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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 19

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Joab by hard words moveth the king to cease his mourning, and show himself to the people, 2 Samuel 19:1-8. The king is brought back by the men of Judah, and Amasa put in Joab’s place, 2 Samuel 18:9-15.

Shimei sueth for mercy, and obtaineth it, 2 Samuel 19:16-23.

Mephibosheth meeting the king, recovers half his estate, 2 Samuel 19:24-30.

Barzillai is dismissed; Chimham his son is taken into the king’s family, 2 Samuel 19:31-40.

The Israelites expostulate with Judah for bringing home the king without them, 2 Samuel 19:41-43.

Verse 1

It was told Joab, by his messengers, upon their return.

Verse 3

Not openly, and orderly, and triumphantly, as conquerors use to do; but secretly, and disorderly, and asunder, as if they were afraid and ashamed, lest David should see them, and look upon them with an evil eye, as those that had a hand in the killing of his dearly beloved son.

Verse 4

The king covered his face, as a deep mourner, as one that desired neither to see, nor to be seen by any others.

Verse 5

Joab came into the house; either the gate-house, or his now dwelling-house in the city, to which he was retired, that he might more freely indulge himself in the expressions of his grief.

Thou hast shamed the faces of all thy servants, by disappointing their just hopes of praises and rewards, and by requiting them with contempt and tacit rebukes.

Thy life, and the lives of thy sons, and of thy daughters, and of thy wives, and of thy concubines; all which Absalom struck at, and had sooner or later actually taken away, if he had not been cut off in such a manner, without expecting thy knowledge or consent; and therefore thy carriage towards them that have saved the lives of thee and thine, with the utmost hazard of their own, is highly unjust and ungrateful.

Verse 6

This is not to be understood as exactly true in the rigour of it, but only comparatively and hyperbolically spoken; for David desired their preservation and Absalom’s too: but it must be considered that Joab was now in a high transport of passion, which might easily hurry him into indecent expressions; and that David’s carriage gave too much colour to such a suggestion; and that 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.

Verse 7

I swear by the Lord: this oath was either assertory of what he believed might in reason be expected, as likely in great measure to come to pass; or else promissory; or rather, minatory of what he by his influence could and would effect; and if so, it was much more than became him to say to his sovereign, and could only be excused by the circumstances, which at. this time might make it seem necessary: for David was indeed to blame in taking no more notice of their good service (however Joab might be faulty also in disobeying the king’s express command as to Absalom’s person); and great reason there was that David, as Joab did-now advise, should show himself less displeased to the people, who had exposed their lives to preserve him and his.

If thou go not forth to the gate, to show thyself to thy people, and kindly and thankfully to acknowledge the good service that they have now done thee.

There will not tarry one with thee this night; the hearts of all thy people will forthwith be irrecoverably alienated from thee, and they will look out for some other person on whom they may set the crown.

Verse 8

The king arose, and sat in the gate; He was come forth out of his retirement, and appeared in public on the seat of judgment, at the gate of the city, to receive the addresses of his people, and mind the affairs of the kingdom.

All the people came before the king, to congratulate him for the victory, and to profess their subjection to him. So Joab’s speech, though very severe and presumptuous, was it seems a word in season, and had that good effect which he designed.

Verse 9

All the people were at strife; quarrelling one with another, as the authors or abettors of this shameful and cursed rebellion, discoursing privately and publicly of David’s high merits, which God, being now reconciled to David, brings afresh to their memories, and reneweth the sense of their obligations to their king, which they had lately shaken off. Thus the crowns of kings sit faster or looser upon their heads, as God is pleased to dispose of the thoughts and hearts of their people, which he can turn in an instant which way he will.

Now he is fled out of the land for Absalom: now we come to reflect upon our own actions, we are sensible of our folly and unworthiness in adhering to Absalom, and thereby forcing David to flee out of the land of Canaan to the parts beyond Jordan for his security.

