Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 15

Problems with judges

2 Samuel 15:2

Israel’s king was also its chief judge. When people needed help with a legal problem, they would first go to the elders of their town. The elders were a group of older men who made their judgements at the main gate of the town (Ruth 4:2; Job 29:7-17; Proverbs 31:23). If they did not deal with the matter in a satisfactory manner, it was necessary to appeal to the king.

For much of his rule, David was famous for his good and right judgments (8:15). It is clear from Psalm 101 that he cared very much about these matters. We have accounts of how he dealt with legal problems in 2 Samuel 12:1-6 and 14:4-11.

So, very many people wanted to appeal to the king. They needed his help, and David was eager to assist them. However, David was much too busy to wait at the gate of Jerusalem like one of the elders. Therefore, anyone who needed his help, must first find one of the government officials. Then, that person would have to persuade the official to introduce him to the king. That was what Joab did for Absalom in 2 Samuel 14:29-33.

From his own experience, Absalom could see that there was a problem with this arrangement. Most of the people who wanted to appeal to the king would never see him. There was no proper system of judges who could deal with these matters on behalf of the king (compare Exodus 18:13-26).

Next part: Absalom pretends that he wants to be a judge (2 Samuel 15:3-4)


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