2 Samuel 14:28-33
So Absalom dwelled two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face.…
Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it were better for me that I were there still; and now I will see the king's face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him put me to death (ver. 31). While in Geshur Absalom showed no repentance for his crime; sought no forgiveness of it; rather justified himself in its commission. On this account, perhaps, David would not permit him, when recalled, to see his face, but ordered him to remain at his own house (ver. 24); testifying his abhorrence of the crime, and desiring "to carry further the discipline of approval, to wait till his son was more manifestly penitent." If Absalom had been in a proper frame of mind, it might have been beneficial; as it was, "this half forgiveness was an imprudent measure, really worse than no forgiveness at all, and bore very bitter fruit" (Keil). "The end showed how fatal the policy of expectation was, how terribly it added bitterness to the sense of alienation that had already been growing only too strong within him" (Plumptre)."A flash of his old kingliness blazes out for a moment in his refusal to see his son. But even that slight satisfaction to justice vanishes as soon as Joab chooses to insist that Absalom shall return to court. He seems to have no will of his own. He has become a mere tool in the hands of his fierce general; and Joab's hold upon him was his complicity in Uriah's murder. Thus at every step he was dogged by the consequences of his crime, even though it was pardoned sin" (Maclaren). Yet immediate and full forgiveness might have failed to subdue the heart of Absalom, and win filial confidence and affection. "Let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness," etc. (Isaiah 26:10). In his spirit and conduct we observe:
1. Ingratitude for the favour shown toward him. He estimated it lightly (knowing little of the fatherly love from which it proceeded), save as a means to his own honour and advancement. Than ingratitude nothing is more odious.
2. Impatience, fretfulness, discontent under restraint and chastisement; which a true penitent would have endured humbly and cheerfully; increased as time passed away (two years) and no further sign of royal favour appeared.
3. Presumption on account of the privilege already granted to him, but which be repudiated as worthless, unless followed by other privileges, such as became his royal birth and involved his reinstatement in his former dignity. He looked upon himself as rightful heir to the throne. He may, however, have suspected a rival in the youthful Solomon (now six or eight years old), and feared the influence of Bathsheba on behalf of her son.
4. Resentment and revenge for the neglect, contempt, and wrong which (as he conceived) he suffered (ver. 29). "See, Joab's field is beside mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire" (ver. 30). This appears to have been an act of passion rather than of policy. Joab's slackness, in contrast with his former zeal (ver. 23), was doubtless due to his desire to make the most of his influence with the king, to constrain Absalom humbly to entreat his intercession, and so to increase his feeling of dependence and obligation; it was only when he perceived that he had to deal with "a character wild, impulsive, and passionate," that he deemed it necessary again to alter his tactics.
5. Wilfulness in seeking the attainment of his ambitious aims. "I will see the king's face." His presence at court was essential to the accomplishment of the daring design upon the crown, which he may have already formed; and he would brook no denial. Possibly his bereavement (ver. 27; 2 Samuel 18:18) intensified his determination. "The strongest yearning of an Israelite's heart was thrown back upon itself, after a short-lived joy, and his feelings towards his own father were turned to bitterness and hate."
6. Defiance of conviction of guilt. "If there be any iniquity in me," etc. "The manner in which he sought to obtain forgiveness by force manifested an evident spirit of defiance, by which, with the well known mildness of David's temper, he hoped to attain his object, and in fact did attain it" (Keil). He also doubtless relied on the support of a party of the people, dissatisfied with the king's severity toward him, and favourable to his complete restoration. Even Joab yielded for the present to his imperious and resolute demand.
7. Heartless formality. "He bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom" (ver. 33). His heart was not humbled, but lifted up in pride; yet he openly received the pledge of reconciliation; and herein David's blindness and weakness reached their culmination. "He did not kiss the ill will out of the heart of his son" (Krummacher). "When parents and rulers countenance such imperious characters, they will soon experience the most fatal effects." (Here is another "meeting of three remarkable men," 1 Samuel 19:22-24, Joab, Absalom, David.) Remarks.
1. No hard and impenitent heart is prepared to receive and profit by forgiveness.
2. Such a heart is capable of turning the greatest benefits into means of further and more daring rebellion; and "treasures up for itself wrath against the day of wrath."
3. Whilst "God is good and ready to forgive," he grants forgiveness only to those "who call upon him" in humility and sincerity, confessing and forsaking their sins (Psalm 86:5; Psalm 138:6; Psalm 32:5; Psalm 51:17). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face.