NOTES ON The Second Book of SAMUEL

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII

This book is the history of the reign of David. It gives us an account of his triumphs and of his troubles.

  1. His triumphs, over the house of Saul, chap. 1 - 4. Over the Jebusites and Philistines, chap. 5. In the bringing up of the ark, chap. 6, 7. Over the neighbouring nations, chap. 8 - 10.
  2. His troubles; the cause of them, his sin in the matter of Uriah, chap. 11 - 12. The troubles themselves, from the sin of Amnon, chap. 13. The rebellion of Absolom, chap. 14 - 19. And of Sheba, chap. 20. From the famine, chap. 21. And the pestilence, for his numbering the people, chap. 24. His song we have, chap. 22. And his words and worthies, chap. 23. In many instances throughout this book, he appears as a great and a good man. Yet it must be confessed he had great vices: So that his honour shines brighter in his psalms than in his annals.

Chapter I

David receives an account of the death of Saul and Jonathan, ver. 1 - 10. He mourns over them, ver. 11, 12. Puts the man to death, who boasted he had killed Saul, ver. 13 - 16. His elegy upon Saul and Jonathan, ver. 17 - 27.

1 Ziklag - Which though burnt, yet was not so consumed by the fire, that David and his men could not lodge in it.
2 Third day - From David's return to Ziklag. With his clothes rent, &c. - As a mourner.
18 Judah - These he more particularly teacheth, because they were the chief, and now the royal tribe, and likely to be the great bulwark to all Israel against the Philistines, upon whose land they bordered; and withal, to be the most true to him, and to his interest. The bow - That is, of their arms, expressed, under the name of the bow, which then was one of the chief weapons; and for the dextrous use whereof Jonathan is commended in the following song: which may be one reason, why he now gives forth this order, that so they might strive to imitate Jonathan in military skill, and to excel in it, as he did. Jasher - It is more largely and particularly described in the book of Jasher.
19 Beauty - Their flower and glory. Saul and Jonathan, and their army. High places - Heb. upon thy high places; that is, those which belong to thee, O land of Israel. How - How strangely! How suddenly! How universally!
20 Tell it not - This is not a precept, but a poetical wish; whereby he doth not so much desire, that this might not be done, which he knew to be impossible; as, express his great sorrow, because it would be done, to the dishonour of God, and of his people. The daughters - He mentions these, because it was the custom of women in those times and places to celebrate those victories which their men obtained, with triumphant songs and dances.
21 Let there be, &c. - This is no proper imprecation; but a passionate representation of the horror which he conceived at this publick loss; which was such, as if he thought every person or thing which contributed to it, were fit to bear the tokens of divine displeasure, such as this is, when the earth wants the necessary influences of dew and rain. Fields of offerings - That is, fruitful fields, which may produce fair and goodly fruits fit to be offered to God. Vilely - Dishonourably: for it was a great reproach to any soldier, to cast away or lose his shield. Cast away - By themselves, that they might flee more swiftly as the Israelites did, and Saul with the rest. As though, &c. - As if he had been no more, than a common soldier: he was exposed to the same kind of death and reproach as they were.
22 Not back - Without effect: their arrows shot from their bow, and their swords did seldom miss, and commonly pierced fat, and flesh, and blood, and reached even to the heart and bowels. Returned not, &c. - But filled and glutted with blood: for the sword is metaphorically said to have a mouth, which we translate an edge; and to devour. And this their former successfulness is mentioned as an aggravation of their last infelicity.
23 Lovely - Amiable, and obliging in their carriage and conversation, both towards one another, and towards their people: for, as for Saul's fierce behaviour towards Jonathan, it was only a sudden passion, by which his ordinary temper was not to be measured; and for his carriage towards David, that was from that jealousy and reason of state which usually engageth even well - natured princes, to the same hostilities. But it is observable, that David speaks not a word here of his piety; but only commends him for those things which were truly in him. A fit pattern for all preachers in their funeral commendations. Swifter, &c. - Expeditious in pursuing their enemies, and executing their designs; which is a great commendation in a prince, and in a soldier. Stronger, &c. - In regard of their bodily strength, and the courage of their mind.
24 Daughters - These he mentions; because the women then used to make songs both of triumph, and of lamentation, and, because they usually are most delighted with the ornaments of the body here following. Clothed you - This he did, because he procured them so much peace as gave them opportunity of enriching themselves: and, because he took these things as spoils from the enemies, and clothed his own people with them.
25 Thine - Which were in thy country, and (had not thy father disinherited thee by his sins) in thy dominions.
26 Distressed - That is, for the loss of thee. For, besides the loss of a true friend, which is inestimable; he lost him who both could, and undoubtedly would have given him a speedy, and quiet, and sure possession of the kingdom, whereas now, he met with long and troublesome interruptions. Of women - That is, that love wherewith they love their husbands, or children for their affections are usually more ardent than mens.

Chapter II

David goes up to Hebron and is crowned there, ver. 1 - 4. Thanks the men of Jabesh - gilead, ver. 5 - 7. Ishbosheth is set up in opposition to him, ver. 8 - 11. An encounter between David's men and Ishbosheth's, in which the latter are beaten, ver. 12 - 17. Asahel is killed by Abner, ver. 18 - 23. Joah sounds retreat by the advice of Abner, who retires to Mahanaim, ver. 24 - 29. The loss on each side, ver. 30 - 31. Asahel buried, ver. 32

1 Enquired - By Urim. Thus David begins at the right end, and lays his foundation in God's counsel and assistance. Shall I go - He asked not whether he should take the kingdom; for that was appointed before; and he would not offend God, nor dishonour his ordinance with unnecessary enquiries; but only where he should enter upon it; whether in Judah, as he supposed, because of his relation to that tribe, and his interest in it; or in some other tribe: for he doth not limit God, but resolves exactly to follow his counsels. Hebron - Which was next to Jerusalem (part whereof the Jebusites now possessed) the chief city of that tribe, and a city of the priests, and in the very center of that tribe, to which the whole tribe might speedily resort, when need required. And the sepulchres of the patriarchs adjoining to Hebron, would remind him of the ancient promise.
3 Dwelt in - That is, the cities or towns belonging to Hebron, which was the Metropolis. For in Hebron itself there was not space for them all, because it was filled with priests, and with David's court.
4 Anointed - This they did upon just grounds, because not only the kingdom was promised to that tribe, but David was designed and anointed by God, whose will both they and all Israel were obliged to obey. And they resolved not to neglect their duty, though they saw the other tribes would. Yet their modesty is observable, they make him king of Judah only, and not of all Israel. And therefore there was need of a third anointing to the kingdom over all Israel, which he had chap.5:3, that first anointing; 1Sam 16:13, was only a designation of the person who should be king, but not an actual inauguration of him to the kingdom.
5 Kindness - This respect and affection. For as it is, an act of inhumanity to deny burial to the dead; so it is an act of mercy and kindness to bury them.
6 Kindness and truth - That is, true and real kindness; not in words only, but also in actions, as you have done to your king. I will requite - So far am I from being offended with you for this kindness to my late enemy.
7 Be valiant - Be not afraid lest the Philistines should punish you for this fact, but take good courage, I will defend you. For, &c. - Or, though your master Saul be dead, and so your hearts may faint, as if you were now sheep without a shepherd.
8 Abner - Tho' ambition and desire of rule, because he knew that Ishbosheth would have only the name of king, whilst he had the power.
9 Gilead - Largely so taken, for all the land of Israel beyond Jordan. Ashurites - That is, the tribe of Asher, as the Chaldee paraphrast and others understand it. Jezreel - A large and rich valley situate in the borders of the tribes of Zebulun, Issachar and Naphtali, and so put for them all. All Israel - Except Judah.
10 Two years - Namely, before the following war broke out, which continued five years.
12 Went out - To fight with David's army, and to bring back the rest of the kingdom to Saul's house.
13 Met - That is, met the opposite army, and put themselves in a posture for battle.
14 And play - That is, shew their prowess and dexterity in fighting together. He speaks like a vain - glorious and cruel man, and a soldier of fortune, that esteemed it a sport to see men wounding and killing one another. So this he designed, partly for their mutual recreation and trial of skill; and partly, that by this occasion they might be engaged in a battle. But he is unworthy the name of a man, who is thus prodigal of human blood.
16 By the head - By the hair of the head, which after their manner was of a considerable length. Helkath - kazzurim - Or, the field of rock; that is, of men who stood like rocks unmovable, each one dying upon the spot where he fought.
21 And take, &c. - If thou art ambitious to get a trophy or mark of thy valour, desist from me who am an old and experienced captain, and go to some young and raw soldier; try thy skill upon him, and take away his arms from him.
23 And died - So Asahel's swiftness, which he presumed on so much, only forwarded his fate! With it he ran upon his death, instead of running from it.
26 Bitterness - It will produce dreadful effects. Brethren - By nation and religion: whom therefore they should not pursue with so fierce a rage, as if they were pursuing the Philistines.
27 Unless, &c. - Unless thou hadst made the motion that they should fight, ver.14. It was thou, not I, that gave the first occasion of this fight. Abner was the sole cause of this war; otherwise all things had been ended by an amicable agreement: which might have been made that very morning, if he had so pleased.
32 In Bethlehem - The rest they buried in the field of battle, but Asahel in the sepulchre of his father. Thus are distinctions made upon earth, even between the dust of some and of others! But in the resurrection no difference will be made but between good and bad; which will remain for ever.

Chapter III

David's success and sons, ver. 1 - 5. Abner's quarrel with Isbosheth, ver. 6 - 11. His treaty with David, ver. 12 - 16. He undertakes to bring Israel over to David, ver. 17 - 21. Joab murders Abner, ver. 22 - 27. David's concern and mourning over him, ver. 28 - 39.

1 Long war - For five years longer: for it is probable, Isbosheth was made king presently upon Saul's death; and the other tribes did not submit to David before seven years were expired.
3 Geshur - A part of Syria, northward from the land of Israel. Her he married, as it may seem, in policy, that he might have a powerful friend and ally to assist him against Ishbosheth's party in the north, whilst himself opposed him in the southern parts. But he paid dear for making piety give place to policy, as the history of Absolom sheweth.
5 Eglah - This is added, either because she was of obscure parentage, and was known by no other title but her relation to David: or, because this was his first and most proper wife, best known by her other name of Michal, who, though she had no child by David after she scoffed at him for dancing before the ark, chap.6:23, yet might have one before that time. And she might be named the last, because she was given away from David, and married to another man. Six sons in seven years. Some have had as numerous an offspring, and with much more honour and comfort, by one wife. And we know not that any of the six were famous: but three were very infamous.
6 Strong - He used all his endeavours to support Saul's house: which is mentioned, to shew the reason of his deep resentment of the following aspersion.
12 Messengers - Who in his name might treat with David concerning his reconciliation with him. Thus God over - rules the passions of wicked men, to accomplish his own wise and holy purposes. And who then dare contend with that God who makes even his enemies to do his work, and destroy themselves? Whose, &c. - To whom doth this whole land belong, but to thee? Is it not thine by Divine right?
14 Ishbosheth - Whose consent was necessary, both to take her away from her present husband, and to persuade her to return to David. Hereby also David opened to him a door of hope for his reconciliation, lest being desperate he should hinder Abner in his present design. My wife - Who, though she was taken from me by force, and constrained to marry another, yet is my rightful wife. David demands her, both for the affection he still retained to her, and upon a political consideration that she might strengthen his title to the kingdom.
19 Benjamin - To these he particularly applies himself, because they might be thought most kind to Saul and his house, and most loath to let the kingdom go out of their own tribe; and therefore it was necessary that he should use all his art and power with them, to persuade them to a compliance with his design; and besides, they were a valiant tribe, and bordering upon Judah, and situate between them and the other tribes; and therefore the winning of them, would be of mighty concernment to bring in all the rest.
22 A troop - Of robbers, or Philistines, who taking advantage of the discord between the houses of Saul and David, made inroads into Judah.
29 Let it, &c. - But would not a resolute punishment of the murderer himself have become David better, than this passionate imprecation on his posterity?
30 Abishai - For though Joab only committed the murder, yet Abishai was guilty of it, because it was done with his consent, and counsel, and approbation. In battle - Which he did for his own necessary defence; and therefore it was no justification of this treacherous murder.
31 Joab - Him he especially obliged to it, to bring him to repentance for his sin, and to expose him to public shame. Followed - That is, attending upon his corps, and paying him that respect which was due to his quality. Though this was against the usage of kings, and might seem below David's dignity; yet it was now expedient to vindicate himself from all suspicion of concurrence in this action.
33 As a fool - That is, as a wicked man. Was he cut off by the hand of justice for his crimes? Nothing less; but by Joab's malice and treachery. It is a sad thing to die as a fool dieth, as they do that any way shorten their own days: and indeed all they that make no provision for another world.
34 Not bound - Thou didst not tamely yield up thyself to Joab, to be bound hand and foot at his pleasure. Joab did not overcome thee in an equal combat, nor durst he attempt thee in that way, as a general or soldier of any worth would have done. Wicked men - By the hands of froward, or perverse, or crooked men, by hypocrisy and perfidiousness, whereby the vilest coward may kill the most valiant person.
36 Pleased them - They were satisfied concerning David's integrity.
38 Know ye not, &c. - But how little, how mean are they made by death, who were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.
39 Weak - In the infancy of my kingdom, not well settled in it. The metaphor is taken from a young and tender child or plant. These men - Joab and Abishai, the sons of thy sister Zeruiah. Too hard - That is, too powerful. They have so great a command over all the soldiers, and so great favour with the people, that I cannot punish them without apparent hazard to my person and kingdom; especially, now when all the tribes, except Judah, are in a state of opposition against me. But although this might give some colour to the delay of their punishment, yet it was a fault that he did not do it within some reasonable time, both because this indulgence proceeded from a distrust of God's power and faithfulness; as if God could not make good his promise to him, against Joab and all his confederates; and because it was contrary to God's law, which severally requires the punishment of willful murderers. It was therefore carnal wicked policy, yea cruel pity that spared him. If the law had had its course against Joab, it is probable the murder of Ishbosheth, Ammon, and others, had been prevented. So truly was he in these, and some other respects, a bloody man, which may be observed to the glory of the Divine grace, in his forgiveness and conversion.

Chapter IV

Two of his servants murder Ishbosheth, and bring his head to David, ver. 1 - 8. He puts them to death, ver. 9 - 52.

4 Jonathan had a son - This history is inserted as that which encouraged these men to this wicked murder, because Saul's family was now reduced to a low ebb; and if Isbosheth was dispatched, there would be none left, but a lame child, who was altogether unfit to manage the kingdom, and therefore the crown must necessarily come to David by their act and deed; for which they promised themselves no small recompense. Jezreel - The place of that last and fatal fight.
6 Fetched wheat - Which was laid up in publick granaries in the king's house, and was fetched thence by the captains and commanders of the army for the pay of their soldiers, who, in those ancient times were not paid in money, but in corn. Upon this pretence they were admitted into the house, and so went from room to room, to the place where the king lay.
12 David commanded. &c.But what a disappointment to Baanah and Rechab, was the sentence which David passed upon them! And such they will meet with, who think to serve the Son of David, by cruelty or injustice: who under colour of religion, outrage or murder of their brethren, think they do God service. However men may now canonize such methods of serving the church and the catholic cause, Christ will let them know another day, that Christianity was not designed to destroy humanity. And they who thus think to merit heaven, shall not escape the damnation of hell.

Chapter V

David is anointed king by all the tribes, ver. 1 - 5. Takes the strong hold of Zion, ver. 6 - 10. David builds him an house; his kingdom is established, ver. 11, 12. Has more children, ver. 13 - 16. Conquers the Philistines, ver. 17 - 25.

2 Shalt feed - That is, rule them, and take care of them, as a shepherd doth of his sheep, Psal 78:70,71. This expression, he useth to admonish David, that he was not made a king to advance his own glory, but for the good of his people; whom he ought to rule with all tenderness, and to watch over with all diligence.
3 A league - Whereby David obliged himself to rule them according to God's laws; and the people promised obedience to him.
6 Cannot come - They confided in the strength of their fortifications, which they thought so impregnable, that the blind and the lame were sufficient to defend them, against the most powerful assailant. And probably they set a parcel of blind and lame people, invalids or maimed soldiers, to make their appearance on the wall, in contempt of David and his men.
8 To the gutter - That is, whosoever scaleth the fort, or getteth up to the top of it, where the gutter was. That are hated - The Jebusites, and the lame, and the blind, Who had probably themselves insulted him, and blasphemed God. He shall be - These words are fitly supplied out of 1Chron 11:6, where they are expressed. They said &c. - That is, whence it became a proverb, or a common saying, used by David, and others, the blind and the lame Jebusites, were set to keep the house, that is, the fort of Zion; and to keep others from coming into it; but now they are shut out of it, and none of them, either of the Jebusites, or of blind and lame persons, shall be admitted to come into it again. Which David might ordain, to keep up the memory of this great exploit, and of the insolent carriage of the Jebusites.
9 Millo - Which seems to have been the town - hall or, state - house, near the wall of the city of Zion.
12 King over Israel - That he might be a blessing to them, and they might be happy under his administration.
13 David took, &c. - This may well be reckoned amongst David's miscarriages, the multiplication of wives being expresly forbidden to the king, Deut 17:17. It seems to have been his policy, that hereby he might enlarge his family, and strengthen his interest by alliances with so many considerable families. But all these did not preserve him from coveting his neighbour's wife. Rather they inclined him to it: for men who have once broke the fence, will wander carelesly.
17 The hold - To some fortified place to which his people might conveniently resort from all places, and where he might intrench his army, which lay towards the Philistines.
20 Baal - perazim - Whither the Philistines were come from the valley of Rephraim, 1Chron 14:11. Baal - perazim, signifies the master of the breaches: So he ascribes all to God. As waters - As floods or rivers of waters, which break the banks, and overflow a land, and overturn all that stands in their way.
21 Images - When the ark fell into the hand of the Philistines, it consumed them: but when these images fell into the hands of Israel, they could not save themselves from being consumed.
22 And spread themselves - The expression intimates, that they were very numerous, and made a very formidable appearance. So we read, Rev 20:9, of the church's enemies going up on the breadth of the earth. But the wider they spread themselves, the fairer mark they are for God's arrows.
23 Go up - Directly against them, as the following words explain it. Behind - Where they least expect thee; God's purposes and promises do not exclude men's endeavours.
24 The sound - A noise as it were of persons walking upon the tops of them, which I shall cause; and by this sign, both thou shalt he assured that I am coming to help thee; and the Philistines shall be affrighted, and not perceive the noise of thy army, until thou art upon them. Bestir - Fall upon them.

Chapter VI

The ark is brought from the house of Abinadab, ver. 1 - 5. Its progress stopped by the death of Uzzah, ver. 6 - 11. It is brought into the city of David with solemn rejoicings, ver. 12 - 19. David answers the reproof of Michal, ver. 20 - 23.

2 On which, &c. - That is, by, or before which, they were to present their prayers to God for counsel and succour upon all occasions. And this is mentioned here as the reason why David put himself and his people to so great trouble and charge, because it was to fetch up the choicest treasure which they had.
3 They set, &c. - Being taught, and encouraged to do so, by the example of the Philistines, who did so without any token of God's displeasure upon them for so doing. But they did not sufficiently consider, that God might wink at the Philistines, because they were ignorant of God's laws; and yet be angry with them for the same thing, because they knew, or might have known the law of God, which commanded the priests to bear it upon their shoulders. But their present transports of joy of the happy change of their affairs, and their greedy desire of having the ark of God removed, made them inconsiderate. In Gibeah - Or, on the hill, as 1Sam 7:1.
5 Played before the Lord - Public joy should always be as before the Lord, with an eye to him, and terminating in him. Otherwise it is no better than public madness, and the source of all manner of wickedness.
7 He died - This may seem very severe, considering his intention was pious, and his transgression not great. But, besides that, men are improper judges of the actions of God; and that God's judgments are always just, though sometimes obscure: it is reasonable, God should make some present examples of his high displeasure against sins, seemingly small; partly, for the demonstration of his own exact and impartial holiness; partly, for the establishment of discipline, and for the greater terror and caution of mankind, who are very prone to have slight thoughts of sin, and to give way to small sins, and thereby to be led on to greater; all which is, or may be prevented by such instances of severity: and consequently there is more of God's mercy, than of his justice, in such actions, because the justice is confined to one particular person, but the benefit of it common to mankind in that, and all future ages.
8 Displeased - Or, grieved, both for the sin, and for God's heavy judgment; whereby their hopes were dashed, and their joys interrupted. Perez - uzzah - That is, the breach of Uzzah.
10 House of Obed - edom - Obed - edom knew what slaughter the ark had made among the Philistines and the Bethshemites. He saw Uzzah struck dead; yet invites it to his house, and opens his doors without fear, knowing it was a savour of death, only to them that treated it ill. "O the courage, says Bishop Hall, of an honest and faithful heart! Nothing can make God otherwise than amiable to him: even his justice is lovely."
11 The Lord blessed, &c. - The same hand that punished Uzzah's presumption, rewarded Obed - edom's humble boldness. None ever had, or ever shall have reason to say, that it is in vain to serve God. Piety is the best friend to prosperity. His household too shared in the blessing. It is good living in a family that entertains the ark; for all about it will fare the better for it.
14 Danced - To express his thankfulness to God by his outward carriage, according to the manner of those times. Linen ephod - The usual habit of the priests and Levites, in their sacred ministrations yet sometimes worn by others, as it was by the young child Samuel; and so David, who laid by his royal robes, and put on this robe to declare, that although he was king of Israel, yet he willingly owned himself to be the Lord's minister and servant.
16 Despised - As one of a base and mean spirit, that knew not how to carry himself with that majesty which became his place.
17 David had pitched - For Moses tabernacle was still at Gibeon, 1Chron 16:39 21:29 2Chron 1:3, which David left there, because he designed to build a temple at Jerusalem with all speed.
18 He blessed - That is, he heartily and solemnly prayed to God for his blessing upon them: which he did both as a prophet, and as their king, to whom by office it belongs, by all means, to seek his people's welfare.
20 Bless his household - Ministers must not think, that their public performances will excuse them from family worship: but when they have blessed the public assembly, they are to return and bless their own household. And none is too great to do this. It is the work of angels to worship God; and therefore certainly can be no disparagement to the greatest of men. Who uncovered - By stripping himself of his royal robes, that he might put on a Levitical ephod.
21 Before the Lord - In his presence and service, which though contemptible to thee, is, and ever shall be honourable in mine eyes. Who chose - Who took away the honour from him and his, and transferred it unto me, whereby he hath obliged me to love and serve him with all my might.
22 More vile than thus - The more we are vilified for well doing, the more resolute therein we should be, binding our religion the closer to us, for the endeavours of Satan's agents to shame us out of it. Be base - I will always be ready to abase myself before God, and think nothing to mean to stoop to for his honour. Be had in honour - So far will they be from despising me on this account, that they will honour me the more.
23 Therefore - Because of her proud and petulant speech and carriage to David, which God justly punished with barrenness. No child - After this time.

