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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 19

Verses 1-43

The Return to Jerusalem (19:1-43)

Joab brought David to his senses. David was placing his personal grief before the welfare of God’s people, Israel. Uppermost was his feeling as father, not his position as king. Dire rebellion had been suppressed at terrible cost to him as father, but he was also responsible for the well-being of his people, and for them the death of Absalom had been deliverance. Joab had recognized that so long as Absalom was alive the combination of cunning and ambition in his personality spelled disaster for Israel. David must decide against personal grief, however much his closest followers might sympathize with him as a father. Those who had proved their loyalty to him at personal cost were surely more deserving of his love than this son who had possessed no loyalty but had planned his father’s downfall. In a very real sense, David’s grief was an affront to their faithfulness. Joab’s reproof was in the rough and ready speech of a soldier, but it had its effect. David suppressed his grief, and showed himself to his people.

Now came the return to Jerusalem. Confusion reigned throughout the land. Absalom was dead and David was across Jordan. There was a general feeling that David should return, but the tribe of Judah held back its support, doubtless because it had been foremost in support of Absalom. The priests were commissioned to use their services with the elders of Judah, for David would not return to Jerusalem unless the people actually invited him. The invitation came, and the king started out, the men of Judah coming to Gilgal to meet him at the crossing of the Jordan.

One by one the rebels submitted to him and joined the triumphal procession back to Jerusalem. Shimei the Benjaminite, who had cursed him, representatives from Benjamin, and Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth — all helped him and his household across the ford of Jordan. Shimei sought pardon and obtained it, even though Abishai was against such royal clemency. Mephibosheth arrived in a sorry and unkempt state, obviously having mourned since David left Jerusalem. Ziba’s deceit was now uncovered, and David learned that Mephibosheth, crippled though he was, had sought to ride with him on an ass but had been hindered by Ziba. David apparently remained noncommittal. Mephibosheth and Ziba must divide the estate between them. Mephibosheth, however, declared himself content even though he lost all, so long as the king returned.

Barzillai the Gileadite, who had befriended David in Transjordan, accompanied the king to the River Jordan. David sought to take him on to Jerusalem and to reward him for his help, but the old man of fourscore years gently refused. He would return to his old and well-loved haunts, but Chimham was to accompany David in his stead and enjoy the reward.

The men of Judah, although they had gathered around Absalom, sought the center of the stage in David’s return. They hurriedly brought back David across Jordan and made the loyal people of the north, the "men of Israel," jealous. A bitter verbal battle between north and south ensued, an ill omen for the days ahead when the kingdom was to be divided. The seeds of the later division are here shown to lie far back in history.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/2-samuel-19.html.