Home > 2 Samuel 15, Absalom, David, Faith, Judgment > 2 Samuel 15 Part 1 – A Chariot and Horses

2 Samuel 15 Part 1 – A Chariot and Horses

Introduction               Chariot and horses – the mark of the king?

‘After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses…’ (2 Samuel 15:1)

2 Samuel 15 opens with Absalom, the king’s son, who was restored to his father’s favour in the previous chapter, acquiring ‘a chariot and horses’. It is no small matter for Absalom to have fifty men running before him and his new acquisitions, for it is the very action of the king of Israel as prophesied by Samuel when Israel first sought for a king.[1]  While Absalom has gained the accoutrements of his era indicative of royalty, the drive and direction of the rest of 2 Samuel 15 will be to describe the loss and absence of any such symbols of royal prerogative for his father, King David. The chariot and horses serve not only to indicate Absalom’s power but are suggestive of where Absalom’s trust lies. By contrast, they also allude to a key question implicit through the chapter, namely, where does David place his confidence? There are no chariots or horses for David when he flees from Jerusalem, indeed his ascent up the Mount of Olives is not only on foot, his feet are bare (15:30). He has no royal trappings in which to find security. The flight from Jerusalem exposes his complete lack of any material comfort or tangible support. The Absalom crisis poses most starkly the predicament for David as to where – in what or in whom – he might place his trust. Many possibilities lie open before David as he receives the news of his son’s conspiracy. What is he to do now? The king’s wisdom, or lack thereof, is revealed in the judgments he makes during this period of turmoil which threatens total calamity for him and the future of his reign.

The crisis has its roots in the complaint of Absalom who challenges and questions the reliability of the king as a judge for the men of Israel (15:1-6). The news of the son’s rebellion brings an intensely personal significance for the king in his judgment capabilities (15:13-14). From this moment, every judgment of the king is a decision affecting his own well-being and salvation. In addition, those who choose to remain loyal to King David despite the circumstances also find that their own security is intimately connected to the king’s judgments. A decision to remain with David is an expression not only of loyalty but also of confidence in David’s wisdom and in his ability to make the right call. Their choice intensifies for David the question of whether their confidence is well-founded, for choosing to remain a friend of the king in this precarious time involves huge personal sacrifice. Is it a wise option to remain loyal to David at this time? Most critical of all is the penetrating analysis the crisis demands of David himself and the foundations of his throne. In what has David placed his trust? What security is there for the future of the Davidic reign?

The dramatic news of the Absalom conspiracy forces David to make decisive judgments even as his own faith is being tested to the utmost limit. Does this king of Israel have a secure foundation, anything trustworthy and reliable, which can stand up to the assault of the one who comes against him trusting in chariots and horses? In this respect, the purpose of 2 Samuel 15 is to expose the fact that David’s confidence lies in nothing which is material or even visible. David does not seek refuge in the instruments of might and power of his age, nor is his security found in turning to the royal treasures or valued currencies of his day. Without such tangible and visible security, how then can David be assured of his capacity to make correct judgments? David only knows that complete assurance after his judgment calls are made. Despite this, the narrative reveals that his faith is expressed by a certitude which is entirely consistent with such  an assurance. This reflects the fact that David’s confidence in his capacity to judge rests on the faithfulness of the Lord to make the right judgment of his plight. In this way 2 Samuel 15 develops the theme that the ability to make right judgments has an integral connection with the location of one’s faith.


[1] ‘So Samuel told all the words of the LORD…He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: ‘he will take your sons and appoint them…to run before his chariots.’ ” (1 Sam 8:10-11).

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