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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 19

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verses 1-8

DAVID REPROVED BY JOAB, 2 Samuel 19:1-8.

The stern and chivalrous Joab was highly indignant at the king’s grief. His nature was incapable of sympathy with the tender, paternal emotions of a soul like David’s, and with him the notion of crushing the rebellion and at the same time dealing tenderly with the arch-rebel, was the height of absurdity. He saw, too, that it was high time for David to turn his attention to the affairs of state, for such unmanly grief on a day of victory might lead to further disaffection, and even a general revolt of the people from a king that seemed to care more for an incorrigible son than for the national honour. The bold captain, therefore, ventures to approach his sovereign with words of sharp reproof.

Verse 2

2. The victory… into mourning The people were saddened to see their king so bitterly afflicted.

Verse 3

3. Gat them by stealth… into the city They entered not by the gate where David sat mourning, but, like thieves, climbed in some other way.

Verse 4

4. Covered his face After the manner of mourners. 2 Samuel 15:30.

Verse 6

6. Thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends Certainly David’s conduct justified this charge.

Verse 7

7. I swear None but the dauntless Joab dared speak to the king in this way. “In his manner,” says Clarke, “Joab far exceeded the bounds of that reverence which a servant owes to his master, or a subject to his prince. Joab was a good soldier, but a bad man and dangerous subject.”

Verse 8

8. Arose, and sat in the gate He left that chamber in the tower where he had poured out his grief, (2 Samuel 18:33,) and sat in the court between the two gates, near where the multitude of the people passed. He obeyed Joab, but never forgot the offence of this reproof. See 2 Samuel 19:13, and 1 Kings 2:5-6.

All the people This phrase, so common throughout the historical books of the Old Testament, is not to be taken anywhere in its utmost literal sense, but is equivalent to multitudes of the people.

Every man to his tent To his home or lodging place.

Verse 9

9. Were at strife נדון , Were casting reproaches at one another. They felt that in following Absalom they had been guilty of insurrection against the king, and were under obligations to secure his return from Mahanaim. From 2 Samuel 19:11 we learn that their words were reported to David.

Verses 9-14


“Absalom is dead. David is victorious. What more has the king to do but to cross the Jordan, march to Jerusalem, and take possession of his throne! This had been ill speed it had been too abrupt. David is much to be commended for the delicacy with which he acted. Seeing that the defection of the people and the preference of Absalom had been so general among the tribes west of the Jordan, he feared even the appearance of forcing himself upon them, or seeming to recover possession of his throne as a conqueror. He therefore tarried beyond the river, waiting to be invited back. There was some delay in giving this invitation; perhaps because the king’s wish and his motive in delaying to move westward were not at first understood.” Kitto.

Verse 11

11. Speak unto the elders of Judah It was wise in David thus to appeal to his own tribe and secure their co-operation with the rest of Israel in bringing him back to his throne in Jerusalem, for otherwise it would appear that the men of Judah were indifferent about his restoration. But it was unwise to accept their guidance back without also waiting for the co-operation of the ten northern tribes.

Verse 13

13. Say ye to Amasa Amasa had been captain of the rebel hosts, (2 Samuel 17:25,) and David hoped by honouring him to secure fully the allegiance of his disaffected subjects who had taken up arms against him; but this politic measure the untimely offspring of his bitter enmity against Joab was a serious and fatal error. It was also a measure dangerous to himself, and soon resulted in making Amasa the victim of Joab’s deadly jealousy. Chap. 2 Samuel 20:10.

Verse 14

14. Bowed the heart Affected them so powerfully by his appeal as to win all hearts to himself, and cause the whole tribe to rise as one man to his rescue and restoration.

Verse 17


17. A thousand men of Benjamin with him From which it seems that Shimei was a man of much power and influence among the Benjamites.

Verse 18

18. A ferryboat The original word ( עברה ) means some instrument used for conveying persons across the river, but the manner of its construction and the method of using it are uncertain. The Septuagint translates it by διαβασις , a bridge.

As he was come over Jordan Rather, at his crossing over the Jordan; that is, when he was about to cross.

Verse 20

20. The house of Joseph This designation is here used as synonymous with all Israel. In poetical and oratorical style this was a common term for Israel. Compare Psalms 77:15; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 81:5. It probably grew out of the fact that Joseph received the rights of primogeniture which Reuben by transgression lost. 1 Chronicles 5:1-2.

