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the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 19

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom.

And it was told Joab. — By Ahimaaz and Cushi, likely.

And mourneth. — Showeth his sorrow by habit and gesture, as Exodus 33:4 .

Verse 2

And the victory that day was [turned] into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.

Was turned into mourning unto all the people.Nullos habitura triumphos, as the poet saith of the civil wars of Rome.

The king was grieved. — This marred all the mirth of that day.

Verse 3

And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.

And the people gat them by stealth. — As if they had fled in the battle, and were ashamed of their cowardice; or like a dog that claps his tail between his legs, and getteth away as he can.

Verse 4

But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!

But the king covered his face. — After the manner of mourners. See 2 Samuel 15:20 . Aut prae pudore, ne flere videtur, saith Vatablus, - for shame, lest he should be seen to weep.

O my son Absalom, — He had never done with this doleful ditty. How much sweeter sang David, when - like a bird that having got a note by the end, recordeth it over and over - he so oft repeateth in one psalm, "For his mercy endureth for ever!"

Verse 5

And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines;

And Joab came into the house to the king. — For by this time, it seemeth, he had got home to his house or quarters, having first vented his passion in the chamber over the gate, but not wholly eased himself of it.

Thou hast shamed this day, … — A rough and rude reproof, such as David could never digest, Mountfort, Earl of Leicester, gave our Henry III the lie. - Dan. Hist., 172. though for the present he prudently gave place to it, and said little: At manet alta mente repostum. Josephus addeth, that he asked him if he were not ashamed to be thus affected with sorrow for a son that had been of so hostile a mind against him; and bade him come forth and speak friendly to the people, and give them thanks, threatening that if he did not, he would give the army and kingdom to another. The truth is, Joab had some reason to speak, and much of that he speaketh stands with good reason; but byssina verba, better language to his sovereign, had better becomed him.

Verse 6

In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.

And hatest thy friends. — This was not true: neither did David love Absalom as an enemy, but as a son, through a nimium excessively of natural affection.

Then it had pleased thee well. — But what, then, would have become of good David? and how would his darling son have served him? would he not have been forced, if he escaped with life, to supplicate Absalom in like sort as old Andronicus, the great emperor, to this effect did his young nephew? ‘Reverence my miserable old age, which of itself promiseth unto me shortly death, but unto thee a rest after long cares; reverence the hands which have oftentimes most lovingly embraced thee, yet crying in thy swathing clothes; reverence those lips which have oftentimes most lovingly kissed thee and called thee mine other self; have pity upon a bruised reed cast down by fortune, and do not thou again tread upon it. And seeing thou art thyself a man, be not too proud of thy present condition, but consider the uncertainty and variety of worldly things, taking by me example. See in me the end of long life, and marvel how one might, having received me an emperor of many years, leave me now subject unto another man’s power for ever.’ Turk. Hist., fol. 172. Thus he, and much more to the same purpose.

Verse 7

Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.

Now therefore arise, go forth. — Good counsel, but ill administered: like a good potion ill prepared, or not well sweetened. How much better Melancthon, who when he found on a time Luther overcome by his passions, overcame both him and them by saying,

Vince animos, iramque tuam, qui caetera vincis.

There will not tarry one with thee.Non pernoctaturum, sc., ex meo iussu. - Piscat. They will choose them a ruler that can better rule his passions, and use his great place and power with more sobriety and moderation: they will depose thee, and expose thee to the greatest miseries. And all this Joab bindeth with an oath (but not well), to startle and scare David.

Verse 8

Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king doth sit in the gate. And all the people came before the king: for Israel had fled every man to his tent.

Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. — Though thus harshly roused out of his passions and rattled up, as we call it, he showeth himself gentle and persuadable: he sat in the gate and did justice, which was an excellent means to allay his passions: neither henceforth hear we any more of his "O Absalom," …

Verse 9

And all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom.

And all the people were at strife. — Hereby it appeareth that David was not readmitted without some dispute, some great thoughts of heart: the devil doubtless stickled hard to have hindered it.

Saying, The king saved us. — The prevailing and better part said so.

Verse 10

And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?

And Absalom … is dead. — By "the wrath of God revealed from heaven" against both him and us for so mad an attempt: and should we not now return to our right minds?

Verse 11

And king David sent to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, saying, Speak unto the elders of Judah, saying, Why are ye the last to bring the king back to his house? seeing the speech of all Israel is come to the king, [even] to his house.

Speak unto the elders of Judah. — Who having been most forward in the late horrid rebellion, might haply most despair of pardon, and thereupon hang back. To these David sendeth and sueth; like as Christ also doth to his greatest enemies for reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:20 His grace doth in a manner kneel to us, who are naturally both averse and adverse thereunto.

Verse 12

Ye [are] my brethren, ye [are] my bones and my flesh: wherefore then are ye the last to bring back the king?

Ye are my brethren. — Which only title is sufficient to stint all strife, if well considered.

Ye are my bones and my flesh. — Now, "no man ever hated his own flesh," (hurt his own bones), "but nourisheth and cherisheth it." Ephesians 5:29 We may likewise promise ourselves all good from Christ our brother, upon this account.

Verse 13

And say ye to Amasa, [Art] thou not of my bone, and of my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if thou be not captain of the host before me continually in the room of Joab.

And say ye to Amasa. — Who having been Absalom’s captain general, had still the command of the strong tower of Zion, and of the city of Jerusalem, and so might have raised further troubles and tragedies had he not been thus won over by promise of free pardon and highest preferment.

Art thou not of my bone? … — Mine own sister’s son, and not a bastard neither, as some would prove from 2 Samuel 17:25 . And should not good blood bewray itself?

God do so to me, and more also.Ita faciat mihi Deus, et ita pergat. So? How? So as I cannot tell how: it importeth the heaviest penalty: it being a fearful thing to fall into the punishing hands of the living God.

In the room of Joab. — Who, though faithful to David, yet was always overbold with him, and therefore suspected by him, nequid novi in eum moliretur, saith Theodoret, lest he should work some treason. The murder of Abner also was fresh in David’s memory, who it seemeth was resolved to cut him off (as the French king did Biron lately), which he could not have done but by making Amasa generalissimo, who was of great power with all Israel. Thus David had designed it likely; but God had otherwise ordered it.

Verse 14

And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as [the heart of] one man; so that they sent [this word] unto the king, Return thou, and all thy servants.

And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah. — David did: so doth God bow and draw the hearts of his elect, by motions of mercy, and proffers of pardon upon their return unto him. See Isaiah 55:7-8 .

Verse 15

So the king returned, and came to Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to conduct the king over Jordan.

And Judah came to Gilgal. — The rendezvous was there. But why were not the rest of the tribes acquainted therewith? Had not they first shown their forwardness to reduce David? and did not this neglect of them breed ill blood, and cause a quarrel? 2 Samuel 19:40-41 It is easier to stir strife than to stint it. Tostatus blameth David as overpartial to his own tribe.

Verse 16

And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, which [was] of Bahurim, hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David.

And Shimei … hasted and came down. — As hoping that he also should get pardon among the many; who were faulty too, but not so deeply as himself. It is good thrusting in where pardon is to be had. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" - viz., "that his mercy endureth for ever."

Verse 17

And [there were] a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over Jordan before the king.

And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him. — And, as some think, under him as their captain; for he was of the house of Saul, and haply a great man in that tribe.

And they went over Jordan before the king,sc., To salute him, and to see him set safe over the river.

Verse 18

And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was come over Jordan;

And there went over a ferry boat.Ponto. This boat the tribe of Judah had sent before, and Shimei with his company followed it, to make his peace with the king.

Verse 19

And said unto the king, Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart.

Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me. — He justly feared punishment for those heinous outbursts of his intemperate tongue: and earnestly deprecateth it. Let us take unto us like words, and say unto God, "Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, and love us freely." Hosea 14:2 This is to prevent fleeing to the caves, crying to the hills, tiring the deaf mountains with moans to no purpose.

Verse 20

For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.

For thy servant doth know that I have sinned. — Thus the fox taken in a toil looketh pitifully, but it is only that he may get out. This confession was merely extorted by fear of punishment: it came not like water out of a spring, with a voluntary freeness, but like water out of a still, which is forced with fire.

I am come the first this day. — That in me first thou mightest show forth all longsuffering for a pattern to them which shall hereafter submit to thy mercy and clemency, 1 Timothy 1:16 which in a king is no small commendation, and to his delinquent subjects no small encouragement.

