The history of Absalom's rebellion, and David's distress, is continued through this chapter. Ziba, by a false report against Mephibosheth to David, obtains his master's inheritance. Shimei cometh forth and curseth David. Ahithophel counselleth Absalom.
2 Samuel 16:1
(1) ¶ And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.
There is much of God's providence in this visit of Ziba. This base servant meant no good to David, it is probable, more than he did to Mephibosheth. But the Lord overruled it for good, David's few friends would need the common necessaries of life; and in this manner the Lord was pleased to have him and them supplied. Reader! if you wish to have a real enjoyment of even the most common blessings of life, the secret of so doing, is to trace the hand of the Lord in them. Every mercy is doubly sweet, when we can discern the Lord's appointment in it. Paul's thought on this point is delightful; Philippians 4:19.
(2) And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king's household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink. (3) And the king said, And where is thy master's son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, Today shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father. (4) Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.
It appears from every part of the history, that Mephibosheth was a man of no ambition. What a cruel, unfaithful wretch was this man, to slander poor Mephibosheth, on this occasion, to David.
(5) ¶ And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. (6) And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. (7) And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: (8) The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.
It is a very common thing in the trials of GOD's people, that when the LORD scourgeth, the agents of the enemy assault and harass the mind also. And, no doubt, these things are permitted of the LORD for whatever be our trial, let the instrument be what it may, it can go no further than the LORD permit. Reader! it is always profitable to discover the LORD in all.
(9) Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. (10) And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? (11) And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. (12) It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.
I have often admired the conduct of David upon this occasion, and have been secretly led to observe how graciously the LORD enabled him so to act. But I have been led yet more, both to admire and adore the LORD's mercy in the midst of his afflictions, in the plentiful supply of grace imparted to him. Well might David say that his song should be of mercy and judgment, and that he would direct this song unto GOD for here, as well as in many other periods of his wonderful life, he found occasion to sing of both, as strikingly blended. GOD was evidently visiting him in judgment. But in the midst of judgment he gave him large proofs of mercy. I beg the Reader to take with him, in the perusal of David's conduct respecting Shimei, those several sweet instructions it brings. Let Shimei curse, saith David, for the LORD hath bidden him. Not that David meant that Shimei did right in what he did, as it respected himself; for Shimei's sin was the same, though the LORD overruled it for good; but he meant, that GOD was now afflicting David, and therefore made use of this rod, bad as it was, to accomplish his holy purpose. Reader! it is precious to justify GOD in all our afflictions. The LORD cannot do iniquity, that is certain. David saw the LORD's hand in it, and that was enough; he had not one word to say by way of complaint. Let him curse, the LORD hath bidden him. But this is not all: As the LORD's hand is in this affliction, David was led to hope therefrom an happy issue. It may be, said David, that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. No doubt David felt all that nature ought to feel in the reproaches of Shimei; but, beholding at the same time that the LORD had commissioned him, trust in GOD'S covenant promises made him conclude that the end would be peace. Reader! see whether your afflictions have this sanctified issue. Do you see the LORD'S hand in them? Do they lead you to GOD? Do they prompt you to approve of GOD? Job's prayer to this effect is a sweet prayer; That which I see not, teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. Job 34:32.
(13) And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust. (14) And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there.
No doubt the spirits of both the king and people were much bowed down, and needed refreshment. How sweet is it, under the persecutions of Satan and the world, when at any time JESUS refreshes the soul with the whispers of his grace!
(15) ¶ And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.
The rebellion was become very formidable by this time, when Absalom had taken the capital. No doubt, David's hopes began to give way, and fear took possession of his heart. Reader! it is profitable, very profitable in spiritual things, to be brought down to the lowest state, that the recovery may carry with it the clearer evidence, that the delivery is wholly of the LORD. We have the sentence of death in ourselves, that our eyes may be altogether to JESUS. 2 Corinthians 1:9-10.
(16) And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king. (17) And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend? (18) And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide. (19) And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father's presence, so will I be in thy presence.
When the LORD is about to accomplish the sacred purposes of his will, how wonderful are the means by which he works? Instruments the most unconscious, the most improbable, the most unlikely, shall do it. The dissimulation of Hushai, the lying prophet in Israel, shall succeed. Read those scriptures, 1 Kings 22:20-23; Psalms 76:10.
(20) Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do. (21) And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong. (22) So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. (23) And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.
How strikingly fulfilled were the denunciations of GOD by the prophet upon David in this instance! How improbable when they were delivered, and yet how fully brought to pass. See 2 Samuel 12:11-12. But what an awful state must all Israel have been in at this time! when the counsel of such a wicked man as Ahithophel, as by this advice he proved himself to be, was considered as the oracle of GOD! LORD! keep thy church, keep thy people from the counsel of the ungodly, and give both according to that sweet promise, Pastors after thine own heart, which shall feed them with understanding and knowledge: Jeremiah 3:15. Remark, Reader, what a connection between David's sin and David's punishment. From the housetop David first conceived lust for Bathsheba: on the housetop David's concubines shall be dishonored.
MY soul! learn from this view of David's sweet frame of mind under very heavy afflictions, the preciousness of faith, and the blessed effects of it. No doubt, in David's estimate of life, those seasons were most highly valued by him, when upon a review of them, after the trying hours were over, he could look back and see how graciously the LORD had led him through them, supported him under them, and brought him out of them. And, Reader, do you mark it down in your experience, for I desire never to lose sight of it in mine, that, painful as afflictions are, a true believer in JESUS is ultimately a gainer by every conflict and trial he is called upon to go through. That promise must be sure, All things, how discouraging soever they may now seem, work together for good to them that love GOD, to them who are the called according to his purpose. And, if our faith be enabled to give due credit to GOD, depend upon it, GOD will give due reward to faith. And to live upon GOD'S perfections, his promises, his covenant engagements in JESUS, when all the avenues, as they appear to us, are shut up, by which those engagements can be fulfilled; this is precious faith indeed! Dearest JESUS! grant me grace so to live! May my confidence in thee, my interest in thee, my recourses from thee, and my life upon thee, be always such, that whether, like David, the streams of outward comforts run low, as in this flight of his from his city; or whether the communications of thy grace remit their accustomed flowing; yet, knowing that thou art the same, and the sovereign efficacy of thy salvation admitting no abatement, my assurance in thee may be the same also. And let my song be like the prophet's, that though the fig-tree shall not blossom: neither fruit be in the vine; the labour of the olive fail, and the fields yield no meat; the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stall; yet will I rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the GOD of my salvation.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany