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2 Samuel 19:13 . Say ye to Amasa, Art thou not of my bone. It is probable that Amasa had refused to fight against David; at least he had not distinguished himself in the rebellion. David, in making Amasa captain general, was desirous to humble the unjustifiable ascendancy of Joab.
2 Samuel 19:29 . Thou and Ziba divide the land. This was a breach of David’s covenant with Jonathan. Ziba had done great services for David in this war by his sons and his servants; but he had falsely impeached his master, and deceived the king. In this strait David took the middle path; he rent the half from Mephibosheth, and as some rabbins say, God rent the half of the kingdom from David’s house. Covenants once made in the name of the Lord are sacred bonds.
2 Samuel 19:40 . Chimham went with the king. Barzillai, at the age of eighty, was wise in refusing a courtier’s life, and in conceding it to his son. Retirement, when a man is admonished by infirmities, is the best wisdom of a virtuous mind.
Had this been a foreign war, and had Absalom been the prince of a hostile nation, Mahanaim had this day resounded with trumpets; harps and songs of praise would have gladdened all ranks of people. But Absalom falling under the curse, David wept aloud, and all the good inhabitants sympathized with their afflicted king. How powerful is passion! The idea of a son for ever lost, was, to David, for the moment, more than if he had lost his kingdom and his life. The victorious soldiers hearing of his grief sneaked into the city, as though they had been the defeated rebels. Joab alone, though now the most obnoxious man, had the courage to rouse him from his anguish, and remind him of the duties he owed to his victorious people. Joab was indeed the king’s friend and nephew; and he had been faithful to him in adversity, which accounts for the bold and independent language in which he addressed his sovereign. By cogent arguments he succeeded; but from that day David regarded him as a bloody man; and he never saw his face without associating the idea of his forever ruined Absalom. How deplorable are the calamities of civil war! How provoking is the sin of a nation when God abandons them to its fury; and how critical the situation of men who drive the car of vengeance through the fury of intestine broils.
The dismission of Joab from command, and the appointment of Amasa to that high and arduous office, seem to have been acts of passion, rather than of prudence. Joab had indeed disobeyed the royal injunction by piercing Absalom; but he had obeyed God, and acted with the suffrages of the whole army. Therefore it was only the king’s feeling which revolted against his general. Amasa being Absalom’s captain, and having lost the battle and deserted his prince, could have no fair claims to pardon, much less to the high office of supreme command: nor could he, like Joab, have the confidence of the army. But God took advantage of David’s weakness to bring Amasa to the punishment he had richly merited.
The clemency which David showed to his misguided subjects after their defeat, does the highest honour to his feelings as a man, and to his wisdom as a king. In other nations, almost without exception, after the defeat of rebels we see a long and terrific parade of military executions, whereby one family is led to hate another for ages to come, and the countenance of revenge is not composed but in banishments and confiscations. But here the beams of mercy soon brightened on a penitent people. The tide of popular passion rolled to the opposite extreme; for the ten tribes almost went to war with Judah for bringing back the king before they had time to assemble to do him homage, and to grace the triumphs of his return. Happy is that king when his offending people sufficiently punish themselves by the reproaches of their own hearts. Oh blessed Jesus, what returns shall we make to thee for the wrongs we have done to thy love, and to thy cause? We would weep for our folly, and were it possible, repair our errors by a life of spotless obedience and constant love. Much indeed we ought to love, for we have much forgiven.
But how shall Shimei who cursed the king for a long time, and cursed him when Abishai’s sword was uplifted to destroy him; how shall Shimei see the king’s face and live? Come Shimei, venture. If he spared thy life in the day of anger, he will not destroy thee in the day of repentance. Come Shimei, the first of sinners, with the first of penitents; come and bring a thousand of thy guilty brethren, that ye may all receive mercy together. Oh what encouragement is here shadowed forth for the rebels against heaven; for blasphemers of God’s name to repent, and approach the mercy-seat. Sinners, God has heard your wicked language. He is not unacquainted with the horrid imprecations you have invoked on your fellow creatures. Divine justice, like Abishai, has long said, Let me strike! Sinners be wise and tremble: you can make no head against heaven. Make haste then to humble yourselves while the softening powers of mercy keep back the terrors of justice. Make haste to bow before your indulgent God, lest his ministers of vengeance smite you in your stubborn sins. Embrace the present moment, while the king is graciously approaching his people, for if you lose this opportunity you may never have another.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14