Chapter VII

Nathan approves David's design of building an house for God, ver. 1 - 3. God forbids it, but promises to bless him and his seed, ver. 4 - 17. His prayer and thanksgiving, ver. 18 - 29.

1 Sat - That is, was settled in the house which Hiram's men had built for him, then he reflected upon the unsettled state of the ark.
2 Curtains - That is, in a tent or tabernacle, ver.6, composed of several curtains.
3 Nathan said - Pursue thy intentions, and build an house for the ark. The design being pious and the thing not forbidden by God, Nathan hastily approves it, before he had consulted God about it, as both he and David ought to have done in a matter of so great moment. And therefore Nathan meets with this rebuke, that he is forced to acknowledge his error, and recant it. For the holy prophets did not speak all things by prophetic inspiration, but some things by an human spirit.
4 The word of the Lord came - Because David's mistake was pious, and from an honest mind, God would not suffer him to lie long in it.
5 Shalt thou - That is, thou shalt not.
6 Tent and tabernacle - These two seem thus to be distinguished, the one may note the curtains and hangings within, the other the frame of boards, and coverings upon it.
8 My servant - Lest David should be too much discouraged, or judge himself neglected of God, as one thought unworthy of so great an honour, God here gives him the honourable title of his servant, thereby signifying that he accepted of his service, and good intentions.
10 Appoint - That is, I will make room for them, whereas hitherto they have been much distressed by their enemies. Or, I will establish a place for them, that is, I will establish them in their place or land. My people - Among the favours which God had vouchsafed, and would vouchsafe to David, he reckons his blessings to Israel, because they were great blessings to David; partly, because the strength and happiness of a king consists in the multitude and happiness of his people; and partly, because David was a man of a public spirit, and therefore no less affected with Israel's felicity than with his own. Before time - Namely in Egypt.
11 And as since - Nor as they did under the judges. But all this is to be understood with a condition, except they should notoriously forsake God. And have caused thee - That is, and as until this time in which I have given thee rest. But these words, though according to our translation they be enclosed in the same parenthesis with the foregoing clauses, may be better put without it, and taken by themselves. For the foregoing words in this verse, and in ver.10, all concern the people of Israel; but these words concern David alone, to whom the speechs returns after a short digression concerning the people of Israel. And they may be rendered thus. And I will cause thee to rest, &c. - More fully and perfectly than yet thou dost. He will, &c. - For thy good intentions to make him an house, he will make thee an house, a sure house, that is, he will increase and uphold thy posterity, and continue thy kingdom in thy family.
12 And when, &c. - When the time of thy life shall expire. This phrase implies, that his days shall be prolonged to the usual course of nature, and not cut off in the midst, by any violent or untimely death. I will set - I will set up in thy throne, thy posterity, first Solomon, and then others successively, and at last the Messiah. So the following words may be understood, part of his posterity in general, part of Solomon, and part of Christ only, according to the different nature of the several passages.
13 He shall - This is meant literally of Solomon, who alone did build the material house or temple; but ultimately of Christ, who is the builder of God's spiritual house or temple. For my name - That is, for my service, and glory. For ever - This is not meant of Solomon, for his kingdom was not for ever. But it is to be understood of David's posterity, in general, and with special respect to Christ, in whose person the kingdom was to be lodged for ever.
14 His father - I will carry myself towards him as a father, with all affection, and I will own him as my son. This is intended both of Solomon, as a type of Christ; and of Christ himself as is evident from Heb 1:5. If he commit - This agrees only to Solomon and some others of David's posterity; but not to Christ, who never committed iniquity, as Solomon did, who therein was no type of Christ, and therefore this branch is terminated in Solomon; whereas in those things wherein Solomon was a type of Christ, the sense passes through Solomon to Christ. Rod of men - With such rods as are gentle and moderate, and suited to man's weakness.
15 My mercy - That is, Or, my kindness, that is, the kingdom which I have mercifully promised to thee and thine. From Saul - In regard of his posterity, for the kingdom was continued to his person during life.
16 Before thee - Thine eyes in some sort beholding it: for he lived to see his wise son Solomon actually placed in the throne, with reputation and general applause, which was in itself a good presage of the continuance of the kingdom in his family: and being considered, together with the infallible certainty of God's promise to him and his, (of the accomplishment whereof, this was an earnest,) gave him good assurance thereof; especially considering that he had his eyes and thoughts upon the Messiah, Psal 110:1, &c. whose day he saw by faith, as Abraham did, John 8:56, and whom he knew that God would raise out of the fruit of his loins to sit on his throne, and that for ever: and so the eternity of his kingdom is rightly said to be before him.
18 In - Into the tabernacle. Sat - He might sit for a season whilst he was meditating upon these things, and then alter his posture and betake himself to prayer. Who am I, &c. - How infinitely unworthy am I and my family of this great honour and happiness!
19 This - Which thou hast already done for me, that thou hast brought me hitherto, to that pitch of honour, and peace, and prosperity, in which through thy favour I now stand. Was small - Though it was more than I deserved, or could expect, yet thou didst not think it enough for thee to give to me. A great while - For many future ages, and indeed to all eternity. Is this, &c. - Do men use to deal so kindly with their inferiors, as thou hast done with me? No: this is the prerogative of divine grace.
20 David say - Either in a way of gratitude and praise, words cannot express my obligations to thee, nor my sense of these obligations: Or in a way of prayer. What can I ask of thee more than thou hast freely done? Thou knowest - Thou knowest my deep sense of thy favours, and my obligations to thee. And my condition and necessities, what I do or may need hereafter; and as thou knowest this, so I doubt not thou wilt supply me.
21 Thy word's sake - That thou mightest fulfil thy promises made to me, and thereby demonstrate thy faithfulness. Own heart - Or thy own mere liberality and good pleasure, without any desert of mine. So far was David, though a very gracious man, from thinking his actions meritorious.
22 Great - Both in power and in goodness, as appears by the great and good things which thou hast done for me.
24 Confirmed - Partly, by thy promises, and that sure covenant which thou hast made with them: and partly, by thy glorious works wrought on their behalf, as it appears this day. Their God - In a peculiar manner, and by special relation and covenant: for otherwise he is the God and father of all things.
26 Let thy name - That is, do thou never cease to manifest thyself to be the God and governor of Israel.
27 This prayer, &c. - That prayer that is found in the tongue only will not please God. It must be found in the heart. That must be lifted up and poured out before God.
28 That God - That God who hast declared thyself to be Israel's God, and in particular my God.
29 Continue forever, &c. - When Christ for ever sat down on the right - hand of God, and received all possible assurance, that his seed and throne should be as the days of heaven, then this prayer was abundantly answered.

Chapter VIII

David subdues the Philistines and Moabites, ver. 1 - 2. Smites Hadadezer, and the Syrians, ver. 3 - 8. Dedicates the presents he had received and the spoils to God, ver. 9 - 12. Conquers the Syrians again, and the Edomites, ver. 13, 14. His administration of justice and chief officers, ver. 15 - 18,

1 And David took - Gath and her towns, as it is expressed in the parallel place, 1Chron 18:1. Which are called Metheg - ammah, or the bridle of Ammah, Gath was situate in the mountain of Ammah; and because this being the chief city of the Philistines, and having a king, which none of the rest had, was the bridle which had hitherto kept the Israelites in subjection.
2 Moab - For although the king of Moab, out of hatred to Saul, gave protection to his parents, 1Sam 22:3,4, yet the Moabites were perpetual and sworn enemies to the Israelites, who therefore were forbidden to admit them into the congregation of the Lord. And though God commanded them in their march to Canaan, to spare the Moabites, yet afterwards they proved fierce enemies to God and his people, and thereby provoked God to alter his carriage towards them. Measured them - That is, having conquered the land, he made an estimate of it, and distributed the towns and people into three parts. Casting down - Overthrowing their towns, and utterly destroying their people in manner following. And now that prophecy, Numb 24:17, was accomplished.
3 As he went - David, remembering the grant which God had made to his people of all the land as far as Euphrates, and having subdued his neighbouring enemies, went to recover his rights, and stablish his dominion as far as Euphrates.
4 Seven hundred - Or, seven hundred companies of horsemen, that is, in all seven thousand; as it is 1Chron 18:4, there being ten in each company, and each ten having a ruler or captain. Houghed - - That is, cut the sinews of their legs, that they might be useless for war.
5 Of Damascus - That is, who were subject to Damascus, the chief city of Syria.
7 On the servants - Or rather, which were with the servants, that is, committed to their custody, as being kept in the king's armoury: for it is not probable they carried them into the field.
8 From Betah, &c. - In 1Chron 18:8, it is, from Tibhath, and from Chun. Either therefore the same cities were called by several names, as is usual, the one by the Hebrews, the other by the Syrians, or those were two other cities, and so the brass was taken out of these four cities.
14 The Lord preserved, &c. - All David's victories were typical of the success of the gospel over the kingdom of Satan, in which the Son of David rode forth, conquering and to conquer, and will reign 'till he has brought down all opposing rule, principality and power.
16 Recorder - The treasurer, who examined all the accounts, and kept records of them.
17 Scribe - Or, secretary of state.
18 Cherethites, &c. - The Cherethites and Pelethites were undoubtedly soldiers, and such as were eminent for their valour and fidelity. Most probable they were the king's guards, which consisted of these two bands, who might be distinguished either by their several weapons, or by the differing time or manner of their service. They are supposed to be thus called either, first, from their office, which was upon the king's command to cut off or punish offenders, and to preserve the king's person, as their names in the Hebrew tongue may seem to imply. Or, secondly, from some country, or place to which they had relation. As for the Cherithites, it is certain they were ether a branch of the Philistines, or a people neighbouring to them, and so might the Pelethites be too, though that be not related in scripture. And these Israelites and soldiers of David might be so called, either because they went and lived with David when he dwelt in those parts or, for some notable exploit against, or victory over these people.

Chapter IX

David sends for Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth, ver. 1 - 6. Restores to him all the land that was Saul's, and appoints him to eat at his own table, ver. 7 - 13.

1 Of Saul - He saith not of the house of Jonathan, for he knew not of any son he had left, and therefore thought his kindness and obligation was to pass to the next of his kindred. As for Mephibosheth, he was very young and obscure, and possibly concealed by his friends, lest David should cut him off, as hath been usual among princes.
5 Machir - This Machir appears to have been a generous man, who entertained Mephibosheth out of mere compassion, not of disaffection to David: for afterwards we find him kind to David himself, when he fled from Absalom. David now little thought, that the time would come, when he himself should need his assistance. Let us be forward to give, because we know not what we ourselves may sometime want.
8 Bowed himself - It is good to have the heart humbled under humbling providences. If when divine providence brings our condition down, divine grace brings our spirits down, we shall be easy.

Chapter X

David's ambassadors are abused by Hanun, ver. 1 - 4. The Ammonites prepare for war and are routed, ver. 5 - 14. Their allies, the Syrians rally and are defeated again, ver. 15 - 19.

