Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 3:39

I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too difficult for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Wicked (People);   Zeruiah;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Joab;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Joab;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - David;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Abner;   David;   Joab;   King;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abishai;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Rewards;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - David;   Dwelling;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Hard;   Joab;   Solomon;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Abner;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Joab;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I am this day weak - Had Abner lived, all the tribes of Israel would have been brought under my government.

Though anointed king - I have little else than the title: first, having only one tribe under my government; and secondly, the sons of Zeruiah, Joab and his brethren, having usurped all the power, and reduced me to the shadow of royalty.

The Lord shall reward the doer of evil - That is, Joab, whom he appears afraid to name.

We talk much of ancient manners, their simplicity and ingenuousness; and say that the former days were better than these. But who says this who is a judge of the times? In those days of celebrated simplicity, etc., there were not so many crimes as at present I grant: but what they wanted in number they made up in degree: deceit, cruelty, rapine, murder, and wrong of almost every kind, then flourished. We are refined in our vices; they were gross and barbarous in theirs: they had neither so many ways nor so many means of sinning; but the sum of their moral turpitude was greater than ours. We have a sort of decency and good breeding, which lay a certain restraint on our passions, they were boorish and beastly, and their bad passions were ever in full play. Civilization prevents barbarity and atrocity; mental cultivation induces decency of manners: those primitive times were generally without these. Who that knows them would wish such ages to return?

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-3.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Samuel 3:39

I am this day weak, though anointed king.

Balancings in life

David utters the words which hint at something concerning the balancings in life.

I. Some disappointment is sure to follow upon the attainment of our hopes and to intermingle with our joys. Men struggle for riches all life long, and when they have gained them, oft have no power of enjoyment left. The argosy of food is just coming into port, but somehow is caught by the tide, driven behind the pier, and wrecked on the rugged rocks outside. The topmost step of the throne is reached, the sceptre grasped, the crown placed on the head, when the thorn is felt pressing into the tender brow and the paean of joy is toned by the minor note of sorrow. This is not the invariable experience, but general. One might say that the exceptions establish the rule.

II. These balancings in life are intended by the author of all life. God has not promised that ease shall always follow on effort, nor full peace come immediately a victory is won. It is of the Divine appointment that those who have wealth, powers, or high position shall often have also strong jealousies, bitter annoyances, severe domestic troubles, great losses, unfulfilled expectations, and harsh regrets over unrealized ideas. That man of genteel manners and calm exterior has a very Vesuvius in his breast. You see not the throes that disturb his soul. So poverty and weakness, sickness and solitude, as well as strength and riches, have their balancings. Power can grow out of privation, and strength out of suffering, while ennui may be the offspring of pleasurable ease and satiety of constant satisfaction. All happiness has its alloy and all sorrow its surcease. This is by Divine arrangement. These thoughts should teach us--

1. To find all our joy and strength in God.

2. To be thankful for any balancings that may develop being and life.

3. To see to it that we so live that no painful counterbalancing may follow upon this life in the future; to be careful lest the very greatness of the glory and richness of the reward should only make us feel how meagre was our earth-life and unpardonable our spiritual coldness.

4. That we should never let despondency seize us, remembering these balancings in life.

5. Many are weak and know it not. They are anointed heirs of God, kings and priests, but through sin they are weak every day. David knew what he had lost when Abner was taken; but many so live that they ignore the loss they suffer by their wilful ignorance of Christ, through whom alone any can be really strong and kingly in spirit. (Frederick Hastinas.)

Man’s weakness and God’s anointing

I. We hay be anointed, and yet weak. Every believer is an anointed king. He was really anointed in the covenant of election before the world was. When Jesus Christ was set up from everlasting, His people were really set up in Him. Every child of God also was actually anointed when Jesus Christ ascended up on high, and led captivity captive and received gifts for men. But in our souls, our anointing time comes in that hour when, being called by grace and washed from sin, we begin to reign over sin, self, the world, death, and hell, by virtue of our union with Christ. Every believer is a king to-day. And yet it is quite possible that he may be groaning out, “I am weak;” for weakness and Divine Anointing may stand together. God’s children are often very weak in faith: they stagger at the promise through unbelief. It is not always in their power to “set to their seal that God is true.” Christians have ebbs of faith as well as floods; they have winters as well as summers; they have times of drought, and years of famine. The weakness of a Christian’s faith may also affect all his other graces. It must do so; for when faith is strong, every other grace is strong; when that is weak, all things else decline. It may be to-day that your hope has become very dim; you are in bondage through fear of death, and see not the mansions in the skies. You have forgotten that you are in Christ, and now you no more look for His appearing. Your hope declines, and all your comfort dies.

1. Let me remark that David at this special time felt his weakness, more particularly because he was in a new position. He has come into a new place--nations are at his feet--men bow before him; it is a new position, and he says, “I am this day weak, though anointed king.” Whenever you make a change in life; whenever God calls you to another set of duties, you will surely find out what perhaps you do not now believe--that you are weak, though anointed king.

2. Here, too, David had come into new temptation. The arrows had been shot at him before, from one direction alone, now the storm caeses on one side, and begins on the other. If men knew that the storm would always,come to one side of the house they would repair and strengthen it, and then they would not fear the blast; but if on a sudden it whirled round and took the other corner, how would they be prepared for that? Where there is the honey of royalty, there will surely be the wasps of temptations. High places and God’s praise do seldom well agree; a full cup is not easily carried without spilling, and he that stands on a pinnacle needs a clear head and much grace.

3. And then further, David had now come into new duties. It was his duty to have taken Joab and have made him suffer the full penalty of the law for having killed Abner. A king must defend the oppressed and avenge the murdered, but David fails to perform the new duty, for he feels that he is too weak.

II. It was but little wonderful that David’s kingdom was weak, for it was but newly gained; and it is but little marvel if we also are very weak in the beginning of our spiritual life. When a king has had time to set himself down upon his throne, and to sweep away before him this party and that, either by politics or by the power of the sword, and so to put down every rival, then his throne becomes confirmed. Young Christian, it is no wonder that you are weak, when the good work has only lately begun with you. See the lambs in the fold: it is well that they have been shorn in good weather, for what would become of the shorn lamb in the untempered wind? Shall we suppose that the young sapling shall stand as firmly as the oak with its gnarled roots and its hoary branches, which have been twisted together by many a storm? What! Shall a babe fight a battle? Shall a new-born infant go forth to war? Do you wonder because the new creature is weak? Wonder rather at its power, than at its weakness.

III. David was weak only in the flesh, and that the Christian truly is only weak there. Why was David weak? “Because,” said he, “the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me. I cannot subdue them; I cannot keep them under; I cannot manage any kingdom whilst such turbulent spirits as these interfere and intermeddle with everything.”

IV. It is where the flesh is strong that we are weak. Why was not David strong? Why, because of the sons of Zeruiah, yet these sons of Zeruiah were his greatest strength. What could he have done without Joab and Abishai--Joab the man who smote the garrison of Jebus, and Abishai who slew three hundred men in single-handed fight. What could he do without these? These were David’s mighty men, those who always led the van, and with a tremendous shout dashed among the Philistines, and scattered the uncircumcised. So it is with us. Whatever is our strength in the flesh is sure to be our weakness in the spirit. Remember that your sons of Zeruiah will be hard to manage. I believe the strength of God, s ministers generally lies in the points where they are the weakest, and their weakness usually lies in their strength. That is to say, natural strength will be toned down by a spiritual weakness, and a natural weakness will be exalted and be made the vehicle and channel for spiritual strength. It has often been so. The very physical appearance of Paul, his personal presence which was said to be weak and contemptible, becomes to him the subject of glorying. He glories in his infirmity, for it is the means of giving honour to God. “This is strange logic,” says one. It is; God’s logic is strange. Gideon fears the Midianites because of the slender number of his soldiers, but the Lord says, “the people are yet too many for me.” The king of Judah on another occasion hires for himself with so many hundred thousand talents a number of mercenary troops from the king of Israel. “Now,” says he, “I shall win the battle”; but before the battle begins the prophet bids him send these men back. God can do better without means than he can with means that are audacious enough to think themselves necessary. The Lord will always throw the sword away from his hand when that sword begins to boast itself. Assyria is his axe to cut down the cedars, but if you set down any good thing you have ever done to yourself, God will bring you down.

V. Our weakness shall not prevent our reigning by-and-by. David’s kingdom did not shake, even when his heart failed him; and it would have stood just as fast if he had knocked away Joab and Abishai, who seemed to be the props that supported it. It was David’s business to believe that come what may God’s purpose must stand, and God will do all His pleasure. It is just the same with you, Christian, to-day. However weak you may be, and whatever means may have failed you, remember God hath said it--you shall be saved; He has promised that you shall be glorified with Christ; and so you must be, come fair, come foul. (C H. Spurgeon.)

Strong yet weak

I. Much of our weakness arises from want of faith in the lovingkindness of God. Now, many of us think that unless we have money and health and friends, God does not trouble about us. And this want of faith in His love and care makes us weak in every step of life. Instead of being cheerful, we are full of anxiety, and instead of being joyous as a lark we mope like a chained dog that has no dinner.

1. Let us have sincere faith in God.

2. Hold on to faith in another world. Let no man wrest that faith from you.

3. Hold on to this faith, and it will make you strong to bear burdens, to resist temptations, to endure sufferings, and to die in peace.

II. Another thing that weakens us is when we permit ourselves to be soured in temper because of defeat or opposition in life. We ought to feel ashamed of ourselves when we complain of our surroundings. Be cheerful in heart, trusting God. Don’t be soured by the so-called “evils” of life; but sing joyfully as you go along.

III. Another cause of our weakness is that while some of us put off the devil’s regimentals, we omit to put on Christian armour. The Lord Jesus tells of a man who cleansed his house. He turned out the big devils and made his house beautiful. After awhile, one Of the devils returned, and seeing the house garnished but empty--not filled with angels in place of the devils--he entered and brought with him ten Other devils worse than himself. It is so, alas I with many professors. They turn out the big, ugly devils, but they forget to take in the angels. If your heart be empty of a great and powerful love for God and mankind, sin will enter in, and show itself very soon in your life. (W. Birch.)

Folly of being powerless

If an electric car stands motionless on the tracks, it is nothing against the power of electricity. If an invalid has no appetite, and cannot go out of doors at night, it is no argument against things good to eat and the joy of starlit air. If a man does not know a flower by name nor a poem by heart, it is no indictment of the beauty of a rose or the charm of some poem. If we bear the name of Christ, but give no other sign of Him, if we go through the forms of godliness but live powerless lives, it is a thousand reproaches to us. To be powerless when Christ has all power, and we can have all we want, is an arraignment to which we can make no answer that is not self-incriminating. (Christian Weekly.)

The limits of human supremacy

To his confidential servants David speaks his whole mind freely. He feels that some apology is needed for leaving the authors of this heinous crime unpunished. As an excuse for doing so he pleads his youth and weakness. Though he had been anointed king, his kingdom’ was as yet far from being securely established, he could not dispense with his warlike nephews’ help. He dared not order the execution of his best general. Probably the army would have interfered to prevent it. But he protests against their hardness and cruelty, and declares that Joab will not escape the Divine judgment for his crime. “It was one of those movements in which a king, even with the best intentions, must feel to his own heavy cost the weakness of everything human and the limits of human supremacy.” Ewald’s Hist. of Israel. (A. F. Kirkpatrick, M. A.)

The assassin spared

“It is worse than a crime,” says an astute politician, “it is a blunder.” And though it was a clear enough crime in David to pass by Joab’s murder of Abner, it came out afterwards to be a most terrible blunder. All David’s after life might well have been different but for that blunder. There might have been no “matter of Uriah,” and no rebellion of Absalom, and none of the other miseries that so desolated David’s house, had he not committed this fatal blunder of letting Joab live. David knew his duty quite well. “The Lord shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness,” David proclaimed over Abner’s mangled body. Yes; but David held the sword for no other purpose than to be the Lord’s right hand in rewarding all the evil that was done in Israel in his day. But, then, Joab was the most powerful and the most necessary man in Israel, and Abner had no friends, and David contented himself with pronouncing an eloquent requiem over Abner, and leaving his murderer to go free in all his offices and all his honours. Joab was deep enough to understand quite well why his life was spared. He knew quite well that it was fear and not love that had moved David to let him live. It was a diplomatic act of David to spare Joab, but David was playing with a far deeper diplomatist than himself. Very soon we shall see this respited assassin ordering David about and dictating to him till we shall pity David as well as blame him. Joab’s impunity speedily shot up into an increased contempt for David, till secret contempt became open insolence, and open insolence open and unavenged rebellion. Was it not a blunder?

“In the corrupted currents of this world,

Offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice,

And oft ‘tis seen, the wicked prize itself

Buys out the law: but ‘tis not so above;

There is no shuffling, there the action lies

In his true nature; and we ourselves compell’d,

Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,

To give in evidence.”

(Alex. Whyte, D. D.)
.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Samuel 3:39". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-samuel-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I am this day weak, though anointed king,.... Which seems to be given as a reason, or for an excuse why he did not inflict just punishment upon the murderer, according to the law of God, because he was "weak"; not in body or mind, but with respect to the kingdom, that was like a tender branch, or in its infant state; and great care and caution were to be used that it was not overturned: he was a king by unction, not by birth; a son of the late king was yet up against him, and was possessed of the far greater part of the kingdom; he was indeed anointed by Samuel to be king over all Israel; but as yet he was not put into the possession of the kingdom he was anointed to; he was anointed and made king over Judah, and invested with the office of king there, and settled in it; and yet his power was not very great there, for as follows:

and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, be too hard for me; his sister's sons, Joab and Abishai, they were a check upon him; he could not do what he would, their influence was so great, both in the court and in the camp; the one was general of the army, and the other a considerable officer in it, and both variant men, and very respectable among the people, for their achievements in war, and the success they had; so that they were very much out of the reach of David to bring them to justice, without shaking his kingdom; and therefore in point of prudence he thought it best to connive at this fact until he was more established in the kingdom. Whatever may be said for this conduct, it is certain he was too dilatory, and which did not sit easy upon his mind, and therefore gave it in charge to Solomon before his death not to suffer Joab to go to his grave in peace, 1 Kings 2:5. Some take these words, "weak" and "hard", in a different sense, that David was weak or "tender"F24רך "tener", Pagninus, Montanus. , as it may be rendered, tenderhearted, of a merciful disposition, and therefore spared Abner when he was in his hands, though he had done him so much harm, who was the Lord's anointed; but these men, his sister's sons, were of cruel tempers, more unmerciful than he, and therefore slew him; but the first sense seems best:

the Lord shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness; which may be considered either as an imprecation of evil on Joab, or a prediction, that sooner or later righteous judgment would be rendered to him by the Lord; with whom he leaves it to take vengeance on him, satisfying himself with this for the present, that though it was not in his power to do it, the Lord would in his own time and way: but after all that can be said in favour of David, he seems to have been too much in fear of men, and too distrustful of the power and promise of God to establish him in his kingdom, and was too negligent of public justice; which had it been exercised, might have prevented other sins, as the murder of Ishbosheth, to which the authors of it might be encouraged by this lenity.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-3.html. 1999.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

THIS whole chapter, except what the first verse of it teacheth, serves to show the Reader and Writer what a mass of treachery, deceit, and evil, the human heart is made up of. Alas! alas! what a state is man reduced to by the fall. Oh! blessed Jesus, how is thy glorious redemption-work raised to our adoration and delight, in the contemplation of it; since but for thy gracious undertaking, all mankind must forever have remained under this mass of guilt and ruin. Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!

Before we dismiss our review of this chapter, methinks I would have the Reader, as well as myself, pause once more over the consideration of the serious thought induced in the contemplation of the long war between the house of David and of Saul: and let each for himself enquire to which, spiritually viewed, we belong. Then when this point is ascertained, if happily through grace we are of the house and lineage of our Almighty David; let us advance one step further, and examine whether, in the long contests between grace and corruption, nature is waxing more and more feeble, and our better part is renewed day by day?

Reader! depend upon it a real follower of Jesus Christ dreads above all things, lest in the end, he should be found mistaken concerning himself in his estimate of an interest in the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you really, truly, heartily, willing to know? Go before the throne - present yourself now just as you are for judgment. - Are you resting upon any presumptive evidence of what you suppose yourself to have experienced in times past, of awakening, convincing, converting grace; or are your sole hopes founded upon the blessed assurances of Jehovah's covenant love and faithfulness solely secured to poor sinners, in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ? If the latter be your experience, and not the former; if self, with all its feelings, supposed enlargements, joys, and the uncertain ups and downs of the soul, be out of the account; and Jesus, the Lord alone, be exalted in the day you present yourself for judgment; this will confirm, in the long war between grace and corruption, that the house of David is getting stronger and stronger; and that of Saul is waxing weaker and weaker! Lord Jesus! I would say both for myself and Reader, Search us, O God, and know our hearts; try us, and know our thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in our souls, and lead us in the way everlasting.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-samuel-3.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.

Weak — In the infancy of my kingdom, not well settled in it. The metaphor is taken from a young and tender child or plant.

These men — Joab and Abishai, the sons of thy sister Zeruiah.

Too hard — That is, too powerful. They have so great a command over all the soldiers, and so great favour with the people, that I cannot punish them without apparent hazard to my person and kingdom; especially, now when all the tribes, except Judah, are in a state of opposition against me. But although this might give some colour to the delay of their punishment, yet it was a fault that he did not do it within some reasonable time, both because this indulgence proceeded from a distrust of God's power and faithfulness; as if God could not make good his promise to him, against Joab and all his confederates; and because it was contrary to God's law, which severally requires the punishment of willful murderers. It was therefore carnal wicked policy, yea cruel pity that spared him. If the law had had its course against Joab, it is probable the murder of Ishbosheth, Ammon, and others, had been prevented. So truly was he in these, and some other respects, a bloody man, which may be observed to the glory of the Divine grace, in his forgiveness and conversion.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-samuel-3.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 3:39 And I [am] this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah [be] too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.

Ver. 39. And I am this day weak.] Heb., Tender; (a) weak he was in force, but weaker in faith, for he had God’s promise: and as Hezekiah afterwards trusted in God, and pulled down the brazen serpent, so should David have done justice upon Joab whatever had come of it. [Genesis 9:6] Fiat iustitia, ruat caelum.

Be too hard for me.] If I provoke them, being so potent with the army, they may serve me as Abner did Ishbosheth in a displeasure, - thus carnal reason argued, (b) - I shall with the right hand cut off the left, as Honorius did when he destroyed Stillico: and as the Lord Protector did when he cut off his brother the admiral here in King Edward VI’s reign.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-3.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Weak, or tender, in the infancy of my kingdom, not well rooted and settled in it. The metaphor is taken from a young and tender child or plant.

The sons of Zeruiah; Joab and Abishai, the sons of my sister Zeruiah.

To hard for me, i.e. two powerful. They have so great a command over all the soldiers, and so great favour with the people, that I cannot punish them without apparent hazard to my person and kingdom; especially now when all the tribes, except Judah, are yet in a state of opposition against me. But this, although it might give some colour to the delay of their punishment for a season, yet it may seem to have been one of David’s infirmities, that he did not do it within some reasonable time, both because this indulgence proceeded from a distrust of God’s power and faithfulness; as if God could not, or would not, make good his promise of the kingdom to him, without and against Joab and all his confederates; and because it was contrary to God’s law, which severely requires the punishment of wilful murderers, Genesis 9:6 Exodus 21:14 Numbers 35:21, which David had no power to dispense with. And David might and should have remembered how dear Saul paid for this very thing, that he dispensed with God’s command, and spared these whom God commanded him to slay, 1Sa 15. And it seems David’s conscience oft smote him for this; which made him watch for a fit opportunity to remove, and then punish him, and having neglected it till death, he declareth his sorrow for that neglect, by giving Solomon a charge to execute it after his death, 1 Kings 2:5,6,34.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-3.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

39.Weak though anointed king — I needed the co-operation and influence of Abner to strengthen me in the kingdom.

Too hard for me — Rather, too strong for me; that is, too strong in authority and too well defended by the ancient law of blood-revenge. The murder of Asahel in battle, after repeated warnings, (2 Samuel 2:22,) was not a crime sufficient to justify Joab’s deliberate and dastardly revenge; but Abner’s words, “How then should I hold up my face to Joab?” show that he felt that the murder of Asahel would expose him to a bloody feud with his brother. Had the congregation judged between Abner and Joab according tothe Israelitish laws on murder, (Numbers 35:24,) they would doubtless have decided that Joab had not sufficient ground to take blood revenge on Abner. But the deed having been done without the gate of the city, and the sons of Zeruiah acknowledging it as their act of revenge for Asahel, David saw and felt his impotence to punish the assassins, and left the matter for a future judgment. 1 Kings 2:5.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-3.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 3:39. And I am this day weak — Hebrew, רךְ, rack, tender; that is, his kingdom was young, was in its infancy, as we speak, and not well settled and confirmed. The metaphor is taken from a young and tender plant. And these men — Joab and Abishai; the sons of my sister Zeruiah, be too hard for me — That is, too powerful. They have so great an interest in, and command over all the soldiers, and are in such great favour with the people, that I cannot punish them without apparent hazard to my person and kingdom; especially now, when all the tribes, except Judah, are in a state of opposition against me. But although this might give some colour to the delay of their punishment, yet it was a fault that he did not punish them in some reasonable time; both because his indulgence proceeded from a distrust of God’s power and faithfulness, as if God could not make good his promise to him against Joab and all his confederates; and because it was contrary to God’s law, which severely requires the punishment of wilful murderers, with which law David had no power to dispense. It was therefore carnal, wicked policy, yea, cruel pity, in him to spare them. He ought to have done his duty, and trusted God with the issue. If the law had had its course against Joab; it is probable the murder of Ish-bosheth, Ammon, and others, had been prevented. But in this instance, David, though anointed king, is kept in awe by his own subjects, and bears the sword in vain, contenting himself, as a private person, to leave the murderers to the judgment of God, saying, The Lord shall reward the evil- doer according to his wickedness — In the mean time, however, it must be acknowledged, he detested their actions, and was not so overawed by them but he had courage to show it.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

King. Septuagint, "and that I am to-day a relation, (by my wife) and appointed king by the king?" (Haydock) --- He seemed as yet to have little more than the title. His throne was not well established; (Calmet; Worthington) and to undertake to punish the offenders now, might have had so pernicious consequences as the attempt of Isboseth to correct his general. (Haydock) --- IT is better to temporize than to increase the distemper, (Calmet) by a fruitless zeal for justice. (Haydock) --- The punishment was only deferred, 3 Kings ii. 5. (Menochius) -- Hard. Powerful or insupportable. (Calmet) --- This year was memorable for the death of Codrus, king of Athens. (Salien, the year of the world 2985.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

shall reward. Compare 1 Kings 2:5, 1 Kings 2:6.

evil. Hebrew. ra`a`. App-44.

wickedness. Hebrew. ra"a`. App-44.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-3.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(39) I am this day weak.—David’s high appreciation of the importance and value of Abner shows that Joab’s jealousy was not without ground, and there is a tone of deep sadness in his words, “these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me.” He knew their ungoverned passions, their bold lawlessness, and at the same time their great power and popularity with the army, and he dared not punish them. He leaves their judgment to God.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.
I am
Exodus 21:12; 2 Chronicles 19:6,7; Psalms 75:10; 101:8; Proverbs 20:8; 25:5
weak
Heb. tender.
1 Chronicles 22:5; Isaiah 7:4; *marg:; Romans 13:4
the sons
1 Chronicles 2:15,16
too hard
19:6,7,13
the Lord
1 Kings 2:5,6,33,34; Psalms 7:16; 28:4; 62:12; 2 Timothy 4:14 Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 3:11 - because;  2 Samuel 3:24 - What hast;  2 Samuel 4:11 - require;  2 Samuel 16:10 - What have;  2 Samuel 19:22 - What have;  2 Samuel 20:6 - Abishai;  Job 21:19 - he rewardeth;  Proverbs 17:26 - to strike;  Proverbs 19:10 - much;  Jeremiah 38:5 - for;  Daniel 6:16 - the king;  Matthew 8:2 - a leper

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-3.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"I am this day weak, though anointed king."2 Samuel 3:39.

Here is a remarkable distinction between the human and the official. What a tone of humiliation there is in the latter part of the text! Two men seem to be speaking here—the one the man pure and simple, the other the man clothed with royal purple and loaded with a royal crown. Officialism does nothing towards the sustenance of humanity. Sometimes a man"s office is greater than a man"s strength. In all these circumstances it is the man who is to be considered, and not the officer. As the life is more than meat, so the man is more than the king; as the body is more than raiment, so the soul is more than the sovereign. It is most instructive to listen to the confessions of weakness made by kings and men who have all that the world can give them. It is too frequently supposed that if we had crown, and throne, and sceptre, and gilded palace, we should be content and strong, yea, even riotous in the overflow of power: nothing of the kind. All history shows us that a man"s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. We suppose that only poor men complain of being weak; yet here we have a king telling us that weakness has invaded the palace, and that weakness has thrown into contempt all the glamour and pomp of courts. Periods of weakness may be so used as to be the occasions of growing strength. One man was enabled to exclaim, "When I am weak, then am I strong." When our weakness is rightly felt we are driven to God for the renewal of our strength. All our springs are in him. He only can recover the soul from its moods of dejection, and build up our flesh into reality of power. Song of Solomon, again and again, in all conditions and varieties of life, we are brought back from heart-wandering and self-trusting to simple dependence upon the living and eternal God.

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:39". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/2-samuel-3.html. 1885-95.