Here we have, I. The fidelity of the priests and Levites and their firm adherence to David and his interest. They knew David’s great affection to them and their office, notwithstanding his failings. The method Absalom took to gain people’s affections made no impression upon them; he had little religion in him, and therefore they steadily adhered to David. Zadok and Abiathar, and all the Levites, if he go, will accompany him, and take the ark with them, that, by it, they may ask counsel of God for him, 2 Sam. 15:24. Note, Those that are friends to the ark in their prosperity will find it a friend to them in their adversity. Formerly David would not rest till he had found a resting-place for the ark; and now, if the priests may have their mind, the ark shall not rest till David return to his rest.
II. David’s dismission of them back into the city, 2 Sam. 15:25, 26. Abiathar was high priest (1 Kgs. 2:35), but Zadok was his assistant, and attended the ark most closely, while Abiathar was active in public business, 2 Sam. 15:24. Therefore David directs his speech to Zadok, and an excellent speech it is, and shows him to be in a very good frame under his affliction, and that still he holds fast his integrity. 1. He is very solicitous for the safety of the ark: By all means carry the ark back into the city, let not that be unsettled and exposed with me, lodge that again in the tent pitched for it; surely Absalom, bad as he is, will do that no harm. David’s heart, like Eli’s trembles for the ark of God. Note, It argues a good principle to be more concerned for the church’s prosperity than for our own, to prefer Jerusalem before our chief joy (Ps. 137:6), the success of the gospel, and the flourishing of the church, above our own wealth, credit, ease, and safety, even when they are most in hazard. 2. He is very desirous to return to the enjoyment of the privileges of God’s house. He will reckon it the greatest instance of God’s favour to him if he may but once more be brought back to see it and his habitation. This will be more his joy than to be brought back to his own palace and throne again. Note, Gracious souls measure their comforts and conveniences in this world by the opportunity they give them of communion with God. Hezekiah wished for the recovery of his health for this reason, that he might go up to the house of the Lord, Isa. 38:22. 3. He is very submissive to the holy will of God concerning the issue of this dark dispensation. He hopes the best (2 Sam. 15:25), and hopes for it from the favour of God, which he looks upon to be the fountain of all good: If God favour me so far, I shall be settled again as formerly. But he provides for the worst: If he deny me this favour--if he thus say, I have no delight in thee--I know I deserve the continuance of his displeasure; his holy will be done. See him here patiently awaiting the event: Behold, here am I, as a servant expecting orders; and see him willing to commit himself to God concerning it: Let him do to me as seemeth good to him. I have nothing to object. All is well that God does. Observe with what satisfaction and holy complacency he speaks of the divine disposal: not only, He can do what he will, subscribing to his power (Job 9:12), or, He has a right to do what he will, subscribing to his sovereignty (Job 33:13), or, He will do what he will, subscribing to his unchangeableness (Job 23:13, 15), but, Let him to what he will, subscribing to his wisdom and goodness. Note, It is our interest, as well as duty, cheerfully to acquiesce in the will of God, whatever befals us. That we may not complain of what is, let us see God’s hand in all events; and, that we may not be afraid of what shall be, let us see all events in God’s hand.
III. The confidence David put in the priests that they would serve his interest to the utmost of their power in his absence. He calls Zadok a seer (2 Sam. 15:27), that is, a wise man, a man that can see into business and discern time and judgment: Thou hast thy eyes in thy head (Eccl. 2:14), and therefore art capable of doing me service, especially by sending me intelligence of the enemy’s motions and resolutions. One friend that is a seer, in such an exigency as this, was worth twenty that were not so quick-sighted. For the settling of a private correspondence with the priests in his absence, he appoints, 1. Whom they should send to him--their two sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan, whose coat, it might be hoped, would be their protection, and of whose prudence and faithfulness he had probably had experience. 2. Whither they should send. He would encamp in the plain of the wilderness till he heard from them (2 Sam. 15:28), and then would move according to the information and advice they should send him. Hereupon they returned to the city, to await the event. It was a pity that any disturbance should be given to a state so happy as this was, when the prince and the priests had such an entire affection for the confidence in each other.
IV. The melancholy posture that David and his men put themselves into, when, at the beginning of their march, they went up the mount of Olives, 2 Sam. 15:30.
1. David himself, as a deep mourner, covered his head and face for shame and blushing, went bare-foot, as a prisoner or a slave, for mortification, and went weeping. Did it become a man of his reputation for courage and greatness of spirit thus to cry like a child, only for fear of an enemy at a distance, against whom he might easily have made head, and perhaps with one bold stroke have routed him? Yes, it did not ill become him, considering how much there was in this trouble, (1.) Of the unkindness of his son. He could not but weep to think that one who came out of his bowels, and had so often lain in his arms, should thus lift up the heel against him. God himself is said to be grieved with the rebellions of his own children (Ps. 95:10) and even broken with their whorish heart, Ezek. 6:9. (2.) There was much of the displeasure of his God in it. This infused the wormwood and gall into the affliction and misery, Lam. 3:19. His sin was ever before him (Ps. 51:3), but never so plain nor ever appearing so black as now. He never wept thus when Saul hunted him: but a wounded conscience makes troubles lie heavily, Ps. 38:4.
2. When David wept all his company wept likewise, being much affected with his grief and willing to share in it. It is our duty to weep with those that weep, especially our superiors, and those that are better than we; for, if this be done in the green tree, what will be done in the dry? We must weep with those that weep for sin. When Hezekiah humbled himself for his sin all Jerusalem joined with him, 2 Chron. 32:26. To prevent suffering with sinners, let us sorrow with them.