II Samuel Chapter 19
Overview of II Samuel 19:
The aftermath of the battle with Absalom is here recorded. Joab
reproaches David for his grief. David then returns to Jerusalem and
puts affairs in order.
Joab Reproaches David
Sam 19:1 And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and
mourneth for Absalom.
Sam 19:2 And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all
the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was
grieved for his son.
Sam 19:3 And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city,
as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.
Sam 19:4 But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a
loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!
After the great victory over Absalom, Joab was disgusted at David’s
ongoing mourning for him.
David’s forces heard of his grief, they slunk back to Mahanaim.
David with the middle-eastern custom for mourning, covered his face
and loudly, though eloquently, lamented the death of his wayward
Sam 19:5 And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou
hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, 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;
Sam 19:6 In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends.
For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes
nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived,
and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.
Sam 19:7 Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto
thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there
will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto
thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.
Sam 19:8 Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told
unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king doth sit in the gate.
And all the people came before the king: for Israel had fled every
man to his tent.
After all he and his forces had gone through in defeating Absalom,
Joab was appalled with David’s continuing public bereavement. The
son had meant him harm and had intended to put David to death.
But even though he was wrong and an enemy, David could not deal with
the death of his son. Joab's disgust with David is apparent,
and he roundly rebukes David.
David may have been indiscreet in so publicly lamenting his son
before his courageous and loyal supporters, nevertheless, insight
into the character of David is seen. He was a man of a tender
heart. Though Absalom had utterly betrayed him, he still was his
son. It is clear that David loved Absalom far more than the other
way around. The same undoubtedly is true of the love which God
has for us. Probably one of the greatest verses of the love of
God towards man is recorded in John 3:16.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life.
John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the
world; but that the world through him might be saved.
is easy to understand the love of a father for his son, but to
comprehend how much God loved us when we were his enemies is hard to
Rom 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by
the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved
by his life.
Rom 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord
Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
In verse 7,
gave David some forthright advice. “Now
therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants:
for I swear by the LORD,
if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night:
and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee
from thy youth until now.”
Joab had little pity for David. However, his advice was undoubtedly
right. If David continued to mourn for Absalom, he would have even
worse problems. David gathered himself together and sat in the
gate. The “to sit in the gate” refers to assuming official
duties. His supporters, though initially demoralized, returned to
Israel is at Odds with itself as a Nation
Sam 19:9 And all the people were at strife throughout all the
tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our
enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and
now he is fled out of the land for Absalom.
Sam 19:10 And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle.
Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?
Sam 19:11 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.
Sam 19:12 Ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh:
wherefore then are ye the last to bring back the king?
From verse 9, it is clear that Israel, the nation, was at odds with
Some realized how David had wrought great victories in the past but
now had been driven out by his own son, Absalom. They had
followed Absalom and now he was dead. There was utter confusion. In
spite of that, others urged bringing David back to Jerusalem as
Verse 11 says that word of this reached David. Recall how that
Zadok and Abiathar were the priests loyal to David who he directed
to remain in Jerusalem to keep track of what was going on there.
David urged Zadok and Abiathar to approach the elders of Judah and
ask them why they were the last ones to bring him back.
Sam 19:13 And say ye to Amasa, Art thou not of my bone, and of my
flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if thou be not captain of the
host before me continually in the room of Joab.
Sam 19:14 And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as
the heart of one man; so that they sent this word unto the king,
Return thou, and all thy servants.
Sam 19:15 So the king returned, and came to Jordan. And Judah came
to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to conduct the king over Jordan.
Amasa had been Absalom’s chief general. He also was David’s
David offered him complete clemency and what essentially had been
Joab’s position. David evidently thus demoted Joab for his part in
violating orders and killing Absalom. The inherent thought in
David ‘bowing’ the heart of the men of Judah is that he swayed
them. By being magnanimous to his former foe, David wisely won the
confidence of his confused people. The leadership of Judah
invited David to return as king.
verse 15, it records how that David journeyed from Mahanaim in
Gilead (on the east side of the Jordan River) south and westward to
the banks of the Jordan River. On the other side of the river,
Israel gathered in the river valley at Gilgal. (Jericho as yet had
not been rebuilt.)
Matthew Henry in his notes mentions that it was important for David
to take back the throne with the blessing of all 12 tribes.
It is strange that
David did not immediately upon the defeat and dispersion of
Absalom’s forces march with all expedition back to Jerusalem, to
regain the possession of his capital city, while the rebels were in
confusion and before they could rally again. What occasion was there
to bring him back? Could not he himself go back with the victorious
army he had with him in Gilead? He could, no doubt; but, 1. He would
go back as a prince, with the consent and unanimous approbation of
the people, and not as a conqueror forcing his way: he would restore
their liberties, and not take occasion to seize them, or encroach
upon them. 2. He would go back in peace and safety, and be sure that
he should meet with no difficulty or opposition in his return, and
therefore would be satisfied that the people were well-affected to
have him before he would stir. 3. He would go back in honour, and
like himself, and therefore would go back, not at the head of his
forces, but in the arms of his subjects; for the prince that has
wisdom and goodness enough to make himself his people’s darling,
without doubt, looks greater and makes a much better figure than the
prince that has strength enough to make himself his people’s terror.
