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The mourning of David for Absalom, is checked by Joab. David it invited back to his capital. This event is accomplished. A circumstance concerning Shimei, is related. These are the principal matters, of this chapter.
(1) ¶ And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom. (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. (3) And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. (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!
The unbecoming sorrow of David, concerning the death of Absalom, could not but have its effect upon the whole army. Some, no doubt, felt displeased; and others commiserated the king: but, as the HOLY GHOST is silent, as to what passed between David and the LORD, on this occasion, we can only hope that the affliction was rendered profitable.
(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; (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. (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.
Those ministers in divine things, are ever to be valued, which deal faithfully. What a beautiful lesson, may all such learn here, in the conduct of Joab. Surely David needed to be roused, and Joab took a method to do it effectually. When sinners grow cold, and unconcerned, the word of GOD must be delivered in its naked force, that, like the sword of the SPIRIT, it may wound the conscience, and its edge be felt.
(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.
Reader! how sweet the thought, that our JESUS, our King sits in the gate to let his people behold his beauty, and to bring all their concerns before him!
(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. (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? (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. (12) Ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh: wherefore then are ye the last to bring back the king?
I think it is very evident from this strife among the tribes of Israel, that the rebellion by Absalom was deeply laid, and very strong and formidable; for we see, even after such a victory as David's army had obtained, his way to Jerusalem needed opening by favour. But, Reader! is there not spiritual instruction for you and me in this place? Did David send to the elders of Judah through the priests, that an invitation might be made him to return: and doth it not bring to our recollection how GOD the FATHER everlastingly speaking to us, through him who is an everlasting Priest upon his throne, and Intercessor, that we may ask our GOD to come and make his abode with us? Doth not our JESUS, the Son of David, graciously condescend to call us his brethren, his flesh, and his bones; and doth he not say, Have I been a wilderness to my people, that they say, We will come no more to thee? Jeremiah 2:31 .
(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.
This advance of Amasa, a rebel in Absalom's army, over Joab, whose faithfulness in David's service, we meet with nothing to question, seems somewhat extraordinary. Perhaps David, by this time, had learnt that Joab with his own hands, had slain Absalom. Certain it is, faithfulness requires great address to procure favour. But in ministers it is particularly demanded by JESUS. To the angel, or minister of the church of Smyrna, the command is striking. See Revelation 2:8-10 .
(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. (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.
LORD JESUS, do thou bow the hearts of thy people, as the heart of one man; then shall we welcome thee, and thy servants, thy ministers to our churches, to our hearts, to our houses, when thou hast made us willing in the day of thy power! Psalms 110:3 .
(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. (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. (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; (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. (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.
The appearance of those men, Shimei and Ziba, no doubt, was highly gratifying to David. And, I do not know whether the Reader hath perceived it in David's history; but it hath more than once struck me, while attending to those records of it, that David possessed a great generosity of mind, as well as grace.
(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? (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? (23) Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.
Abishai's heat and resentment would have led David into an error; therefore he calls him an adversary in his advice. But what a delightful thought ariseth out of this interview between David and his former violent opposer, Shimei, considered as it leads our minds to the contemplation of the supposed interview between JESUS, the Son of David, and the self-convinced and self-condemned sinners, who once opposed his government. Yes! dearest JESUS, may everyone of this description say, when thus brought down before thee by the HOLY GHOST, thy servant doth know that I have sinned, therefore am I come to seek thy mercy. And oh! how inconceivably sweet and precious, to hear the King's voice; saying, Shall there any poor sinner perish, that comes this day to seek the peace of Israel? Reader! remember also, our JESUS hath not only said his people shall not perish, but GOD our FATHER hath confirmed it with an oath. The King sware unto him.
(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.
The sacred sacred historian hath certainly interested every Reader in favour Mephibosheth. It should seem that the love his father Jonathan had for David, was inherited by his son. The neglect of his person, in dress and cleanliness, were in those days tokens of mourning. Reader! it is no small proof of love to Zion, when the true sons of Zion mourn in her seasons of afflictions. The church speaks of this sweetly in one of the Psalms. See Psalms 139:5-6 .
(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? (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. (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. (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 anymore unto the king? (29) And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou anymore of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land. (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.
