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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

2 Samuel 19

Verses 1-43

Bringing the King Back

2 Samuel 19:10

The rebellion was over; Absalom was dead; the messengers had not hesitated to bring what they thought would be the good tidings to the king. But how could they be good tidings, remembering the wonderful love which he bore for his son? A plaintive cry went up from him when he realized the fullness of the news, and he wished he had died instead. The joy of victory was turned to mourning; the people heard of the sorrow of the king, and little could they rejoice when they found he was bowed with sorrow. Little could they realize the joy of victory or what it meant, and they sent messengers to him one after another, and they held consultations between themselves; and then we come to these words: 'Why therefore speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?' He was there. He was still their king, but there seemed to be a division between himself and the people for the time; they could not realize that he was their king, they certainly did not enjoy his presence. And so the thought arose, 'Why therefore speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?' You know the result he sent an upbraiding but nevertheless a loving message to his son. And then he returned once more to his people. He realized what his return meant to them, as they felt that he was now again their king.

There is a spiritual truth in these words which appeals very continuously to some of us.

I. Rebellion Against the King. Realizing that Jesus Christ Himself is our lawful King, our Sovereign, and Saviour, may we ask ourselves what our position is in respect to Him? Many of these men had been rebels against the king; they had ranged themselves on the side of Absalom, and were willing to cast in their lot with his. But, rebels as they were, there now came the opportunity of owning their allegiance to the true king. Is it not possible for us to be rebels against our Lord Jesus Christ Himself? We may set something or somebody else up in our hearts to the exclusion of Himself; we may not own Him to be our Lord. We may not bow ourselves before Him. We may live our lives, so far as we can, without reference to Him; all our influence may be cast absolutely in the wrong direction. We may really be helping forward the kingdom of Satan rather than the kingdom of Christ. It is only too possible for us to be out-and-out rebels against Jesus Christ Himself, and to be casting in our lot with those who are vaunting against the cause of truth, righteousness, and justice. If that be the case if any of us are conscience-stricken and feel that we have been rebels against our Lord and against His kingdom shall we speak the word to bring Him back to us? The word must be a word of penitence, it must be a word of prayer, it must be a prayer offered up in faith, it must be a prayer to be followed by the subjection of ourselves, no matter what that may mean and involve in each individual case.

II. Separation from the King. Or there may be many of us who have not, at any rate consciously, been rebels against our Lord Jesus Christ, but who nevertheless feel that there has been something which has separated us from Him. We know that no longer are we enjoying communion with Him. It seems as though He were a long way from us. We realize not His presence with all the joy, and hope, and light which that presence brought us in days gone by. It seems that everything is miserable that once was joy. We remember, for instance, the time when we could kneel down and pray; or we remember the time when we used to delight to read God's Word; or we remember when we could realize His presence in our daily life; or we remember when our communions were seasons of joy and spiritual refreshment; or we look back and recollect how we believed that He was not only in the world somewhere, but we believed that He was with us, we felt more joy in doing some work for Him, no matter how feeble it might be. Those were the bright, happy days of our spiritual life. But somehow or other there has been a change. We have lost the happiness which once we had, and things are not so clear and easy as they once seemed to be. We find ourselves walking in the darkness, groping our way and stumbling. We find all sorts of difficulties staring us in the face. We do not believe in prayer now, or, if we do, we do not pray; and we do not read God's Holy Word, and we have given up our communions, or, if we still attend, it is merely a matter of form. How is it? Many of us, I think, find it very difficult to hold on. We find it so easy to go back. It is so difficult always to realize the presence of the King with us, and there are so many distractions in this world, there are so many influences brought to bear upon us.

III. To Bring the King Back. 'Why therefore speak ye not a word of bringing the King back?' Do you think He will come back? Do you think He will give us the joy that once we knew? Do you think He will come to speak the word of consolation? Do you think He will come to give us that strength which His presence alone can give? Yes; speak the word to bring the King back, for He is wanted now. If we have forgotten Him He has not forgotten us. If we have been weak in our own love, if we have been an easy prey to our spiritual foes, speak the word to bring Him back. Send a message through prayer to the King to ask him to come back to the heart from which He has been expelled. Ask Him to return with all the light and joy and sunshine which ever come from His presence with us.

References. XIX. 10. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No. 808. XIX. 31. D. T. Young, Neglected People of the Bible, p. 92. XIX. 33-37. W. H. Simcox, The Cessation of Prophecy, p. 123.

