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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 19

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-8


War between Absalom and David (17:1-19:8)

Ahithophel advised Absalom that he needed to do only one thing to make his throne secure, and that was kill David. If he did this swiftly, without war or unnecessary bloodshed, the people would soon be fully behind him (17:1-4). Hushai, wishing to gain time for David to escape and organize his troops, advised against such a risky operation, for David was a very experienced soldier. He recommended that the whole Israelite army be assembled and Absalom himself lead them into battle (5-13). Being as vain as he was ambitious, Absalom liked this idea and accepted Hushai’s advice (14).
At the risk of their lives, David’s spies took him news of Absalom’s plan (15-20), with the result that David and his men quickly escaped across Jordan (21-22). Ahithophel committed suicide. His plotting had brought Absalom to the throne, and he knew that all would be lost if Absalom followed Hushai’s advice (23). David had now gained valuable time to rest his weary men, obtain provisions and plan his war strategy (24-29).
The military leaders whom David appointed over his men suggested he not go with his troops to the battle, lest he be killed. David agreed, but warned them not to kill Absalom (18:1-5). David’s experienced army leaders knew better than the inexperienced Absalom how to direct the fighting in the difficult conditions of the thick forest. Absalom’s forces suffered a crushing defeat (6-8). Though Joab acted against David’s command in killing Absalom, he knew that this was the only way to bring the revolt to an end (9-15). Once Absalom was dead, further fighting was not necessary. Absalom had hoped for himself an honourable memorial, but he was buried in disgrace (16-18).
Not knowing how best to break the news of Absalom’s death to David, Joab sent an African slave, in case the king reacted violently and killed the bearer of such bad news. But Ahimaaz, knowing that David would be overcome with grief, persuaded Joab to send him as well (19-23). Ahimaaz arrived first and tried to break the news to David softly (24-29), but when the African arrived he told David bluntly that Absalom was dead (30-33).
David’s uncontrolled grief over the death of Absalom created dissatisfaction among those who had risked their lives to save him (19:1-4). Joab spoke harshly to David, telling him to stop mourning and show some appreciation of what his troops had done for him. If not, he might lose their support entirely (5-8).


Verses 9-43


David returns to Jerusalem (19:9-43)

Because the nation was still deeply divided as a result of Absalom’s revolt, David did not return to Jerusalem immediately. He was waiting for the people to give an indication that they wanted him restored as king. Some people of the northern tribes had suggested they invite David back, but the people of Judah, David’s own tribe, had apparently said nothing (9-10).

Knowing the rivalry that existed between Judah and the other tribes, David cunningly suggested that Judah quickly show its support for him, otherwise it would be outdone by the other tribes. Also, in an effort to win the allegiance of those Judahites who had followed Absalom, he made Amasa, Absalom’s commander, chief of his army. This was clearly unfair to Joab, who had remained loyal to David and won him the victory (11-14). (Absalom, Joab and Amasa were cousins; see 1 Chronicles 2:13-17.)

As he was returning to Jerusalem, David was greeted by some of the people who had met him earlier when he was fleeing (15-18a). Shimei, who had previously cursed him, now begged his favour, and David promised not to execute him (18b-23; cf. 16:5-14; but see 1 Kings 2:8-9). Mephibosheth contradicted Ziba’s earlier statement to David about Mephibosheth’s supposed disloyalty. It seems that David did not know whom to believe, so he divided Saul’s property between the two of them (24-30; cf. 16:1-4). By taking Barzillai’s son into the royal court, David rewarded Barzillai for his former kindnesses (31-38; cf. 17:27-29). The party then crossed the Jordan and headed for Jerusalem (39-40).

Judah responded so vigorously to David’s call to bring him back to Jerusalem, that it outdid the other tribes (see v. 11, 40). Unfortunately, the whole affair further stirred up those inter-tribal jealousies which one day would result in the breaking up of the kingdom (41-43).


Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/2-samuel-19.html. 2005.
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