Study Notes

2Samuel 15:1-37


As we ended chapter 14, we saw David restored to his son Ab-shaw-LOME. But as far as Ab-shaw-LOME was concerned, it was too little, too late.

He had been upset for two years that his father had done nothing about the rape of his sister. He killed his sister's rapist, and then spent three years in exile as a criminal. When David finally allowed him back to Jerusalem, he refused to see his son for another two years.

Seven years of bitterness had grown up inside of Ab-shaw-LOME. A bitterness that would last for the rest of his life against his father.

15:1-6 Absalom's Treachery

In these verses, we see Ab-shaw-LOME's three-fold plan of treachery.


First, he got himself a chariot with 50 men running in front of it. What significance did this have? Back when the people of Israel first demanded a king, the prophet Samuel warned them that a king would oppress them and demand things from them. He said,

1Sam. 8:11 ..."This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place {them} for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots."

Later we will read in 1Kings of another of David's sons, Ad-o-nee-YAW, the son of David's wife Khag-GHEETH, doing the same thing.

1Kgs. 1:5 Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, "I will be king." So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him.

Ab-shaw-LOME was doing what a king did - having men run in front of his chariot. He was exalting himself in the eyes of the people. Making himself impressive, acting like the king.

If Only I Were Judge

Secondly, he used to position himself to run into people coming to the king for judgment. He would hear their case and say, "Oh, if only I were judge, I'd certainly decide in your favor. Too bad the king won't listen to you"

Feigned Affection

Third, he would show affection for the people, being a good politician, shaking hands and kissing babies.

Recognizing A Wolf

It was by doing these three things that Ab-shaw-LOME managed to steal the hearts of the men of Israel away from David.

It is unfortunate but true that this still goes on in the church today. People desire to be the king, having subjects who revere and respect them. The way they do this is not by serving others, but using deception and flattery, as Ab-shaw-LOME did. Paul warned the elders of the church of Ephesus,

Acts 20:28-30 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

We must constantly beware of people who desire to steal our hearts away, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

How can we recognize them? By looking for Ab-shaw-LOME's attributes in them.

Are they trying to appear impressive, by demonstrating their great Bible knowledge, holy behavior, or great spiritual knowledge and gifts?

Are they pulling the old, "If I was in charge, I'd be on your side. If I was the pastor, I'd be teaching it this way. If I were on the board, I'd approve your budget. If I was the leader, I'd listen to you."

Are they making sure to outwardly demonstrate how much they care for you, and how unavailable the others are? "Come here, cry on my shoulder - that pastor is too busy. Those elders are too consumed with other things. No one cares like I do."

People like this don't want to lead you to God - they want to lead you to themselves.

15:7-10 Absalom's Plan

Although the Bible says "forty" years here, it is thought by most to be a copyist error. As we've discussed before, Hebrew numbers are infamous for their ability to be misread or miscopied. Since both the Latin Vulgate and the historian Josephus record this as four, that is probably the most likely number.

Thus, the reading would be that Ab-shaw-LOME spent four years stealing the hearts of the men of Israel before putting his treacherous plan into action.

Using The Lord In A Lie

He told his father, King David, that he had made a vow to the Lord, which had to be fulfilled in Kheb-RONE. He said that while he was living in Ghesh-OOR, he had said, "If the LORD shall indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD." This was of course a complete fabrication, a lie.

There are few things that upset me more than people using the Lord as their excuse for sin. People in rebellion who say, "The Lord is leading me to start something new." People in fornication who say, "Oh, the Lord brought us together." Or people who use God as their alibi. When they go out drinking, they say "Yes, I was street witnessing all night."

As much as I hate that, God hates it more. The commandment says,

Exod. 20:7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain."

Now, most people view that as not using God's name as a curse word. But in actuality, it means much more than just that. The word "vain" in Hebrew means, emptiness, vanity, falsehood, nothingness, lying, worthlessness. When you throw God's name around by saying, "The Lord told me this," when He hasn't, when you say, "I'm just following what the Lord has told me," when you aren't, you are treating the name of God like it means nothing, and will not be left unpunished. That is what Ab-shah-LOME is doing here.

In Hebron

Ab-shaw-LOME went to Kheb-RONE, where his plan would take action.

No doubt Ab-shaw-LOME had support there for two reasons. First, Kheb-RONE was the place of his birth (2Sam 3:2-3). How grand it would be to claim that the local boy had become king!

Secondly, Kheb-RONE was the former "capital city" of Israel, in the sense that this was where David ruled from before he relocated to Jerusalem.

2Sam. 2:11 And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

David's move to Jerusalem had, no doubt, cost the citizens of Kheb-RONE both financially and pridefully.

15:11 Men Who Went Innocently

Ab-shaw-LOME invited 200 men to come with him. They went, but did not know of his plan to proclaim himself king. The Bible proclaims these men to be innocent. Today, there are many who are innocently following leaders that are only serving themselves. But those who are following unknowingly, God declares as innocent. And sometimes, God even allows the wicked leader to continue, just so His innocent people will not be hurt. Remember the parable that Jesus taught,

Matt. 13:24-30 He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!' And the slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' But he said, ‘No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

Sometimes, God allows the tares to grow in order to protect His wheat.