2 David sent - There had hitherto been friendship between David and him: and therefore the spoils of the children of Ammon are mentioned, chap.8:12, by way of anticipation, and with respect to the story here following.
4 Shaved - To fasten this is a reproach upon them, and to make them ridiculous and contemptible. Cut off, &c. - This was worse than the former, because the Israelites wore no breeches, and so their nakedness was hereby uncovered.
19 And served them - And thus at length was fulfilled the promise made to Abraham, and repeated to Joshua, that the borders of Israel should extend as far as the river Euphrates. The son of David sent his ambassadors, his apostles and ministers, to the Jewish church and nation. But they intreated them shamefully, as Hanun did David's, mocked them, abused them, slew them. And this it was that filled the measure of their iniquity, and brought upon them ruin without remedy.

Chapter XI

David commits adultery with Bathsheba, ver. 1 - 5. Endeavours to father the child upon Uriah, ver. 6 - 13. Contrives the death of Uriah, ver. 14 - 25. Marries Bathsheba, ver. 26, 27.

1 After - When that year ended, and the next begun, which was in the spring time. When kings - Which is, when the ground is fit for the march of soldiers, and brings forth provision for man and beast. Tarried at Jerusalem - Had he been now in his post, at the head of his forces be had been out of the way of temptation.
2 Arose from off his bed - Where he had lain, and slept for some time. And the bed of sloth often proves the bed of lust. Washing herself - In a bath, which was in her garden. Probably from some ceremonial pollution.
3 He inquired - Instead of suppressing that desire which the sight of his eyes had kindled, he seeks rather to feed it; and first enquires who she was; that if she were unmarried, he might make her either his wife or his concubine.
4 Took her - From her own house into his palace, not by force, but by persuasion. Lay with her - See how all the way to sin is down hill! When men begin, they cannot soon stop themselves.
8 Go down - Not doubting but he would there converse with his wife, and so cover their sin and shame.
9 The servants - With the king's guard. This he did, by the secret direction of God's wise providence, who would bring David's sin to light.
10 Camest - Wearied with hard service and travel, nor did I expect or desire that thou shouldest now attend upon my person, or keep the watch.
11 The ark - This it seems, was now carried with them for their encouragement and direction, as was usual. Fields - In tents which are in the fields. His meaning is, now, when God's people are in a doubtful and dangerous condition, it becomes me to sympathize with them, and to abstain even from lawful delights.
15 He arose - So far is David from repenting, that he seeks to cover one sin with another. How are the beginnings of sin to be dreaded! For who knows where it will end? David hath sinned, therefore Uriah must die! That innocent, valiant, gallant man, who was ready to die for his prince's honour, must die by his prince's hand! See how fleshly lusts war against the soul, and what devastations they make in that war! How they blind the eyes, fear the conscience, harden the heart, and destroy all sense of honour and justice!
27 The mourning - Which was seven days. Nor could the nature of the thing admit of longer delay, lest the too early birth of the child might discover David's sin. Bare a son - By which it appears, That David continued in the state of impenitency for divers months together; and this notwithstanding his frequent attendance upon God's ordinances. Which is an eminent instance of the corruption of man's nature, of the deceitfulness of sin, and of the tremendous judgment of God in punishing one sin, by delivering a man up to another.

Chapter XII

Nathan delivers and applies his parable, ver. 1 - 12. David repents and is forgiven, but punished, ver. 13. 14. The sickness and death of the child, with David's behaviour on the occasion, ver. 15 - 23. The birth of Solomon, ver. 24 - 25. The taking of Rabbah, ver. 26 - 31.

1 The Lord sent - When the ordinary means did not awaken David to repentance, God takes an extraordinary course. Thus the merciful God pities and prevents him who had so horribly forsaken God. He said - He prudently ushers in his reproof with a parable, after the manner of the eastern nations, that so he might surprize David, and cause him unawares to give sentence against himself.
2 Many flocks - Noting David's many wives and concubines.
3 Bought - As men then used to buy their wives: or, had procured.
5 Is worthy to die - This seems to be more than the fact deserved, or than he had commission to inflict for it, Exod 22:1. But it is observable, that David now when he was most indulgent to himself, and to his own sin, was most severe and even unjust to others; as appears by this passage, and the following relation, ver.31, which was done in the time of David's impenitent continuance in his sin.
7 Thus saith the Lord God - Nathan now speaks, not as a petitioner for a poor man, but as an ambassador from the great God.
9 To be thy wife - To marry her whom he had defiled, and whose husband he had slain, was an affront upon the ordinance of marriage, making that not only to palliate, but in a manner to consecrate such villainies. In all this he despised the word of the Lord; (so it is in the Hebrew.) Not only his commandment in general, but the particular word of promise, which God had before sent him by Nathan, that he would build him an house: which sacred promise if he had had a due value for, he would not have polluted his house with lust and blood.
10 Never depart - During the residue of thy life.
11 Own house - From thy own children and family. Thine eyes - Openly, so that thou shalt know it as certainly as if thou didst see it, and yet not be able to hinder it. And give them - I shall by my providence, give him power over them. Neighbor - To one who is very near thee. But God expresseth this darkly, that the accomplishment of it might not be hindered.
13 I have sinned - How serious this confession was, we may see, Psal 51:1 - 19. Put away thy sin - That is, so far as concerns thy own life. Not die - As by thy own sentence, ver.5, thou dost deserve, and may expect to be done by my immediate stroke.
16 Besought - Supposing the threatening might be conditional, and so the execution of it prevented by prayer. Went - Into his closet.
17 Elders - The chief officers of his kingdom and household. He would not - This excessive mourning did not proceed simply from the fear of the loss of the child; but from a deep sense of his sin, and the divine displeasure manifested herein.
18 Seventh day - From the beginning of the distemper.
20 And came - That is, to the tabernacle, to confess his sin before the Lord, to own his justice in this stroke, to deprecate his just displeasure, to acknowledge God's rich mercy, in sparing his own life; and to offer such sacrifices as were required in such cases.
23 I fast - Seeing fasting and prayer cannot now prevail with God for his life. I shall go to him - Into the state of the dead in which he is, and into heaven, where I doubt not I shall find him.
24 His wife - Who was now much dejected, both for her former sin, and for the loss of the child. Loved him - That is, the Lord declared to David, that he loved his son, notwithstanding the just cause David had given to God to alienate his affections from him.
25 Jedidiah - That is, beloved of the Lord. Because - Either, because of the Lord's love to him, or because the Lord commanded him to do so.
26 Royal city - That is, that part of the city where was the king's palace; though now it seems he was retired to a strong fort.
27 Of waters - Rabbah was so called because it was encompassed with water.
28 Take it - For having taken one part of the city, he concluded the remaining part of it could not long stand out. Lest - Lest I have the honour of taking it.
30 The weight - Or rather, the price whereof, &c. For the same words both in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, are used, to signify either weight, or price. And the addition of precious stones, which are never valued by the weight of gold, makes this signification most probable. Moreover, the weight might seem too great either for the king of Ammon, or for David to wear it upon his head.
31 The people - The words are indefinite, and therefore not necessarily to be understood of all the people; but of the men of war, and especially of those who had been the chief actors of that villainous action against David's ambassadors, and of the dreadful war ensuing upon it; for which, they deserved severe punishments. Altho' indeed there seems to have been too much rigour used; especially, because these deaths were inflicted not only upon those counsellors, who were the only authors of that vile usage of the ambassadors; but upon some number of the people. And therefore it is probable, David exercised this cruelty whilst his heart was hardened, and impenitent; and when he was bereaved of that good spirit of God, which would have taught him more mercy. Saws - He sawed them to death of which punishment, we have examples both in scripture, and in other authors. Brick - kiln - Or, made them to pass through the furnace of Malchen: that is, of Moloch; punishing them with their own sin, and with the same kind of punishment which they had inflicted upon their own children.

Chapter XIII

Amnon ravishes Tamar, ver. 1 - 20. Absalom kills him, ver. 21 - 29. David mourns: Absalom flees to Geshur, ver. 30 - 39.

1 A sister - His sister by father and mother.
2 A virgin - And therefore diligently kept, so he could not get private converse with her.
5 My sister - So he calls her, to prevent the suspicion of any dishonest design upon so near a relation. At her hand - Pretending, his stomach was so nice, that he could eat nothing but what he saw dressed, and that by a person whom he much esteemed.
9 Out - Out of the frying - pan into the dish.
10 Chamber - Amnon lying upon his couch in one chamber where the company were with him, where also she made the cakes before him, first sends all out of that room, and then rises from his couch, and, upon some pretence, goes into another secret chamber.
12 Brother - Whom nature both teaches to abhor such thoughts and obliges to defend me from such a mischief with thy utmost hazard, if another should attempt it. Force - Thou shouldst abhor it, if I were willing; but to add violence, is abominable. Israel - Among God's people who are taught better things; who also will be infinitely reproached for such a base action.
13 Shame - How can I either endure or avoid the shame? Fools - That is, contemptible to all the people, whereas now thou art heir apparent of the crown. Withhold - This she spoke, because she thought her royal father would dispense with it, upon this extraordinary occasion, to save his first - born son's life:
15 Hated her - By the just judgment of God both upon Amnon and David, that so the sin might be made publick, and way for the succeeding tragedies.
16 No cause - For me to go. Greater thou the other - This she might truly say, because though the other was in itself a greater sin, yet this was an act of greater cruelty, and a greater calamity to her because it exposed her to publick infamy and contempt, and besides, it turned a private offence into a publick scandal, to the great dishonour of God and of his people, and especially of all the royal family.
18 Garment - Of embroidered work.
19 Put ashes - To signify her grief for some calamity which had befallen her, and what that was, concurring circumstances easily discovered. Head - In token of grief and shame, as if she were unable and ashamed to shew her face. Crying - To manifest her abhorrency of the fact, and that it was not done by her consent.
20 Been with thee - Behold, and imitate the modesty of scripture expressions. Brother - Wherefore thou must forgive and forgot the injury; therefore thy disgracing of him will be a blot to us all; therefore thou wilt not get right from David against him, because he is as near and dear to him as thou; therefore thy dishonour is the less, because thou wast not abused by any mean person, but by a king's son; therefore this evil must be borne, because it cannot be revenged: and thus he covers his design of taking vengeance upon him at the first opportunity. Regard not - So as to torment thyself. Desolate - Through shame and dejection of mind, giving her self up to solitude and retirement.
21 Wroth - With Amnon: whom yet he did not punish, at least so severely as he should either from the consciousness of his own guilt in the like kind; or, from that foolish indulgence which he often shewed to his children.
22 Spake - That is, he said nothing at all to him, about that business. He neither debated it with him, nor threatened him for it; but seemed willing to pass it by with brotherly kindness. If he had wholly forborne all discourse with him, it would have raised jealousies in Amnon and David.
23 Two years - This circumstance of time is noted, as an aggravation of Absalom's malice, which was so implacable: and as an act of policy, that both Amnon and David might more securely comply with his desires.
26 Let Amnon - For the king designed (as the following words shew) to keep him at home with him, as being his eldest son, and heir of his kingdom: otherwise Absalom would never have made particular mention of him; which now he was forced to do. Nor did this desire of Amnon's presence want specious pretences, as that seeing the king would not, he who was next to him might, honour him with his company; and that this might be a publick token of friendship between him and his brother, notwithstanding the former occasion of difference.
27 Pressed him - It is strange that his urgent desire of Amnon's company raised no suspicion in so wise a king; but God suffered him to be blinded that he might execute his judgments upon David, and bring upon Amnon the just punishment of his lewdness.
28 Merry - When he least suspects, and will be most unable to prevent the evil. I - I who am the king's son, and, when Amnon is gone, his heir: who therefore shall easily obtain pardon for you, and will liberally reward you.
29 Commanded - Now the threatened sword is drawn in David's house, which will not depart from it. His eldest son falls by it, thro' his own wickedness, and his father by his connivance is accessory to it.
37 Talmai - His mother's father, that he might have present protection and sustenance from him; and that by his mediation he might obtain his father's pardon.
39 Go forth - And could not he recalled, to visit him, or to send for him. What amazing weakness was this! At first he could not find in his heart, to do justice to the ravisher of his sister! And now he can almost find in his heart to receive into favour the murderer of his brother? How can we excuse David from the sin of Eli; who honoured his sons more than God?

