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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 16

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 1

2 Samuel 16:1. And an hundred of summer-fruits These summer-fruits the LXX suppose were dates; but the more common opinion is, that they were figs; which, it seems, was that also of the Chaldee paraphrast. Grotius, however, supposes, that the original word קיצ kaiits, signifies the fruit of trees in general. The author of the Observations seems to shew, that they could not have been any of these. "But when I find," says he, "that water-melons grow spontaneously in these hot countries, are made use of by the Arabs of the Holy Land in summer, instead of water, to quench their thirst, and are purchased as of the greatest use to travellers in thirsty desarts; and that cucumbers are very much used still in that country, to mitigate the heat: I am strongly inclined to believe, that these summer-fruits were not the produce of trees, but of this class of herbs, which creep along the ground, and produce fruits of a cooling moisture, and very large in proportion to the size of the plant." Cucumbers were eaten in Galilee the latter end of May by Dr. Pococke, he having stopped at an Arab tent, where, he tells us, they prepared him eggs and sour milk, cutting into it raw cucumbers, as a cooling diet in that season, which he found very hot. Cucumbers continue at Aleppo till the end of July, and are brought again to market in September and October, and are contemporaries with grapes and olives, as well as with beans and lentiles. See Jeremiah 10:12. Dr. Russell also tells us, that the squash comes in towards the end of September, and continues all the year; but that the orange-shaped pumpion is more common in the summer months. Of one or other of these kinds of fruit, I should think the sacred writer designed to be here understood to speak: they are all, more or less, of considerable size, and fit for persons who have to travel through a dry wilderness in the latter part of the spring, when the weather grows hot, as Bishop Pococke found it. If this be allowed, it will appear that they were called summer-fruits from their being eaten to allay the summer-heats, and not from their being dried in the summer, as Vatablus imagines; see Observations, p. 205.

Verse 2

2 Samuel 16:2. The asses be for the king's household to ride on The asses are for the king's household, for carriage; for the carrying their baggage. Houbigant.

Verse 4

2 Samuel 16:4. Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth David, too rashly credulous, although of an unsuspected servant against the son of a tried friend, and too hastily resenting his imagined ingratitude, immediately concluded Mephibosheth a traitor, who had forfeited his whole fortune; and accordingly bestowed the forfeiture upon his informer; verifying that fine observation of Seneca, that "kings give many things with covered eyes, especially in time of war." Delaney. Note; (1.) Many, like Ziba, affect to be very generous of what is not their own. (2.) A servant's lying tongue is the frequent cause of sad discord in families. (3.) The presents of a knave are to be regarded as snares. (4.) An ill-intended design God can over-rule, to answer a good purpose. (5.) Rash judgment opens a door for after-shame and repentance. (6.) To turn a deaf ear to slander is always wise, and to hear at least both parties before we condemn.

Verses 5-22

2 Samuel 16:5-12. When king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out—Shimei—and cursed. This vile and calumnious treatment of Shimei was one of the severest trials of patience that ever human magnanimity endured. The accusation, 2Sa 16:8 was notoriously false, and the king for that reason could 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, 2Sa 16:9 which David absolutely refused; adding a rebuke to his refusal, 2 Samuel 16:10. What have I to do with you, &c.?—So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Here we have, in few words, a clear comment upon all the curses throughout David's Psalms. They are prophetic denunciations of divine vengeance. The king then, turning to Abishai and the rest of his servants who were about them, asks, 2 Samuel 16:11. How it could be surprising to see a Benjamite reviling, when they beheld his own son in rebellion against him, and seeking his life? He adds, 2 Samuel 16:12. It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, &c. 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. David's penitence 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 endured it all: when he was reviled, he reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed his cause to HIM who judgeth righteously. 1 Peter 2:23. How far he was in this instance an emblem of HIS suffering SON, is not, I presume, hard to discern, or adventurous to assert.

Verse 13

2 Samuel 16:13. And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei—cast dust When the Consul whom Dr. Pococke attended entered Cairo, the Doctor tells us, "according to an ancient custom of state, a man went before, and sprinkled water on the ground to lay the dust." Every one knows the convenience of this practice in dry and hot countries; but I do not remember to have met with the mention of it anywhere else, as an eastern way of doing honour; yet if it was not barely a thing thought at that time convenient, but an ancient custom of state, the same causes might occasion it to be used in other countries; and if it had been used in Judea before the time of David, in the days of the judges and of Saul, it will explain Shimei's behaviour, and give it the greatest energy; who, in opposition to it, threw stones at the king, and dusted him with dust in the day of his affliction. He had been wont to be honoured by having people go before him to take care that the ground should be moistened, and no dust raised where he was to pass: Shimei did the reverse. This honour is not confined, however, to royalty: an English Consul was thus treated. Private persons were also thus dishonoured; the Jews clamoured against St. Paul in the temple, and threw dust. Acts 22:23. Observations, p. 287.

Verse 14

2 Samuel 16:14. Came weary, and refreshed themselves there Josephus tells us, that David suffered his people to take no refreshment till they reached the banks of the Jordan; and the 16th, 21st, and 22nd verses of the next chapter seem to confirm this reading. Houbigant, instead of came weary, renders it, came to Ephim, which he supposes to be the proper name of a place. Note; (1.) Though impotent malice rage, and shew its will to hurt us, it is a mercy that power is wanting. (2.) God's corrections are often misconstrued into judgments; and when their enemy suffers, wicked men would fain bring in God as patronizing their cause. (3.) If we do ill, we may expect to hear of it, well aggravated in the report of an enemy. (4.) Innocence is no protection from a lying tongue. (5.) The curses of the wicked return upon their own heads. But (6.) we must not avenge ourselves, nor return evil for evil, even under the bitterest provocations. (7.) Though the charge laid against us be false, we may know enough to condemn ourselves for, which should make us patient under it. (8.) To see God's hand in every trial, is the way to be reconciled to bear it. (9.) Patience under reproaches, will not fail of its recompence; God will make our righteousness as the light.

Verse 15

2 Samuel 16:15. The men of Israel The Syriac version omits these words; and Dr. Kennicott informs us, that they are not found in any of the manuscripts at Cambridge. See his State of the printed Hebrew Text, p. 464.

Verse 18

2 Samuel 16:18. Nay, but whom the Lord, &c.— The attentive reader will discern the salutation and whole apology of Hushai to be as evasive, and 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.

Verse 21

2 Samuel 16:21. Ahithophel said—Go in unto thy father's concubines Ahithophel advised this action, because it would prove his enmity to his father to be irreconcileable, and consequently attach firmly to his interest all those who were disaffected to David, when they once saw that they were out of all danger of being sacrificed to any possible reconciliation between the father and son: an advice for the present, and in appearance, wise, but in reality pernicious. Could not this long-headed, sagacious statesman forsee, 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, Lev 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. 1 Chronicles 5:1. However, this hellish advice was immediately adopted; for Ahithophel's advice was then deemed as unerring as if the oracle of God had dictated it: 2 Samuel 16:23. Thus was David's adultery (planned, and, it may be, perpetrated in the same place) judicially chastized, and God's vengeance denounced upon him by his prophet signally executed. See ch. 2 Samuel 12:11.

Reflections respecting David's conduct under the curse of Shemi.

They who have with very signal patience behaved themselves well under a great persecution, and undergone adversity with proper courage, have not found so great difficulty in any part of it, as when they have met with the contempt of proud standers-by; when they, who have no hand in bringing their afflictions upon them, have, out of the haughtiness of their natures, derided them for being in affliction, and insulted their misfortunes, only because they were unfortunate. We have never more need of the immediate influence of God's Spirit, than in such assaults; when those who oppress us add contempt and scorn to their injustice, and when the spectators of our miseries take occasion from thence to deride and despise our persons: nor can any thing preserve us in those cases from some unwarrantable conduct, but the casting up our eyes to the hand whence the strokes come, and concluding, that as the weight of the affliction comes from God upon us, so every circumstance that accompanies it, whether in the proud and disdainful smiles of men, or in the louder reproaches of those who are delighted in what we suffer, is sent likewise by him to increase our mortification, and to try whether we can master those lesser unwary passions, as well as conform ourselves in the more weighty and deliberate temptations. Because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David; who then shall say, Wherefore hast thou done so? was the recollection of that devout prince, and strong enough to restrain the son of Zeruiah from taking vengeance upon Shimei, in the moment of his insolently cursing the king. If in the scoffs and derision of our enemies, who make themselves sport at our calamities, we did but consider, that every insolence of theirs, every unsavoury jest that they break upon us to render us more contemptible to those who behold us, are so many emissaries permitted of God to be sent to visit us, and to manifest how we behave ourselves in those provocations; we should be better prepared for their reception, and drive away all their pride and insolence with a contempt which would both disappoint and incense them, turn the edge and rancour of their own weapons upon themselves, and make them penetrate their own souls because they could not pierce ours. It is for want only of this recollection, of this diligent attention and submission to the hand of Divine Providence, that our passions too often prevail over us; and, when the power and menaces of our superiors have not been able to terrify us from doing our duty, the scurrilous jests and impudent revilings of our equals or inferiors have made us to be less in love with our innocence, and even to sacrifice that to indecent murmur, or to avowed anger and revenge.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 16". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-samuel-16.html. 1801-1803.
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