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II Samuel Chapter 16

Memory verses for this week:  Prov 18:21  Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Overview of II Samuel 16: The focus remains upon Davidís flight and events which soon befell him. These include the meeting with Ziba the devious servant of Mephibosheth and the incident of Shimei cursing David. The chapter concludes with further details of Absalomís entry into Jerusalem. This included his violation of his fatherís concubines in open view of the nation.  

I.  The False Servant of Mephibosheth 

2 Sam 16:1  And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.

2 Sam 16:2  And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king's household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.

2 Sam 16:3  And the king said, And where is thy master's son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father.

2 Sam 16:4  Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.

Recall that Mephibosheth was the crippled lone surviving son of Jonathon, Davidís deceased friend.   As Absalom's plan of overtaking David's throne was gathering momentum, Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth gathered a significant supply of provisions, loaded them upon donkeys, and brought them to David.     Included was a significant quantity of bread, raisins, and fruit of the summer harvest.   The bottle of wine mentioned was not a small glass bottle typical of modern bottles. Rather, it was a leathern container holding many gallons of the fruit of the vine.     It should be noted that Jews then and to this day had a method of producing a sparkling, non alcoholic wine.     David was suspicious and immediately asked what this was all about.   Ziba proclaimed to David that the animals and provisions were a gift for his benefit.     David was now even more suspicious. He then asked where Mephibosheth was.    The devious and disloyal character of Ziba is revealed.   He lied to David that Mephibosheth had decided to stay in Jerusalem with the intent of being placed on the throne as Saulís survivor. 

 Zibaís motive for such a lie evidently was to free himself from servitude to Mephibosheth and to ingratiate himself to David.   David was clearly suspicious and suspected treachery on Zibaís part.    David briefly noted that Ziba was all that Mephibosheth had and said no more.   In turn, Ziba said, ďI humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.Ē    This disloyal servant, perhaps fearing that Absalom to the contrary would deal harshly with any survivor of Saul therefore sought to take advantage of the crippled condition of his master.   He then sought to further ingratiate himself to David.


II.  Shimei Curses David 

2 Sam 16:5  And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came.

2 Sam 16:6  And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.

2 Sam 16:7  And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:

2 Sam 16:8  The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.

2 Sam 16:9  Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.

2 Sam 16:10  And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? 

Word quickly spread of Davidís flight.  As Davidís procession trudged eastward from Jerusalem, he came to Bahurim,   Just to the east of Jerusalem on the other side of the Mount of Olives lived a relative of Saul.    Saulís relative, Shimei by name, came out of his house and began to curse David.    Shimei had the audacity to not only curse King David, but also to throw rocks at him and his party.    Though twenty-five years had passed since David had become king over all of Israel, Shimei was still bitter.    We should learn from this to never harbor ill will against another person, or it will affect your life in a negative way.   Good people can be turned to wretched hardened souls when bitterness is in your heart. 

Eph 4:25  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Eph 4:26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Eph 4:27  Neither give place to the devil.

Eph 4:28  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Eph 4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 

Shimei had harbored this resentment for years, and now calls David a son of the devil.   He further claimed that Davidís predicament was because that David had superseded Saul and that God had now given the kingdom to Absalom.    Shimei yelled that David was reaping what he had sown.    He was, but Shimei did not understand the real cause for Davidís trouble.   


In verse 9, Abishai, hearing the cursing and insults of Shimei, asked permission to go and cut off the head of Shimei.  However, David rather rebuked him.   Apparently, Joab, Abishaiís brother, also was in agreement to destroy Shimei.    Though loyal friends and relatives encouraged him to destroy the man, David wanted nothing to do with their advice.   David clearly was not in a fighting mood.    He intimated that maybe the Lord had put Shimei up to such abuse.   If so, he would just receive that chastening.     

Matthew Henry said this about Shimei. 

While David was in prosperity and power, Shimei hated him as much as he did now, but he durst not then say anything against him. God knows what is in the hearts of those that are disaffected to him and his government, but earthly princes do not. Now he came forth, and cursed David with all the bad words and wishes he could invent, v. 5.  