Of all the house of Joseph. — Joseph and Benjamin were so near akin that their tribes are spoken of as if one and the same.

Verse 21

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’S anointed?

Because he cursed the Lord’s anointed? — Or, Inasmuch as he cursed, … Shall he be therefore spared, because he hath acknowledged his fault after a sort, and now beggeth pardon? Let us show like zeal for God against blasphemers, as this noble captain doth for David.

Verse 22

And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I [am] this day king over Israel?

Shall there any man be put to death this day? — Which is, as it were, a day of my new election and inauguration into the kingdom, and should therefore be auspicated not with bloodshed, but with an act of oblivion.

That I am this day king over Israel? — And so not only may exercise my kingly prerogative in pardoning whom I please, but must in prudence show my readiness so to do: that it may be said of me, as afterwards it was of Julius Caesar, Nihil oblivisci solet praeter iniurias, He is of that happy memory that he never forgetteth anything but injuries.

Verse 23

Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.

Thou shalt not die.Quod me attingit tibi condono; et facti iudicium aliis relinquo: I pardon thee for my part, and leave others to judge of thy fact, and to deal with thee as is meet, for thy future offences. Thou shalt not die ex meo iussu, et iam, Piscat. by my command, and at this time.

Verse 24

And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came [again] in peace.

And had neither dressed his feet. — Which in those parts were frequently fouled with travelling, and in that people - qui ex complexione olent aeque ac Arabes instar hircorum, who naturally stink as goats, say some - were usually washed and dressed, as apt to smell most of any part.

Nor trimmed his beard.Ut squallidus et hirtus appareret, in token of mourning.

Nor washed his clothes. — His inner clothes, his linens.

Verse 25

And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth?

When he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king. — Or, When Jerusalem went to meet the king, as they did fully and wholly at his return. Mephibosheth went also; not having opportunity through Ziba’s treachery to come sooner.

Verse 26

And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant [is] lame.

My servant deceived me. — He doth not say, My servant hath by false informations and unjust accusations got my land from me: this troubled Mephibosheth nothing so much as the loss of his good name, and that good esteem that David formerly had of him. He said,

Ego si bonam famam servasso, sat dives ero.” - Plaut.

His comfort was that God, howsoever, would be his character witness at the resurrection.

Verse 27

And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king [is] as an angel of God: do therefore [what is] good in thine eyes.

And he hath slandered thy servant.Traduxit, detulit per criminationem falsam. The slanderer’s tonic, as sharp as the quills of a porcupine, woundeth the good name of another; this is an unexpressible injury; for, Postea nullus eris. afterward you will be nothing.

Verse 28

For all [of] my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king?

For all of my father’s house were but dead men,sc., For our siding with Ishbosheth.

What right therefore have I yet to cry? …,i.e., To complain of my servant’s treachery, or mine own infelicity.

Verse 29

And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.

I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.Condemnatur hic Mephiboshethus ex asse. David now, in haste, and full of business, passeth an unjust sentence; intending, perhaps, to be better informed hereafter: and not willing at present to displease Ziba, by taking back from him all that he had given him. The Hebrews say, that because David broke his oath made to Jonathan, and divided Mephibosheth’s land, that afterward his kingdom was divided in Rehoboam’a days. Abulensis thinketh that David made Mephibosheth amends for this wrong some other way.

Verse 30

And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house.

Yea, let him take allEgo enim satis dives ac beatus mihi videor, for I am well enough and rich enough, now that thou art safe returned. Seneca could say to his friend who was in heaviness, Fas tibi non est, salvo Caesare, de fortuna tua queri: hoc incolumi, salvi tibi sunt tui, … It is not fit for thee to complain of thy hard lot, so long as Caesar is in safety.

Verse 31

And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan.

And Barzillai the Gileadite came down. — He was one of those three that had brought provision to him. 2 Samuel 17:27-28 Of the other two we hear no more. Some suspect that David neglected them, being all for Barzillai. See 1 Kings 2:7 . There will be faults as long as there are men.

Verse 32

Now Barzillai was a very aged man, [even] fourscore years old: and he had provided the king of sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim; for he [was] a very great man.

