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Monday, May 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 19

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

Second Samuel - Chapter 19

David’s Bitter Grief, vs. 1-7

Joab soon heard the news that the king had taken the slaying of Absalom very badly. The great victory turned to a melancholy time because of the bitter grief of the king. The victors stole back into the city as though ashamed, like returning from a battle in defeat rather than like those who had won. The news spread fast of the king’s lamentation, and those who came by his chamber could hear his loud sobbing, mingled with those sorrowful words, "O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

As on many previous occasions Joab took affairs in his own hands and approached the king with a harsh rebuke. Though one might wish to charge Joab with cold-heartedness in his words to David, there was still a great deal of logic in what he said. His argument to the king was 1) he had made the men who had fought and won the battle for him to feel ashamed; 2) the defeat of Absalom was the saving of David’s life and the lives of his sons, daughters, wives, and concubines, for Absalom would surely have slain all those who stood between him and the throne; 3) his great grief over Absalom indicated to his men that he hated them and loved his enemies. Finally, Joab said the people would conclude that it would have been pleasing to David for all of them to perish if Absalom could have been saved. Joab said David should arise and receive the people, congratulating them on their victory, as they doubtless expected. Otherwise, Joab swore, by the next day all of his men would have forsaken him, and the result would be worse than anything that had ever before happened to David in all his life.

Verses 8-15

David Recalled to the Throne, vs. 8-15

Though David was highly displeased with Joab and concluded to dismiss him from the captaincy of the host, he must admit the sense of what he had told him concerning the loyalty of his men. Therefore he put away his grief sufficiently to sit in the gate and receive the people as the lord of a victorious army should. Soon the word spread that the king was now sitting in the gate. The entire army came before him in review, for the men of Israel had all given up and returned to their own abode. There was no longer any to oppose David in the field.

Israel was now a land with no ruling monarch in Jerusalem, and there was strife throughout the tribes. People began to think of David again and to remember how much more smoothly affairs ran when he was there on the throne. He had vanquished their old time enemies, the Philistines, who may now have been thinking of rising against them again since David was in exile. David had fled from Absalom out of the land, they had anointed Absalom their king, but he was dead in battle, and they argued about bringing David back to the throne.

The initiative was finally taken by David himself, through the chief priests, Zadok and Abiathar. They were to speak to the elders of Judah to begin the movement to recall David. Why should they be the last to seek his return, since the other tribes were urging his recall? They were his brethren of the same tribe, his own flesh and bones. Furthermore, David tendered to Amasa the captaincy of the host in the place of Joab. This would be a move to soothe the feelings of Judah, who had been in the forefront of Absalom’s rebellion and, at the same time, remove the troublesome Joab from a place of great influence.

The men of Judah were pleased with the king’s proposal, the Scriptures say their heart was bowed as the heart of one man. So they sent word to the king to return again, with all his servants. So David took his people and moved down to the Jordan, and the men of Judah moved down to Gilgal to meet him and conduct him over the river.

Verses 16-23

Shimei Seeks Forgiveness, vs. 16-23

There must have been many in Israel who feared that David might take vengeance upon them for their allegiance to Absalom. Perhaps none had more reason to fear than did the Benjamite, Shimei, who had followed David as he fled abusing him with curses and casting rocks and dirt upon him. David would not, at that time, allow Abishai to cut off his head, because he felt the Lord was allowing it and that vengeance should be left in His hand (2 Samuel 16:5-13). In fear Shimei came to meet David to beg his mercy. That Shimei was not alone in Benjamin among those who opposed David is indicated in that he was accompanied by a thousand men of that tribe. It is interesting that Ziba and his fifteen sons and twenty servants were among the thousand Benjamites. This certain­ly be-clouds the pretensions of Ziba when he came to the fleeing David with presents and vilifying his crippled master, Mephibosheth. One wonders whether Ziba was more implicated in Absalom’s rebellion than is revealed. So anxious were these to supplicate with David they did not wait for him to cross Jordan, but went over the river to meet him.

The leaders among the men of Judah who had come for the king sent a ferry boat across the river to bring the people and all their goods. How much different this crossing of Jordan by David on his return must have been from that hurried retreat when he was fleeing. Shimei fell down very humbly before the king, while Ziba evidently lurked in the background delusively pretending friendship.

Shimei begged David not to impute, or charge, him with iniquity for his perverse behavior when he was fleeing from Jerusalem. He confessed that he had sinned, just like most criminals will do when they are caught. Shimei fully verified the words of Moses (Numbers 32:23), for his sin had found him out. David was asked not to take Shimei’s words to heart, or to think that he still felt the way he had spoken. To show his sincerity he pleaded for David to note that he was first of all the house of Joseph (Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin) to come to meet him.

