As was said, “the man’s” words were cutting. All that Joab could manage in the way of reply was that he would not thus tarry with “the man” wasting time in useless argument. Absalom in the meantime might escape by himself or some of the people with as little courage as “this man” might release him from the tree and deliver him up to David alive. Unable to understand David’s attitude, he was determined to see to it that Absalom did not leave that forest alive.
And Joab said, Not will I thus tarry with thee [and said Joab, Not may I thus tarry with thee]. 14.
“I will not tarry,” is correct. For the form of. the verb in the Hebrew—the cohortative—shows the direction of the will. “I will not tarry” also agrees better with the character of the unscrupulous and self-willed Joab.
If there was ever a mortal that deserved to die, it was Absalom. But it was not Joab’s place to execute judgment over Absalom. David was king and judge in Israel and not he. Had David been lenient with the traitor by allowing him to live, that would have been his responsibility. Joab should also have searched his heart whether he was being activated by the principle of true love of God or by a natural attachment for David and by the mere consideration that it was altogether expedient that he rid the land of Absalom. In the latter case, he was about to commit another murder. But God willed, also, certainly, to spare his servant the agony of being torn between his desire to spare Absalom, whom he couldn’t stop loving, should he have been delivered up to him alive, and the duty devolving upon him as judge to inflict upon him the punishment of death.
Hastening with his ten armor bearers to the spot where Absalom was suspended from the tree, and finding that he was still alive, Joab thrust through his heart the three spears with which he had come supplied. Still not satisfied, he ordered his ten armor bearers to follow his example. Surrounding their victim they smote him until there could be no doubt that he was dead.
And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the heart of the tree. And surrounded him the ten young men, bearers of the arms of Joab, and they smote Absalom and killed him. 14, 15.
Absalom was the inspiration and leader of the insurrection. As with him dead there could be no point to continuing the carnage, the sign for the cessation of hostilities was now given.
“And blew Joab the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab restrained the people.” 16.
Absalom’s dead body they cast into a great pit in the forest and buried it under a great heap of stones that was made to rise from the earth a pillar. The text makes mention of another pillar in this connection. It was the one that Absalom in his life had reared up for himself in the king’s dale to keep his name in remembrance, seeing that he had no son, and upon which for that purpose and reason he called his own name.
Two pillars then. What may be the difference? Absalom’s pillar, the one reared by Absalom, signified Absalom as he stood out in his own mind, a man, a great one in the earth, with a name above every name in the kingdom, opposing and exalting himself above all that is called God and sitting in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. So Absalom wanted himself remembered.
The other pillar, the one in the forest, signified this same Absalom as he stood out in God’s mind, seated in the temple of God indeed, but only for a moment and because God put him there and sustained him by his power, and thus a man shortly consumed with the Spirit of God’s mouth, and destroyed with the brightness of His coming, and for whom hell was removed from beneath to meet him at his coming. So Absalom actually was remembered. For God wanted it so.
The defeat and destruction of Absalom and his government and army is indeed prophetic of the defeat and destruction of the antichristian world power of this present dispensation of the world—a power that in allegiance with the false church rises and operates in countries nominally Christian. And this makes Absalom a forerunner of the antichrist, which indeed he was, seeing that he had lifted his hand against David and against Christ.
And they took Absalom and cast him in the forest in a great pit and set upon him a very great heap of stones, and all Israel fled every man to his tent. 17.
And Absalom had taken and reared to himself in his lifetime a pillar which was in the king’s dale: for he said, There is not to me a son to keep in remembrance my name. And he called the pillar after his own name. And it is called to this day the hand of Absalom. 18.
To understand fully the significance of the issue of this conflict, so full of gospel for David and all the saints, we must go back to David’s deep fall into sin, to his adultery and murder of Uriah the Hittite.
How this sinning of David must have shocked and pained the true children of God in Israel, when they learned about it, can well be imagined. We may be certain that they had always esteemed him as a great man of God. But it would not have been strange, if now they found themselves wandering whether they had not been mistaken in him. But taking notice of his self-abasements and tears of contrition, and also having learned from Nathan the prophet that the Lord had forgiven him, they again took him to their bosom and forgave him as the Lord had done. And their old confidence in his integrity returned. He was again their revered and beloved king in Zion, the anointed of the Lord.
