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loss, he mourned daily over Absalom, and his whole soul longed to go forth to him.
Joab saw what was in his master's heart, and determined to bring Absalom back. He went to work craftily, bringing a woman to the king, who asked pardon for a son of her's, who seemed to be in a similar case with Absalom. David heard her to the end; and then asked whether Joab had not told her what to say ? The woman confessed that he had. Then the king called Joab, and bade him go and bring back Absalom, but lest it should seem that his crime was treated too lightly, David desired that Absalom should dwell in his own house, and not come before his face. At the end of two years, (which must bave been a great trial to David, who loved Absalom so fondly,) the young man grew impatient-he sent for Joab, to ask him to plead with the king that he would see his son-but Joab would not come. · Absalom sent a second time, and then, when Joab still did not come, caused his servants to set fire to Joab's barley field. This brought Joab, and he promised to do what Absalom wished. No doubt David was ready enough in his heart to forgive his handsome, vain, selfish son, and perhaps he thought that now out of
gratitude Absalom would behave better. So he received the prodigal son back, and kissed him. But Absalom never seems to have had any real affection for anyone but himself, and as soon as he was restored to his father's favour, he began to try and make a party for himself, in hopes of becoming king. He threw contempt and slight upon his father's rule, and flattered the people who had, or fancied they had, any cause for discontent. He would cry, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice !” Then when people came to do obeisance to him, Absalom would put forth his hand, and kiss them. In all these ways he worked for his own ends, and "stole the hearts of the men of Israel."
For many years Absalom went on thus, and then he asked leave to go to Hebron, on pretence of a vow made when he was an exile in Geshur, that if he was ever restored to Jerusalem, he would so serve the LORD. David bade
in peace, and Absalom went, taking with him two hundred men from Jerusalem, who had no idea of his bad intentions. But Absalom sent spies all through the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as ye hear the sound
of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron.” The people gathered strongly round Absalom, and Ahithophel, David's friend and counsellor, joined the rebels.
It was in the bitterness of his heart at this treachery of his favourite son, and of his chosen friend, that king David poured out his Psalm of sorrow. (lv.) “ Take heed unto me, and hear me, O God, how I mourn in my prayer, ånd am vexed . . . Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and an horrible dread hath overwhelmed me. And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I flee away, and be at rest.” Then comes the bitterest part of his sorrow, “ It is not an open enemy that hath done me this dishonour; for then I could have borne it; neither was it mine adversary that did magnify himself against me; for then peradventure I would have hid myself from him. But it was even thou, my companion, my guide, and mine own familiar friend. We took sweet counsel together, and walked in the house of God as friends. He laid his hands upon such as be at peace with him : and he brake his covenant. The words of his mouth were softer than butter, having war in his heart: his words were smoother than oil, and yet be they
very swords.” David had long since learnt to “cast his burden upon the LORD;” and of a truth it was now a heavy burden, when he was told that “the hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom ;” and he had to fly from Jerusalem, for fear of his own son.
All hearts however had not forsaken their king. As they fled, David saw a Gittite called Ittai, following him. David told him to go back and save himself, being, as he was, a stranger, and not bound to follow the king in his exile. But Ittai was faithful for life or death. “As the Lord liveth,” he answered, “and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.” Then David let Ittai go with him, and all the people wept with a loud voice, as the king passed over the brook Kedron and went toward the wilderness. Zadok and Abiathar had brought the ark of God out with him, but David bade them take it back into Jerusalem, saying, “if I find favour in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me again, and show me both it and His habitation; but if He say, I have no delight in thee, behold, here am I, let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him."
The king also desired Zadok and Abiathar to continue their priestly office in the city, and to send him word when things were better. Then he went up Mount Olivet, bare foot and weeping, and all those that went with him were also barefoot and wept, and David prayed the LORD to defeat the traitor's counsel.
While David was worshipping God op Mount Olivet, one of his servants, Hushai the Archite, came to David with his clothes rent and dust upon his head. Then David bade Hushai also return to Jerusalem and enter Absalom's service, in hopes that he might by good counsel defeat the evil counsel of the traitor Ahithophel. He desired Hushai to tell everything that happened to Zadok and Abiathar, and to send tidings to the king through their two sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan. So Hushai returned to Jerusalem at the same time that Absalom took possession of it.
David had two more meetings on his way forth from the city, both of which must have touched him keenly. First, came Ziba, Saul's