2 Samuel 19

CHAPTER XIX

David continues his lamentation for his son, and the people are

greatly discouraged, 1-4.

Joab reproves and threatens him with the general defection of

the people, 5-7.

David lays aside his mourning, and shows himself to the people,

who are thereby encouraged, 8.

The tribes take counsel to bring the king back to Jerusalem,

9-12.

He makes Amasa captain of the host in place of Joab, 13.

The king, returning, is met by Judah at Gilgal, 14, 15.

Shimei comes to meet David, and entreats for his life, which

David grants, 16-23.

Mephibosheth also meets him, and shows how he had been

slandered by Ziba, 24-30.

David is met by Barzillai, and between them there is an

affecting interview, 31-40.

Contention between the men of Judah and the men of Israel,

about bringing back the king, 41-43.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIX

Verse 2. The victory-was turned into mourning] Instead of

rejoicing that a most unnatural and ruinous rebellion had been

quashed, the people mourned over their own success, because they

saw their king so immoderately afflicted for the loss of his

worthless son.

Verse 4. The king covered his face] This was the custom of

mourners.

O my son Absalom] Calmet has properly remarked that the frequent

repetition of the name of the defunct, is common in the language

of lamentation. Thus VIRGIL, act. v., ver. 51:-

_____Daphnin que team tollemus ad astra;

Daphnin ad astra feremus: amavit nos quoque Daphnis.

"With yours, my song I cheerfully shall join,

To raise your Daphnis to the powers Divine.

Daphnis I'll raise unto the powers above,

For dear to me was Daphnis' well tried love."

See the notes on the preceding chapter.

Verse 5. Thou hast shamed this day] Joab's speech to David on

his immoderate grief for the death of his rebellious son is not

only remarkable for the insolence of office, but also for good

sense and firmness. Every man who candidly considers the state of

the case, must allow that David acted imprudently at least; and

that Joab's firm reproof was necessary to arouse him to a sense of

his duty to his people. But still, in his manner, Joab had far

exceeded the bonds of that reverence which a servant owes to his

master, or a subject to his prince. Joab was a good soldier, but

in every respect a bad man, and a dangerous subject.

Verse 8. The king-sat in the gate.] The place where justice was

administered to the people.

Verse 11. Speak unto the elders of Judah] David was afraid to

fall out with this tribe: they were in possession of Jerusalem,

and this was a city of great importance to him. They had joined

Absalom in his rebellion; and doubtless were now ashamed of their

conduct. David appears to take no notice of their infidelity, but

rather to place confidence in them, that their confidence in him

might be naturally excited: and, to oblige them yet farther,

purposes to make Amasa captain of the host in the place of Joab.

Verse 14. And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah] The

measures that he pursued were the best calculated that could be to

accomplish this salutary end. Appear to distrust those whom you

have some reason to suspect, and you increase their caution and

distrust. Put as much confidence in them as you safely can, and

this will not fail to excite their confidence towards you.

Verse 16. Shimei the son of Gera] It appears that Shimei was a

powerful chieftain in the land; for he had here, in his retinue,

no less than a thousand men.

Verse 18. There went over a ferry-boat] This is the first

mention of any thing of the kind. Some think a bridge or raft is

what is here intended.

Verse 20. For thy servant doth know that I have sinned] This was

all he could do; his subsequent conduct alone could prove his

sincerity. On such an avowal as this David could not but grant him

his life.

Verse 24. Neither dressed his feet] He had given the fullest

proof of his sincere attachment to David and his cause; and by

what he had done, amply refuted the calumnies of his servant Ziba.

Verse 27. The king is as an angel of God] As if he had said, I

state my case plainly and without guile; thou art too wise not to

penetrate the motives from which both myself and servant have

acted. I shall make no appeal; with whatsoever thou determinest I

shall rest contented.

