Joab Causes the King to Cease
3. the people gat them by stealth … to the
city—The rumor of the king's disconsolate condition spread a
universal and unseasonable gloom. His troops, instead of being welcomed
back (as a victorious army always was) with music and other
demonstrations of public joy, slunk secretly and silently into the
city, as if ashamed after the commission of some crime.
4. the king covered his face—one of the
usual signs of mourning (see on 2Sa 15:30).
5. Thou hast shamed … the faces of all thy
servants—by withdrawing thyself to indulge in grief, as if
their services were disagreeable and their devotion irksome to thee.
Instead of hailing their return with joy and gratitude, thou hast
refused them the small gratification of seeing thee. Joab's
remonstrance was right and necessary, but it was made with harshness.
He was one of those persons who spoil their important services by the
insolence of their manners, and who always awaken a feeling of
obligation in those to whom they render any services. He spoke to David
in a tone of hauteur that ill became a subject to show towards his
7. Now … arise, go forth, and speak
comfortably unto thy servants—The king felt the truth of
Joab's reprimand; but the threat by which it was enforced, grounded as
it was on the general's unbounded popularity with the army, showed him
to be a dangerous person; and that circumstance, together with the
violation of an express order to deal gently for his sake with Absalom,
produced in David's mind a settled hatred, which was strongly
manifested in his last directions to Solomon.
8. the king arose, and sat in the
gate—He appeared daily in the usual place for the hearing of
all the people came before the
king—that is, the loyal natives who had been faithful to his
government, and fought in his cause.
Israel had fled—that is, the adherents
of Absalom, who, on his defeat, had dispersed and saved themselves by
2Sa 19:9-43. The Israelites
Bring the King Back.
9-11. all the people were at strife throughout all
the tribes of Israel—The kingdom was completely disorganized.
The sentiments of three different parties are represented in 2Sa 19:9,
10: the royalists, the
adherents of Absalom who had been very numerous, and those who were
indifferent to the Davidic dynasty. In these circumstances the king was
right in not hastening back, as a conqueror, to reascend his throne. A
re-election was, in some measure, necessary. He remained for some time
on the other side of Jordan, in expectation of being invited back. That
invitation was given without, however, the concurrence of Judah. David,
disappointed and vexed by his own tribe's apparent lukewarmness,
despatched the two high priests to rouse the Judahites to take a
prominent interest in his cause. It was the act of a skilful
politician. Hebron having been the seat of the rebellion, it was
graceful on his part to encourage their return to allegiance and duty;
it was an appeal to their honor not to be the last of the tribes. But
this separate message, and the preference given to them, occasioned an
outburst of jealousy among the other tribes that was nearly followed by
fatal consequences [see 2Sa 19:40-43].
13. And say ye to Amasa, &c.—This
also was a dextrous stroke of policy. David was fully alive to the
importance, for extinguishing the rebellion, of withdrawing from that
cause the only leader who could keep it alive; and he, therefore,
secretly intimated his intention to raise Amasa to the command of the
army in the place of Joab, whose overbearing haughtiness had become
intolerable. The king justly reckoned, that from natural temper as well
as gratitude for the royal pardon, he would prove a more tractable
servant; and David, doubtless, intended in all sincerity to fulfil this
promise. But Joab managed to retain his high position (see on 2Sa 20:4-10).
14. he bowed the heart of all the men of
Judah—that is, Amasa, who had been won over, used his great
influence in re-attaching the whole tribe of Judah to the interest of
15. Judah came to Gilgal—the most
convenient place where preparations could be made for bringing the king
and court over the Jordan.
16-23. Shemei … a thousand men of Benjamin
with him—This display of [Shemei's] followers was to show
what force he could raise against or in support of the king. Expressing
the deepest regret for his former outrageous conduct, he was pardoned
on the spot; and although the son of Zeruiah urged the expediency of
making this chief a public example, his officiousness was repulsed by
David with magnanimity, and with the greater confidence that he felt
himself now re-established in the kingdom (see on 1Ki
17. Ziba, the servant of the house of
Saul—He had deceived his master; and when ordered to make
ready the ass for the lame prince to go and meet the king, he slipped
away by himself to pay court first; so that Mephibosheth, being lame,
had to remain in Jerusalem till the king's arrival.
18. ferry boat—probably rafts, which are
still used on that part of the river.
20. I am come the first … of all the house
of Joseph—that is, before all the rest of Israel
(Ps 77:15; 80:1; 81:5; Zec 10:6).
24-30. Mephibosheth … came down to meet the
king—The reception given to Mephibosheth was less creditable
to David. The sincerity of that prince's grief for the misfortunes of
the king cannot be doubted.
He had neither dressed his feet—not
taken the bath,
nor trimmed his beard—The Hebrews cut
off the hair on the upper lip (see on Le 13:45),
and cheeks, but carefully cherished it on the chin from ear to ear.
Besides dyeing it black or red colors, which, however, is the
exception, and not the rule in the East, there are various modes of
trimming it: they train it into a massy, bushy form, swelling and
round; or they terminate it like a pyramid, in a sharp point. Whatever
the mode, it is always trimmed with the greatest care; and they usually
carry a small comb for the purpose. The neglect of this attention to
his beard was an undoubted proof of the depth of Mephibosheth's grief.
The king seems to have received him upbraidingly, and not to have been
altogether sure either of his guilt or innocence. It is impossible to
commend the cavalier treatment, any more than to approve the partial
award, of David in this case. If he were too hurried and distracted by
the pressure of circumstances to inquire fully into the matter, he
should have postponed his decision; for if by "dividing the land"
19:29) he meant that the
former arrangement should be continued by which Mephibosheth was
acknowledged the proprietor, and Ziba the farmer, it was a hardship
inflicted on the owner to fix him with a tenant who had so grossly
slandered him. But if by "dividing the land," they were now to share
alike, the injustice of the decision was greatly increased. In any
view, the generous, disinterested spirit displayed by Mephibosheth was
worthy a son of the noble-hearted Jonathan.
31-40. Barzillai the Gileadite—The rank,
great age, and chivalrous devotion of this Gileadite chief wins our
respect. His declining to go to court, his recommendation of his son,
his convoy across the Jordan, and his parting scene with the king, are
interesting incidents. What mark of royal favor was bestowed on Chimham
has not been recorded; but it is probable that David gave a great part
of his personal patrimony in Beth-lehem to Chimham and his heirs in
perpetuity (Jer 41:17).
35. the voice of singing men and singing
women—Bands of professional musicians form a prominent
appendage to the courts of Oriental princes.
37. buried by the grave of my father and of my
mother—This is an instance of the strong affection of people
in the East towards the places of sepulture appropriated to their
40-43. the king went on to Gilgal, … and all
the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of
Israel—Whether from impatience to move on or from some other
cause, David did not wait till all the tribes had arrived to conduct
him on his return to the capital. The procession began as soon as Amasa
had brought the Judahite escort, and the preference given to this tribe
produced a bitter jealousy, which was nearly kindling a civil war
fiercer than that which had just ended. A war of words ensued between
the tribes—Israel resting their argument on their superior
numbers; "they had ten parts in the king," whereas Judah had no more
than one. Judah grounded their right to take the lead, on the ground of
their nearer relationship to the king. This was a claim dangerous to
the house of David; and it shows the seeds were already sown for that
tribal dissension which, before long, led to the dismemberment of the