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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 16

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2981. B.C. 1023.

David is deceived by Ziba, 2 Samuel 16:1-4 ; and cursed by Shimei, 2 Samuel 16:5-14 . Absalom receives Hushai, 2 Samuel 16:15-19 ; lies with his father’s concubines, 2 Samuel 16:20-23 .

Verse 1

2 Samuel 16:1. Behold Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, met him This crafty man, 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 own future advancement, by making David a handsome present of provisions, which was the more welcome, because it came seasonably. A hundred of summer fruits These, the Seventy suppose, were dates, but the more common opinion is that they were figs, as the Chaldee paraphrast supposes them to have been; from whence Dr. Delaney infers that this flight of David was about the beginning of summer, when the early figs were wont to be gathered, and when a present of them must have been very seasonable and refreshing. A bottle of wine Containing, no doubt, a quantity that was proportionable to the rest of the present. Their bottles, being made of skins, or leather, were some of them very large.

Verse 2

2 Samuel 16:2. The asses be for the king’s household to ride on Or, rather, some of his household, for they could not all ride on two asses, unless by turns, relieving each other, which perhaps Ziba intended; for he seems to have been very considerate in adapting his present to the wants of David and those that were with him. It appears, the king, and his wives and children, were all on foot: not because he had not, or could not procure, asses for them at Jerusalem; but because he chose they should go in this manner, as best becoming that state of penitence and humiliation in which they were.

Verses 3-4

2 Samuel 16:3-4. He said, To-day shall the house of Israel restore me, &c. This was a fiction, but not badly contrived; for the family of David being so divided, and one part enraged against another, it was possible they might destroy one another by mutual wounds; and the people, being tired out by civil wars, might think of restoring the kingdom to the family of Saul their former sovereign, of which family Mephibosheth was the principal branch. Then said the king, Behold, thine are all that pertained to 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 his trouble, and biased by Ziba’s great and seasonable kindness. And he thought, probably, Ziba would not dare accuse his master, except on good grounds, of so great a crime as that of being a traitor, which, if false, might be so easily disproved. Ziba said, that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king Thus he hypocritically pretends to value the king’s favour more than the gift he had bestowed upon him.

Verses 5-6

2 Samuel 16:5-6. When David came to Bahurim The next village in his way to the wilderness; that is, when he came to the territory of it, for he did not reach the place itself till afterward, as is mentioned 2 Samuel 16:14. Thence came out a man, and cursed still as he came Out of an inveterate hatred to David; whom he looked upon as the great enemy of the family of Saul, to which he belonged. And he cast stones, &c. To show his contempt of David and his servants. All his mighty men were on his right hand and on his left This is observed to show the prodigious madness of the man. He could not hurt David, who was so strongly guarded; but he might have been immediately killed himself.

Verses 7-9

2 Samuel 16:7-9. Come out Or rather, go out, as the Hebrew properly means: begone out of thy kingdom, from which thou deservest to be expelled. Thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial Probably he says this with a reference to David’s adultery with Bath-sheha, and the killing of Uriah. All the blood of the house of Saul Either, 1st, The blood of Abner and Ish- bosheth; which he imputes to David, as if they had been killed by David’s contrivance: or, 2d, The death of Saul’s seven sons, 2 Samuel 21:8, which, though related after this, seems to have taken place before. Thou art taken The same mischief thou didst bring upon others is now returned upon thy own head. “This surely,” says Delaney, “was one of the severest trials of patience that ever human magnanimity endured. The accusation was notoriously false, and the king could, for that reason, bear it the better; but his servants saw it not in the light of their master’s equanimity, but of his enemy’s insolence. Abishai, David’s nephew, could not bear it; but begged the king’s permission to take off the traitor’s head that uttered it,” saying, Why should this dead dog (an expression of the utmost contempt) curse my lord the king?

Verse 10

2 Samuel 16:10 . What have I to do with you? &c. In this matter I ask not your advice, nor will I follow it. Your violent counsels are no way pleasing or fit for me at present. The Lord hath said unto him, Curse David God, by bringing me into this distressed condition, hath caused me to appear a proper object of his scorn, hath left him to his own wickedness, and now gives him an opportunity, in the course of his providence, of pouring forth the malignity of his heart, without restraint, or fear of being punished for so doing. We cannot suppose David meant that God, strictly speaking, had either bid Shimei curse him, or had excited him so to do: but merely that, his heart being full of malice and rage, God had now put it into his power to give full vent to these diabolical passions as a punishment to David. Unto this the good king humbly submits, looking upon it as coming from the hand of God, who had delivered him up to this contempt. And in this David’s patience and meekness were admirable, for it is not an easy thing to stifle all emotions of revenge when there is a high provocation to it, and no difficulty in taking it. David did not scorn these curses as proceeding from the mouth of a base wretch, not worthy to be regarded, but acknowledged that his sins had merited this chastisement, and that God was just in suffering him to be afflicted with it. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? Who shall reproach God’s providence for permitting this? Or, who shall restrain him from executing his just judgment against me?

Verse 11

2 Samuel 16:11. Behold, my son seeketh my life Which is a much greater mischief than to reproach me with words. How much more may this Benjamite do it? One of that tribe and family from which God hath taken away the kingdom, and given it to me. Let him curse Do not now hinder him by violence from doing it, nor punish him for it. It is meet I should bear the indignation of the Lord, and submit to his pleasure. For the Lord hath bidden him Not by the word of his precept, or by any powerful influence upon his mind impelling him to it; but by the word of his providence, placing me in such circumstances that he conceives he can curse me with impunity, and by suffering the malignity of his heart to take its natural course, and work without restraint.