Now Barzillai was a very aged man.Senex quasi seminex, he had lost his colour, but had kept his sweet savour with the rose: and like a flower, though he were withering, yet "the root of the matter was in him," as Job speaketh.

For he was a very great man. — Else he could not have so long sustained the king and his company. Crassus accounted no man rich that could not do as much. Pythias, by entertaining Xerxes and his great army, came to extreme poverty.

Verse 33

And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem.

I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem. — God is not unrighteous to forget their labour of love who do minister to his saints, and feed his poor afflicted. Matthew 25:34-35 Hebrews 6:10

Verse 34

And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem?

How long have I to live?q.d., My breath is corrupt - or, my spirits are spent - my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me, as Job 17:1 . Pedetentim morior, as that old poet Alexis said, I die piecemeal, sensim sine sensu, every day yielding somewhat to death. It is therefore high time for old people to make up their litte bundles, and prepare to begone hence, as Sturmius wrote to Zanchy.

Verse 35

I [am] this day fourscore years old: [and] can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?

Can I discern between good and evil? — Am I fit for courtly pleasures? It is past time of day with me for such matters. See Ecclesiastes 12:2-4 . See Trapp on " Ecclesiastes 12:2 " See Trapp on " Ecclesiastes 12:3 " See Trapp on " Ecclesiastes 12:4 "

Can I hear any more the voice? — David was a musical man, and had variety of signing and music at his meals. So had Muleasses, king of Tunis, who, that he might with more pleasure hear them, used to cover his eyes all the while.

Verse 36

Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward?

And why should the king recompense it me with such a reward? — The saints in heaven say so doubtless; being wholly swallowed up with admiration at that "excessive and eternal weight of glory," so freely conferred upon them. For coals we shall have pearls, said that martyr to his fellows; joys without measure or mixture; desiderio generante satistatem, et satistate desiderium parante, as Bernard De Pass. Dom. hath it; desire begetting satiety, and satiety bringing forth desire.

Verse 37

Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, [and be buried] by the grave of my father and of my mother. But behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee.

That I may die in mine own city. — Where I may retire and rest me, prepare for death, lay hold on eternal life. This is, or ought to be, the old man’s chief study.

Verse 38

And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee: and whatsoever thou shalt require of me, [that] will I do for thee.

Chimham shall go over with me. — See on 2 Samuel 9:7 .

Verse 39

And all the people went over Jordan. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place.

And blessed him.Benedixit, i.e., valedixit ei. At parting he prayed hard for him, and so dismissed him, not without many thanks for his great courtesy.

Verse 40

Then the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him: and all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of Israel.

And also half the people of Israel.i.e., A part of them; so many as well could, and had a mind to it.

Verse 41

And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David’s men with him, over Jordan?

Why have they … stolen thee away? — Fetched thee home without our privity: as if they alone had true title to thee, and true love toward thee? This is the voice of those who will shortly fight against David under the son of Bichri; so little hold is there of popular favour.

And all David’s men with him, over Jordan. — Or thus; - "Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king and his household over Jordan? Now all the men of David were with him," that is, his soldiers; - and this made the men of Judah so bold and fierce, as 2 Samuel 19:42-43 .

Verse 42

And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king [is] near of kin to us: wherefore then be ye angry for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king’s [cost]? or hath he given us any gift?

Have we eaten at all of the king’s cost? — Have we, as parasites, used our tongues to purvey for our teeth? have we sought ourselves in this service? were we hired or waged to do that we did?

Verse 43

And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more [right] in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

Why then did ye despise us?Gens haec, - saith Gerald concerning the Irish, - sicut et natio quaevis barbara, quanquam honorem nesciant, honorari tamen supra modum affectant. None can endure to be slighted.

And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer. — Heb., Harder; that is, more arrogant and insolent in the judgment of Him who will one day execute judgment upon ungodly sinners for all their hard speeches. Judges 1:15 The tribe of Judah, binding upon the king’s favour, and backed by his guard, duriore sermone Israelitas abegit, berated the Israelites with their rough language; and this caused a sedition, as the next chapter showeth. The Rabbis say that they gave them the lie. David either spake not at all, or could not be heard in that tumult. "Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" James 3:5

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/2-samuel-19.html. 1865-1868.
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