It is resolved therefore that David must be brought back to
Jerusalem his own city, and his own house there, with some ceremony,
and here we have that matter concerted.
Sam 19:16 And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, which was of
Bahurim, hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king
Sam 19:17 And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and
Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his
twenty servants with him; and they went over Jordan before the king.
Sam 19:18 And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king's
household, and to do what he thought good. And Shimei the son of
Gera fell down before the king, as he was come over Jordan;
Sam 19:19 And said unto the king, Let not my lord impute iniquity
unto me, 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.
Sam 19:20 For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore,
behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to
go down to meet my lord the king.
Shimei the son
of Gera, a Benjamite, which
of Bahurim, hasted and
came down with the men of Judah to meet king David.
Political winds can change rapidly. Recall that it was Shimei who
had cursed David as he fled in II Samuel 16:5-8
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.
Shimei shifted rapidly into a fence-mending mode. He had cursed
David when weak. Now the king was back in power. Perhaps for
moral support and perhaps to provide a shield for himself, Shimei
talked one thousand men of Benjamin (his tribe) into coming with him
to meet David. Shimei even crossed the river to meet David.
Meanwhile, a ferry boat had been provided to properly transport
David across the Jordan River. Shimei prostrated himself before
the king he had so cursed not long before. It is amazing how
death put before a man can cause him to become quite humble, and
David certainly could have had the man put to death.
therefore made entreaty before David.
And said unto the king, Let not my
lord impute iniquity unto me, 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.
Shimei was now forced to eat his words. He had to backpedal rapidly.
His foolish mouth had placed himself in jeopardy. He urged David
to forgive, forget, and not take it to heart. Shimei knew he was
in trouble. Therefore, he made a point to be the first one to meet
David as he crossed back over Jordan. He referred to himself as
the house of Joseph. Shimei, however, was in fact of the tribe of
Benjamin. Some think that Benjamin considered itself a subsidiary
of the greater tribe of Joseph. (Benjamin was Joseph’s only full
brother.) Others think that even as Joseph had forgiven his
brethren, Shimei, by association hoped that David would do the
Sam 19:21 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall
not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD'S
Sam 19:22 And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of
Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? 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?
Sam 19:23 Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die.
And the king sware unto him.
David’s lieutenants were quick to urge David to eliminate this
David was not only generous, but he also was politically smart.
And David said, What have I to do
with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries
unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel?
for do not I know that I
this day king over
David realized how thin his political support was at that time. He
wisely perceived that pardon at this juncture was far wiser than
revenge. David in reply told Abishai, I am king and know what I am
In verse 23,
David promises Shimei that he would not kill him.
is evident from I Kings 2:8-9 that David never again trusted Shimei.
J. Vernon McGee said this about Shimei.
David is saying, “Why
should I pay attention to this fellow? I know I am the king of
Israel.” David is satisfied that God has restored him to this
position. “Why should I worry about a little fellow like Shimei? Why
should I put him to death? What he thinks doesn’t amount to
anything.” There are many Christians today who let little things
bother them. They let little people bother them, and they should
not. Is God blessing you, my friend? Perhaps you are a discouraged
pastor. Are you having trouble with your board of deacons? Are you
having problems with a troublemaker? My friend, forget it. You are
serving God. God is on your side. Live above that small irritation
and serve the Lord—make sure that is what you are doing. Forget
about the other things; we need to live above them.
Solomon would do what David did not do in giving Shimei a chance to
redeem himself, Solomon eventually had him executed. See I Kings
1 Ki 2:36 And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto
him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not
forth thence any whither.
1 Ki 2:37 For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and
passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou
shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head.
1 Ki 2:38 And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my
lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in
Jerusalem many days.
1 Ki 2:39 And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two
of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king
of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in
1 Ki 2:40 And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath
to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his
servants from Gath.
1 Ki 2:41 And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from
Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again.
1 Ki 2:42 And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto
him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto
thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and
walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou
saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good.
1 Ki 2:43 Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the
commandment that I have charged thee with?
1 Ki 2:44 The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the
wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David
my father: therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine
1 Ki 2:45 And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of
David shall be established before the LORD for ever.
1 Ki 2:46 So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which
went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was
established in the hand of Solomon.
III. Mephibosheth Comes to Meet David
Sam 19:24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the
king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor
washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he
came again in peace.
Sam 19:25 And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to
meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not
thou with me, Mephibosheth?
Sam 19:26 And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me:
for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride
thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame.
Sam 19:27 And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king;
but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is
good in thine eyes.
