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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

2 Samuel 16

Verses 1-4

Second Samuel - Chapter 16

The Lying Ziba, vs. 1-4

Ziba had been appointed caretaker for Mephibosheth over the estate of Saul (2 Samuel 9:9-11). The context of this passage strongly indicates that Ziba had been previously reaping fine profits from his personal use of the land, while Mephibosheth was hiding in Lo-debar. Likely his income was greatly lessened by the return of the estate to Mephibosheth, and he had resented it, though he had acquiesced in the king’s appointment.

The tale with which Ziba now came to David seems to further indicate the true nature of his heart. As a front he pretended great concern for the welfare of the king and his entourage. He brought bread for the men, with raisins and fresh fruits, wine for the faint, and donkeys for the king’s household to ride upon. It appeared to be a very friendly gesture on the part of Ziba.

But it aroused the wonder of David as to the absence of Mephibosheth. When David inquired of Ziba concerning him he was told that Mephibosheth had deliberately remained in Jerusalem expecting that the people would return the throne to him as the heir of Saul. This is another instance of David’s seeming naiveté. David’s believing such a lie as this is almost as incredible as it would have been for Mephibosheth to believe Absalom would raise a rebellion to put him on the throne. How could David believe Mephibosheth would be so foolish? He was very frustrated and shocked at all that was occurring, perhaps being unable to think clearly at the time.

Nevertheless David ceded the land of Saul, which had been Mephibosheth’s, to Ziba. Ziba had accomplished his purpose and bowed graciously before the king. No doubt he hurried back to the land to lay claim to what he had stolen.

Verses 5-14

The Vilifying Shimei, vs. 5-14

Bahurim was on the east slope of the mount of Olives, not far from Jerusalem. All this area extending to the Jordan valley was in the tribe of Benjamin, which was the tribe of king Saul. The Benjamites had followed the lead of their fellow tribesman, Abner, in making David king, but Shimei is indication that there long remained some dissatisfaction within the tribe.

It was a foolhardy thing which Shimei did, coming out cursing and reproaching David, casting rocks and dirt upon him and his mighty men. He could have expected to lose his life for such a show of disrespect to the king, especially with the mighty men protecting David on every side. Shimei reproached David as a bloody man of Belial, receiving just desert at the hand of his son, Absalom, for his taking the kingdom from the family of Saul. He purportedly believed that God was punishing David for the blood of Saul and his family. This was preposterous, of course. Everyone knew that David had not tried to make himself king, and that it was Saul who sought to kill David.

Loyal Abishai, brother of Joab and nephew of David, was ever ready to punish any who threatened his king. Years before he had stood with David against Saul (1 Samuel 26:7-9), and he had acquired a captaincy among the mighty men (2 Samuel 23:18-19). In Abishai’s eye Shimei was as no account as a dead dog, and he requested permission to go over and take off the head of the offender.

David refused Abishai’s request and his words are somewhat puzzling. First, though, should be noted David’s feeling toward Abishai and his brother, Joab, the sons of Zeruiah, David’s sister. He wanted nothing to do with them. .

It appears likely that David felt these two hard and cruel men were the source of many of his troubles and perhaps of much of the dissatisfaction of the people with the kingship. It was the younger

brother, Asahel, who forced Abner to kill him in a fight and thus provoked the blood feud with him. Then they had murdered Abner, when David was trying to consolidate the kingdom (2 Samuel 2:18-23; 2 Samuel 3:27-30). It was Joab who had persuaded David to recall Absalom from exile, when David was unwilling to do so. They had some kind of strangle-hold on David from which he seemed unable to extricate himself.

But what could David have meant in saying God had told Shimei, "Curse David?" This event is a part of the Lord’s judgment upon David for his sin years before in committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering Uriah, her husband. David had brought the curse upon himself, and God had allowed it to fall.

David was paying a fourth installment in the fourfold repayment he suggested with reference to the rich man who slaughtered the poor man’s lamb, (2 Samuel 12:5-6). One by one he had lost 1) the little son of Bathsheba, 2) his beautiful daughter Tamar, 3) his firstborn son Amnon, and now 4) his handsome son Absalom. If his own offspring could rise against him and seek his life, who should forbid the cursing of this Benjamite?

David believed in the mercy of the Lord, for he had often experienced it. Thus he hoped the Lord might grant him mercy in these present afflictions brought on him by Absalom and Shimei (Psalms 69:16). If God should grant him mercy He would return David to the throne and requite him for the cursing of Shimei.

Thus David continued on his way, and Shimei continued to vilify him, cast his rocks and dirt on him and his people all the way to their destination. They paused at last, weary, to refresh themselves.

Verses 15-23

Absalom’s Success, vs. 15-23

The strength of Absalom’s rebellion is apparent in his triumphant appearance in the city of Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 21:1-9). Already the mass of the people from the tribes were converging in the city to make him their king. It seemed that everyone was turning to Absalom. Consequently he was surprised, but not seemingly suspicious, when Hushai appeared, calling out, "God save the king, God save the king." Even Ahithophel, who accompanied Absalom into the city, seems not to have suspected David’s counselor.

Absalom did question Hushai, "Are you thus repaying the kindness of your friend? Why did you not accompany him in his flight?" He probably felt a bit of vengeful joy in "winning over" his father’s closest friend. His pride kept him from recognizing the ambiguity of Hushai’s reply. Hushai seemed to object to Absalom’s insinuation, proclaiming that he was for the man chosen king by the Lord and the people, and would abide on the side of that man. Should he not serve in the presence of the son as he had served in the presence of the father? Absalom’s head was so filled with ideas of self-importance he never thought that it was David who had been chosen king by the Lord and by the people. Nor did he think that Hushai might have been serving in the presence of the son by serving the cause of his father. Again Absalom illustrates the truth of Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

Ahithophel now began his counseling by which he hoped to consolidate the kingdom in the hands of Absalom. Instructed by the prince he was also to consult with other counselors, presumably including Husahi. Thus the plan of David began to go into action. Ahithophel’s first advice was such as would make the people conclude there was no possibility for reconciliation between Absalom and his father. He would then win over those still hesitant to come out openly in favor of him.

The scheme of Ahithophel was to take the ten concubines whom David had left to keep the palace and commit public fornication with them. This act would be so vile and repugnant that David could never forgive his son and Absalom could not decide to make peace with his father. So a tent was spread atop the house, and Absalom committed adultery with the ten concubines of his father in the very sight of the people. This act was another fulfillment of the prophecy of Nathan, when he came to David and told him God would judge his sin with Bathsheba against Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 12:11).

By such counsel Ahithophel had become noted in Israel, not only in this he counseled for Absalom, but in his counseling in former days with David. His counsel was so shrewd and so fulfilling of the purpose intended that it seemed to those who observed it was a very oracle of God. Thus Ahithophel’s counsel was held in highest esteem, and Hushai was faced with a formidable champion in his attempt to counteract. But the Lord is able to set at nought the counsel of the ungodly (1 Corinthians 1:19).

Thoughts from chapter 16: 1) Making decisions without consulting all the facts will result in harm to more than one; 2) one cannot set aside God’s determined chastisement for sin; 3) one can seek the mercy of God and be delivered from the just penalties of sin in a measure; 4) pride usually blinds its possessor to his own best interests; 5) the wisdom of the worldly wise is foolishness without God (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 16". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-samuel-16.html. 1985.