1. Why he took this opportunity to give vent to his malice. (1.) Because now he thought he might do it safely; yet, if David had thought proper to resent the provocation, it would have cost Shimei his life. (2.) Because now it would be most grievous to David, would add affliction to his grief, and pour vinegar into his wounds. He complains of those as most barbarous who talk to the grief of those whom God has wounded, Ps. 69:26. So Shimei did, loading him with curses whom no generous eye could look upon without compassion. (3.) Because now he thought that Providence justified his reproaches, and that Davidís present afflictions proved him to be as bad a man as he was willing to represent him. Jobís friends condemned him upon this false principle. Those that are under the rebukes of a gracious God must not think it strange if these bring upon them the reproaches of evil men. If once it be said, God hath forsaken him, presently it follows, Persecute and take him, Ps. 71:11. But it is the character of a base spirit thus to trample upon those that are down, and insult over them.  [1] 

2 Sam 16:11  And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him.

2 Sam 16:12  It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.

2 Sam 16:13  And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.

2 Sam 16:14  And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there. 

David continued his response to his subordinates.   As far as David was concerned, if someone was going to kill him, it would be Absalom and not this noisy nuisance from the tribe of Benjamin.  He counseled his men to let him alone and that maybe the Lord had put him up to it.

There is no evidence of this, but David was so beaten in his spirit that he was willing to believe that.   David did wisely assess the situation.   David rather committed the trouble to the Lord.    In so many words, he determined to let the Lord deal with Shimei if He so chose.   That is wise advise to this day.  

Weary with their travel, the burden of what had happened, and even the aggravation of Shimei; David and his party paused to rest.    The context suggests that this was at Bahurim not far from Jerusalem.  Josephus, the Jewish historian suggests they in fact journeyed all the way to the Jordan River. If that be the case, at least it was downhill all the way.  

III.   Absalom enters Jerusalem 

2 Sam 16:15  And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.

2 Sam 16:16  And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king.

2 Sam 16:17  And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?

2 Sam 16:18  And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide.

2 Sam 16:19  And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father's presence, so will I be in thy presence.

As David was pausing to rest east of Jerusalem, Absalom and his loyalists began to take charge in Jerusalem.   Notably, Ahithophel, Davidís former confidant was with them.    Hushai, Davidís informant in Jerusalem, therefore wasted no time in making contact with Absalom and feigning allegiance to him.   Absalom was immediately suspicious and said,  ďIs this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?Ē   He wanted to know why Hushai, Davidís friend, had changed sides.   Hushai deftly claimed to be loyal to whomever was the leader of Israel.  As he had served David, so would he serve Absalom.

Absalom apparently believed him.  

2 Sam 16:20  Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do.

2 Sam 16:21  And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong.

2 Sam 16:22  So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel.

2 Sam 16:23  And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom. 

Having seated himself as king in Jerusalem, Absalom therefore asked his chief counselor, Ahithophel what he should do next.   Absalom apparently ordered Ahithophel to form a counsel to give him advice on his next move.   Recall that Ahithophel was Bathshebaís grandfather. 

2 Sam 15:12  And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom. 

Ahithophel likely knew what had transpired with David and Bathsheba, and what David had done to Uriah.   He may have know about Nathan confronting David of his sins.  Ahithophel probably was aware of the prophecy which Nathan had made regarding the wives of David being given to his neighbor.   

2 Sam 12:11  Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 

David had left ten concubines to take care of his palace in his absence. Absalom undoubtedly knew that by now.    Ahithophel counseled him to be intimate with these women.  In so doing, he presumably would be so abhorrent to his father that they would never be reconciled.   Israel could rest assured that Absalom was now established as king.  

In so counseling Absalom, not only was it an act of wickedness and utter disrespect of his father, it also was an abomination to God.  

Lev 18:8  The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness. 

Lev 20:11  And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. 

He not only publicly desecrated the sanctity of his father, but he did so for all to see.   

In verse 23, although Absalom was king, Ahithophel and his advice came to be viewed as if it were the word of God.    He was reputed to have given good counsel to David when he was king. Now he was esteemed as the wise advisor to Absalom, the new king.   That prominence will turn against him in the next chapter.    

A humble and tender spirit will turn reproaches into reproofs. 


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[1]               Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henryís Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.