David's Escape Across the Jordan
2 Samuel 17:21, 22
And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David, and said to David…

And they passed over Jordan, etc. (ver. 22). Leaving Bahurim behind them, David and his company pursued their rough and dreary way along the wilderness of Judah until they descended into the plain of the Jordan; and there in some place (Ayephim, equivalent to "weary," Authorized Version; "The Traveller's Rest") at an easy distance from the ford of the river (opposite Jericho, and near Gilgal, 2 Samuel 19:15) they rested at nightfall. "Amongst the thickets of the Jordan the asses of Ziba were unladen, and the weary travellers refreshed themselves, and waited for tidings from Jerusalem" (2 Samuel 15:28, 36; 2 Samuel 16:14; ver. 16). David had been uncertain whether to cross the river; but during the night the messengers arrived, saying, "Arise," etc.; the encampment was broken up, and "by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over Jordan." That night was another, memorable one (1 Samuel 19:8-18). "It has been conjectured, with much probability that as the first sleep of that evening was commemorated in the fourth psalm, so in the third is expressed the feeling of David's thankfulness at the final close of those twenty-four hours, of which every detail has been handed down, as if with the consciousness of their importance at the time" (Stanley). Psalm 4. 'An Even-song' -

"In peace will I lay me down and straightway sleep;
For thou, Jehovah, alone wilt make me to dwell securely."

(Psalm 4:8.) Psalm 3. (see inscription), 'A Morning Prayer' -

"I laid me down and slept;
I awaked, for Jehovah sustaineth me."

(Psalm 3:5.) What a brilliant light do these psalms cast upon the inner life of David! Consider him at this time as -

I. BESET BY FEROCIOUS FOES; numerous, powerful, and crafty (2 Samuel 15:12, 13; 2 Samuel 16:15; vers. 1-3); seeking to take away his crown, his honour, and his life; by fraud, treachery, and violence. His trouble represents that of the persecuted and afflicted servant of God in every age.

1. The feeling of trouble is usually intensified with the approach of night, the season of peril and emblem of distress.

2. The good man in trouble seeks relief in God (Psalm 121:4); whilst acknowledging his sins, he is conscious of sincerity, trusts in Divine mercy, and derives from his experience of former mercies an argument for his prayer.

3. He regards his adversaries in no vindictive spirit: and, although he desires their overthrow as the enemies of God, still more he desires their conversion. "The address is directed to the aristocratic party, whose tool Absalom had become" (Delitzsch).

"When I cry, answer me, O God of my righteousness,
Who hast made room for me in straitness;
Be merciful unto me, and hear my prayer!
Ye sons of men! how long shall my glory become shame?
How long will ye love vanity, will ye seek after lies?" etc.

(Psalm 4:1-5.)

II. AIDED BY FAITHFUL FRIENDS, who sympathize with him, strive to defeat his enemies, give him useful counsel, and share his dangers (2 Samuel 15:15, 21, 23; vers. 7, 15, 17).

1. A time of adversity tests the fidelity of friends; and manifests it, as the night brings out the stars that were unseen by day.

2. It also makes their aid peculiarly precious; and is a sign of the favour of the Eternal Friend.

3. When friends begin to despond in a time of trouble, it is the part of a good man, "strong in faith," to encourage them, by directing their thoughts to the Divine Source of consolation, his own "exceeding joy."

"Many say, Who will show us good?
Lift up the light of thy countenance upon us, O Jehovah!
Thou hast put gladness into my heart
More than when their corn and wine abound," etc.

(Psalm 4:6-8.)

III. DELIVERED BY DIVINE FAVOUR; shown in his preservation, the salutary warning received during the night, the safe passage of the Jordan, so that "by the morning light," etc. (ver. 22), and the complete defeat of Ahithophel's counsel (vers. 14).

1. In their hostility to the good, wicked men rely on their own wisdom and strength alone, ignoring God; but "the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly," etc. (2 Peter 2:9).

2. Often when a good man is despised as one abandoned of God, he is taken into closer fellowship with him and more signally protected and delivered.

3. In the morning light of every day he perceives fresh tokens of Divine favour. Whilst God "giveth songs in the night" (Job 35:10), "his mercies are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:23; Psalm 5; Psalm 30:5; Psalm 143:8).

"Jehovah, how many are mine adversaries!
Many rise up against me,
Many say of my soul,
There is no help for him in God.
But thou, Jehovah, art a Shield about me,
My Glory and the Lifter-up of my head.
I cry to Jehovah with my voice,
And he answereth me from his holy mountain," etc.

(Psalm 3:1-6.)

IV. INCITED TO VICTORIOUS CONFIDENCE; by the contemplation of what God is to him and has done for him (Genesis 15:1); as, having now escaped his most immediate peril, he travels on "by the morning light" toward Mahanaim (ver. 24). Troubles do not always "pass away with light." Enemies still threaten (Psalm 3:1), and with each returning day the servant of God has to begin the conflict afresh (2 Samuel 5:22, 23). But:

1. Even when most formidable, they do not terrify him whose hope is in Jehovah.

2. They are regarded as if already overthrown.

3. And to Jehovah alone is the victory ascribed.

"I will not be afraid of ten thousands of the people
Who have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O Jehovah! Help me, O my God!
For thou smitest all mine enemies on the cheek,
Thou breakest the teeth of the ungodly.
To Jehovah belongeth the victory!
Upon thy people be thy blessing!"

(Psalm 3:7-9.) To the period of David's exile beyond Jordan have been also referred many other psalms: Psalm 61., 62., 63. (see inscription), 143. (Septuagint, "when his son pursued him"), 26., 27., 28., etc. "A man who can, like David, amidst the first mutterings of an unexpected storm display such lofty composure and submission, and then amidst its fiercest outbursts sing hymns like the third and fourth psalms, penetrated with the purest trust in God, is already raised in an eminent degree above human weakness and frailty, and, whatever be his outward fate, he can only quit this life as one of God's victors" (Ewald). - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David, and said unto David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water: for thus hath Ahithophel counselled against you.

WEB: It happened, after they had departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David; and they said to David, "Arise and pass quickly over the water; for thus has Ahithophel counseled against you."

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