2 Samuel 16:17
And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this your kindness to your friend? why went you not with your friend?
Bad men may and often do see and reprove in others the baseness they are themselves practising, and thus unconsciously condemn themselves. Absalom reproves his father's friend Hushai for supposed unkindness and unfaithfulness to him, while he himself, not merely a friend, but a fondly loved son, was usurping his father's throne, and ready to take away his life (see 2 Samuel 17:2, 4). Nevertheless, the sentiment which underlies his remonstrance is just, and Hushai would have deserved severe rebuke if he had really been guilty of the conduct he was charged with. It was a time for David's friends to prove themselves to be friends indeed; and to desert him at such a time (as Ahithophel did) would have been perfidious in the extreme. Hushai, however, was serving him by obeying his directions and promoting his interests. Whether the deception he practised on Absalom was justifiable is another, question, depending for its solution on the answer to be given to the larger question whether and how far belligerents are bound by the ordinary laws of truth and righteousness. The remonstrance of Absalom is suitable to be addressed to any who are acting in a manner contrary to the duties of friendship. As one and another instance of unfaithfulness or unkindness occurs, the question might well be put to those guilty of them, "Is this thy kindness to thy friend?" The force of the remonstrance would be proportionate to the degree of friendship which had existed, the benefits received, the professions made, etc.; and also the degree of flagrant violation of the laws of friendship which each act exhibited. And if to the obligations of friendship are to be added those of some other relationship, as here that of subject and servant of a sovereign, the guilt of unfaithfulness is increased, and remonstrance may well be more severe. The words are very suitable to be addressed to professed friends of our Lord Jesus Christ who act a faithless and disloyal part towards him.
I. CHRIST IS OUR ROYAL FRIEND. King, and yet Friend; Friend, and yet King. The claims of each relation to us strengthen those of the other. Although he is so glorious a King, he stoops to be and act the part of a Friend to the meanest and most sinful of his subjects.
1. He fills this position towards them:
(1) By his self-sacrificing services on their behalf (John 15:13).
(2) By admitting them to the closest and most confidential intimacy of which each is capable (John 15:15).
(3) By the greatness and abundance of the benefits he confers on them.
2. And they on their part take the position of friends to him:
(1) By their acceptance of his friendship.
(2) By their vows of eternal love, loyalty, and service to him. The relation of sovereign and subject is, in the best Christians, more and more lost in, though not destroyed by, that of friend and friend. A love boundless in its promptings and requirements overflows and obliterates the limits of mere law.
II. TO ACT AN UNFRIENDLY PART TOWARDS HIM IS DESERVING OF THE SEVEREST REBUKE, "Is this thy kindness to thy friend?"
1. Conduct to which the words are applicable.
(1) Desertion of Christ in times of difficulty. "Why wentest thou not with thy friend?" (comp. Hebrews 13:13); "Let us go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach."
(2) Moral cowardice in respect to him. The words might well have been addressed to Peter when denying his Lord and Friend - were virtually addressed to him when "the Lord turned and looked" upon him (Luke 22:61). It would be well if they could ever be heard by us whenever, from fear of man, we are silent when we ought to speak for Christ, inactive when we should act for him.
(3) Parsimony in gifts and services for the promotion of his cause.
(4) Failure in duties of love to his friends and representatives - our fellow Christians, especially the poor and suffering. A timely reproach, reaching the heart, might prevent more terrible words at the day of judgment (Matthew 25:41-45).
(5) Any act whatever of inconsistency with our position and professions as disciples of Christ.
2. Their peculiar force. Arising from the words, "thy Friend."
(1) Who has proved himself a Friend indeed.
(2) Whom thou hast often addressed and rejoiced in as such.
(3) Whom thou hast often been glad to appeal to in that character for help and deliverance.
(4) To whom thou hast many times vowed eternal friendship, and fidelity unto death. The reproach, thus viewed, is adapted to break the offender's heart, producing the deepest shame and self-humiliation, and leading to the most earnest penitence and prayers for forgiveness.
3. From what quarter the remonstrance might come.
(1) From a man's own conscience and heart. It is well when these are sufficiently loyal to Christ to speedily address the offender after this manner.
(2) From other friends of Christ. Christians should be sufficiently faithful to their brethren and their Lord to lovingly reprove serious inconsistencies.
(3) From the enemies of Christ. As by David's enemy the words were originally spoken. Those who are not themselves Christ's disciples are often quick to detect the faults of those who are, and to taunt them with them. They sometimes thus render good service to Christians. Fas est et ab hoste doceri. - G.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?