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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 19

Verse 10

2 Samuel 19:10. Why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back? David, now victorious over a rebel army, had it in his power to take ample revenge of all those whose treachery and infidelity well deserved to be severely chastised; and it is evident, that if he had had any thing revengeful and sanguinary in his nature, he could now want no pretext either of justice or of policy to indulge it to the full: but he was governed by very different principles, and saw the whole affair of his son's rebellion and his own conquest in another light. He knew the first to be the effect of his guilt, and the last the fruit of his penitence and humiliation before God; and therefore made no other change in his conduct, than from prayer and penitence, to gratitude and thanksgiving, and a patient humble expectation of His providential disposal of the event. Nor did he fail of his reward; for now it seemed good to the Great Governor of the world, who at his pleasure stilleth the raging of the sea, and the madness of the people, to turn the hearts of David's subjects, as it were, in one instant in his favour; insomuch that they now returned to their duty with as much and as eager zeal, as they had but a few days before rushed into rebellion against him.

Verses 11-12

2 Samuel 19:11-10.19.12. Speak unto the elders of Judah, &c.— The authors of the Universal History charge this message with partiality, and with being, on that account, the cause of jealousy and revolt among the other ten tribes: but I see nothing in the history to justify this reflection. Instead of "inviting the elders of Judah to come foremost to relieve him," as these writers suppose, he only gently reproved them for being the last; urging his being of their own tribe as a reason why they should return to their loyalty, and immediately come to receive him: in all which there appears no sign of partiality.

Verses 13-15

2 Samuel 19:13-10.19.15. Say ye to Amasa, &c.— David did not suffer himself to be conducted home by a deputation from the tribe of Judah; for it appears from 2Sa 19:17; 2Sa 19:40 that there were a thousand men of the tribe of Benjamin under Shimei, and also half the people of Israel. All the tribes in general, except that of Judah, were in motion to bring the king back to his capital: but as this tribe had not yet declared in his favour, as they were in possession of Jerusalem, and as Amasa himself was there present, and had a great interest in the affections of the people, it became absolutely necessary to David's restoration, to gain over that city, and secure the friendship of Amasa.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Deep was the gloom which obscured this day of victory.

1. The king's unutterable distress was noised in the camp, and damped the joy of the returning conquerors; with his face covered, he refuses to see his generals; and, with the most passionate exclamations bewailing his son, seems insensible to every other emotion than inconsolable grief. Discouraged by such a reception, the soldiers, instead of a triumphant entry, steal into the city as if from a defeat, and seem ready to desert a cause where they met so ill a reception for having hazarded their lives.
2. Joab, vexed at the king's indiscreet behaviour, with an unbecoming disrespect goes in to expostulate with him on the error and danger of his conduct; he remonstrates how ungrateful it was to shew such neglect of those who, at the hazard of their own, had saved his life and the lives of all his family, whom Absalom would have murdered; that it appeared as if he had so loved the traitor, as to hate his best friends for his sake, and could have been pleased if they had all perished so Absalom had lived. He therefore urges him to appear in public instantly, and speak comfortably to the people, thanking them for their fidelity, and congratulating their victory; with a solemn oath declaring, that if he did not, every soldier would desert him, himself give him up, and a worse rebellion arise than had just been suppressed. Note; If by our own folly we bring ourselves into danger, we shall justly be upbraided with it.

3. David is convinced of the necessity of submitting to the advice, and, restraining his anguish, washes, anoints, and sits in public, to the great joy of his army, who approach his throne, and congratulate him on the success of his arms. Note; Good counsel, though bluntly given, should be thankfully received.

2nd, David, with a victorious army at his beck, had no more to do than to march and seize the capital, and execute condign punishment on all who had appeared in arms against him; but as he chose to rule by love, not force, he waited to return amidst the congratulations of his subjects, rather than amidst the shouts of his warriors.
1. The tribes of Israel, before in rebellion, now cast the blame of their ill conduct one upon another, and mutually upbraid each other that they are not more eager in returning to their allegiance, and in bringing back their king. His former high deserts are now remembered, and their folly in trusting to Absalom evidenced by the event; therefore, though there were perhaps some rebellious spirits averse to it, his restoration is resolved, and notice given him of their resolution. Note; (1.) When we have done ill, we cannot too soon seek to amend it. (2.) We naturally desire to exculpate ourselves, by casting the blame on our neighbour.

2. The people of Judah, who might be expected the first, are the last in their application, fearing perhaps, as deepest involved in guilt, that they should suffer for it. But David, to silence their fears, and engage them in his cause, sends to Zadok and Abiathar a very kind message, for them to report to the elders, that he looked upon himself as their brother, hoped for a like affection from them, and thought that it was highly unbecoming them to be the last; and to Amasa he sends a particularly gracious message, with the promise not only of pardon but the best preferment, even to be his captain in Joab's room, whose haughtiness was no longer to be borne. Such a kind message, or Amasa's influence, who exerted himself on this occasion, gain him the unanimous suffrage; and messengers are instantly dispatched, with an invitation to him to return, whilst in a body the elders and people come to Gilgal to welcome him. Note; (1.) The ministers of Christ should be preachers of loyalty. (2.) When we are backward to a good work, we need being stirred up. (3.) Christ chooses to reign over a willing people, and, when he bows our hearts, expects we should invite him to come and make his abode with us. (4.) No argument so effectual to gain the sinner's heart, as the love of his Lord. He is become our bone and our flesh.

Verse 20

2 Samuel 19:20. First—of all the house of Joseph By the house of Joseph we may very well understand, all the tribes, in opposition to that of Judah, the rights of primogeniture having been divided betwixt Judah and Joseph, 1 Chronicles 5:1. Indeed, when the separation of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel took place, Benjamin made a part of the former; but before that time, this tribe was rather ranked under that of Joseph, together with those of Ephraim and Manasseh, Psa 80:2 because it belonged to the same standard. Numbers 2:18-4.2.22. The LXX translate, I am come before any of the house of Joseph; i.e. before any other.

Verse 23

2 Samuel 19:23. The king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die Shimei was of the house and family of Saul, and a person of great power and influence in the tribe of Benjamin, of whom he had a thousand in his train, when he made his submission to David upon his restoration. The manner in which he accosted David, chap. 2Sa 16:13 when flying from Jerusalem, discovered the inward rancour of his heart, and his readiness to join in any measures to distress and disturb his government, and cause the crown to revert to the house of Saul. Though Abishai advised the king to put him to death, yet David, as illustrious for forgiveness, as for his piety in the Psalms, having refused before to put him to death, when he was actually cursing and stoning him, preserved the same dignity of mind, and, on his making his submission, ratified his pardon with an oath. Note; (1.) Clemency is one of the noblest qualities of a prince. (2.) When rebel sinners appear at the feet of Divine Mercy, though Satan stand to accuse them, there shall be no condemnation.

Verse 29

2 Samuel 19:29. I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land He first gave the whole in property to Mephibotheth, and afterwards to Ziba: and yet, I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land, must refer to some former determination of David with respect to the estate. But no such determination is to be found, except that original one, ch. 2Sa 9:10 in which the estate was divided between Mephibosheth and Ziba, the whole to Mephibotheth in property; and to Ziba, for taking care of it, sufficient to maintain himself and family out of the profits it produced: so that this was in reality confirming the original grant, and restoring Mephibosheth to the possession of the whole, upon the same terms on which the possession was at first granted him. It was certainly a revocation of the grant to Ziba, who therefore could claim no part of the estate by that grant, nor by any other; for there was no other than that by which he was allowed a proper maintenance out of it: so that, if David was too hasty in giving Mephibosheth's estate to Ziba, he did, upon being undeceived, immediately restore it to Mephibosheth, and thereby discovered his great regard to truth and equity, and the firmness of his affection and friendship to Jonathan and his family: and though he confirmed the original grant, thereby leaving to Ziba and his family a maintenance out of the estate, it was out of respect even to Saul, of whose house Ziba was, and as a recompense for that seasonable supply which he brought him when he was forced, by the unnatural rebellion of Absalom his son, to abandon the capital. Houbigant interprets the passage in the same manner. Dr. Delaney is of opinion, that the 37th Psalm was written by David for Mephibosheth's consolation under Ziba's calumny.

REFLECTIONS.—David now enters Jerusalem in triumph, and there Mephibosheth comes to congratulate him, who, during the king's exile, had spent his time in mourning, neglecting his person, and neither trimming nor dressing himself for so long a time. David, who, from Ziba's misrepresentation, suspected Mephibosheth not only of great ingratitude, but of base designs, is surprised, in answer to his inquiry why he had not followed him, to find how blameless he was, and how vilely he had been imposed upon; yet Mephibosheth is so sensible of David's goodness in his past favours towards him, and so rejoiced in his present return, that he presumes not to controvert the royal grant to Ziba, but refers the matter wholly to the king's wisdom. David hereupon settles the estate on the former footing; not punishing Ziba as he deserved, because that was a day of mercy, or in return for the real service done him, though with so wicked a purpose; and thus Mephibosheth is again reinstated in his inheritance. Note; (1.) In times of public distress, we are called to weeping and mourning. (2.) Wicked servants do their masters unutterable injuries. (3.) A good man sits loose to his own interest, compared with the interests of God's church and people.

Verse 37

2 Samuel 19:37. Behold thy servant Chimham Chimham, it is generally supposed, was Barzillai's son; see 1 Kings 2:7. In Jer 41:17 there is mention of the habitation of Chimham, which was near Bethlehem; and it is a very reasonable conjecture of Grotius, that David, having a patrimony in the field of Bethlehem, bestowed it upon this son of Barzillai, whence the place took the name of Chimham.

Verse 43

2 Samuel 19:43. The words of the men of Judah were fiercer, &c.— It was a natural contest between greater power and nearer relationship; both claim a preference which both cannot have; and which those of nearer relationship in this case should have yielded, both in point of prudence and affection for their friend; which the men of Judah did not.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The aged and good Barzillai, after all the kindnesses he had shewed to the king at Mahanaim, comes to pay his last respects to him, and accompany him as far as Jordan on his return.

1. David had been greatly indebted to him during his exile; for, being a man of vast estate, and generous as he was great, he had liberally ministered to the wants of the king and his servants during their encampment at Mahanaim. Note; Riches are then truly blessings when possessed by men of generous minds, and liberally ministered to the support of oppressed innocence, and the deserving indigent.

2. David, sensible of his kindness, resolves now to make him ample amends, invites him with him to Jerusalem, with the kindest assurances that he should want no comfort which his palace could afford, and be a constant and welcome guest at his table. Note; A grateful heart is happy to have it in its power to recompense its kind friends.

3. Barzillai professes the deepest acknowledgments for the king's generous offer, a recompense so far exceeding his poor services: but, sinking now under age and infirmities, begs the king to excuse his not accepting the kind invitation; he should be but an useless burden on the king; the time for relishing the delights of a court was past with him; at fourscore, dainties had lost their flavour, and the songs of melody were no longer enchanting: it became him now not to set out in life, but prepare for death, and to be gathered to the sepulchre of his fathers. But not to slight the king's favours, if he chooses that his son Chimham shall attend his majesty to court, he will commend him to his regard. Note; (1.) Noble minds count all they do to serve their friends but little. (2.) In the day when the Son of David shall appear in his kingdom, his saints will be filled with wonder at the surpassing recompense bestowed on their worthless services. (3.) It is time for the aged to have done with courts, and the delights of sense; they who are so near the grave have but one proper business, which is, to retire and provide for it.

4. David embraces the proposal gladly, and assures his aged friend, that he can ask nothing which he will not do for him; then with a kiss of affection dismisses him with his blessing, thanking him for past kindness, and praying that God would be with him. On which the good Bar-zillai returns to his happy retirement at Rogelim.
2nd, David now is peacefully advancing to take possession of his kingdom, when an unexpected incident interrupts and damps his comfort.
1. The men of Judah and part of the men of Israel were advanced to Gilgal, when the rest of the tribes met them; thinking themselves slighted, and jealous withal that they intended to engross the king's favour, they angrily objected to their conduct. Note; Only from pride cometh contention.

2. The men of Judah answer with warmth to the charge, that as the king was near of kin to them, and his home in their tribe, they were especially bound to conduct him: and, far from the insinuation of self-seeking being true, they had neither eaten at the king's cost, nor received any present from him. Note; True patriots detest a mercenary spirit.

3. The men of Israel reply to this vindication, that they had ten parts in the king, Simeon being reckoned with Judah; that, as being more numerous, they had more right to be consulted, and looked upon it as a marked contempt thus to be neglected. The men of Judah, exasperated, rejoin, and one high word brings on another; but the men of Judah were fiercest, and the end of their hot dispute proved a new rebellion. Note; (1.) Even when we are in the right, we should rather yield than contend. (2.) Leave off meddling betimes, lest mischief ensue. (3.) They who are in a passion, are sure to speak wrong, even though they have truth on their side.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-samuel-19.html. 1801-1803.