Sam 19:28 For all of my father's house were but dead men before my
lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did
eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any
more unto the king?
Mephibosheth had been slandered by his disloyal servant, Ziba.
was clearly loyal to David in having not washed, shaved, or changed
his clothes since David had been forced to flee Jerusalem. He came
in his humbled appearance to David. The king therefore, not
knowing of Ziba’s duplicity, asked Mephibosheth directly why he had
not come with him.
verse 26, Mephibosheth poured out his heart to David and told him
what really happened. Mephibosheth pled his case before David.
He told how that he had ordered Ziba to saddle him a donkey so that
he could flee with David. Ziba rode away on the donkey himself and
lied to David about the whole affair. Mephibosheth paid homage to
his king, thanking him once again for the kindness which David had
showed to him.
Sam 19:29 And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of
thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.
Sam 19:30 And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea, let him take
all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his
Sam 19:31 And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and
went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan.
Sam 19:32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years
old: and he had provided the king of sustenance while he lay at
Mahanaim; for he was a very great man.
Sam 19:33 And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me,
and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem.
When Ziba had come to David in Gilead and lied about Mephibosheth,
David had granted him all Mephibosheth’s land. David reverted back
to the original arrangement wherein Ziba would received only half
the profits from the land, sharing the other half with Mephibosheth.
As far as Mephibosheth was concerned, just being in David’s good
grace was enough for him. It is of interest that this parallels
the famous decision of Solomon in offering to divide the disputed
infant to determine the true mother. Here, David offered Ziba half
the land. Mephibosheth did not protest, demonstrating his true
loyalty to David. David thus established who was telling the truth
in the whole affair.
Beginning in verse 31, we have another detail of David’s return
David’s old friend Barzillai journeyed down to the Jordan River to
show his support of David’s return to the throne.
are informed that Barzillai was eighty years old. David invites
Barzillai to come up to Jerusalem with him to honor him.
Barzillai Declines David's Invitation
Sam 19:34 And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to
live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem?
Sam 19:35 I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern
between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I
drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing
women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my
lord the king?
Sam 19:36 Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the
king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward?
Sam 19:37 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. But behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my
lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee.
Barzillai declined David’s invitation. Barzillai reminded David
that he was eighty years old. As an old man, he no longer had good
judgment, implying his eyesight was failing. He no longer had full
use of his other senses either. He could no longer taste well and
was now hard of hearing. He did not want to be a burden to
David. Barzillai counter offered, He would go a short
distance on the other side of the river. As far as he was
concerned, his providing provisions for David at Mahanaim was no big
deal. It was not necessary for David to give him any reward for
that. Rather, Barzillai asked,
thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine
be buried by the grave of
my father and of my mother. But behold thy servant Chimham; let him
go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good
It would seem that David’s invitation to go to Jerusalem was for
more than just a brief visit. Implicit is that David offered him
a longstanding living arrangement there. Barzillai declined,
noting he preferred to die in his hometown. However, he offered to
allow his servant Chimham to go to Jerusalem with David. David
could therefore employ him in anyway he saw fit.
Sam 19:38 And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and
I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee: and
whatsoever thou shalt require of me, that will I do for thee.
Sam 19:39 And all the people went over Jordan. And when the king
was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he
returned unto his own place.
Sam 19:40 Then the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with
him: and all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half
the people of Israel.
David accepted Barzillai’s offer. However, he left the fate of
Chimham in Barzillai’s hands.
David told Barzillai to ask what he would and he would do it for
him. Of interest, in Jeremiah 41:17, reference is made to “the
habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem.” David evidently
gave Chimham land for an estate near Bethlehem. David
and Barzillai parted on warm terms and each went their appointed
way. Upon crossing Jordan with Chimham
the king went on to Gilgal,
and Chimham went on with him.
Noteworthy is that
Judah showed support for David, but only half of the rest of the
nation supported David. The wounds of the civil war still lingered
An Old Strife Begins Anew
Sam 19:41 And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and
said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen
thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all
David's men with him, over Jordan?
Sam 19:42 And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel,
Because the king is near of kin to us: wherefore then be ye angry
for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king's cost? or hath he
given us any gift?
2 Sam 19:43 And the men
of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in
the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did
ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing
back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than
the words of the men of Israel.
parochial jealousy in Israel had not gone away.
Representatives of the ten northern tribes came to David and accused
the tribe of Judah (along with Benjamin) of having conspiring to
bring David back without consulting them. Judah, in hearing of
this complaint, replied that David was of their tribe. The rest had
no cause to be angry. Moreover, there had been no financial
improprieties. The foolish argument continued.
the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said,
We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more
right in David than ye:
why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had
in bringing back our king?
Petty are the jealousies here. However, the ferocity of Judah’s
defense of their actions blunted any further action.
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Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA:
Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.
J. Vernon McGee, Thru
the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos
Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981
by J. Vernon McGee.