Verse 10

Whom we anointed, i.e. caused to be anointed by Zadok or Abiathar, or some other of the priests, whom they persuaded or constrained to do this office: for this being a sacred ceremony, of a great reputation, and a likely means to gain the more authority and veneration from the people to Absalom, as one whom God by his vicegerent had constituted and set up; and this rite being usual upon all translations of the government from one person to another in an extraordinary way, as this confessedly was; it is not likely that they would now omit it; though otherwise anointing is frequently put for designing or constituting.

Is dead in battle; and therefore we have no obligation to him, and no hope of any thing from him.

Why speak ye not a word? 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 reestablish him.

Verse 11

Speak unto the elders of Judah; who being the first and chief abettors of Absalom’s rebellion, despaired of ever obtaining the king’s grace and pardon, and therefore were backward to promote the king’s restoration.

To his house; to his royal palace at Jerusalem.

To the king, even to his house, i.e. even to Mahanaim, where now the king’s house and family is. Thus sometimes one word is taken in divers senses in the same verse, as Matthew 8:22. Or rather thus, About bringing the king back to his house: for, first, Those words are very fitly and easily understood here out of the foregoing member of the verse; such defects being usual in the Hebrew, which is a very concise or short language. So it is Exodus 22:15; Deuteronomy 1:4, &c.

Secondly, It seems most reasonable to understand the same phrase,

to his house, being twice here used in the same sense in both places, to wit, of his house in Jerusalem; and this is most agreeable to rule and to Scripture usage.

Thirdly, Thus the words have more emphasis than the other way; for if the speech came to the king at Mahanaim, it matters not whether it found him in his house there, or in the gate-house, or in the field.

Fourthly, David had no house in Mahanaim which could properly be called his house, as he had in Jerusalem. And then the parenthesis should close before those last words,

even to his house, or even to his own house, to wit, that at Jerusalem.

Verse 12

My bones and my flesh; of the same tribe, and some of you of the same family, with myself; and therefore if I should revenge myself of you, which perhaps you may fear I will do when I have fully regained my power, I should but tear my own flesh in pieces, and hate my own body which nature and interest obligeth every man to preserve.

Wherefore then are ye the last to bring back the king? this delay doth not suit with the relation you have, and the affection you owe to me.

Verse 13

Amasa, Absalom’s late general; who judging his case, above all others, desperate, might be ready to use all his interest with that tribe to delay or hinder the king’s return.

Of my bone, and of my flesh, i.e. my near kinsman, my nephew. See 1 Chronicles 2:16,1 Chronicles 2:17.

Before me, i.e. in my presence, or now whilst I live; lest he should think he promised him only the reversion of it.

In the room of Joab; who, besides his other crimes, had lately exasperated the king by his wilful murder of Absalom, contrary to David’s express command; and by his insolent carriage towards him. And therefore the king having now the opportunity of another person, who had a greater interest both in Judah and Israel than Joab, he 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. Yet it is not necessary, from those words in the room of Joab, to conclude that Joab was to be displaced to make room for Amasa, but that he might be in like condition with Joab; but what follows in the next chapter makes it very probable that he was indeed displaced, and Amasa put in his place.

Verse 14

He; either, first, Amasa, by his great influence upon them. Or rather, secondly, David, by his prudent and kind message, and his free offer of pardon and favour to them, as if they had never offended.

Verse 15

To attend upon the king in his passage over Jordan, and to furnish him with conveniences for his passage and journey. See below, 2 Samuel 19:41,2 Samuel 19:42.

Verse 17

A thousand men of Benjamin with him; whom he brought, partly to show his power and interest in the people, whereby he was able to do David either great service or great disservice; 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.

And 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 his great officiousness and forwardness in meeting him, and congratulating his return.

They went over Jordan before the king; they did not tarry on this side Jordan, waiting till the king came over, as the most of the men of Judah did; but went over Jordan to pay their respects and duty to the king there, to express their eager and impatient desire to see the king.

Verse 18

A ferry boat, made by the men of Judah for the king’s proper use; besides which there were doubtless many boats ready for the use of others.

As he was come over Jordan, or rather, as he was passing, or about to pass, over Jordan; but this was beyond Jordan; for as he went over Jordan to the king, 2 Samuel 19:17, so doubtless he fell down before him at his first coming into his presence there.

Verse 19

i.e. Be affected with it, or excited to revenge it.

Verse 20

Thy servant doth know that I have sinned; I do not excuse my sin, but with grief and shame confess it; in which case the Lord thy God is ready to pardon offenders, and so I trust wilt thou be.

I am come the first; the sense of my former sin now hath, and whilst I live will, make me the first and most forward in all acts of duty and service to thy majesty.

Of all the house of Joseph.

Object. He was a Benjamite, 2 Samuel 16:5. How then doth he make himself one of the house of Joseph?

Answ. The house of Joseph is here put, either,

1. For the ten tribes, which are oft distinguished from Judah, and then they are called the house of Joseph, as Zechariah 10:6. But this distinction was not made before the division of the people into two kingdoms; and even after that division Benjamin was constantly reckoned with Judah, and not with Joseph or Ephraim. Or,

2. For all the tribes of Israel, who are called the children of Joseph, Psalms 77:15; compare Psalms 80:1; Psalms 81:5; as well they might, not only because of Joseph’s eminency, (the most eminent persons and things being oft put for the rest of the kind,) and because the rights of primogeniture were in a great part devolved upon him, 1 Chronicles 5:1; but also because Joseph had been as a father to them, and had nourished them all like children, as is expressed in the Hebrew text, Genesis 47:12. But in this sense this was not true, for the house of Judah came before him, 2 Samuel 19:15.

Or rather,

3. For all the tribes except Judah, which are conveniently called the house of Joseph for the reasons now mentioned, and are fitly distinguished from Judah, because the rights of the first-born were divided between Judah and Joseph, 1 Chronicles 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 more conveniently joined with Joseph, because they marched under the standard of the house of Joseph, or of Ephraim, Numbers 10:22-24; whence it is that Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh are put together, Psalms 80:2.

Verse 21

i.e. The king. By this expression he minds David of his former zeal against those who offered any injury to Saul, because he was the Lord’s anointed, 1 Samuel 24:6; 1 Samuel 26:9; and therefore demands the same justice against Shimei for his cursing of the king, which was so expressly forbidden, Exodus 22:28, and by the analogy of that law, Exodus 21:17, might seem punishable with death.

Verse 22

What have I to do with you? I do not ask, neither will I take, your advice in this matter.

Ye sons of Zeruiah; implying that Joab’s hand was in this contrivance, or that he suspected it.

That ye should this day be adversaries unto me, i.e. that you put me upon things unfit for me to do, and contrary to my present interest; for it was David’s interest at this time to appease the people, and reconcile them to him, and not now to give them any new distaste by acts of severity; for this would make others jealous, that David will not forgive them neither, but would watch an opportunity to be revenged on them. You pretend friendship herein, and would have me take it for an effect of your zeal for my service; but in truth you give me such counsel as my enemies would wish me to follow, that thereby I might awaken the fears and jealousies of my people which are now asleep, and cast them into a second rebellion: which either Joab and Abishai really designed by this advice, that so Joab might recover his place again, and be made necessary for the king’s service; or David suspected that they did so.

Do not I know that I am this day king over Israel? is not my kingdom, which for my sins 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 now show myself revengeful to Shimei? Shall I sully the public joy and glory of this day with an act of such severity? or shall I alienate the hearts of my people from me, now when they are returning to me?

Verse 23

Thou shalt not die, to wit, this day, as Abishai desireth; nor whilst I live, nor by my hands, as it is repeated and explained, 1 Kings 2:8; nor for this cause alone. For though David gave order to Solomon for his punishment after his death; nor was it fit for the public good that such a horrid crime should go unpunished; yet he would not have him punished for this fault alone, but for some other capital crime, which he presumed Shimei’s temper would easily betray him to, and Solomon’s deep wisdom would easily find out, 1 Kings 2:9.

The king sware unto him, that he would not put him to death with the sword, as it is expressed, 1 Kings 2:8.

Verse 24

The son of Saul, i.e. the grandson, 2 Samuel 9:3,2 Samuel 9:6.

Had neither dressed his feet; by cutting his nails, and by washing his feet, which was usual in those hot climates, and very refreshing; and therefore now neglected, as becoming a mourner.

Nor trimmed his beard; but suffered it to grow very long and disorderly, as was usual with many persons in a forlorn or mournful state.

Nor washed his clothes; his linen clothes. This and the former were signs that he was a true and obstinate mourner, that laid aside his usual refreshments; and they are here mentioned as evidences of the falsehood of Ziba’s former relation concerning him, 2 Samuel 16:3.

Verse 25

When he was come to Jerusalem; so it is supposed, that Mephibosheth, though he went to meet the king, wanted either courage or fit opportunity to speak to the king till he came to Jerusalem, because of the great multitudes that addressed themselves to the king by the way. Though it might more reasonably be thought that he could not go from Jerusalem to meet the king, as others did, because he wanted conveniences for his journey; for Ziba had gotten all his lands and goods, 2 Samuel 16:4, and it is not likely that he, who would not provide him an ass to ride on, or to accompany the king at his departure, would now be hasty to furnish him with one to meet the king, to whom he knew he would complain of him. But the words may seem to be better rendered thus, when he went (for so the Hebrew verb signifies, Ruth 3:7; Jonah 1:3) from (which preposition is oft understood) Jerusalem; for there he was, 2 Samuel 16:3; and having continued there, as probably he did, (because he wanted an ass to convey him elsewhere, and knew not where to be with more safety,) he could not properly nor truly be said to have come thither to meet the king.

Wherefore wentest not thou with me, as justice and gratitude obliged thee to do?

Verse 26

My servant deceived me, by carrying away the ass which I bid him saddle for me.

Verse 27

As an angel of God, to distinguish between true reports and calumnies: See Poole on "2 Samuel 14:20".

Verse 28

Before my lord the king, i.e. before thy tribunal: we were all at thy mercy; not my estate only, (which thou hast now granted to Ziba,) but my life also was in thy power, if thou hadst dealt with rigour, and as earthly kings use to do with their predecessors’ and enemies’ children. For otherwise by the law of God Saul himself had not deserved to die by David’s hands, as David himself confessed; much less his children, who were not to die for their father’s sins, Deuteronomy 24:16. But Mephibosheth speaks like a courtier, and like an orator, aggravating matters against himself, that he might seem to justify the king’s sentence, and to submit to it; and so insinuate himself unto the king’s favour.

To cry any more unto the king, to wit, for the vindication of mine honour, and the restitution of my estate.

Verse 29

Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? For as Ziba was present, so doubtless he was not silent, but said and did what he could to make good his former charge; which must needs occasion many words before the king. And the king was not now at leisure for long debates, and therefore makes an end of the matter.

I have said, to wit, within myself; I have considered the matter as far as now I can, and upon the whole am come to this resolution, wherein I expect that thou and he do both acquiesce. Or, I do now say; I pronounce this sentence in the cause.

Thou and Ziba divide the land: the meaning is either,

1. The land shall be divided between thee and him, as it was by my first order, 2 Samuel 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. And to this the following words may well enough be accommodated, Yea, let him take all, to wit, to his own sole use.