Chapter XIV

The story told David of the widow of Tekoah, ver. 1 - 20. Absalom is brought back to Jerusalem, but not to court, ver. 21 - 24. An account of Absalom's person and children, ver. 21 - 27. He is at length introduced to David, ver. 28 - 33.

1 Was towards - He desired to see him, but was ashamed to shew kindness to one whom God's law and his own conscience obliged him to punish; he wanted therefore a fair pretence, which therefore Joab gave him.
2 Anoint - As they used to do when they were out of a mourning state.
5 Widow - One of them who most need thy compassion, and whom thou art by God's law obliged in a singular manner to relieve.
9 Be guiltless - If through thy forgetfulness or neglect of this my just cause, my adversaries prevail and destroy my son, my desire is, that God would not lay it to the king's charge, but rather to me and mine, so the king may be exempted thereby. Whereby she insinuates, that such an omission will bring guilt upon him; and yet most decently orders her phrase so as not to seem to blame or threaten the king. This sense seems best to agree with David's answer, which shew's that she desired some farther assurances of the king's care.
11 Remember - Remember the Lord, in whose presence thou hast made me this promise, and who will be a witness against thee, if thou breakest it.
13 Wherefore then - If thou shouldst not permit the avengers of blood to molest me, or to destroy my son, who are but two persons; how unreasonable is it that thou shouldest proceed in thy endeavours to avenge Amnon's blood upon Absalom, whose death would be grievous to the whole commonwealth of Israel, all whose eyes are upon him as the heir of the crown, and a wise, and valiant, and amiable person, unhappy only in this one act of killing Amnon, which was done upon an high provocation, and whereof thou thyself didst give the occasion by permitting Amnon to go unpunished? Faulty - By thy word, and promise, and oath given to me for my son, thou condemnest thyself for not allowing the same equity towards thy own son. It is true, Absalom's case was widely different from that which she had supposed. But David was too well affected to him, to remark that difference, and was more desirous than she could be, to apply that favourable judgment to his own son, which he had given concerning hers.
14 We - We shall certainly die, both thou, O king, who art therefore obliged to take care of thy successor, Absalom; and Absalom, who, if he do not die by the hand of justice, must shortly die by the necessity of nature: and Amnon too must have died in the common way of all flesh, if Absalom had not cut him off. Respect - So far as to exempt him from this common law of dying. Not expelled - He hath given laws to this purpose, that the man - slayer who is banished should not always continue in banishment, but upon the High - priest's death return to his own city.
15 The people - The truth is, I was even forced to this bold address to thee by the disposition of thy people, who are discontented at Absalom's perpetual banishment, lest, if Absalom by his father - in - law's assistance invade the land, the people who have a great kindness for him, and think he is very hard used, should take up arms.
16 Hear - For I know the king is so wise and just, that I assure myself of audience and acceptation. Deliver - To grant my request concerning my son, and consequently the peoples petition concerning Absalom. My son - Implying that her life was bound up in the life of her son, and that she could not outlive his death; (and supposing that it might be David's case also, and would therefore touch him in a tender part, though it were not proper to say it expressly:) and thereby suggesting, that the safety and comfort of the people of Israel, depended upon Absalom's restitution. Inheritance - That is, out of that land which God gave to his people to be their inheritance, and in which alone God hath settled the place of his presence and worship: whereby she intimates the danger of Absalom's living in a state of separation from God, and his house, amongst idolaters.
17 Angel - In wisdom, and justice, and goodness. Therefore - Because thou art so wise and gracious to those who in strict justice deserve punishment, God will own and stand by thee in this thy act of grace: or God will prosper thee in thy enterprizes.
19 Of Joab - Hast thou not said and done this by Joab's direction. Said - It is even so, thou hast discovered the truth. These words - As to the substance of them, but not as to all the expressions; for these were to be varied as the king's answer gave occasion.
20 To fetch - That is, to propose his, and the peoples desire of Absalom's restitution in this parabolical manner. In the earth - Or, in this land, in all thy kingdom; all the counsels and devices of thy subjects.
22 Fulfilled - But it seems David had no power to dispense with God's laws, nor to spare any whom God appointed him to destroy: for the laws of God bound the kings and rulers, as well as the people of Israel. How justly did God make this man, whom he had so sinfully spared, a scourge to him?
24 Let him turn - Lest whilst be shewed some mercy to Absalom, he should seem to approve of his sin. Likewise by this means Absalom might be drawn to a more thorough humiliation and repentance.
25 Beauty - This is noted as the occasion of his pride, and of the people's affection to him.
26 Weighed - Others understand this not of the weight, but of the price of his hair.
27 Sons - All which died not long after they were born, as may be gathered from chap.18:18, where it is said, that Absalom had no son.
32 Kill me - For it is better for me to die, than to want the sight and favour of my dear father. Thus he insinuates himself into his father's affections, by pretending such respect and love to him It seems that by this time Absalom having so far recovered his father's favour, began to grow upon him, and take so much confidence as to stand upon his own justification, as if what he had done, had been no iniquity, at least not such as to deserve death. See how easily wise parents may be imposed on by their children, when they are blindly fond of them.
33 Kissed - Did the bowels of a father prevail to reconcile him to an impenitent son? And shall penitent sinners question the compassion of him who is the Father of mercy? If Ephraim bemoan himself, God soon bemoans him, with all the expressions of fatherly tenderness. He is a dear son, a pleasant child.

Chapter XV

Absalom steals the hearts of the people, ver. 1 - 6. He conspires against David, ver. 7 - 12. David flies from Jerusalem, ver. 13 - 18. He confers with Ittai, and passes over Kidron, ver. 19 - 23. Sends back Zadok with the ark, ver. 24 - 29. His prayer on this occasion, ver. 30, 31. He concerts with Hushai, ver. 32 - 37.

1 Prepared - As being the king's eldest son, now Amnon was dead; for Chileab, who was his eldest brother, 2Sam 3:3, was either dead, or incapable of the government. And this course he knew would draw the eyes of the people to him, and make them conclude that David intended him for his successor.
2 Early - Thereby making a shew of solicitude for the good of the public, and of every private person. Called him - Preventing him with the offers of his assistance. And as if he were ready to make particular enquiry into the state of his cause.
3 See - Upon some very slight hearing of their cause, he approved it, that he might oblige all. No man - None such as will do thee justice. The other sons and relations of the king, and the rest of the judges and rulers under him and them, are wholly corrupted; or, at least not careful and diligent as they should be: and my father being grown in years, is negligent of publick affairs. It is the way of turbulent, aspiring men, to reproach the government they are under. Even David himself, the best of kings, could not escape the worst of censures.
7 After forty years - From the change of the government, into a monarchy, which was about ten years before David began to reign. So this fell out about the thirtieth year of his reign.
9 Hebron - This place he chose as being an eminent city, and next to Jerusalem, the chief of the tribe of Judah, and the place where his father began his kingdom, which he took for a good omen. And where it is probable he had secured many friends. It was also at a convenient distance from Jerusalem.
11 Called - Such as Absalom had picked out as fit for his purpose; such as were of some reputation with the king and people, which would give a countenance to his undertaking, and give occasion to people at first to think that this was done by his father's consent, as being now aged, and infirm, and willing to resign the kingdom to him. It is no new thing, for good men to be made use of by designing men to put a colour upon ill practices.
12 Sacrifices - Which he did not in devotion to God; but merely that upon this pretence he might call great numbers of people together.
14 Let us flee - For though the fort of Zion was strong, and he might have defended himself there; yet he had not laid in provisions for a long siege; and, if he had been once besieged there, Absalom would have got speedy possession of his whole kingdom; whereas if he marched abroad, he might raise a considerable army for his defence. Besides, the greatest part of Jerusalem could not be well defended against him.
16 After him - Or, on foot, which the king chose to do, to humble himself under the hand of God; to encourage his companions in this hard and comfortless march; and to move compassion in his people towards him. Concubines - For he supposed that their sex would protect them, and their relation to David would gain them some respect, or at least, safety from his son.
17 Far off - At some convenient distance, tho' not very far.
18 Gittites - Or rather strangers, as Ittai their head is called, ver.19, and they are called his brethren, ver.20. Probably they were Philistines by birth, born in the city or territory of Gath, as the following words imply, who by David's counsel, and example, were won to embrace the true religion, and had given good proof of their military skill, and valour, and fidelity to the king.
19 Thy place - To Jerusalem, where thy settled abode now is. The king - With Absalom who is now made king. An exile - Not much concerned in our affairs, and therefore not fit to be involved in our troubles.
20 Brethren - Thy countrymen the Gittites, ver.18. Mercy, &c. - Since I am now unable to recompense thy kindness and fidelity to me, my hearty prayer to God is, that he would shew to thee his mercy, in blessing thee with all sorts of blessings, and his faithfulness in making good all these promises which he had made, not to Israelites only, but to all true hearted proselytes, such as thou art.
21 Will thy servant be - He is a friend indeed, who loves at all times, and will cleave to us in adversity. Thus should we cleave to the Son of David, that neither life, nor death may separate us from his love.
22 Little ones - For being so deeply engaged for David, he durst not leave his little ones to Absalom's mercy.
23 Kidron - Or, Cedron, which was near Jerusalem. The very same brook that Christ passed over when he entered upon his sufferings, John 18:1. Wilderness - Which was between Jerusalem and Jericho.
24 Went up - From the ark to the city, which was on higher ground, that so he being high - priest, might use his authority with the people, to persuade them to do their duty; and there he staid until all those whom he could persuade were gone forth.
25 Carry back - Out of care and reverence to the ark, which though it might be carried our to a certain place; yet he might justly think unfit to carry it from place to place he knew not whither, and out of respect to the priests, whom, by this means, he thought he should expose to the rage of Absalom, as he had before exposed them to Saul's fury. Habitation - That is, the tabernacle which David had lately built for it, chap.6:17, in which the ark, and God, by means hereof, ordinarily dwelt.
26 Let him do - That we may not complain of what is, let us see God's hand in all events. And that we may not be afraid of what shall be, let us see all events in God's hand.
27 A seer - A seeing, discerning, or observing man: for so the Hebrew verb raah is often used. And this suits well with David's mind: Thou art a wise man, and therefore fit to manage this great business, which requires prudence and secrecy.
30 Barefoot - In testimony of his deep sorrow, and humiliation and shame for his sins.
34 And say - That is, as faithful to thee, as I have been to thy father. David's suggesting this crafty counsel must be reckoned amongst his sins. Nevertheless God was pleased to direct this evil advice to a good end.
36 There - Not in Jerusalem, but in a place near it, to which they could easily send upon occasion.
37 Absalom came, &c. - How soon do royal cities and royal palaces change their masters? But we look for a kingdom which cannot be moved.

Chapter XVI

David is deceived by Ziba, ver. 1 - 4. And cursed by Shemei, ver. 5 - 14. Absalom receives Hushai, ver. 15 - 19. Lies with his father's concubines, ver. 20 - 23.

1 Bottle - A large bottle, or vessel proportionable to the other provisions.
4 Behold - A rash sentence, and unrighteous to condemn a man unheard, upon the single testimony of his accuser, and servant. Find grace - Thy favour is more to me, than this gift; which, as a token of thy favour, I accept with all thankfulness.
8 Of Saul - Either,
  1. The blood of Abner and Ishbosheth; which he imputes to David, as if they had been killed by David's contrivance: or,
  2. the death of Saul's seven sons, chap.21:8, which, though related after this, seems to have been done before.
Art taken - The same mischief thou didst bring upon others, is now returned upon thy own head.
10 What have I, &e. - In this matter I ask not your advice, nor will I follow it; nor do I desire you should at all concern yourselves in it. The Lord - God did not put any wickedness into Shimei's heart, for he had of himself an heart full of malignity against David; but only left him to his own wickedness; and brought David into so distressed a condition, that he might seem a proper object of his scorn. And this is ground enough for this expression, the Lord said, not by the word of his precept, but by the word of his providence, in respect whereof he is said to command the ravens, 1Kings 17:4, and to send forth his word to senseless creatures, Psal 147:15,18. Who shall reproach God's providence for permitting this? Or, who shall restrain him from executing his just judgment against me?
11 My life - Which is a greater mischief, than to reproach me with words. Benjamites - Of that tribe and family from which God hast taken away the kingdom, and given it to me. Let him - Do not now hinder him violently from it, nor punish him for it. It is meet I should bear the indignation of the Lord, and submit to his pleasure.
14 Came - To the city of Bahurim.
17 Is this - Doth this action answer that profession of friendship which thou hast hitherto made to him? He speaks thus only to try him. And he saith, thy friend, by way of reflection upon David; as one who was a friend to Hushai, and to strangers but not to his own son, whom, by his severity he provoked to this course; and therefore he doth not vouchsafe to call him his father.
21 Go - This counsel he gave, partly to revenge the injury done to Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, 2Sam 11:3, who was the son of Ahithophel, chap.23:34, and principally for his own, and the people's safety, that the breach between David and Absalom might be irreparable. For this would provoke David in the highest degree and cut of all hope of reconciliation, which otherwise might have been expected by some treaty between Absalom and his tender - hearted father. But in that case his followers, and especially Ahithophel, had been left to David's mercy, and therefore obliged to prosecute the war with all vigour, and to abandon all thoughts of peace: as knowing that his father, though be might dissemble, yet would never forgive so foul a crime. Be strong - They will fight with greater courage and resolution, when they are freed from the fear of thy reconciliation, which otherwise would make their hearts faint, and hands slack in thy cause. But by this we may see the character of Absalom's party, and how abominably wicked they were, whom such a scandalous action tied the faster to him. And we may farther learn, how corrupt the body of the people was, how ripe for that judgment which is now hastening to them.
22 The top - Of the king's palace, the very place from whence David had gazed upon Bathsheba, chap.11:2, so that his sin was legible in the very place of his punishment. Went in - To one, or some of them. And by so doing did farther make claim to the kingdom; and, as it were, take possession of it. It being usual in the eastern countries to account the wives and concubines of the late king, to belong of right to the successor. Israel - Who saw him go into the tent; and thence concluded, that he lay with them, as he had designed to do. God had threatened by Nathan, that for his defiling Bathsheba, David's own wives should be defiled in the face of the sun. This is now fulfilled: the Lord is righteous; and no word of his shall fall to the ground.
23 The counsel, &c. - It was received by the people with equal veneration, and was usually attended with as certain success. Which is mentioned as the reason why a counsel which had so ill a face, should meet with such general approbation.

Chapter XVII

Ahithophel advises Absalom to dispatch, ver. 1 - 4 Hushai advises deliberation, and his advice is received, ver. 5 - 14. Intelligence is sent to David, ver. 15 - 21. David passes over Jordan, ver. 22. Ahithophel hangs himself, ver. 23. Absalom pursues David, ver. 24 - 26. David is supplied with necessaries, ver. 27 - 29.

2 And I will, &c. - That such a wretch as Absalom should aim at his father's throat is not strange. But that the body of the people, to whom David had been so great a blessing, should join with him in it, is amazing. But the finger of God was in it. Let not the best of parents, or the best of princes think it strange, if they are injured by those who should be their support and joy, when they (like David) have provoked God to turn against them.
5 Call Hushai - A wonderful effect of Divine Providence, influencing his heart, that he could not rest in Ahithophel's counsel, though it was so evidently wise, and approved by the general consent of his whole party; and that he should desire Hushai's advice, though neither his reputation for wisdom was equal to Ahithophel's, nor had he yet given anyone proof of his fidelity to Absalom. But there is no contending with that God who can arm a man against himself, and destroy him by his own mistakes and passions.
9 Pit - Having been often accustomed to that course, and well acquainted with in all hiding - places from Saul's time. In one of them, unknown to us, he will lurk with some of his chosen men, and lie in ambush for us; and, when they see a fit opportunity, they will suddenly come forth and surprize some of our men, when they least expect it, and probably at first put them to flight. Some - Namely, of Absalom's men sent against David. At the first - Implying, that their good success at first would mightily animate David's men to proceed vigorously in the fight, and intimidate Absalom's army, and consequently would be both a presage and an occasion of their total defeat.
11 I counsel - His pretence was, that they might make sure, though slow work: his design was to gain David time, that he might increase his army, and make better provision for the battle; and that the present heat of the people might be cooled, and they might bethink themselves of their duty, and return to their allegiance. Thou - For thy presence will put life and courage into thy soldiers, who will be ambitious to shew their skill and courage in defending thy person, when they know that all their actions are observed by him who hath the distribution of rewards and punishments in his hands. Besides, the glory of the victory will be wholly thine, which now Ahithophel seeks to get to himself.
12 As dew - That is, plenteously, suddenly, irresistibly, and on all sides; for so the dew falls.
13 Bring ropes - It is an hyperbolical expression, suited to the vain - glorious temper of this insolent young man: implying, that they would do so if they could not destroy him another way: or, that they should be enough to do so, if there were occasion. River - Adjoining to the city; it being usual to build cities near some river, both for defence, and for other accommodations.
14 Absalom and all, &c. - Be it observed, to the comfort of all that fear God, he turns all mans hearts as the rivers of water. He stands in the congregation of the mighty, has an over - ruling hand in all counsels, and a negative voice in all resolves, and laughs at mens projects against his children.
16 Lodge not - Lest the king's and people's mind's change, and Ahithophel persuade the king to pursue you speedily.
17 Enrogel - Or, the fullers well. A place near Jerusalem, Josh 15:7 18:16. Wench - Pretending to go thither to wash some cloaths, or to draw water.
19 Spread corn - Under pretence of drying it by the sun: which shews it was summer - time.
20 Over the brook of water - That is, over Jordan. This was a manifest lie.
23 Hanged himself - See here contempt poured upon the wisdom of man! He that was more renowned for policy than ever any man was, played the fool with himself more than ever any man did. See likewise honour done to the justice of God! The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.
24 Passed - Not speedily, but when all the men of Israel were gathered together according to Hushai's counsel.
25 Nahash - Nahash is the name of Jesse's wife, by whom he had this Abigail, as he had Zeruiah by another wife; so they were sisters by the father, but not by the mother.
27 Shobi - Who, as it may seem, disliked and disowned that barbarous action to the ambassadors; and therefore, when the rest were destroyed, was left king or governor of the residue of the Ammonites. Machir - See above chap.9:4.
29 In - Having been in the wilderness. Thus God sometimes makes up to his people that comfort from strangers, which they are disappointed of in their own families.

Chapter XVIII

David prepares to engage the rebels, ver. 1 - 5. The total defeat of Absalom, ver. 6 - 8. His death and burial, ver. 9 - 18. The news brought to David, ver. 19 - 32. His lamentation over Absalom, ver. 33.

5 Deal gently - If you conquer (which be presaged they would by God's gracious answer to his prayer for the turning of Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness,) take him prisoner, but do not kill him. Which desire proceeded, from his great indulgence towards his children: from his consciousness that he himself was the meritorious cause of this rebellion, Absalom being given up to it for the punishment of David's sins; from the consideration of his youth, which commonly makes men foolish, and subject to ill counsels: and from his piety, being loth that he should be cut off in the act of his sin without any space for repentance. But ''what means, says Bp. Hall, this ill - placed mercy? Deal gently with a traitor? Of all traitors with a son? And all this for thy sake, whose crown, whose blood he hunts after? Even in the holiest parents nature may be guilty of an injurious tenderness. But was not this done in type of that unmeasurable mercy, of the true King of Israel, who prayed for his murderers, Father, forgive them! Deal gently with them for my sake!" Yea, when God sends an affliction to correct his children, it is with this charge, deal gently with them for my sake: for he knows our frame.
8 The wood - More people died in the wood, either through hunger, and thirst, and weariness: or, by the wild beasts, whereof great numbers were there, which, though they were driven away from the place of the main battle, yet might easily meet with them when they fled several ways: or, by falling into ditches and pits, which were in that place, ver.17, and probably were covered with grass or wood, so that they could not see them till they fell into them: and especially by David's men, who pursued them, and killed them in the wood: and the wood is rightly said to have devoured them, because it gave the occasion to their destruction, inasmuch as the trees, and ditches, and pits, entangled them, and stopped their flight, and made them an easy prey to David's men, who followed them, and slew them in the pursuit. The sword - In the main battle: the sword being put for the battle, by a common figure.
9 The servants of David - Who, according to David's command, spared him, and gave him an opportunity to escape. His head - In which probably he was entangled by the hair of the head, which being very long and thick, might easily catch hold of a bough, especially when the great God directed it. Either he wore no helmet, or he had thrown it away as well as his other arms, to hasten his flight. Thus the matter of his pride was the instrument of his ruin.
15 Slew him - The darts did not dispatch him, and therefore they smote him again, and killed him.
18 A pillar - To preserve his name; whereas it had been more for his honour if his name had been buried in perpetual oblivion.
24 Gates - For the gates of the cities then were, as now they are, large and thick; and for the greater security, had two gates, one more outward, the other inward. Here he sat, that he might hear tidings when any came into the city.
33 Over the gate - Retiring himself from all men and business, that he might wholly give up himself to lamentation. My son - This he might speak from a deep sense of his eternal state, because he died in his sins, and because David himself had by his own sins been the occasion of his death. But it seems rather to be the effect of strong passion, causing him to speak unadvisedly with his lips.

Chapter XIX

Joab prevails on David to refrain, ver. 1 - 8. He is brought back to his kingdom by the men of Judah, ver. 9 - 15. Pardons Shimei, ver. 16 - 23. Restores to Mephibosheth his estate, ver. 24 - 30. Barzillai is dismissed, and his son taken into David's service, ver. 31 - 40. The Israelites expostulate with the men of Judah, ver. 41 - 43.