Abishai objected at once to Shimei’s plea. It was his opinion that Shimei should be put to death. He even used the same reasoning that David had’ used in punishing those who rose up against Saul, he had cursed the Lord’s anointed. It is probable that Abishai had legality on his side, and it may be David would have executed Shimei had it not been proposed by the despised son of Zeruiah, who with Joab his brother, had dealt David so many problems by his high handedness. David spoke of the brothers as his adversaries, and he wanted nothing more to do with them. Before he died David instructed Solomon to have Shimei executed for this deed (1 Kings 2:8). On the spur of the moment David promised amnesty to all those who had opposed him and backed Absalom. David said he was aware that his position as king, re-instated, was assured and there was no reason to take the life of any in Israel. Turning to Shimei he swore to preserve his life. This deed of David is like the Lord’s longsuffering to the lost today (2 Peter 3:9).

Verses 24-30

Mephibosheth Exonerated, vs. 24-30

Mephibosheth came down to the river to meet the king also, in a most deplorable condition. Out of concern for David and his exile Mephibosheth had neglected his personal hygiene all the time he was gone. He had not washed his feet, not trimmed his beard, nor bathed, nor put on clean clothes in all the time. This should have been convincing proof that Ziba had dealt in the big lie in his accusations.

Amazingly it appears that David did not receive Mephibosheth at all when he came down to meet him. But he did get an audience with the king after they had come to Jerusalem. At that time David questioned him why he had not accompanied him in the flight. He immediately laid the blame to the deceitfulness of Ziba, who had also slandered him to the king. It had been his intent, he said, to saddle an ass so he could ride and come with David, for he was lame and could not waLu But though he had been slandered by Ziba, Mephibosheth still held the king in angelic esteem for all the graciousness which had been shown him, though all the family of Saul might have been as dead men in his sight. But David had been so merciful as to give Mephibosheth a place at the king’s own table. Mephibosheth felt he had no right to complain to the king, for he had received mercy beyond what he deserved, according to the times (cf. Lu 7:7).

David’s response is enigmatical. It is not possible to know whether he doubted the truth of Mephibosheth’s explanation. On the face of it, it would seem that he did. He refused to consider the matter further, except to say that Ziba and Mephibosheth should settle it between them. It may be suggested that David may have reconsidered his first assignment of the land to Mephibosheth and decided that Ziba was not properly recognized since he had for many years cared for the land. Or it may be that David, having told Ziba the land should be his, did not feel he should go back altogether on his word, so he divided the land between them.

Verses 31-40

Barzillai Rewarded, vs. 31-40

Barzillai the Gileadite came down to the Jordan to see the king off also. This rich old man had furnished food and other physical needs for David and his people all the time they had been at Mahanaim. He had helped the king when he had no resources. Now that David was restored to the kingship he was able to repay Barzillai for his kindness and accommodation. Thus he proposed that Barzillai return with him to Jerusalem and take up abode there with him. But Barzillai had reached the age of eighty years, too late to begin a new career, so he demurred.

Barzillai had the usual decrepitude of old age. His sight was gone, so that he could not see what was good and what was bad; his taste buds were no longer able to discern what he ate; his hearing was so poor he could not enjoy the singing of the men and women. He would only be a burden on David if he should accompany him. He would go along with David over the Jordan and then return to his own town to await death. He desired to be buried in his own cemetery beside his parents.

Whatever rewards David might have given him, Barzillai requested be given to Chimham. The Scriptures do not clarify the relationship of Barzillai and Chimham. However, Jewish historian Josephus wrote that Chimham was the son of Barzillai. So David agreed to bestow on Chim­ham whatever advantages Barzillai might require of him. The old friends parted with a kiss, Barzillai returning to his home in Rogelim and David proceeding to Gilgal with Chimham accompanying. They were conveyed by the wholehearted backing of Judah and half the people of Israel.

Verses 41-43

Tribal Friction, vs. 41-43

The lack of unity in David’s restoration by the tribes was evident in the fifty percent representation among those of the north who met him at the JorDa The old Ephraimite pride and jealousy afflicted all the tribes and they now manifested it against the tribe of Judah. They accused the men of Judah of stealing David away and bringing him back without ad­vising them and consulting concerning their desires. The men of Judah gave the innocent response that they had undertaken the task because David was their kinsman, of their own tribe. Seemingly this should have been a satisfactory answer.

The Judahites said that they had claimed no special considera­tions of the king in their behalf, for having taken the lead in restoring him to the throne. They had not eaten at his cost nor received any gifts of him. But this did not satisfy the Israelites. They claimed ten parts in David to the one of Judah, and claimed that Judah had shown them despite and shunned to seek their advice. And so the quarrel raged, but Judah had the better of the argument.

Some lessons from chapter 19: 1) Grief that cannot be assuaged should be controlled for the good of all; 2) hesitation to do what one knows he should do will only continue trouble; 3) mercy to others is always good if the one shown mercy is justified under God to receive it; 4) it is hard to undo mistakes when once made; 5) the best reward is to show appreciation for what was done; 6) the Devil is always stirring up trouble when things seem to be going well.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-samuel-19.html. 1985.
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