2 Samuel 14:25
But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty…
And in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty, etc. (see 1 Samuel 16:7, 12; 2 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 13:1; ver. 27).
"Of all God's works, which do this world adorn,
There is no one more fair and excellent
Than is man's body, both for power and form,
Whilst it is kept in sober government;
But none than it more foul and indecent,
Distempered through misrule anti passions base;
It grows a monster, and incontinent
Doth lose its dignity and native grace:
Behold, who list, both one and other in this place"
(Spenser, 'The Faerie Queens,' canto IX.) It is -
I. AN ADMIRED ENDOWMENT; involuntarily conferred, without personal effort and beyond human control (Matthew 5:36; Matthew 6:27); yet one of the most personal and enviable of human possessions. "Beauty is a thing of great recommendation in the correspondence amongst men; it is the principal means of acquiring the favour and good liking of one another, and no man is so barbarous and morose that does not perceive himself in some sort struck with its attraction" (Montaigne). "Beauty is, indeed, a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked" (Augustine).
"A beautiful and fair young man is he;
In all his body is no blemish seen;
His hair is like the wire of David's harp,
That twines about his bright and ivory neck;
In Israel is not such a goodly man."
(Geo. Peele, 'The Tragedy of Absolom:' 1599.)
II. A SUPERFICIAL DISTINCTION; shadowing forth, indeed, beauty of mind and character; and heightened by the latter, when present; but often, in fact, disassociated from it; and covering, "skin deep," dreadful moral deformity (Proverbs 11:22). Absalom was beautiful externally, but not "beautiful within," Wisdom, truth, humility, modesty, purity, patience, meekness, piety, mercy; charity, - these constitute inward, substantial, spiritual beauty, "the beauty of holiness," the product of the grace and the reflection of the beauty and glory of the Lord (Psalm 90:17; Psalm 149:4); in which he delights, and which all persons may acquire (Ephesians 4:24; Galatians 5:22; Philippians 2:5). "Whatsoever things are lovely, etc. (Philippians 4:8). "The graces of the Spirit are the richest ornaments of the reasonable creature."
III. A DANGEROUS INFLUENCE; on its possessors, making them vain and presumptuous, and exposing them to many temptations; on its beholders, directing undue attention to "the outward appearance," disposing to excuses for mental and moral defects, alluring to evil (2 Samuel 15:1-6). The beauty of Absalom was a snare to the people. "His hair was his halter" (2 Samuel 18:9).
"Where is the virtue of thy beauty, Absolon?
Will any of us here now fear thy locks,
Or be in love with that thy golden hair,
Wherein was wrapt rebellion 'gainst thy sire,
And words prepared to stop thy father's breath?"
IV. A TRANSIENT POSSESSION. Precarious, short lived, inevitably turning to dust (ver. 14); "a fading flower" (Isaiah 28:4; Isaiah 40:8; Psalm 39:11), whose "root is ever in its grave."
"A doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower,
Lost, faded, broken, dead, within an hour." So have I seen a rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood, and at first it was fair as the morning, and full with the dew of heaven as a lamb's fleece; but when a ruder breath had forced open its virgin modesty, and dismantled its too youthful and unripe retirements, it began to put on darkness, and to decline to softness and the symptoms of a sickly age; it bowed the head, and broke its stalk, and at night, having lost some of its leaves and all its beauty, it fell into the portion of weeds and outworn faces. The same is the portion of every man and every woman (Jeremy Taylor, 'Holy Dying'). But goodness is immortal; it "fadeth not away" (1 Peter 1:4). "Beauty belongs to youth and dies with it, but the odours of piety survive death and perfume the tomb."
"Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust." D.
Parallel VersesKJV: But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.