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20 and deepest distress. And Absalom her brother, to whose house

she went, said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister : he [is] thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate, in a fora

lorn and mournful condition, in her brother Absalom's house. 21 But when king David heard of all these things, he was very

wroth, and no wonder ; but he did not punish Amnon as he ought 22 to have done. And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon

neither good nor bad about this matter ; he did not so much as let him know that he was offended, but cherished his hatred, and

meditated revenge : for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had 23 forced his sister Tamar. And it came to pass after two full

years, harbouring all the while his wicked project, and waiting a fair opportunity, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor,

which [is] beside Ephraim : and Absalomn invited all the king's 24 sons to the sheepshearing and festival. And Absalom came to

the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers ; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy

servant; he invited the king and his family to go, to avoid suspi.. 25 cion. And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not

all now go, Jest we be chargeable unto thee. And he pressed

him : howbeit he would not go, but blessed him ; thanked him 26 for kis invitation, and wished them much joy in their feast. Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go And the king said unto him, Why should he go

with 27 thee ?t But Absalom, that there might be no ground of suspicion,

pressed him, so that he let Amnon and all his brothers the king's 28 sons go with him. Now Absalom had commanded his servants,

saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon ; then kill him, fear not:

have not I commanded you ? be courageous, and be valiant. 29 And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom

had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him upon his mule, and fled, fearing that he would

destroy the whole royal family. 30 And it came to pass, while they were in the way,

that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left. One of the attendants, seeing

Amnon slain, concluded all the rest would share the same fate ; 31 and he came and told David 80. Then the king arose, and tare

his garments, and lay on the earth ; and all his servants stood

with us.

Absalom covered his suspicions in the most decent and prudent phrase ; and to spare her blushes lie prevented her answering, and advised her to be composed, because the offender wits her brother. He knew Amnon's character to be a bad one, or he never would have suspected he could be guilty of such a thing.

+ Amnon, being the eldest son, he would show bim respect; and his presence would be an honour to the company : but the king waved this also, probably from the same principle, that Absalom might not run to too great an expense at the shearing.

Absalom knew his brother was a debauchee ; he thought he would be drunk, and at such a time less suspicious, and less fit to make resistance. He likewise thought his own aide thority would be sufficient to yindicate his servants; and be had probably some view to the crow, as well as revenge.

32 by with their clothes rent. And Jonadab the son of Shimeah

David's brother, answered and said, Let not my lord supi se [that] they have slain all the young men the king's sons ; for Amnon only is dead : for by the appointment of Absalom this

hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Ta. 33 mar. Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing

to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead : for Am34 non only is dead.* But Absalom fled. And the young man

that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him ;

they came a round about way to prevent their being perceived, as 35 they still thought themselves in danger. And Jonadab, who went

out to see, came in with the news, and said unto the king, Behold, 36 the king's sons come : as thy servant said, so it is. And it

came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept ;

and the king also and all his servants wept very sore. 37 But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud,

king of Geshur, (his mother's father, chap. iii. 3.) and (David)

mourned for his son every day, for Amnon, who was so treacher. 38 ously slain. So Absalom fed, and went to Geshur, and was there 39 three years. And (the soul of ] king David longed to go forth

unto Absalom : for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead ; his affection for Absalom at length got the better of his fruitless grief for Amnon ; and, unwilling to want the comfori of both his sons, he was solicitous to see Absalom again, and be reconciled to him, if he could tell how to do it without im. peachment of his honour and justice.

REFLECTIONS.

W FACT nadangerous enemy is a subtile and wicked friend !

1.

Such was Jonadab, to Amnon : he flattered and encour. aged him in his wickedness, against law and conscience, and all the .good principles by which the mind can be influenced. It is bad for any, especially for young men, when their friends and companions, instead of reproving and admonishing them, and warning them of the danger of fleshly lusts, are their counsellors to do wickedly, and forward them in evil ways. Young persons should be careful in the choice of companions, lest they learn their way, follow their counsel, and get a snare to their souls. My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not, If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, cast in thy lot among us : My son, 'walk not thou in the way with them, refrain thy foot from their path : for their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

2. Following business and good husbandry, is no way unbecoming the greatest personages. Absalom, though he was the king's

• Jonadab concluded this must be the case, from having heard Absalom express his purpose of revenge, and never heard of any quarrel with the rest of the family. He speaks of the horrid villany which he himself had contrived, with unparalleled impudence, and as what gave him no concern!

son, had his farm, and his sheepshearing. His sister was as emi. neat for her good housewifery as for her beauty, and did not think domestic employments were beneath her : she was not afraid of spoiling the beauty of her face, or the whiteness of her hands, by kneading and baking. Business is not beneath the greatest gentleman ; domestic employments are not below the finest lady. And it is unhappy for many families in this day that pride and idleness so much prevail ; that sons and daughters learn dressing, gaming, and dancing, and every thing but wisdom, diligence, and good housewifery. Let parents and young people think of the wise consider. ation which David suggests in v. 25. and set out moderately in the world. Especially let them not be fond of making entertainments, and inviting those who must necessarily put them to great expense.

