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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 16

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

Verse 1


(1) Ziba . . . met him.—It is evident from the sequel of the story (2 Samuel 19:24-30) that Ziba grossly slandered his master, doubtless for the purpose (as appears from 2 Samuel 16:4) of personal gain. This story was, indeed, almost too improbable to be believed; for, quite independently of his obligations to David, Mephibosheth, a helpless cripple of the house of Saul, could hardly have hoped that Absalom’s rebellion would bring the throne to him; yet David, apt to be hasty in his judgments, was in a state to believe in any story of ingratitude, and to be deeply affected by Ziba’s large contribution to his necessities. Ziba shows entire want of principle, and could, therefore, have adhered to David’s cause only because he had the shrewdness to foresee its ultimate success.

Verse 4

(4) I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace.—Literally, I bow myself down; let me find favour.

Verse 5

(5) Bahurim.—See Note on 2 Samuel 3:16.

Of the family of the house of Saul.—That is, “of the family,” in the larger sense of tribe. Many of the Benjamites naturally felt aggrieved when the royal house passed away from their tribe; and, although under restraint while David’s government was strong, were ever ready to show their opposition and hatred when opportunity offered, as now with Shimei, and a little later with Sheba, the son of Bichri (2 Samuel 20:1-2).

Verse 6

(6) He cast stones.—The road appears to have led along the side of a narrow ravine, on the opposite side of which (see 2 Samuel 16:9, “let me go over”) Shimei kept along with the fugitives, out of reach, and yet easily heard, and able to annoy them with stones.

Verse 7

(7) Come out, come out.—Rather, Go out, go out. It is doubtful whether by the words, “thou bloody man,” Shimei meant anything more than that he considered David responsible for “the blood of the house of Saul”, (2 Samuel 16:8), especially in the case of Ishbosheth and of Abner, and the execution of Saul’s seven descendants at the demand of the Gibeonites (2 Samuel 21:1-9). Yet he may have known of the crime in regard to Uriah, and have wished to point his curse with the charge of shedding that innocent blood.

Verse 10

(10) So let him curse.—This translation follows the margin of the Hebrew, as the LXX. and Vulg. also do. David, throughout, recognises that all his sufferings were from the Lord’s hand, and he wishes to submit himself entirely to His will. He does not, of course, mean to justify Shimei’s wrong; but only to say that, as far as his sin bears upon himself, it is of Divine appointment and he cannot resent it.

Verse 11

(11) How much more now may this Benjamite.—The “Benjamite” is in contrast to his own son, because he represents the adherent of another and rival dynasty. It is noticeable that David accuses Absalom not only of seeking his throne, but his life.

Verse 12

(12) Look on mine affliction.—The English here follows the LXX. and Vulg. The Hebrew margin has mine eye, but the text has my iniquity, which is probably the true sense. David expresses the hope that God will mercifully look upon his sin, of which he has repented, and for which he is now bearing punishment: a part of this punishment is the cursing of Shimei, and God may be well pleased that it should be patiently borne.

Verse 14

(14) Came weary.—The sentence seems to require the mention of some place, and the clause “refreshed themselves there” to imply that a place has already been mentioned. The word for weary is, therefore, generally taken as a proper name, Ayephim, which was probably a mere caravansary.

Verse 16

(16) God save the king.—In the original, wherever this phrase occurs, it is simply, Let the king live. This and the expression “God forbid” are exceptional instances in which modern phraseology refers more directly to God than the ancient. Absalom is surprised at Hushai’s coming to him, and inclined to distrust one who has deserted his former friend and master. But Hushai succeeds in explaining his conduct as based upon the principle of loyalty to the government de facto; he urges that this has the Divine authority, and his faithfulness to the former king is a pledge of faithfulness to the present one.

Verse 21

(21) And Ahithophel said.—The counsel of Ahithophel was in effect that Absalom should make the breach between him and his father absolute and irreconcilable. His followers would thus be assured of the impossibility of his securing a pardon for himself while they were left to their fate. After adopting this course, he must necessarily persist to the end. The taking of the harem of his predecessor by the incoming monarch was an Oriental custom, to the enormity of which the mind was blunted by the practice of polygamy.

Verse 22

(22) A tent upon the top of the house.—Nathan had foretold that the nature of David’s public punishment should correspond to the character of his secret crime. The fact that this punishment takes place on the very roof where David had first yielded to his guilty passion makes it particularly striking.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/2-samuel-16.html. 1905.
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