimes we may seem on the vanquished side, like true-hearted Ittai, staunch to David in his flight, but the end will justify us. To be on the side of honesty, truth, purity, is ever at the last to be on the side that wins. So he who forgets himself in doing the things right in the sight of God will be vindicated in the sight of the world as "good and faithful servant," as having "well done" for himself as well as others.
II. IN ABSALOM WE SEE HOW THE MOTIVE DETERMINES THE VALUE OF CONDUCT. This appears in his bearing towards Amnon. Similarly with Absalom's conduct when seeking to ingratiate himself with the people. The animating motive of what we do should be tested by us. Could we read others as God reads us, could we "look at the heart" as He does, with what rejection would we meet much that is now welcomed by us! But if we cannot appraise the lives of others by their motives, and if they cannot thus appraise ours, there is One ever thus testing us. There is One who pierces every mask of hypocrisy. There is One who looks through our outward appearance of truth, purity, devotion, and sees whether there is a corresponding inward reality. With Him the motive makes the act.
III. IN ABSALOM WE SEE TO WHAT CRUEL LENGTHS UNCHECKED AMBITION WILL LEAD A MAN. That was his ruling passion; the explanation, I think, of his long-delayed stroke at Amnon. Ambition goaded Absalom from crime to crime till lie had wrapped the land in the horrors of civil war — of all wars the most prolific in misery — and nerved him to assail a father's life that he might, over his dead body, step up into the throne. It win not do for us to say that in all this there is no beacon to us. There are many thrones. Some of us, it may be, eager to get into one — to be over others; kings and queens of influence in our little kingdom. There can be ambition in a cottage as well as in a court. There may be wretched envy, the evil eyeing of an imagined rival, the wicked gladness that hears, and that with pretended reluctance retails the disparaging slander; the sty persistence that insinuates itself, or the rough resolution that tramples its way into the petty throne. God save us from such ambition! In His kingdom the thrones are for the lowly.
IV. IN DAVID WE SEE THE THREATENED PUNISHMENT FOR HIS SIN. Penitent for his great wickedness in the matter of Uriah, his life had been spared, but the sword was not to depart from his house. Sin has broken him, even forgiven sin. A thing to be remembered. He may never have been wisely firm enough in the training of his children. But that feel transgression of his loosened the filial bond that bound his children to obedience, and encouraged them to crimes that laid his kingly head in the dust. Sin finds men out, even godly men. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." He who sows to the flesh, though he be a David, shall of the flesh reap corruption. Well, then, for us to "stand in awe and sin not."
V. IN THE DARKNESS OF CALAMITY THE BETTER DAVID SHINES TO US. In the bowed, barefooted man weeping his way across the Kedron, and up Olivet, it is a king we see. It is David again. A Divine permission he recognises in all that is befalling him. He has no superstitious trust in the ark — let Zadok and Abiathar carry it back to Jerusalem. In God was his trust. "Let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him." So on — one of the most pathetic figures of all history — goes weeping David-on towards the plains of the wilderness. And as he passes out of our sight do you not hear such words as these? Sorrow by sin! Peace by pardon! Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven! "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."
(G. J. Coster.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.