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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 21

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Verses 1-22


AN OVERZEALOUS SE RV ANT (2 Samuel 19:1-8 )

Joab was to David what Bismarck was to King William. He had the same iron in his blood, but sometimes, like the latter, he overdid things. The kaiser was glad to be rid of Bismarck, and Joab’s conduct towards David is preparing the way for his successor. Those were too strong words he used in 2 Samuel 19:7 , and show the power he assumed over the army.

A BACKWARD PEOPLE (2 Samuel 19:9-15 )

Judah, the king’s tribe, should have taken the initiative for this return, and the priests should have stirred them to it. It is disappointing that it was otherwise and perhaps explains David’s adroitness in choosing Amasa to superseded Joab, who persuades the people to act as one man.

Great David’s Greater Son

Why is His Church so silent about His coming back again? One would think He was not wanted back by the little that is said about it. And yet He has promised to come “This same Jesus” and to bring His reward with Him! Who can tell whether, if we spake one to another about it, we might not begin to act in such a manner as to hasten His coming? Will it be necessary for Him to cast away the present leaders of His Church and call to His aid some Amasa with the power to bow the hearts of His people toward Him as the heart of one man?

Why say ye not a word of bringing back the king? Why speak ye not of Jesus and His reign?

Why tell ye of His kingdom and of its glories sing? But nothing of His coming back again?

A LENIENT SOVEREIGN (2 Samuel 19:16-40 )

We wonder David should have been so forbearing to Shimei (2 Samuel 19:16-23 ) when we consider the latter’s conduct in the last lesson; and on the other hand we are surprised that Mephibosheth should not have had more cordial treatment (2 Samuel 19:24-30 ). The meaning of verse 29 is not clear.

A JEALOUS OUTBREAK (2 Samuel 19:41 to 2 Samuel 20:26 )

The closing verses of chapter 19 exhibit the beginning of that tribal dissension which ultimately led to the dismemberment of the kingdom.

Nothing is known of Sheba (2 Samuel 20:1-2 ), but he was of much influence among the adherents of the former dynasty of Saul.

Amasa seems to have been unequal to rallying the army and Abishai is called into the service, to the further affront of Joab. But the last named joins in the battle and doubtless with the wicked intention he afterward executes (2 Samuel 20:10 ). His influence with the army is seen in that, even under these circumstances, the warriors rally around him and are led to victory (2 Samuel 20:11-23 ). David is obliged to reinstate him, and the conclusion of the chapter shows the whole government reestablished in its wonted course.

A WRONG AVENGED (2 Samuel 21:1-14 )

Joshua had made a covenant with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:3-27 ). But Saul, for political reasons, had violated its terms (2 Samuel 21:2 ) under what circumstances there is no record. It was a case of national guilt and received at God’s hands a national punishment (2 Samuel 21:1 ). The atonement rendered was awful and yet it might have been more severe. Moreover, God permitted, and indeed directed it (2 Samuel 21:3-9 ), and the Judge of all the earth shall do right (Genesis 18-25). Let the circumstance teach us to fear God and hate sin.

“Michal, the daughter of Saul” (2 Samuel 21:8 ) should be “Michal’s sister,” or else, the two sons were adopted and brought up by her though born of her sister.

AN EPOCH REACHED (2 Samuel 21:15-22 )

David is beginning to feel his years and, in this war, he might have lost his life but for the interference of a stronger hand (2 Samuel 21:15-17 ). He must no more go out to battle. He, as king, is the light of Israel, and must not run into danger lest he be quenched.

Philistia was prolific in giants, but the Lord was with His people to overcome them (2 Samuel 21:18-22 ).


1. What late historic character does Joab suggest?

2. How does David seek ineffectually to rid himself of Joab?

3. Quote Acts 1:11 and connect it with this lesson.

4. What arouses Israel’s jealousy of Judah?

5. What were the natural relations of Joab to Amasa and Abishai?

6. Relate the story of the first part of chapter 21 in your own words.

7. What lessons does it teach?

8. What epoch, physical and historical, has David reached?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/2-samuel-21.html. 1897-1910.
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