It should seem that David, by this time, had discovered the treachery of Ziba; for he here confirms his original grant to Mephibosheth. Whereas, in the moment when Ziba came out to meet David, with information against Mephibosheth, he took all away from the son of Jonathan, and gave to Ziba. See 2 Samuel 16:1-4 . But there appears to have been so much sweetness of temper, and gentleness of mind in David at this time, that he aimed to make everyone happy; Reader! affliction is a profitable school, when JESUS himself is the Teacher. Depend upon it, that it was not without reason the wise man said; it is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting. Ecclesiastes 7:2 .
(31) ¶ And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan. (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. (33) And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem.
We had an account of the generosity of this man before. 2 Samuel 17:27-28 . The LORD graciously spreads a table for his people in the wilderness, and will not suffer them to want. No doubt David eyed the LORD's hand in the mercy, and therefore, beside common gratitude, longed to show affection to Barzillai, as the LORD's instrument to his good. Reader! all blessings bring with them double sweetness, when man's kindness is beheld, and received, as the LORD's predisposing grace and goodness.
(34) And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem? (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 anymore the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king? (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? (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. (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.
May we not hope that this generous man, who was thus looking forward to the grave, was looking also, with the same eye of faith, as the patriarch did, to Him, who by his promised salvation had sweetened the grave, and taken out all its venom! But how modestly this great man declines the king's favors; as not only unsuited to his advanced years, but also, as himself being unworthy of them. Doth not this suggest to us, what we are told, the faithful servants of JESUS will say at the last day, when the LORD is summing up to the review their various acts, and labours of love: LORD , (they will say) when saw we thee hungry and fed thee, or thirsty and gave thee drink? Barzillai had truly done so to David, and yet now, when David talks of taking him with him to Jerusalem, he cries out, Why should the king recompense it with such a reward? So JESUS will not only recompense every tittle of the poor testimonies of his people's love, but will as much surprise them by the sense he expresses of those testimonies, as by the astonishing greatness of the reward. Inasmuch, (saith the LORD) as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me! Matthew 25:40 .
(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. (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. (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? (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? (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.
The restoration of David was not without jealousy, and displeasure. Some there ever will be, to put darkness for light, and bitter for sweet. The son of David hath his kingdom continually opposed. David's troubles are not over. That sentence is still hanging over his head: The sword shall never depart from thine house. So that we may close this chapter of David's happiness in his return after the rebellion, with reminding the Reader that new troubles may be soon looked for, and that his prayer is always seasonable; LORD , remember David, and all his afflictions. Psalms 132:1 .
READER! Was it not a gracious act in the LORD, to cause Joab's faithfulness to be successful in rousing David from the unbecoming grief he had fallen into, by the death of Absalom? And shall not you and I consider that graciousness of our dear LORD to us, when by his faithful ministering servants in the gospel of his dear Son, we are roused to a sense of those things which make for our everlasting peace, before they are forever hid from our eyes? Methinks I would have all ministers faithful, like Joab in this instance. A warmth and zeal for JESUS, ought to mark all GOD'S servants. Soft, easy, cold, and lifeless discourses, do not suit those who stand forth to show men their sins, and to inform them of their danger. That was a solemn charge of Paul to Timothy, and needful to be given to all that, like Timothy, labour in the word and doctrine: I charge thee therefore, (says Paul) before GOD , and the LORD JESUS CHRIST , who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and his kingdom, preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering, and doctrine.
The behaviour of aged Barzillai suggests a very profitable instruction to aged believers. Though he declined going over Jordan to the court of David, yet he had his views directed to go over the Jordan of death, to the court of David's LORD. And so, my aged friend, should be your views. Oh! Sirs! if JESUS be indeed lovely, truly lovely, and desirable in your esteem, will you not desire to be with him? Can the voice of singing men, or singing women, now any longer delight? Can the mere taste of earthly things he important in your regard? What! have you lived thirty, forty, nay, perhaps, threescore years in a sinful, miserable world, and yet not weaned from it. And will you say your affairs, your children, your families tie you to life. Barzillai had his Chimham. But this son, and perhaps it might be his only one, he gave up to the king. And if you have truly given up your own soul to JESUS, surely you can trust your children's with him also. See then, my aged Brother! that JESUS is truly precious; for if so, death will have no terrors. Your dying day, will be your Jubilee day; and like Paul, you will long to be dissolved, and to be with CHRIST , which is far better; knowing that, when absent from the body, you will be present with the LORD ; and you will labour, as he did, that whether present, or absent, you may be accepted of him.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany