2 SAMUEL CHAPTER 19.
Restoration of Davidís Royal Authority.
DAVID REINSTATED IN HIS ROYAL POWER. ó V.1. And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom. He was immersed in his immoderate and sinful grief for Absalom, and did not even take time to greet his victorious army upon its return. V.2. And the victory, the deliverance or salvation from the hands of the murderous rebels under the leadership of Absalom, was turned into mourning unto all the people; for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son. But while they respected his fatherly grief and, in a measure, shared his sorrow, they were gradually filled with dissatisfaction over the fact that the king did not seem to have one word of cheer or appreciation for them. V.3. And the people, the soldiers of the army, infected with the gloom which hung over the entire city and its vicinity, gat them by stealth that day into the city, instead of entering in military order and with shouts of victory, they stole away in small groups and crept into the city as unobtrusively as possible, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle, like disgraced fugitives who find it impossible to face their friends and relatives. V.4. But the king covered his face, in unrestrained grief and shame, and the king cried with a loud voice. O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! He had almost worked himself into a hysteria over the loss of his worthless son, the rebel against the entire kingdom. V.5. And Joab came into the house to the king and said, in a stern reproof, which was intended to restore the king to his senses, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, behaved in a shameful manner toward them, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines, for, according to Oriental custom, Absalom, if he had been victorious, might have slain the entire royal household; v.6. in that thou lovest thine enemies, those that hate thee, as his excessive lamenting for Absalom showed, and hatest thy friends, for that would be the logical conclusion. For thou hast declared this day, by his behavior, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants, for David acted as if they simply did not exist, paying no attention to them; for this day I perceive that, if Absalom had lived and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. It was a rude reproof; with deductions which went too far; but it was intended to jolt David severely, to rouse him from his strange behavior. V.7. Now, therefore, arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto, literally, ďto the heart of,Ē thy servants, showing them some measure of appreciation, satisfying and refreshing their minds; for I swear by the Lord, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night, not that he himself would lead the army away, but that the dissatisfaction had reached a stage where this result was inevitable; and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now. V.8. Then the king, accepting the reproof in the spirit in which it was given, arose and sat in the gate. And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king doth sit in the gate. This news worked a joyful reaction in the hearts of the people. And all the people came before the king, apparently passing before him in review, in order to receive the expressions of his appreciation and gratitude; for Israel had fled every man to his tent, chap. 18, 17. V.9. And all the people, those who had been adherents of Absalom, were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, they began to discuss the matter, to argue, to reproach one another, saying, the king saved us out of the hands of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines, all these deeds of David now being recalled; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom, a fugitive before his rebellious son. V.10. And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now, therefore, why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back? So the representatives of the people consulted with one another about restoring the throne to David and declaring to him their renewed loyalty. V.11. And King David sent to Zadok and to Abiathar, the priests, saying, Speak unto the elders of Judah, saying, Why are ye the last to bring the king back to his house? seeing the speech of all Israel is come to the king, even to his house. So David had information concerning the movement in the other parts of the kingdom, and expressed surprise that the men in the capital and in the tribe of Judah were not taking similar steps. V.12. Ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh, they were of his tribe and of his kindred; wherefore, then, are ye the last to bring back the king? ďConscious that they had offended David, and fearing Absalomís garrison in Zion, they did not dare to recall him.Ē V.13. And say ye to Amasa, who had been the commander of Absalomís forces, chap. 17, 25, Art thou not of my bone and of my flesh? He was Davidís nephew. God do so to me, and more also, if thou be not captain of the host, before me continually in the room of Joab. He was to supersede Joab, who OR account of his rudeness and his plain disregard for the royal command had forfeited his post. V.14. And he, David, bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man, completely winning them for his side, so that they sent this word unto the king, return thou and all thy servants. David had been shrewd enough to see that it would have been poor policy to force himself upon his tribe, just as it would have been foolish to wait for a spontaneous, general invitation on their part. By assuring them of his favor, however, and by reminding them of the relationship between him and them, he removed all difficulties. V.15. So the king returned and came to Jordan. And Judah, the representatives of the entire tribe, came to Gilgal, in the valley of Jordan, to go to meet the king, to conduct the king over Jordan. All was ready for a solemn and joyous reception. V.16. And Shimei, the son of Gera, a Benjamite, which was of Bahurim, the man who had behaved himself in such a vile manner during Davidís flight, chap. 16, 7-14. hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David. He wanted to undo his evil, if possible, before he would be called to account. V.17. And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him and Ziba, the servant of the house of Saul, he who had slandered his master when he met David by the way, chap. 16, 3, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over Jordan before the king, fording the river in order to meet him on the east side. V.18. And there went over a ferry-boat to carry over the kingís household, and to do what he thought good, to be placed at the disposal of the king. And Shimei, the son of Gera, fell down before the king, as he was come over Jordan, as soon as he had crossed by the ford; v.19. and said unto the king, let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, charge up the guilt to him, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart, bear him a grudge on account of it. V.20. For thy servant doth know that I have sinned; therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph, representing all the tribes of Israel outside of Judah, to go down to meet my lord the king. V.21. But Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, who, apparently with good reason, doubted the sincerity of Shimei, especially since the latter was moved to confess his sin only when David had returned to power, answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lordís anointed? Cp. Ex. 22, 27; Lev. 24, 14. 15. V.22. And David, rejecting the proposal as once before, chap. 16, 10. 11, said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? The measure suggested by them was altogether out of harmony with his own inclination on this happy occasion. Shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? For do not I know that I am this day king over Israel? He felt that his restoration to the kingdom really was a proof of his being accepted into the divine favor once more, and he wanted to show his appreciation by being merciful. V.23. Therefore the king, without further discussion of the matter, said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him. The pardon was granted evidently chiefly for political reasons. Evidences of special assistance and favor of God so influence the hearts of the believers that they are glad to forgive their enemies.
DAVIDíS TREATMENT OF MEPHIBOSHETH AND BARZILLAI. ó V.24. And Mephibosheth, the son of Saul (in the wider sense, since lie was his grandson) came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, all evidences of deepest mourning, signs of his sincere, faithful attachment to the house of David, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace. V.25. And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, when the inhabitants of Jerusalem went down in a body to welcome David, Mephibosheth being in the procession also, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest thou not with me, Mephibosheth? This question was prompted by Zibaís slander, chap. 16, 3. V.26. And he answered, My lord. O king, my servant (Ziba) deceived me, he had injured him by lies, betrayed his confidence; for thy servant (Mephibosheth) said, I will saddle me an ass, Ziba being ordered to do this, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame, he could not have joined the procession afoot. V.27. And he (Ziba) hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king, as Mephibosheth had meanwhile found out; but my lord the king is as an angel of God, to know and to do what justice required in this case; do, therefore, what is good in thine eyes. V.28. For all my fatherís house were but dead men before my lord the king, who might, according to Oriental custom, have put them all to death upon his accession to the throne; yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table, chap. 9, 7. 10. 13. What right, therefore, have I yet to cry any more unto the king? Being without rights, he willingly subjected himself to any order which the king might give. V.29. And the king said unto him, evidently unwilling to acknowledge that he had done wrong in accepting the slander of Ziba, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land. This was not quite in conformity with the truth, since David had restored the entire inheritance of Saul to Mephibosheth and merely made Ziba the farmer or steward of the estate, chap. 9, 6-11. V.30. And Mephibosheth, without a word of protest against this manifest injustice, said unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house. This fact was worth more to his loyal soul than the possession of the estate at Gibeah. Mark: Sin, also in the case of David, weakens the will, the evil consequences being seen in false decisions. V.31. And Barzillai the Gileadite, one of those men who had sent provisions for David and his army to Mahanaim, chap. 17, 27, came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king to conduct him over Jordan, intending only to accompany David to the other side of the river, and then to return. V.32. Now, Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years old; and he had provided the king of sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim, before the army of the rebels had been dispersed; for he was a very great man, rich and influential V.33. And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem, in return for the kindness shown him in Mahanaim. V.34. And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem? His expectation of life was so short that he did not want to plunge into the dissipations of court life. V.35. I am this day fourscore years old; and can I discern between good and evil? His intellect was becoming so dull that he would have made a poor counselor. Can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? His senses becoming feeble, he could no longer enjoy the pleasures of court life. Wherefore, then, should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king? V.36. Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king, only to escort him across the river; and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward? He had not shown his kindness with the expectation of any return. V.37. Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again that I may die in mine own city and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother. Since the king might have commanded him to go along to Jerusalem, Barzillai, in all simplicity and cheerfulness, requests permission to return home, since life at court held no allurement for him. But behold thy servant Chimham, his son, who had accompanied his aged father to the meeting with the king; let him go over with my lord the king, and do to him what shall seem good unto thee. He was still young enough to enter into the service of the king. V.38. And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee, deferring to the aged fatherís wishes; and whatsoever thou shalt require of me, that will I do for thee, for he still considered himself under obligations to Barzillai. V.39. And all the people went over Jordan, the passage was finally effected. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him, taking leave of him in an affectionate and respectful manner; and he returned unto his own place. V.40. Then the king went on to Gilgal, the ancient encampment near the site of Jericho, and Chimham went on with him; and all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of Israel, as many as had been able to assemble at this time. V.41. And, behold, all the men of Israel, representatives of all the other tribes, came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, in arranging this reception, and have brought the king and his household and all Davidís men with him over Jordan? V.42. And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king is near of kin to us, being a member of their tribe; wherefore, then, be ye angry for this matter? Have we eaten at all of the kingís cost? They had enjoyed no special privileges from him, had not been fed by the royal bounty. Or hath he given us any gift? It was a case where jealousy once more led to unpleasant rivalry and finally to hostility V.43. And the men of Israel, reacting to the sharp words of Judah in kind, answered the men of Judah and said, We have ten parts in the king, since theirs were ten tribes to the two of Judah and Benjamin, and we have also more right in David than ye, by virtue of their greater number; why, then, did ye despise us, by slighting them, by not inviting them, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? Their word had been first, the suggestion to bring back the king had come from members of Israel. And the words of the men of Judah, in this unpleasant quarrel over precedence, in this jealous ill feeling, were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel. The entire scene led to a new, evil purpose on the part of Israel; it paved the way for Shebaís rebellion. The entire matter, in the Lands of God, was a means to keep David humble. For such is His way of dealing with His believers.