Verse 21

21. Abishai… said He cherished yet his rage and indignation against this reviler of the king. See 2 Samuel 16:9.

Verse 22

22. Shall any man be put to death this day His feelings were like those of Saul after his first great victory. Compare 1 Samuel 11:13.

Verse 23

23. The king sware unto him That during his reign he should not be put to death. But he charged Solomon to bring his hoary head to the grave with blood. 1 Kings 2:8-9.

Verse 24


24. Mephibosheth Who had been basely slandered by his servant. See 2 Samuel 16:3. His appearance gave ample evidence of the strongest attachment and devotion to the interests of David.

Verse 25

25. When he was come to Jerusalem Rather, When Jerusalem came; that is, the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Mephibosheth’s residence was in the city, (2 Samuel 9:13,) and at the earliest opportunity he came forth with the inhabitants of Jerusalem to meet the king, who was yet at the Jordan.

Verse 27

27. The king is as an angel Wise to discern, and righteous to decide a case of wrong. But David’s action did not justify his tribute of confidence.

Verse 29

29. Why speakest thou any more of thy matters David evidently felt that Mephibosheth had been injured, and yet it is possible he may have had some suspicion. At all events, he had not now the time nor patience to investigate closely a matter of this kind, and therefore he dismissed it in the quickest way.

Thou and Ziba divide the land This was not, as some have held, a reversal of his decision in favour of Ziba, for before that Mephibosheth possessed the whole estate of Saul, (2 Samuel 9:9,) and Ziba was merely a servant, but now he retains only half. The king was desirous that no one should be made unhappy on that joyful day of his restoration; and Mephibosheth obtains and enjoys again the royal favour, and Ziba is much better off than he was before David’s flight.

Verse 30

30. Yea, let him take all He delights more in the king’s safe return than in all his former estate, and yet these words contain, though undesignedly on his part, an expression of wounded feeling that the slanderous Ziba had received riches rather than punishment for his base calumnies.

Verse 31


31. Barzillai See 2 Samuel 17:27.

Went over Jordan with the king The conversation that follows probably took place while they were crossing.

Verse 32

32. A very great man A man of great wealth and influence in Gilead.

Verse 35

35. Can I discern between good and evil Is it to be supposed that at my time of life I still retain unimpaired the powers of judgment and discrimination which belong to the age of healthfulness and vigour? Good and evil are to be understood here of the pleasures and entertainments of court life, as the following specifications show.

Can thy servant taste what I eat Thy servant is a periphrastic expression for I, as is 2 Samuel 19:26, and frequently elsewhere. It is a form of expression used out of respect to royalty, and is equivalent to Can I taste what I eat, etc. His senses of taste and hearing had become so impaired that delicate meats and drinks, and vocal or instrumental music, with all which he would be constantly entertained at the royal court, would not be appreciated by him.

Verse 37

37. By the grave of my father The natives of a hill country generally have a tender desire to be buried among their kindred and their native hills.

Chimham Generally supposed to have been a son of Barzillai, whom David kindly remembered at his death, (1 Kings 2:7,) and whose dwelling near Beth-lehem, probably given him from David’s paternal estate, is spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah 41:17.

Verse 40


40. Gilgal In the Jordan plain just east of Jericho; the ancient camping-ground of Israel under Joshua, and the spot where the kingdom was confirmed to Saul when he returned successful from a war fought beyond the Jordan. Compare notes on 1 Samuel 11:12-15.

Verse 41

41. Why… Judah stolen thee away Violent outburst of a deep jealousy that had been long maturing.

All David’s men His faithful adherents who had fled with him from Jerusalem or had rallied to his standard at Mahanaim.

Verse 42

42. The king is near of kin to us Of our tribe, and therefore descended from the same father. Compare 2 Samuel 19:12.

Have we eaten at all of the king’s Have we received any special favours or honours?

Hath he given us any gift Such as fields, vineyards, or offices, as Saul did to the Benjamites. See 1 Samuel 22:7.

Verse 43

43. We have ten parts They were ten tribes, and Judah but one.

Also more right in David than ye Though David was of the tribe of Judah, yet as king he belonged to one tribe as much as to another, and the united voice of ten tribes was of more weight than that of one.

Despise us Treat us with contempt.

That our advice should not be first had This translation is faulty. It should be, And was not my word the first to bring back my king? That is, We first suggested the propriety of bringing back our king with becoming honours. This was true, as we have seen in 2 Samuel 19:10-11.

Fiercer More violent and spirited, and helped to provoke the rebellion of Sheba, which is recorded in the next chapter.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/2-samuel-19.html. 1874-1909.
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