3 By stealth - Not openly and triumphantly, as conquerors use to do; but secretly, as if they were afraid and ashamed, lest David should see them, and look upon them with an evil eye, as those that had an hand in killing of his beloved son.
5 Hast shamed - By disappointing their just hopes of praises and rewards, and by requiting them with contempt and tacit rebukes.
6 Pleased thee - This is not be understood as exactly true; but David's carriage gave too much colour to such a suggestion; and such sharpness of speech was in a manner necessary to awaken the king out of his lethargy, and to preserve him from the impendent mischiefs.
9 At strife - Quarrelling one with another as the authors or abettors of this shameful rebellion, and discoursing privately and publickly of David's high merits, which God, being now reconciled to David, brings afresh to their memories.
10 Now therefore - The people of Israel speak thus to the elders of Israel, as appears by comparing this verse with the next. Seeing their designs for Absalom disappointed, they now repented of that undertaking, and were willing to testify so much by their forwardness to bring back David, and re - establish him.
11 Judah - Who being the abettors of Absalom's rebellion, despaired of pardon, and therefore were backward to promote the king's restoration. His house - Even to Mahanaim, where now the king's house and family is.
13 Of Joab - Who, besides his other crimes, had lately exasperated the king by his murder of Absalom, contrary to David's express command. And therefore the king having now the opportunity of another person who had a greater interest than Joab, gladly complies with it, that so he might both chastise Joab for his faults, and rescue himself from the bondage in which Joab had hitherto held him.
14 He bowed - David by this prudent and kind message and his free offer of pardon.
17 With him - Whom he brought, partly to shew his interest in the people, and partly, as intercessors on his behalf, and as witnesses of David's clemency or severity, that in him they might see what the rest of them might expect. Ziba - Who, being conscious of his former abuse of David, and of his master Mephibosheth, which he knew the king would understand, designed to sweeten David's spirit towards him, by forwardness in meeting him.
20 House of Joseph - The house of Joseph is here put for all the tribes, except Judah, which are fitly distinguished from Judah, because the rights of the first - born were divided between Judah and Joseph, 1Chron 5:2. And though Benjamin, after the division of the kingdoms was fitly joined with Judah, because then they adhered to that tribe; yet before that time it was joined with Joseph, because they marched under the standard of the house of Joseph, or of Ephraim, Numb 10:22,23,24. Whence it is, that Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, are put together, Psal 80:2.
22 Adversaries - That is, that you put me upon things unfit for me to do, and contrary to my interest; for it was David's interest at this time to appease the people, and reconcile them to him, and not to give them any new distaste by acts of severity: for this would make others jealous, that he would watch an opportunity to be revenged on them. King - Is not my kingdom, which was in a manner wholly lost, just now restored and assured to me? And when God hath been so merciful to me in forgiving my sin, shall I shew myself revengeful to Shemei? Shall I sully the publick joy and glory of this day, with an act of such severity? Or, shall I alienate the hearts of my people from me, now they are returning to me?
24 The son - That is, the grandson, 2Sam 6:3,6. His feet - By washing his feet, which was usual in those hot climates, and very refreshing; and therefore now neglected, as becoming a mourner. Beard - But suffered it to grow very long, and disorderly, as was usual with persons in a forlorn, or mournful state. Clothes - His linen cloathes. This and the former were signs, that he was a true and obstinate mourner, and evidences of the falsehood of Ziba's relation concerning him, chap.16:3.
25 Jerusalem - Probably he had continued near Jerusalem, because he could not go to meet him, as others did.
26 Deceived me - By carrying away the ass which I bid him saddle for me.
27 Angel - To distinguish between true reports and calumnies; See note on "2Sa 14:20".
28 Before - Before thy tribunal: we were all at thy mercy: not my estate only but my life also was in thy power, if thou hadst dealt with rigour, and as earthly kings use to do with their predecessor's and enemies children. To cry - For the vindication of mine honour, and the restitution of my estate.
29 Divide - The land shall be divided between thee and him, as it was by my first order, chap.9:10, he and his sons managing it, and supporting themselves out of it, as they did before, and giving the rest of the profits thereof to thee.
35 I am, &c. - My senses are grown dull, and incapable of relishing the pleasures of a court. I am past taking pleasures in delicious tastes, or sweet musick, and other such delights. I am through age both useless and burdensome to others, and therefore most improper for a court life.
37 That I may die in mine own city - That my bones may with little ado, be carried to the place of their rest. The grave is ready for me: let me go and get ready for it, go and die in my nest.
40 Half - Whereas the men of Judah came entirely and unanimously to the king, the Israelites of the other tribe came in but slowly, and by halves, as being no less guilty of the rebellion, than the tribe of Judah; but not encouraged to come in by such a gracious message as they were. And this is here mentioned as the occasion both of the contention here following, and of the sedition, chap.20:1 - 22.
41 All - Such as were present. Stolen - That is, conveyed thee over Jordan hastily, not expecting our concurrence. David's men - All thy officers, guards, and soldiers. This is mentioned as an aggravation of their fault, that they did not only carry the king over Jordan, but all his men too, without asking their advice.
42 Of kin - Of the same tribe with us, and therefore both oweth the more respect to us, and might expect more respect from us. Gifts - We have neither sought nor gained any advantage to ourselves hereby, but only discharged our duty to the king, and used all expedition in bringing him back, which you also should have done, and not have come in by halves, and so coldly as you have done.
43 Ten - They say but ten, though strictly there were eleven; either, because they accounted Joseph (which comprehends both Ephraim and Manasseh under it) for one tribe, or because Simeon, whose lot lay within the tribe of Judah, were joined with them in this action. More right - As in the general we have more right in the king and kingdom; so particularly, we have more right in David than you, because you were the first beginners, and the most zealous promoters of this rebellion; howsoever, as he is king, we justly claim a greater interest in him, than you; inasmuch as we are the far greatest part of his subjects. Fiercer - Instead of mollifying them with gentle words, they answered them with greater fierceness so that David durst not interpose in the matter.

Chapter XX

A new rebellion raised by Sheba, ver. 1, 2. David confines his ten concubines for life, ver. 3. Joab murders Amasa, ver. 4 - 12. Pursues Sheba to Abel, ver. 13 - 15. He is delivered up, ver. 16 - 22. David's great officers, ver. 23 - 26.

1 Happened - His presence was casual in itself, though ordered by God's providence. No part - The tribe of Judah have monopolized the king to themselves, and will not allow us any share in him; let them therefore enjoy him alone, and let us seek out a new king. The son of Jesse - An expression of contempt, implying that he was no more to be owned as their king, but as a private person, as the son of Jesse. To his tents - Let us all desist from this unthankful office, of bringing the king back, and go each to our homes, that we may consider, and then meet together to chuse a new king.
2 Every man - That is, the generality of those Israelites who were present.
5 Tarried - Either, because the people being wearied out by the late war, were not forward to engage in another: or because the soldiers had more affection to Joab, than to their new general.
6 Abishai - Not to Joab; lest by this means he should recover his place, and Amasa be discontented, and David's fidelity in making good his promise to Amasa be questioned.
7 Joab's men - The remainders of Joab's army who were there present, with whom also Joab might go as a reformade, watching an opportunity to do what he designed.
8 Amasa went - Having gathered some forces, and given due orders for the rest to follow him, he returned to Jerusalem, and by the king's command went after those mentioned ver.7, and being come up to them at the place where they waited for him, he put himself in the head of Joab's men, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and such as he had brought along with him, and marched before them as their general. Girded - After the manner of travellers and soldiers. Went forth - To meet and salute Amasa, who was coming towards him to do him honour. It fell - Things having (it is likely) been so contrived by Joab, that upon the least motion of his body, his sword should drop out, and he might take it up without raising Amasa's suspicion.
9 Beard - As the manner of ancient times was, when they saluted one another.
10 The sword - Which falling out, as it seemed, casually, he supposed that Joab intended only to put it into its scabbard, and therefore took no care to defend himself against the stroke. So Joab - Who now boldly resumed his former place, and marched in the head of the army. It is not strange, that Amasa's soldiers did not fight to revenge his death; partly, because not many of them were yet come up, as the following verses shew; and partly, because Joab's interest and authority with the military - men was very great; especially, with David's guards, who were here present, and who had no kindness for Amasa, as having been the general of the rebellious army; and, as they might think, not fit to be put into a place of so great trust.
11 One - Left there on purpose to deliver the following message. Favoureth Joab - He that would have Joab to be general, rather than such a perfidious rebel as Amasa. For David - He that wisheth David good success against Sheba, and against all rebels.
12 Stood still - Wondering at the spectacle, and enquiring into the author and occasion of it. Removed - Perceiving, that it both incensed them against Joab and hindered the king's service. Cast a cloth upon him - But the covering of blood with a cloth cannot stop its cry to God for vengeance.
14 He - Sheba, who marched from tribe to tribe to stir them up to sedition. Abel - Unto Abel - beth - maachah, as this place is called here in the Hebrew text, ver.15, to distinguish it from other Abels; and to signify, that this was that Abel which was in the northern border of Canaan towards that part of Syria called Maachah, 2Sam 10:8. Berites - Such as lived in the city, or territory of Beeroth of Benjamin, Josh 18:25, who being of the same tribe, if not city with Sheba, adhered to him, and followed him through all the tribes of Israel. They - The tribes of Israel; that is, a considerable number of them; as might well be expected, when the discontents were so high and general.
15 They - That is, Joab and his army. A bank - From whence they might either batter the wall, or shoot at those who defended it. It stood - The bank stood in, or near to the trench, or the wall of the city; so that the city was in great danger of being taken.
16 Then cried a wise woman - It seems none of all the men of Abel, offered to treat with Joab: no, not when they were reduced to extremity: but one wise woman saved the city. Souls know no difference of sex: many a manly heart is lodged in a female breast. Nor is the treasure of wisdom the less valuable, for being lodged in the weaker vessel.
18 Ask counsel - This city which thou art about to destroy, is no mean and contemptible one, but so honourable and considerable for its wisdom, that when any differences arose among any of the neighbours, they used proverbially to say, We will ask the opinion and advice as the men of Abel about it, and we will stand to their arbitration; and so all parties were satisfied, and disputes ended.
19 A mother - Great cities are commonly called mothers; as lesser towns or villages subject to them, and depending upon them, are called their daughters. Inheritance - That is, a considerable part of, that land which God hath chosen for his particular possession. The destruction which thou art about to bring upon us, is an injury to Israel, and to the God of Israel.
21 Ephraim - Probably mount Ephraim was a place in Benjamin so called, either because it was upon the borders of Ephraim or for some notable action or event of the Ephraimites in that place. His head - Which she undertook, because she knew the present temper of the citizens, and soldiers too. And it is not unlikely, that this woman might be a governness in that city. For though this office was commonly performed by men; yet women were sometimes employed in the government: as we see in Deborah, who judged Israel, Judg 4:4.
22 Wisdom - Prudently treated with them about it, representing to them the certainty and nearness of their ruin, if they did not speedily comply with her desires, and certain deliverance if they did.
23 Over all the host - The good success of this, and of the former expedition, under the conduct of Joab, had so fixed his interest in the army, and others of David's fastest friends, that the king could not without danger displace him.

Chapter XXI

A famine, caused by Saul's killing the Gibeonites, ver. 1 - 3. Seven of his family put to death, ver. 4 - 9. Care taken of their dead bodies, and of the bones of Saul, ver. 10 - 14. Battles with the Philistines, ver. 15 - 22.