Verse 12

2 Samuel 16:12. It may be the Lord will look on mine affliction, &c. He means that, although this was a chastisement from God upon him, yet if he bore it as became him, it might become a means of mercy to him. His humble submission and resignation might call down the divine commiseration upon his patience and penitence.

Verse 13

2 Samuel 16:13 . Shimei went along on the hill’s side David’s patience but more inflamed Shimei’s insolence. And as David and his servants marched along, Shimei kept pace with them upon the side of an adjacent hill; and still continued cursing, reviling, and throwing dust and stones unchastised. David, however, endured it all, and when he was reviled, he reviled not again; but committed his cause to Him that judgeth righteously. How far he was, in this instance, an emblem of his suffering Son, is not hard to discern, or adventurous to assert. Delaney.

Verse 15

2 Samuel 16:15. Absalom and all the people came to Jerusalem Probably a considerable time before David reached the banks of Jordan, to which he was marching. When David quitted Jerusalem, it was upon a persuasion that Absalom would make all the haste he could to possess himself of the capital, and, if possible, to surprise his father in it. And as he judged, so, it appears, it came to pass.

Verse 16

2 Samuel 16:16. Hushai said unto Absalom, &c. Hushai, it appears, mindful of his instructions, lost no time to pay his court, and profess his allegiance to Absalom; but, immediately coming to him, addressed him in the customary form of salutation to kings, or rather, with a seemingly peculiar zeal, he re-doubled the salutation; God save the king Namely, Absalom, whom he pretends to own for his king and rightful lord, as if he were abundantly satisfied in his title, and well pleased with his accession to the throne. “What arts of dissimulation are they tempted to use,” says Henry, “who govern themselves by fleshly wisdom! and how happy are they who have not known those depths of Satan, but have their conversation in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity!”

Verse 17

2 Samuel 16:17. Is this thy kindness to thy friend? Doth this action answer that profession of friendship which thou hast hitherto made to him? He speaks thus only to try him. He does not say, To my father, for that question would have reflected a heavier reproach upon himself, who had forsaken not only a friend, but his own father, and even forced him away. Or, perhaps, by saying, Thy friend, he meant to insinuate, that David was a friend to Hushai, and to strangers, but not to his own son, whom by severity he had provoked to take this course; and therefore he doth not vouchsafe to call him his father.

Verse 18

2 Samuel 16:18. Hushai said, Nay, but whom the Lord, &c. Hushai gave him to understand, that his allegiance was governed by other principles than those of private friendship; that the appointment of God and the election of his people determined him in the object of his duty: and what should hinder him from serving the son with as much fidelity as he had served the father? The attentive reader will observe that this salutation and whole apology are evidently as evasive, and as well calculated to delude, as art could contrive them; for he neither prays personally for Absalom, nor professes allegiance to him; yet the bait took, and Absalom’s self-sufficiency, gross as the delusion was, swallowed it whole. Delaney.

Verse 21

2 Samuel 16:21. Go in unto thy father’s concubines This counsel he gave, partly to revenge the injury done to Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, chap. 2 Samuel 11:3; 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 irreparable. For this, he foresaw, would provoke David in the highest degree, and cut off all hope of reconciliation, which otherwise might have been expected to take place, by some treaty between Absalom and his tender-hearted father. But in that case his followers, and especially Ahithophel, would have been left to David’s mercy. That thou art abhorred of thy father And, therefore, art obliged to prosecute the war with all vigour, and to abandon all thoughts of peace; as knowing that thy father, though he may dissemble, yet will never forgive such an act. 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 being ever reconciled to thy father, and see they are out of all danger of being sacrificed to any future treaty of peace or agreement between you. “An advice,” says Delaney, “for the present, and in appearance, wise; but in reality pernicious. Could not this long-headed, sagacious statesman foresee, that this action, for which some men would now become more attached to Absalom , must one day make him detestable in their eyes, when they reflected upon the horror of it? a guilt made mortal by the law of God, Leviticus 20:11, and not named even among the Gentiles; a guilt for which they must one day judge him more worthy to lose his crown than Reuben his birth-right. However, this hellish advice was immediately embraced.”

Verse 22

2 Samuel 16:22. So they spread a tent upon the top of the house Of the king’s palace, the very place from whence David had gazed upon Bath-sheba: so that his sin was legible in the very place of his punishment. And Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines To one or some of them. In the sight of all Israel Who saw him go into the tent, and thence concluded that he had converse with them as he had designed. “An action of such profligate impiety, and abandoned impudence, as it were to be wished no sun had seen, or history related.” By this we may see the character of Absalom and his party, and how abominably wicked they must have been, whom such a scandalous action tied the faster to him. And we may further learn how corrupt the body of the people were, and how ripe for that judgment, which was now hastening toward them. Now was David’s adultery (which had been planned, and, it may be, perpetrated in the same place) judicially chastised, and God’s vengeance denounced upon it by his prophet signally executed, and his wives prostituted in the sight of the sun, 2 Samuel 12:11. The Lord is righteous, and no word of his shall fall to the ground!

Verse 23

2 Samuel 16:23. The counsel of Ahithophel, &c. It was deemed as unerring, and was commonly followed with as little doubt of its success, as though the oracle of God had dictated it. This is mentioned as the reason why counsel, which carried so ill a face, should meet with such general approbation.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 16". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/2-samuel-16.html. 1857.
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