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

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Ziba, by presents and false suggestions, obtaineth of David his master’s inheritance, 2 Samuel 16:1-4.

Shimei revileth and curseth David, who restraineth Abishai from revenging it, 2 Samuel 16:5-14.

Absalom cometh with Ahithophel to Jerusalem; lieth with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel, according to the counsel of Ahithophel, who was esteemed as an oracle, 15—23.

Verse 1

Ziba; a crafty man, who, being persuaded that God would in due time appear for the righteous cause of so good a king, and scatter the cloud which was now upon him, takes this occasion to make way for his future advancement. A bottle; a large bottle or vessel proportionable to the other provisions.

Verse 2

For the king’s household to ride on; for the king and his wives and children were all on foot; not that he had not or could not procure asses for them at Jerusalem, but because he chose it as best becoming that state of penitence and humiliation in which they were.

Verse 3

Which though it might seem a very unlikely thing, yet such vain expectations do often get into the minds of men; nor was it impossible, that when David’s family was thus divided, and one part engaged against another, they might destroy themselves by mutual wounds; and the people being tired out with civil wars, might restore the kingdom to the family of Saul their old master, whereof this was the top branch. And this was a time of general defection of many whom the king had greatly obliged, witness Ahithophel. And Mephibosheth’s absence made the calumny more probable.

Verse 4

Thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth; a rash sentence, and unrighteous, to condemn a man unheard, upon the single testimony of his accuser and servant. But David’s mind was both clouded by the deep sense of his calamity, and biassed by Ziba’s great and seasonable kindness, And he might think that Ziba would not dare to accuse his master of so great a crime, which, if false, might so easily be disproved.

I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight: thy favour is more to me than this gift; which, as a token of thy favour, I accept with all thankfulness.

Verse 5

Bahurim; a city in Benjamin, 2 Samuel 3:16; 2 Samuel 19:16; i.e. to the territory of it, for to the city he came not till 2 Samuel 16:14.

Verse 6

He cast stones; not so much to hurt them, as to show his contempt of them.

All the people were on his right hand and on his left; which is noted to show the prodigious madness of the man; though rage (which is truly said to be a short madness) and the height of malice hath oft transported men to the most hazardous and desperate speeches and actions.

Verse 7

Or rather, go out, as the word properly signifies. Be gone out of thy kingdom, as thou deservest.

Verse 8

All the blood of the house of Saul; either,

1. The blood of Abner and Ish-bosheth; which he maliciously imputes to David, as if they had been killed by David’s contrivance; especially the former, because David did only give Joab hard words, as in policy he was obliged to do; but instead of punishing him, did reward and prefer him. Or,

2. The death of Saul’s seven sons, 2 Samuel 21:8, which, though related after this, seems to have been done before; of which See Poole on "2 Samuel 15:7".

In thy mischief: the same mischief thou didst bring upon others, is now returned upon thy own head. Or, thy sin hath found thee out, and thou art now receiving the just punishment of it.

Verse 10

What have I to do with you? to wit, in this matter I ask not your advice, nor will I follow it; nor do I desire you should at all concern yourselves in it, but wholly leave it to me, to do what I think fit.

Because the Lord hath said unto him; not that God commanded it by his word, for that severely forbids it, Exodus 22:28; or moved him to it by his Spirit, for neither was that necessary nor possible, because God tempteth no man, James 1:13; but that the secret providence of God did order and overrule him in it. God did not put any wickedness into Shimei’s heart, for he had of himself a heart full of malignity and venom against David; but only left him to his own wickedness; took away that common prudence which would have kept him from so foolish and dangerous an action; directed his malice that it should be exercised against David, rather than another man, as when God gives up one traveller into the hands of a robber rather than another; inclined him to be at home, and then to come out of his doors at that time when David passed by him; and brought David into so distressed a condition, that he might seem a proper object of his scorn and contempt. And this is ground enough for this expression, the Lord said, not by the word of his precept, but by the word of his providence, in respect whereof he is said to command the ravens, 1 Kings 17:4, and to send forth his word and commandment to senseless creatures, Psalms 147:15,Psalms 147:18.