But there were others among the people, and their number must have been considerable, who insisted that a man could not simply do the things that he had done and still be a saint at heart. Of this they were certain. And all his confessions of sin and tears of contrition, as reflected in his penitential psalms, that were regularly being sung or chanted by the choirs of the sanctuary, for whose use he had composed them, were but so much more evidence to these people that he was the vilest of men, a consummate hypocrite, an accursed one, whose portion was with the damned. His tears were not sincere. He was simply trying to make an impression m order to have men forget all about his past gross sins, and again think well of him. So they said. And the deeper he debased himself, the harder they mocked. To quote him, “When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them. They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was a song to the drunkards.” (Ps. 69). Being his sworn enemies, they simply wanted him wicked.
Nor did his zeal for God’s house make any difference with these people. He had brought the ark, which was the glory of Israel, and which had been for a long time at Kirjath-jearim, to Jerusalem, and had danced before it as dressed in an ephod. He arranged the priests into twenty four courses, giving to each its order by lot. The Levites, of which there were thirty-eight thousand men of thirty years old and upward, six thousand were placed in different districts over the land as officers and judges; twenty-four thousand were appointed to set forward the work of the Lord, and four thousand were porters; while the remaining four thousand were appointed to praise the Lord with the accompaniment of instruments of music. All and much more was his work, the details of which are contained in the first book of Chronicles.
But to his enemies he was a hypocrite still. And they refused to change their mind about him. Also that as king in Zion he had subdued all of Israel’s enemies far and near left them cold. They simply insisted that he was reprobated and nothing of all that he said or did could change their attitude toward him.
And how these people abused him. Quoting at random from his psalms, their words to him were drawn swords, their teeth spears, their tongue a sharp sword. They came to eat his flesh, fought against him, without a cause hid for him their net, sought after his soul, rewarded him good for evil, gnashed upon him with their teeth, opened wide their mouth against him and said Ha! Ha! sought his hurt continually, shot out the lip to him, shook their head and swallowed him up daily. And finally they got back of Absalom, who was after his throne, and drove him from the holy city, as though he were one accursed. Even his own familiar friend, in whom he trusted, which did eat his bread, lifted up his heel against him. And seeing his calamity, they mockingly said, He trusted in God, let him deliver him, seeing that he delighted in him. They parted his garments among them, and cast lots upon his vesture, and their expressed hope was that he would die, and his name perish. Overwhelmed with the horror of their torment, he wished that he had wings like a dove, that he could fly away and be at peace.
What we have here in the total of these statements is the description of a carnal hatred amazing in its intensity.*
And as they treated him, so they treated his great Son, the Christ of God, when He walked among them. Being the holy Son of God, He gave them no occasion. But what they could not get from Him—occasion, pretext, excuse for reviling Him—they simply supplied. Because He came eating and drinking, they called Him a glutton and a winebibber. When they saw Him cast out devils, they concluded against all reason that He, Himself, must be devil-possessed. His mingling with sinners, whom He came to save, was to them proof enough that he was a low character. Why should He otherwise want to be seen with such people? They accused Him of blaspheming God on the ground of His affirming that He was God’s Son.
And what did not they do to Him on the basis of these trumped up charges when His hour was come, and He had delivered Himself up into their hands! They spit on Him, and they mocked and buffeted Him and smote Him in the face and scourged Him, and then they expelled Him from the holy city and nailed Him to a cross. And what didn’t they do to Him even as He hung there from that cross! We well know. It all has been recorded. They mocked and reviled Him. They shook their heads and railed on Him. They defied Him to come down from that cross, if He was the king of the Jews. All this and much more they did to Him. And mark you, He was the sinless Christ.
It speaks well for David. It completely exonerates him and throws all the blame on his tormentors. True, he had sinned grievously. And his faults and failings were many. For he was but a sinful man. But he confessed and forsook his sins, didn’t he? And he put on Christ so that the life of the Savior was manifest in him. And God forgave him. And it was known to all including his enemies that his sins were pardoned and that in him they beheld a new creature in Christ, holy and blameless before God in love. But the trouble with these people was that they hated Christ and His Father. For they were proud men. The conception of a God capable of loving in Christ men lost and undone in themselves—sovereignly loving such men despite all their sins and inborn corruption and abominations—was to these men too abhorrent. And they reviled David for putting his confidence in such a God. They were not really disturbed by his sins and faults and failures. They were simply using his sins as an excuse for persecuting him. For their own works were evil and his righteous. That was their trouble.
