Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 18:5
sa2 18:5Deal gently - If you conquer (which be presaged they would by God's gracious answer to his prayer for the turning of Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness,) take him prisoner, but do not kill him. Which desire proceeded, from his great indulgence towards his children: from his consciousness that he himself was the meritorious cause of this rebellion, Absalom being given up to it for the punishment of David's sins; from the consideration of his youth, which commonly makes men foolish, and subject to ill counsels: and from his piety, being loth that he should be cut off in the act of his sin without any space for repentance. But ''what means, says Bp. Hall, this ill - placed mercy? Deal gently with a traitor? Of all traitors with a son? And all this for thy sake, whose crown, whose blood he hunts after? Even in the holiest parents nature may be guilty of an injurious tenderness. But was not this done in type of that unmeasurable mercy, of the true King of Israel, who prayed for his murderers, Father, forgive them! Deal gently with them for my sake!" Yea, when God sends an affliction to correct his children, it is with this charge, deal gently with them for my sake: for he knows our frame.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 18:8
sa2 18:8The wood - More people died in the wood, either through hunger, and thirst, and weariness: or, by the wild beasts, whereof great numbers were there, which, though they were driven away from the place of the main battle, yet might easily meet with them when they fled several ways: or, by falling into ditches and pits, which were in that place, Sa2 18:17, and probably were covered with grass or wood, so that they could not see them till they fell into them: and especially by David's men, who pursued them, and killed them in the wood: and the wood is rightly said to have devoured them, because it gave the occasion to their destruction, inasmuch as the trees, and ditches, and pits, entangled them, and stopped their flight, and made them an easy prey to David's men, who followed them, and slew them in the pursuit. The sword - In the main battle: the sword being put for the battle, by a common figure.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 18:9
sa2 18:9The servants of David - Who, according to David's command, spared him, and gave him an opportunity to escape. His head - In which probably he was entangled by the hair of the head, which being very long and thick, might easily catch hold of a bough, especially when the great God directed it. Either he wore no helmet, or he had thrown it away as well as his other arms, to hasten his flight. Thus the matter of his pride was the instrument of his ruin.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 18:15
sa2 18:15Slew him - The darts did not dispatch him, and therefore they smote him again, and killed him.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 18:18
sa2 18:18A pillar - To preserve his name; whereas it had been more for his honour if his name had been buried in perpetual oblivion.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 18:24
sa2 18:24Gates - For the gates of the cities then were, as now they are, large and thick; and for the greater security, had two gates, one more outward, the other inward. Here he sat, that he might hear tidings when any came into the city.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 18:33
sa2 18:33Over the gate - Retiring himself from all men and business, that he might wholly give up himself to lamentation. My son - This he might speak from a deep sense of his eternal state, because he died in his sins, and because David himself had by his own sins been the occasion of his death. But it seems rather to be the effect of strong passion, causing him to speak unadvisedly with his lips.