1 Then - The things related here and chap.24:1 - 25, are by the best interpreters conceived to have been done long before Absalom's rebellion. And this opinion is not without sufficient grounds: first, this particle, then, is here explained, in the days, that is, during the reign of David: which general words seem to be added as an intimation that these things were not done after the next foregoing passages, for then the sacred writer would rather have added, after these things, as it is in many other places. Secondly, here are divers passages which it seems improbable to ascribe to the last years of David's reign: such as first, that Saul's sin against the Gibeonites should so long remain unpunished. And indeed that this was done, and Saul's seven sons hanged by David's order before that time, seems to be intimated by that passage, 2Sam 16:8, where he is charged with the blood of the house of Saul: for which there was not the least colour 'till this time. Secondly, that David should not remove the bones of Saul and Jonathan to their proper place, 'till that time. Thirdly, that the Philistines should wage war with David again and again, ver.15, &c. so long after he had fully subdued them, chap.8:1, and that David in his old age should attempt to fight with a Philistine giant, or that his people should suffer him to do so. Fourthly, that David should then have so vehement a desire to number his people, chap.24:1, which being an act of youthful vanity, seems not at all to agree with his old age, nor with that state of deep humiliation in which he then was. And the reason why these matters are put here out of their proper order, is plainly this, because David's sin being once related, it was very convenient that David's punishments should immediately succeed: this being very frequent in scripture - story, to put those things together which belong to one matter, though they happened at several times. He flew - Which was not only an act of cruelty, but also of perfidiousness, because it was a public violation of that solemn oath given to them by Joshua and the princes, in the name of all the Israelites, of that and succeeding generations. "But why did not God punish Saul whilst he was alive for this, but his children, and the Israelites of this age?" First, God did severely punish Saul for this and his other sins. Secondly, as God may justly inflict temporal punishments upon any offender, either in his person, or in his posterity, when he pleaseth; so it is meet he should take his own time for it; and it is folly in us to quarrel with God for so doing. Thirdly, the Israelites might sundry ways make themselves guilty of Saul's sin, tho' it be not particularly mentioned, advising or encouraging him to it; or, assisting him in the execution of it. And whereas many of the people were probably innocent of that crime, yet they also were guilty of many other sins, for which God might punish them, though he took this occasion for it.
2 Sought - That is, he sought how he might cut them off with some colour of justice, aggravating their faults, and punishing them worse than they deserved; oppressing them with excessive labours, and intending by degrees to wear them out.
6 I will - Having doubtless consulted God in the matter; who as he had before declared Saul's bloody house to be the causes of this judgment, so now commanded that justice should be done upon it, and that the remaining branches of it should be cut off; as sufficiently appears from hence, that God was well pleased with the action; which he would not have been, if David had done it without his command; for then it had been a sinful action of David's, and contrary to a double law of God, Deut 21:23 24:16.
7 Spared - For the Gibeonites desiring only such a number, it was at David's choice whom to spare. Of Jonathan - This is added, to distinguish him from the other Mephibosheth, ver.8.
10 Spread it - As a tent to dwell in: being informed that their bodies were not to be taken away speedily, as the course of the law was in ordinary cases, but were to continue there until God was intreated, and removed the present judgment. On the rock - In some convenient place in a rock, near adjoining. Until water - Until they were taken down: which was not to be done 'till God had given rain as a sign of his favour, and a mean to remove the famine, which was caused by the want of it. Thus she let the world know, that her sons died not for any sin of their own, not as stubborn and rebellious sons, whose eye had despised their mother: but for their father's sin, and therefore her mind could not be alienated from them by their hard fate.
11 David - Who heard it with so much approbation, that he thought fit to imitate her piety, being by her example provoked to do what hitherto he had neglected, to bestow an honourable interment on the remains of Saul and Jonathan, and, with them, upon those that are now put to death, that the honour done to them herein, might be some comfort to this disconsolate widow.
13 The bones - Having first burnt off the flesh which remained upon them when they were taken down. Compare 1Sam 31:10, &c.
14 After that - After those things were done which were before related; that is, after they were hanged up: for by that God was pacified, and not by their burial.
18 After this - After the battle last mentioned.
22 Born to the giant in Gath - These giants were probably the remains of the sons of Anak, who, tho' long feared, fell at last.

Chapter XXII

This chapter is inserted among the Psalms, No. 18, with some little variation. It is here as it was composed for his own closet; there, as it was delivered to the chief musician for public service. The inspired writer having largely related David's deliverances in this and the foregoing book, thought fit to record this sacred poem, as a memorial of all that had been before related.

Chapter XXIII

The last words of David, ver. 1 - 7. An account of his mighty men, the first three, ver. 8 - 12. Two of the next three, ver. 13 - 23. And the thirty, ver. 24 - 39.

1 Last words - Not simply the last that he spoke, but the last which he spake by the spirit of God, assisting and directing him in an extraordinary manner. When we find death approaching, we should endeavour both to honour God, and to profit others with our last words. Let those who have had experience of God's goodness, and the pleasantness of the ways of wisdom, when they come to finish their course, leave a record of those experiences, and bear their testimony to the truth of the promise. Raised - Advanced from an obscure estate, to the kingdom. Whom, God singled out from all the families of Israel, and anointed to be king. Psalmist - He who was eminent among the people of God, for composing sweet and holy songs to the praise of God, and for the use of his church in after ages: these seem not to be the words of David, but of the sacred penman of this book.
2 His word - The following words, and consequently the other words and Psalms composed and uttered by me upon the like solemn occasions, are not to be looked upon as human inventions, but both the matter and the words of them are suggested by God's spirit, the great teacher of the church.
3 Rock - He who is the strength, and defence, and protector of his people; which he manifests by directing kings and rulers so to manage their power as may most conduce to their comfort and benefit. Ruleth - Here are the two principal parts of a king's duty, answerable to the two tables of God's law, justice towards men, and piety towards God, both which he is to maintain and promote among his people.
4 Shall be - These words are a farther description of the king's duty, which is not only to rule with justice and piety, but also with sweetness, and gentleness, and condescension to the infirmities of his people; to render his government as acceptable to them, as is the sun - shine in a clear morning, or the tender grass which springs out of the earth by the warm beams of the sun after the rain.
5 Altho' - Although God knows, that neither I, nor my children have lived and ruled as we should have done, so justly, and in the fear of the Lord; and therefore have not enjoyed that uninterrupted prosperity which we might have enjoyed. Covenant - Notwithstanding all our transgressions whereby we have broken covenant with God, yet God, to whom all my sins were known, was graciously pleased to make a sure covenant, to continue the kingdom to me, and to my seed for ever, chap.7:16, until the coming of the Messiah who is to be my son and successor, and whose kingdom shall have no end. Ordered - Ordained in all points by God's eternal counsel; and disposed by his wise and powerful providence which will over - rule all things, even the sins of my house so far, that although he punished them for their sins, yet he will not utterly root them out, nor break his covenant made with me and mine. Sure - Or, preserved, by God's power and faithfulness in the midst of all oppositions. For this - Or, in this is, that is, it consists in, and depends upon this covenant. Salvation - Both mine own eternal salvation, and the preservation of the kingdom to me and mine. Tho' - Although God as yet hath not made my house or family to grow; that is, to increase, or to flourish with worldly glory as I expected; yet this is my comfort, that God will inviolably keep this covenant. But this refers also to the covenant of grace made with all believers. This is indeed an everlasting covenant, from everlasting, in the contrivance of it, and to everlasting, in the continuance and the consequence of it. It is ordered, well ordered in all things; admirably well, to advance the glory of God and the honour of the mediator, together with the holiness and happiness of believers. It is sure, and therefore sure, because well - ordered: the promised mercies are sure, on the performance of the conditions. It is all our salvation: nothing but this will save us, and this is sufficient. Therefore it should be all our desire. Let me have an interest in this covenant, and I have enough, I desire no more.
6 But - Having in the foregoing verses described the nature, and stability of that kingdom which God had by a sure covenant settled upon him and his seed; and especially, upon the Messiah, who was to be one of his posterity; he now describes the nature and miserable condition, of all the enemies of this holy and blessed kingdom. As thorns - Which men do not use to handle, but thrust them away. And so will God thrust away from himself, and from his people, and kingdom, all those who shall either secretly or openly set themselves against it.
7 Fenced - He must arm himself with some iron weapon, whereby he may cut them down; or, with the staff of a spear, or some such thing, whereby he may thrust them away from himself, that they do him no hurt. Burnt - Or, if they do not cut them down or thrust them away they will burn and consume them. The place - Or, in their place, where they grow or stand.
8 These - But this catalogue, though placed here, was taken long before, as is manifest from hence, that Asahel and Uriah are named here. And whereas there are some difference between this list, and that, 1Chr 11:10 - 47, most of them are easily reconciled by these two considerations;
  1. that nothing is more common than for one person to have divers names.
  2. That as some of the worthies died, and others came in their stead; this must needs cause some alteration in the latter catalogue, 1Chr 11:10 - 47, from this which was the former.
Learn hence, how much religion tends to inspire men with true courage. David both by his writings and example greatly promoted piety among the grandees of the kingdom. And when they became famous for piety, they became famous for bravery. Adino - This was his proper name. Lift up - Which words are fitly supplied out of 1Chr 11:11, where they are expressed. One time - In one battle, which though it be strange, yet cannot seem incredible, supposing him to be a person of extraordinary strength and activity, and his enemies to be discouraged, and fleeing away.
9 Gone away - That is, fled away, 1Chron 11:13, being dismayed at the approach of their enemies.
11 Lentiles - Or barley, as it is 1Chron 11:13. For both might grow in the same field, in divers parts of it. And this fact is ascribed to Eleazar, 1Chron 11:12, but it is implied, that he had some partner or partners in it; for it is there said, 1Chr 11:14 they set themselves, &c. So Eleazar might fight in that part where the barley was and Shammah where the lentiles were.
12 Lord wrought - How great soever the bravery of the instruments is, the praise of the achievement is to be given to God. These fought, but God wrought the victory.
15 Said - Being hot and thirsty, he expresses how acceptable a draught of that water would be to him; but was far from desiring, or expecting that any of his men should hazard their lives to procure it.
16 Would not - Lest by gratifying himself upon such terms, he should seem either to set too high a price upon the satisfaction of his appetite, or too low a price upon the lives of his soldiers. Poured it - As a kind of drink offering, and acknowledgment of God's goodness in preserving the lives of his captains in so dangerous an enterprize; and to shew, that he esteemed it as a sacred thing, which it was not fit for him to drink.
17 These three - Jointly: then two of them are mentioned severally.
19 Attained not - He fell short of them in strength and valour.
21 Pit - Where he put himself under a necessity, either of killing, or being killed. Of snow - When lions are most fierce, both from the sharpness of their appetite in cold seasons, and from want of provisions.
25 Harodite - In 1Chron 11:27, Shammoth the Harorite. Concerning which, and other changes of the names, which will be observed, by comparing this catalogue with that, it will be sufficient to suggest,
  1. that the same names of persons, or places, are differently pronounced according to the different dialects of divers places or ages.
  2. That one man had often two names.
  3. That David had more worthies than those here mentioned; and as some of these were slain in the former part of David's reign, as Asahel was; so others came up in their stead; and some were added to this number, as appears from 1Chron 11:10 - 47, where they are named, but not numbered, as they were here; and where there is a greater number than is here expressed.