15:12 Ahithophel Betrays David

Ab-shaw-LOME sent for Akh-ee-THO-fel the Ghee-LON-ite, from Ghee-LO. This guy was David's own counselor. Many of David's trusted men were defecting to Ab-shaw-LOME's side.

15:13-15 Fight Or Flight?

When David heard of his son's rebellion, he had a choice to make. Stay and defend the crown, or turn tail and run. David was a mighty man, and he had rightfully been anointed king by God and the prophet Samuel. Why did he leave? Why didn't he fight?

He did it out of care and concern for his people. He said that if they stayed, the city would be struck with the edge of the sword.

Do you realize that sometimes fighting for what is rightly yours causes more devastation than backing down would do? How many of us will fight, rather than flee, when we know that we deserve what we're defending, that it is our right to stand and fight? Saints, we must consider the consequences. Paul the apostle wrote,

1Cor. 6:1-7 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent {to} {constitute} the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life? If then you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say {this} to your shame. {Is it} so, {that} there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?

This is a verse that I am reminded of constantly by the Lord. "Why not rather be wronged?" Sure, you could go to court and win, make that bozo from church pay back the money he borrowed. It's yours, you have a legal right. But who will be affected when two Christians go to court against each other? The judge, the bailiff, the witnesses. They will blaspheme the name of Christ on account of it.

David chose not to defend what was rightfully his, simply because he didn't want innocent people to get hurt.

15:16-22 David Flees

David took his family and the servants of the house with him when he left: the Ker-ay-THEE-ites and the Pel-ay-THEE-ites, and the Ghit-TEE-ites.

Coming along also was Ee-THAH-ee the Ghit-TEE-ite. This was a man who had only recently joined up with David. So David stopped him and said, "Why not stay in Jerusalem and be safe? Remain with the king Ab-shaw-LOME - don't put yourself in danger because of me."

But Ee-THAH-ee swore his allegiance to David.

It's such a blessing when someone will stick by you during tough times. This is a true friend. The proverb says,

Prov. 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

Ee-THAH-ee was just such a friend.

15:23 David Passes Over The Brook Kidron

As they left Jerusalem, David passed over the brook Kid-RONE. The Kid-RONE is a dry creek or a small river, depending on the weather and the time of year. It is on the eastern side of Jerusalem, dividing the city from the Mount of Olives. It runs down to empty out in the Dead Sea.

It served as a sort of drain gutter for the temple's sacrificial area. Blood from the sacrifices was guided down to the river, away from the Temple Mount.

Later, in the books of Kings and Chronicles, we read that when King Asa cut down his mother's Ashera pole, and burned it at the Kid-RONE. King Josiah also burned all of the idols of Baal and other false Gods at the Kid-RONE. He smashed the altars and threw their dust into the brook.

We also read that King Hezekiah commanded that the men of Israel come to celebrate the Passover.

2Chr. 30:14 And they arose and removed the altars which {were} in Jerusalem; they also removed all the incense altars and cast {them} into the brook Kid-RONE.

What ties all these events together is that immediately after the Last Supper,

John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, into which He Himself entered, and His disciples.

As Jesus passed over the ravine cut by the Kid-RONE, He must have thought of David's flight from Ab-shaw-LOME's rebellion. In 2Samuel, the true king of Israel was being rejected by the people of Israel. Now again, the Son of David, the true King of Israel, was being rejected.

As Jesus looked down, He didn't see a dry creek or a river of water. He saw a river of blood. You see, it was after sundown on the 14th of Nisan. 256,000 passover lambs were being slain, their blood flowing freely. And He knew that His own blood would soon be shed - the blood of the Lamb of God.

But it must have comforted Him as well, as He remembered all of the idols that were burned and smashed at this place during past revivals. Jesus knew that this rejection and shedding of His own blood would result in revival for many millions - and their dead religion and idolatries would be washed away out of their lives.

15:24-29 Return The Ark

Tsaw-DOKE was one of the priests in David's day. As they exited Jerusalem, the priests took the ark of the covenant and brought it along. But the king told him to take the ark back into the city. David knew that if the Lord were with him, he would see it again. If the Lord were not with him, bringing the ark along would have no purpose.

He tells Tsaw-DOKE to return with Akh-ee-MAH-ats and Jonathan, the son of Ab-yaw-THAWR.

15:30-31 David's Prayer

When David found out that Ab-shaw-LOME was being assisted by his own counselor, Akh-ee-THO-fel, he didn't freak out. He didn't send assassins to kill Akh-ee-THO-fel, he didn't try to kidnap him. He simply prayed, "Oh Lord, make his counsel foolishness."

When you hear that someone has betrayed you, do you run around trying to figure out how to stop them? Do you lay awake at night, conceiving of a grand master plan to thwart them? Or do you simply pray and let God deal with it in His way? If we are faithful to pray, He'll be faithful to work things out.

We will see David's prayer answered in chapter 17.

15:32-37 Hushai The Spy

Khoo-SHAH-ee the Ar-KEE-ite met up with David as well. But David told him that he'd be just one more person to care for. However, if he stayed with Ab-shaw-LOME, he could be very useful as a spy.

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