Fewness of Days

2 Samuel 19:34

Suppose we accommodate this inquiry of Barzillai, and apply it here and there along the sensitive line of our ever-changing life.

I. 'How long have I to live,' that I may make the most of what remains? That is a very proper question; we ought to ask ourselves that question every day. To make the most of what remains. What does remain? No man can tell. A breath. Where is your friend? He is dead. What thine hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; he that does it quickly does it twice. You have no time to lose; you have been haffling with yourself for the last six days, and you are six days nearer your end.

II. 'How long have I to live,' that I may set my house in order? You want a little time for preparation, you do not want to be hastened away so as to leave many things unarranged and unprovided for. What a beautiful thing it is to be able to stand over the grave of your friend, and to say, He did what he could; he was a sweet, heroic, valiant soul; in his own little way and sphere, take him for all in all, he was a man, we ne'er shall look upon his like again; so gentle as a father, so faithful as a friend, so wholly excellent and estimable in every capacity and aspect of life. If you want to set your house in order, make a just will. I know of no sweeter reading and I myself have no recollection of ever having been named in a will, so I can speak the more without prejudice I know no sweeter reading than a will after which men say, That is just, that is wisely conceived.

III. 'How long have I to live,' that I may do the most important things first? There is a gradation in importance; some things are important, others are more important, others again are most important, are indeed of superlative and inexpressible importance. That is a graduated scale which commends itself to common sense: why not apply it in all the regions and outgoings of life? It is not enough to be busy; you must be busy at the right time, in the right place, and in the right work.

'How long have I to live,' that I may pay all that I owe? This is not a question of money only, it is a far greater question. Pay the bill of thy neglect, and take a receipt from the hand of God.

Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. III. p. 185.

References. XIX. 34. Studies in Texts, vol. i. p. 175. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Common Life Religion, p. 36. XIX. 34-37. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Samuel, p. 113.

Controversy

2 Samuel 19:43

Here is the beginning of a long controversy which ended in the dismemberment of God's people, and in the permanent alienation of those who by tradition, by hopes, and by privileges, were common children of a common Lord.

I. Guard against the controversial spirit. It has been well said by the late Bishop Moberly that the temper which prefers to denounce sin rather than faithfully and meekly endeavours to increase holiness in oneself and others; which rather likes railing at want of discipline, than sets itself in gentleness and prayer to bring about the restoration of it, is nearly connected with feebleness of moral fibre.

Guard against the controversial spirit. It more than anything else serves to damage the sensitiveness of the soul.

II. But while we deplore as deplore we must the divisions of Israel and Judah, the divisions which rend the seamless robe of Christ, we must not forget, at the same time, that as God can use the fierceness and the passions of men, so He can overrule for good 'our unhappy divisions'. Nay, we may go further and say that, bad as they are, divisions are not all bad; and sad as it is, disunion is no ground for despair. The presence of controversy, and even the sad spectacle of division, do bear witness to the intense importance of Truth. The Church of Christ does not deal with views and opinions, but with the Faith. The Apostle St. Jude entreats us earnestly to contend for the Faith once delivered to the Saints.

Sad as it is, religious dissension will try a man's earnestness, and will deepen conviction. Men do not contend for that about which they feel indifferent; sometimes it has been that the very sight of a quarrel has led men to believe that there was something worth contending for.

III. He who would use the weapons of controversy aright, whether in attack or defence, must look to it that he wears the right equipment, or he will find himself injured by the very force of the weapons which he was trying to wield. In a time of religious excitement, or among religious disputants, there is need for some very special excellences, which men do not always stop to perceive. And among these, not the least, we would put knowledge. If men knew more than they do of the Bible, a little of Church history, and a little of the true meaning of theological terms, there would be less misunderstanding and fewer religious bickerings.

And besides knowledge, the controversialist needs love. We need not think that this much-abused term commits us only to a vapid indifference, and a courteous surrender of vital truth. St. Paul was, if anyone, a practised controversialist. And yet he, in his writings, has supplied us with the most splendid and appealing utterances as to the power of love.

And more than all, the religious controversialist needs piety. The ark of God must be steadied with a holy hand, the fact that it is being shaken does not justify the unhallowed usage of Uzziah; not even Uzziah in the height of his prosperity can venture to take liberties in holy things. It needs a very chastened life, a very holy, refined touch to deal with things which concern the inner verities of the faith and the religious life of Christians. Purity, gentleness, piety, deep religious conviction these are the healing bath in which all controversial weapon must be steeped. W. C. E. Newbolt, Words of Exhortation, p. 40.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/2-samuel-19.html. 1910.