2Sa_15:30. And David went up by the ascent of Mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.
A CONSCIOUSNESS of ill desert has a tendency to reconcile us to the afflictions with which our sins are visited. In some respect indeed it embitters our trials, which the testimony of a good conscience would alleviate: but in other respects it has a good effect, in that it silences every murmur against the dispensations of a righteous Providence. The troubles which David had experienced in his family as the punishment of his own sins, had already been great and manifold: but in the rebellion of Absalom they were risen to their height: they were borne however with a spirit of piety suited to his state, and worthy of his high character.
Let us consider,
The circumstances in which he was placed—
These were most afflictive—
[He was now driven from his throne, banished from the ordinances of religion, and in danger of immediate destruction. Now considering him as a man, such adversity must be painful in the extreme; and still more when we recollect that he was a king, and therefore susceptible of pain in proportion to the degradation which he suffered. But view him as a man of humanity, and then how distressing must it be to see his country involved in civil war, and to be himself on the eve of a bloody engagement with thousands of his own subjects! View him also as a man of piety, driven from the ordinances of religion, and suffering under the rebukes of an offended God; what can be conceived more distressing than such a state as his?]
But they derived ten-fold poignancy from the source from whence they flowed—
[The people that inflicted these wounds were his own subjects. Had he been attacked by foreign enemies, he would have gone forth against them with alacrity: but to be constrained to fight with those over whom he had reigned so many years, in whose defence he had so often exposed his own life, and for whose benefit he had laboured all his days, this filled him with the deepest grief [Note: Psa_55:1-8 with Zec_13:6.].
But amongst the insurgents was his own peculiar friend, from whose counsel and assistance he might have derived the greatest benefit. How keenly he felt this disappointment, we learn from the lamentation he poured out on this memorable occasion [Note: Psa_55:12-14.]: and who that has known the sweets of friendship must not sympathize with him? But the bitterest ingredient in his cup was, that it was mixed for him by his own son; that son, whom he had so recently, and so undeservedly received to favour, and in whose professions of piety he had begun to rejoice [Note: 2Sa_15:7-9.]. As the most exalted joys, so also the acutest sorrows, flow from those who stand to us in the relation of children: and in proportion as this worthless son was beloved by him, was the anguish occasioned by his rebellious conduct. The insulting language of Shimei was of no account in the mind of David; that he was willing to bear [Note: 2Sa_16:5-11.]: but to be so treated by his beloved Absalom, was a grief almost insupportable [Note: ver. 30.]. And we doubt not but that every tender parent will readily understand how greatly such a consideration must have overwhelmed his mind.]
Let us next proceed to notice,
His conduct under those circumstances—
Zadok and Abiathar had brought to him the ark, judging that it must be a comfort and a benefit to him to have access to God under his heavy trials. But David ordered them to carry back the ark, being himself prepared for every event, inasmuch as he enjoyed in his own soul,
A confidence in God’s care—
[David well knew that God’s presence was not confined to the ark, nor his agency necessarily connected with it. He knew that wherever his enemies might drive him, God’s ear would be open to his prayer, and his arm be extended for his relief. Hence, though he honoured the ark as the symbol of God’s presence, he did not confide in it: but trusted in God, who was represented by it. He knew that, if God should be on his side, the efforts of his enemies would be all in vain; and that, however menacing their aspect at the present, he should in due time be brought back again in safety.
Such is the confidence which God’s people should maintain under all the trials which they may be called to endure. “The name of God is a strong tower to which they may run,” and in which they may defy their bitterest enemies. “If He be for them, none can be against them;” “nor can any weapon that is formed against them prosper.” It is the privilege of every saint to know, that his affairs are in God’s hands; and that as nothing can be done but by the divine permission, so nothing shall be done, which shall not work for his spiritual and eternal good. The language of his soul therefore should at all times be, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” — — —]
A submission to his will—
[What God might have ordained respecting him, David did not know; nor was he curious to inquire: but, whatever might be the issue of his present afflictions, he was contented and satisfied. Well he knew that he deserved all that God could lay upon him; and he was ready to say, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him [Note: Mic_7:9.].” This is one fruit of sin, if I may so speak; or rather, of that humiliation which accompanies true repentance: we become reconciled to whatever God may do, seeing that any chastisement in this world must be less than our iniquities have deserved. O that in the prospect of the heaviest calamities we might have such a view of our ill desert, as should dispose us humbly to commit ourselves into God’s hands, and cordially to welcome every trial which his all-wise providence may appoint for us! Under every affliction, our acquiescence should be like that of Eli, “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.”]