Or, 2. The right and profits of the land shall be equally divided between you. It seems a very rash and harsh sentence, and very unbecoming David’s wisdom, and justice, and gratitude to Jonathan; and Ziba seems to have deserved death for falsely accusing his master of treason, rather than a recompence. But the whole transaction of the matter is not here set down. Possibly Ziba might bring plausible pretences to justify his accusation; and it might be pretended that Mephibosheth neglected the trimming and dressing himself only in policy, and that for a season, till David and his family had destroyed one another by their civil wars, and given him a fit opportunity to take the crown. So that David might really be at a loss what to determine. And Ziba had given proof of his affections to David by an act of kindness which could not be without hazard to himself, 2 Samuel 16:1,2 Samuel 16:2, which Mephibosheth had not done. And possibly this was only a present sentence, and David resolved to examine things more thoroughly when he had more leisure, and then to make a more full and final determination of the business; which also he might do, though it be not here recorded; for we must not think that nothing was done and said about such things but what is mentioned in Scripture. Besides, Ziba being a powerful man, and the crown not yet firmly fixed upon the king’s head, David might think fit to suspend his final sentence till a more convenient season, and not now to provoke him too much by taking away all his estate from him at once, but to proceed against him by degrees. Howsoever, this is certain, we cannot pass a right judgment upon this action of David’s, unless we understood all the circumstances of it, which we cannot pretend to do.

Verse 30

I am contented to lose all, being fully satisfied with the happiness of seeing my dear and dread sovereign restored to his crown, and truth and peace returned to his kingdom.

Verse 31

And then to cross Jordan again, and so return to his native land.

Verse 34

Seeing my time of continuance in this world is but short, it is not advisable to change my habitation, or to give thee or myself any further trouble.

Verse 35

My senses are grown dull, and uncapable of relishing the delights of the court. I am past taking pleasure in delicious tastes, or sweet music, and other such delights of the court. I am through age both useless and burdensome to others, and therefore most improper for a court life.

Verse 36

A little way over Jordan; a little onward in thy way to Jerusalem, and then return.

Recompense it me, or, recompense me, to wit, for my small kindness to thee at Mahanaim, which was but a part of my duty to thee.

Verse 37

Chimham, Barzillai’s son, 1 Kings 2:7

Verse 40

Conducted the king; attended upon him on his journey towards Jerusalem.

And also half the people of Israel; whereas the men of Judah came entirely and unanimously to the king, as is noted here, and above, 2 Samuel 19:14, the Israelites of the other tribes came in but slowly, and by halves, as being no less guilty of the rebellion than the tribe of Judah; but not encouraged and invited to come in by such a particular and gracious message as they were. And this is here mentioned as the occasion both of the contention here following, and of the sedition, 2 Samuel 20:0.

Verse 41

All the men of Israel, to wit, such as were present.

Stolen thee away, i.e. conveyed thee over Jordan hastily and privily, not expecting nor desiring our consent and concurrence in the business, which we were no less ready to afford than they. It is also a secret reflection upon the king, for permitting this precipitation.

All David’s men, i.e. all thy men; such changes of persons being most frequent in the Hebrew language; thy officers, and 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.

Verse 42

Near of kin to us; of the same tribe with us, and therefore both oweth the more respect to us, and might expect and challenge more respect from us. Hath he given us any gift? 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. See 2 Samuel 19:40.

Verse 43

We have ten parts; 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, as it is sometimes reckoned; or because Simeon, whose lot lay within the tribe of Judah, were joined with them in this action.

In the king, i.e. in the kingdom, and the management of the affairs of it; the word king being put for kingdom, as it is 2 Chronicles 23:20; Isaiah 23:15; Daniel 7:17; Hosea 10:15. Or, in the king’s person, and the disposal thereof.

We have also more right in David than ye; 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; and as David is nearest of kin to you, so he hath been most injured by you; 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.

That our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king; that we being the far greater number, should not have the first and chiefest vote in this action. But the words are by some, and may well be, rendered interrogatively, And was not my word first about bringing the king back? Did not we make the first mention of it, before you could be drawn to it? For so indeed they did, 2 Samuel 19:11; and therefore the neglect of their advice herein might seem more inexcusable.

The words of the men of Judah were fiercer; instead of mollifying them with gentle words, they answered them with greater fierceness and insolency; so that David durst not interpose himself in the matter.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/2-samuel-19.html. 1685.
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