3. See the mischievous effects of unbridled passions ; what des perate lengths they carry men to, and what dreadful consequences they involve men in. Amnon could never have hehaved thus, if he had not been an abandoned fellow. To what infamous lengths did his brutal passion lead him ! What dreadful agonies of conscience and horror must he have felt, when he could not bear the sight of his injured sister. But he knew all the guilt lay upon himself. He had brought ruin on his amiable sister, distress upon his pious father, and scandal on all Israel. May we learn to resist temptation; avoid cherishing any thought, or harbouring any desire that is criminal ; for,.whether gratified or not, they will be our torment. Let young people especially flee youthful lusts, be sober minded, and keep themselves pure, their minds unspotted, and all their ideas chaste ; and watch and pray, that they enter nut into temptation.

4. We see here how abominable malice and revenge are. What infamous characters were both David's sons ; Absalom hated Amnon, and concealed it for two years, without showing any signs of it. He cloaked his wicked design with the pretence of civility and kindness. See into what a devil indulged malice and illnature can turi a man. What a torment must he have been to himself for those two years. Let us guard against a revengeful spirit. However we may be injured, we are forbid to revenge ourselves. Guard against rancour and hatred; for he that hateth his brother, is a murderer ; and we know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

CHAP. XIV.

In the former chapter Absalom was outlawed ; in this we have the

method which Joab took to have him restored ; by artifice he gains judgment in his favour, and has orders to bring him home ; he returns to court, and his person is described.

COW Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's

heart (was) toward Absalom ; that the king longed to see 2 him, but wanted a fair pretence. And Joab sent to Tekoah, and

1

NOW

fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil

, but be as a woman that 3 had a long time mourned for the dead :* And come to the king,

and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in 4 her mouth. And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the

king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and $ said, Help, O king. And the king said unto her, What aileth

thee? And she answered, I (am) indeed a widow woman, and 6 mine husband is dead. And thy handmaid had two sons, and

they two strove together in the field, and [there was] none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him ; she pre

tended she had lost her husband and one son, and was in great dan. 7 ger of loosing the other. And, behold, the whole family is risen

against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother ; that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew ; and we will destroy the heir also, and then the inheritance will be theirs : and so they shall quench my coal which is left, my only remaining comfort, which is like a single coal in a heap of ashes, and my only hope of enkindling others, and

shall not leave to my husband (neither) name nor remainder 8 upon the earth. And the king said unto the woman, Go to

thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee, that thy 9 son may be secured. And the woman of Tekoah said unto the

king, My lord, O king, the iniquity [be] on me, and on ny father's house ; if I have given wrong information, I and my family

will bear the guilt and punishment, and the king and his throne 10 [be] guiltless. And the king said, Whosoever saith (aught)

unto thee, or attempts to seize thy son, bring him to me, and he Il shall not touch thee any more. Then said she, I pray thee,

let the king remember the LORD thy God, thy promise made in God's presence, that thou wouldst not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, [As) the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son

fall to the earth. Thus she artfully drew him to confirm it by an 12 oath, that she might be entirely satisfied. Then the woman said,

Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak (one) word unto my 13 lord the king. And he said, Say on. And the woman proceed.

ed to open the meaning of the parable, and said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing as I have been speaking of against the people of God, the whole commonwealth of Israel, who are affected and grieved at Absalom's exile ? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished, who is a greater loss to Israel than my

son can be to me. Nothing could excuse this boldness, but her 14 knowledge of David's affection for Absalom. For we must peeds

Joab contrived this matter in order to ingratiate himself with David, and with Absalom, who was heir to the crown. He chose a woman, as they more easily express their passions, and gain pity to their misfortunes; he brought her from a distance, that the king might nec itopediately send to inquire into the cars. šas appeared in the habit of a mourner,

die, all must die, Amnon is irrecoverably gone, David must die, and the kingdom are in distress for a successor, who is now banished from us, and we [are) as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again ; ncither doth God respect (any) person ; yet doth he divise means, or, because God hath not taken away his life, he hath also devised means that his banished be not expelled from him ; he hath not immediately destroyed Absa

lom, he hath left room for mercy, hath provided cities of refuge, 15 and thus shown his patience and clemency. Now therefore that I

am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, [it is] because the people have made me afraid, by their uneasiness and discontent : and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king;

it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid. 16 For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the

hand of the man (that would) destroy me and my son together

out of the inheritance of God; if he would save her son for her 17 sake, much more Absalom for the people's sake. Then thine hand

maid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable : for as an angel of God, so [is] my lord the king to discern good and bad, to distinguish between a reasonable and an unreasonable request : therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee,

will direct thee to judge aright, and incline thee to show mercy. 18 Then the king answered, and said unto the woman, Hide not

from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the 19 woman said, Let my lord the king now speak. And the king,

thinking she durst not venture on this without being set on by some greater person, said, (Is not] the hand of Joab with thee in all this ? He thought Joab was most likely, as he was Absalom's friend. And the woman answered and said, (As) thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from aught that my lord the king hath spoken : for thy servant

Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of 20 thine handmaid : To fetch about this form of speech hath thy

servant Joab done this thing : and my lord [is] wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all (things) that (are] in the earth ; finding it in vain to dissemble, she freely acknowl edged it, and paid a fine compliment to David, who could so easily

see through the designs of men. 21 And the king said unto Joab, Behold, now I have done this

thing : go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again. 22 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and

thanked the king : and Joab said, Today thy servant knoweth

that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that 23 the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.* So Joab

arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.

* Joab acknowledges it as the greatest obligation the king could confer upon him, and a mark

of bis special favour; though at the same time he knew it was the greatest kindness that could be done to the king. It was a fine piece of Hattery and address from this arttul courtier

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