Who shall then say? not unto Shimei, for it was justly said so to him afterwards, 1 Kings 2:9, but unto the Lord; who shall reproach God’s providence for permitting this? Or, who shall by words or actions restrain him from executing God’s just judgment against me?

Verse 12

It may be; he speaks doubtfully, because he was conscious that by his sins he had forfeited all his claim to God’s promises.

The Lord will look on mine affliction with an eye of commiseration.

Verse 13

Not that he could reach him or hurt him with it; but only as an expression of contempt. And the like is to be thought concerning the stones, wherewith he could not think to reach David, when he was encamped with his men on every side.

Verse 14

Came to the city of Bahurim, 2 Samuel 16:5.

Verse 16

To wit, Absalom, whom he pretends to own for his king and liege lord.

Verse 17

Is this thy kindness to thy friend? doth this action answer that profession of greatest friendship which thou hast hitherto made to him? Dost thou thus requite his favour and true friendship to thee? He speaks thus only to try him. And he saith, thy friend, by way of refection on David; as one who was a friend to Hushai, and to strangers, but not to his own sown, whom, by his severity and design to give away his right to Solomon, he provoked to this course; and therefore he doth not vouchsafe to call him his father.

Verse 18

Though as a private person I owed and paid friendship to David whilst he was king; yet I must make all my obligations give place to the authority of God, who putteth down and setteth up kings at this pleasure; and to the common sense and decree of the whole body of the nation. But Hushai expresseth himself very cautiously; for though he would be thought to understand Absalom, yet in truth this character did not agree to him, whom neither God nor all the people had chosen, bout only a part, and that the worst part of them.

Verse 19

Thou art his son, and heir, and successor, and now in his place and stead; whereby my friendship which was due to him is devolved upon thee by right of inheritance; and I reckon that my friendship is not wholly alienated from him, when it is transferred upon one that came out of his bowels.

Verse 21

This counsel he gave, partly to revenge the injury done to Bath-sheba, who was the daughter of Eliam, 2 Samuel 11:3 who was

the son of Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 23:34; and principally for his own and the people’s safety, that the breach between David and Absalom might be made wide and irreparable by so vile an action which must needs provoke David in the highest degree, both for the sin and shame of it; as the like action had done Jacob, Genesis 49:3,Genesis 49:4; and cut off all hopes of reconciliation, which otherwise might have been expected by some treaty between Absalom and his tender-hearted father; in which case his followers, and especially Ahithophel himself, had been left to David’s mercy.

Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father; and therefore obliged by thy own interest to prosecute the war with all possible rigour, and to abandon all thoughts of peace; as knowing that his father, though he might dissemble, yet would never forgive so foul and scandalous a crime.

Then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong; they will fight with greater courage and resolution when they are freed from the fear of thy reconciliation, which otherwise would make their hearts faint and hands slack in thy cause. But by this we may see the character of Absalom’s party, and how abominably wicked they were, whom such a loathsome and scandalous action tied the faster to him, whom for that very reason they should have deserted and abhorred. And we may further learn how corrupt and filthy the body of the people was, and how ripe for that severe judgment which is now hastening to them.

Verse 22

Upon the top of the house, to wit, of the king’s palace, the very place from whence David had spied and gazed upon Bath-sheba, 2 Samuel 11:2. So that his sin was legible in the very place of his punishment.

Unto his father’s concubines, i.e. to one or some of them; and by so doing did further make claim to the kingdom as his own; and, as it were, take possession of it; it being usual in the eastern countries to account the wives and concubines of the late king to belong of right to the successor: See Poole on 2 Samuel 12:8.

In the sight of all Israel; who saw him go into the tent, and thence concluded that he lay with them, as he had designed to do.

Verse 23

Was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God; it was received by the people with equal authority and veneration, and was usually attended with as certain success; which is mentioned as the reason why a counsel which had so ill a face, should meet with such general approbation.

With David; to whose pious disposition he accommodated himself, as policy obliged him; but being weary of it, he takes this first occasion to discover himself, and execute that wickedness which before lay in his heart.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 16". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/2-samuel-16.html. 1685.
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