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Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 16

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-4

Ziba’s Deceit (16:1-4)

Mephibosheth’s servant, Ziba, joined David, bringing supplies of food and wine for the refugees. When asked why his master had not accompanied him, Ziba deceitfully implied that Mephibosheth hoped that in the political turmoil he would himself be given his father’s throne, whereupon David gave to the servant all Mephibosheth’s possessions. This hasty act, performed without any attempt to hear the other side of the story, does not show the king in a good light. In the sequel, Mephibosheth gave Ziba the lie and showed his loyalty to David (2 Samuel 19:25-27).

Verses 5-14

Shimei’s Cursing (16:5-14)

Saul’s fellow tribesmen in Benjamin had continued to harbor resentment against David. Shimei, one of Saul’s relatives, cursed David in no uncertain terms as he passed Bahurim, a place once associated with Michal (2 Samuel 3:16). Being pelted with stones and being cursed as a man of blood were accepted by David with complete restraint. He would not let his bodyguard deal with Shimei, for he saw that in some sense even this was within the judgment of God on him. He could not keep the love and respect of his son, so he had no right to expect the respect of one of Saul’s family. Perhaps God would somehow put matters right if he endured this new indignity in the right spirit.

Ahithophel and Hushai (16:15-17:14)

Meantime Hushai the Archite had arrived at Absalom’s headquarters and offered his services to Absalom, who knew him to be David’s friend. The latter fact cast doubts on Hushai’s sincerity, for friendship meant covenant and Hushai was apparently breaking with his steadfast covenant love to David. Hence the question, "Is this your loyalty [covenant love] to your friend?" Hushai’s nattering reply apparently reassured Absalom.

The pretender now sought advice from Ahithophel. The latter advised that David be dishonored. Absalom was to show that he had assumed the kingship by appropriating that part of the royal harem which had been left in Jerusalem. We have to remember that every new monarch took over by right his predecessor’s harem. Absalom’s act would make the breach between himself and David final. He pitched a wedding tent on the roof of the palace and publicly manifested his possession of his father’s harem. The advice of Ahithophel, the wise man, is compared at this point to the oracular advice of seer or priest, so perceptive was it assumed to be.

Ahithophel further advised Absalom to gather an army speedily and pursue David, arguing that the king could then be overtaken and slain while he was weary and discouraged. Absalom, however, was suspicious of this sound advice and turned to Hushai, who had been sent by David with the very purpose of upsetting the plans of the rebels. Hushai countered Ahithophel’s advice of speedy pursuit by emphasizing David’s experience in campaigning. His bodyguard was so trained that Absalom could not expect to catch David napping. Rather his own untrained men would likely be caught in a trap and a great slaughter would ensue, the effect of which would be bad on the morale of his followers. Hushai therefore counseled that time be taken to gather an army from all Israel, large enough to ensure victory. Only superior numbers could defeat the experienced troops of David. Absalom was immediately convinced, and Hushai’s ruse succeeded. The narrator sees a divine overruling here in the fact that Absalom ignored Ahithophel’s good advice (vs. 14).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Samuel 16". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/2-samuel-16.html.
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