But in that very God whom they loathed, David was putting all his confidence.
My God, my God (so he prayed in his great distress), why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from saving me, and from the words of my roaring?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in thee; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.
I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is no helper.
Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me around.
They opened their mouths against me, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it melteth in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones; they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
Be not far from me, O Lord; O my strength, haste thee to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword; my only from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lions mouth; for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. Ps. 22:1-22.
Thus he prayed. And in answer to his pleading, God arose and His enemies were scattered. They that hated Him, fled before Him. As smoke is driven away, so they were driven away. As wax melted before the fire, so the wicked perished at the presence of God (Ps. 68). Absalom was defeated. The wicked opposition was destroyed, and thereby David delivered from its clutch.
David’s triumphs of faith, God’s coming to his rescue in his distress and in answer to his cry, is gospel, good news for all the saints and this for the following reasons: first, God cannot despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted one that trusteth in him. He cannot hide His face from him, but for His name’s sake must hear his cry. This precisely was David’s confidence to which he also gave utterance even before God sent deliverance. These were his words (Ps. 22:23, 24)
Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
God cannot be unfaithful to His covenant. This being true, He helped David. And He would and did help Christ. He heard His cry and delivered him out of all His troubles.
That the sufferings, trials, and triumphs of faith of David are typical of the suffering and triumphs of faith of Christ is literally stated at John 19:23, a passage that reads, “They said among themselves, Let us not rend it (Christ’s garment) but cast lots for it, whose shall it be: that the scriptures might be fulfilled, which saith, they parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots.” According to the sentence in italics, the same complaint as uttered by David was prophecy. The same is true of all that he suffered as king of Zion. It is true of the deliverance sent him and of his restoration to the throne.
That he could typify Christ has its grounds in the following: first, the reaction of the wicked to Christ and all such who are Christ’s is always the same; and David was Christ’s. Second, the spiritual posture of Christ and His believing people is always essentially the same. Their suffering is a good work. For they endure as activated by the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. When they are reviled, they revile not again; when they suffer, they threaten not; but commit themselves to Him that judgeth righteously. Not that every believer of the first covenant properly typified in his sufferings Christ. That David did so was due to his position in the typical kingdom of Christ of the Old Dispensation. In that kingdom he was God’s anointed king in Zion.
It was as type or shadow that David in his suffering pre-indicated Christ. For he was but a mere man. His sufferings could not merit with God. And he was a sinful man. Though essentially a good work, his sufferings were tainted with sin. They were occasioned by his misdeeds. Quoting Nathan “by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” He had provided his enemies with a pretext for reviling him. What is more, his suffering was a stroke laid upon him by the Lord because of his gross sinning. To quote Nathan once more, “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house.
He was driven from his throne and expelled from the holy city. His wives were taken from him before his eyes, and given to his neighbor.
The Lord did this evil to him because he had sinned. Here the enemies entered in as God’s agents, and David’s sins as a secondary cause. It was God’s work. But He did it all in His love of His servant to sanctify him through suffering.
But as using his sins as a pretext, the enemies did him this evil, too, because they were wicked and he was righteous. It was their act, and their purpose was to destroy him.
Of the two purposes the one to be achieved was that of the Lord. For He is God and none else. So, though the enemies did their worst, the faith of David abided, for Christ prayed for him. Under the mighty hand of God he humbled himself. Brought to the dust of death, he said, “Behold, here I am, let him (the Lord) do to me as seemeth good unto him” (II Sam. 15:26). It was like saying that, though the Lord slay him, He would still love him.
Thus he endured chastening. His sufferings were a good work indeed. Yet, as was stated, he was but a mere man and a sinful man, a shadow of the true. How much more excellent, therefore, the sufferings of Christ. His chastisement was our peace, and by His stripes, we were healed. His blood cleanses from all sin. By His knowledge He justified many; for He bear their iniquities.
* The psalms of David on which I drew for these statements are the following: 22, 27 31, 32, 35, 38, 41, 42, 43, 44, 55, 56, 57, 62, 64, 69, 70.