Verse 29. I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.] At first,

David gave the land of Saul to Mephibosheth; and Ziba, his sons,

and his servants, were to work that land; and to Mephibosheth, as

the lord, he was to give the half of the produce. Ziba met David

in his distress with provisions, and calumniated Mephibosheth:

David, too slightly trusting to his misrepresentation, and

supposing that Mephibosheth was actually such a traitor as Ziba

represented him, made him on the spot a grant of his master's

land. Now he finds that he has acted too rashly, and therefore

confirms the former grant; i.e. that Ziba should cultivate the

ground, and still continue to give to Mephibosheth, as the lord,

the half of the produce. This was merely placing things in statu

quo, and utterly annulling the gift that he had made to Ziba. But

why did he leave this treacherous man any thing? Answer, 1. He was

one of the domestics of Saul, and David wished to show kindness to

that house. 2. He had supplied him with the necessaries of life

when he was in the greatest distress; and he thinks proper to

continue him in his old office, by way of remuneration. But it was

certainly too great a compensation for his services, however then

important, when all the circumstances are considered.

Verse 32. Barzillai was a very aged man] This venerable person

had given full proof of his attachment to David by the supplies he

had given him when he lay at Mahanaim, where his case was all but

desperate; the sincerity of his congratulations now none can

suspect. David's offer to him was at once noble and liberal: he

wished to compensate such a man, and he wished to have at hand

such a friend.

Verse 35. Can thy servant taste what I eat] Here is at once an

affecting description of the infirmities of old age; and a correct

account of the mode of living at an Eastern court in ancient

times.

Barzillai was fourscore years old; his ear was become dull of

hearing, and his relish for his food was gone: he therefore

appears to have been not only an old man, but an infirm old man.

Besides delicate meats and drinks, we find that vocal music

constituted a principal part of court entertainments: male and

female singers made a necessary appendage to these banquets, as

they do in most Eastern courts to the present day. As David was a

most sublime poet, and emphatically styled the sweet singer of

Israel, he no doubt had his court well supplied with vocal as well

as instrumental performers; and, probably, with poets and

poetesses; for it is not likely that he was the only poet of his

time, though he undoubtedly was the most excellent.

Verse 37. Thy servant Chimham] It is generally understood that

this was Barzillai's son; and this is probable from 1Ki 2:7,

where, when David was dying, he said, Show kindness to the sons of

Barzillai: and it is very probable that this Chimham was one of

them. In Jer 41:17 mention is made of the

habitation of Chimham, which was near to Bethlehem; and it is

reasonably conjectured that David had left that portion, which was

probably a part of his paternal estate, to this son of Barzillai.

Verse 39. The king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him] The kiss

was the token of friendship and farewell; the blessing was a

prayer to God for his prosperity, probably a prophetical

benediction.

Verse 42. Wherefore then be ye angry for this matter?] We have

not done this for our own advantage; we have gained nothing by it;

we did it through loyal attachment to our king.

Verse 43. We have ten parts in the king, and-more right] We are

ten tribes to one, or we are ten times so many as you; and

consequently should have been consulted in this business.

The words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the

men of Israel.] They had more weight, for they had more reason on

their side.

IT is pleasant when every province, canton, district, and

county, vie with each other in personal attachment to the prince,

and loyal attachment to his government. From such contentions as

these civil wars are never likely to arise. And how blessed it

must be for the country where the king merits all this! where the

prince is the pastor and father of his people, and in all things

the minister of and to them for good!

It is criminal in the prince not to endeavour to deserve the

confidence and love of his people; and it is highly criminal in

the people not to repay such endeavours with the most loyal and

affectionate attachment.

Where the government is not despotic, the king acts by the

counsels of his ministers, and while he does so he is not

chargeable with miscarriages and misfortunes; they either came

through bad counsels, or directly thwarting providences. On this

ground is that political maxim in our laws formed, the king can do

no wrong. Sometimes God will have things otherwise than the best

counsels have determined, because he sees that the results will,

on the whole, be better for the peace and prosperity of that

state. "God is the only Ruler of princes." And as the peace of the

world depends much on civil government, hence kings and civil

governors are peculiar objects of the Almighty's care. Wo to him

who labours to bring about a general disaffection; as such things

almost invariably end in general disappointment and calamity. It

is much easier to unsettle than to settle; to pull down than to

build up.

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