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CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES.—
2 Samuel 19:1. Comp. 2 Samuel 18:33. The purpose of the informant was, “it seems, to explain to Joab and the army why the king did not come forth to greet his returning victorious warriors.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 19:2-3. “These men’s hearty participation in the sorrow of their beloved king, for whom they had perilled their lives, soon changed into gloomy dissatisfaction at the fact that the king, absorbed in his private grief, did not deign to bestow a look upon them. The description of the manner in which the troops, thus dissatisfied, returned to the city, is pyschologically very fine.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 19:4. “Covered his face.” See on 2 Samuel 15:20. “A loud voice.” According to the open and violent mode of expressing grief common in the East (and so also the heroes of the Illiad); there are striking illustrations of this in the Arabian Nights. (Translator of Lange’s Commentary.)
2 Samuel 19:5. “Thou hast shamed,” etc. “By deceiving their hopes that thou wouldest rejoice in the victory.” (Keil.)
2 Samuel 19:6 “I perceive,” etc. Joab dissects David’s words of lamentation with inexorable cruelty, and draws thence with his intellectual acuteness and the grim bitterness of his rude nature, consequences that are seemingly logical, yet lay far from David’s nature, though his conduct looked like what he was reproached with.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 19:7. “Speak comfortably.” Lit., Speak to the heart. “There will not tarry one.” “This threat, grounded as it was on Joab’s unbounded popularity with the army, showed him to be a dangerous person; and that circumstance, together with the violation of an express order to deal gently for his sake with Absalom, produced in David’s mind a settled hatred, which was strongly manifested in his last directions to Solomon.” (Jamieson.)
2 Samuel 19:8. “The people came,” etc., i.e., “the troops marched before the king, who (as we may supply from the context) manifested his good will both in looks and words” (Keil). “Israel.” “It is the other tribes, excepting Judah, that are meant.” (Erdmann.) “To his tent,” i.e., gone home. It has been remarked that the use of this expression must have been handed down from the days of the wilderness-journeyings, when Israel did actually dwell in tents.
2 Samuel 19:9. “At strife,” etc. “The kingdom was completely disorganised. The sentiments of the three different parties are represented in this and the following verse—the royalists, the adherents of Absalom, who had been very numerous, and those who were indifferent to the Davidio dynasty.” (Jamieson.)
2 Samuel 19:10. “Why speak ye not?” “The people are re-assembled after their dispersion; their representatives consult zealously together about the restoration to the throne, to which they had raised the insurgent Absalom by the act of anointing. They reproach one another for doing nothing to restore the king. In their hearts, therefore, they feel the grievous wrong they have done an anointed of the Lord, as is shown indirectly by their words, in which David’s great deeds and the terrible misfortunes of the time just past are mentioned.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 19:11. “Why are ye the last?” “The backwardness of Judah in the movement is explained by the fact that the insurrection started in Judah, and Absalom was first recognised as king in Jerusalem.” (Erdmann.) “Conscious that they had offended David, and fearing Absalom’s garrison in Zion, they did not dare to recall him.” (Cornelius or Lapide.)
2 Samuel 19:13. “Captain of the host,” etc. Very different opinions are held concerning this action of David. Ewald considers that it “was not only a wise and politic act, but strictly considered no injustice to Joab, who, long notorious by his military roughness had now shown such disobedience to the royal command in the case of Absalom as could not be pardoned without offence to the royal dignity.” On the other hand Keil says, “It was not only unwise, but unjust, to give to Amasa, the traitor-general of the rebels, a promise on oath that he should be commander-in-chief in the place of Joab; for even if the promise was only given privately at first, the fact that it had been given could not remain a secret from Joab very long, and would be sure to stir up his ambition, and lead him to the commission of fresh crimes.… For however Joab might have excited David’s anger by slaying Absalom, and by the offensive manner in which he had reproved the king, David ought to have suppressed his anger in existing circumstances.”
2 Samuel 19:14. “The partial severance of the kingdom which David apprehended from the coldness and inaction of Judah, was nearly produced by the sudden impetuosity of their zeal in the cause of royalty.” (Jamieson.) “Throughout this narrative the tribal feeling which never wholly disappeared, is apparent, see 12, 2 Samuel 20:4; 2 Samuel 16:8.” (Translator of Lange’s Commentary.)
2 Samuel 19:15. “To Jordan.” From Mahanaim to the eastern bank of the river. Gilgal, west of the Jordan below Jericho. “The place consecrated by the historical associations of Joshua and of Samuel, Joshua 5:9; Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:6; 1 Samuel 7:16; 1 Samuel 15:33.” (Wordsworth.)
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Samuel 19:1-15
I. A good man must beware lest sorrow make him forgetful of duty. David’s deep grief at the death of Absalom made him insensible for a time to the claims of both God and man. He has now an abundant answer to his prayer, “O Lord, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness,” yet his distress at the means by which his desire is accomplished is so great as to banish from his soul all sense of gratitude to God. The death of the rebel leader was the only way by which peace could be restored to the nation and the throne to the king, and was therefore an event which David should have regarded from other points of view beside the parental one. But, omitting to do this, his natural grief over an unworthy child is allowed to swallow up other emotions which should also have had a place in his soul, and which would have made him more alive to his duty to others. David’s fault here is one of which all in similar circumstances should beware. If we allow our thoughts to dwell entirely upon a personal loss, we shall forget both our gains and the gratitude and service we owe to God and our fellow-creatures, and thus show ourselves both self-willed and selfish. Immoderate and absorbing sorrow is a reflection upon the dealings of God, and no private sorrow can absolve a man from his obligations to others, especially when he has received from them much sympathy and devotion.
II. An ungodly man may sometimes administer needed rebuke to a servant of God. Only men of very high spiritual attainments and well-balanced character behave themselves at all times in such a manner as to deserve no reproach from the ungodly. David was perhaps the most godly man of his age, yet he well-merited the reproof which he now received from the unprincipled Joab. Although exception may be taken to the spirit of Joab’s words, none can gainsay their truth. It was altogether unworthy of David to ignore, as he did at this time, the obligations which lay upon him as the anointed king of Israel and the object of so much loyal devotion. A great crisis in the history of the nation had now arrived, and if Joab had not roused him to action the consequences might have been most disastrous. David showed himself a true man by not refusing to listen to truth when spoken in anger; but, having brought Joab’s accusations to the bar of conscience, and found himself guilty, he ‘forthwith obeyed the call of duty, although it came to him by so unwelcome a messenger. Herein he manifested the true spirit of a child of God, who should ever be willing to acknowledge himself wrong even when the admission is felt to be very humiliating. But let us bear in mind it should be his aim to be so watchful as not to lay himself open to such reproof as David here merited and received from Joab. It was good neither for David nor for Joab, that the latter should be able more than once to convict the better man of wrong, and it is probably never for the interests of righteousness when a man of God and an unspiritual man stand in such a relation to each other.
III. A policy founded on injustice may have a short-lived success. It can hardly be doubted that David’s motive in promoting Amasa was a political one,—that he ventured upon so unjust a measure out of no regard for his late enemy, but in the hope of reconciling those who had lately followed him in the rebellion. It certainly can be regarded in no other light than as an act of gross injustice to Joab, who had just won the victory which restored David to his throne. But, though it bore bitter fruit later on, for the moment it succeeded in bringing back the men of Judah who had revolted. It seems, however, impossible that those who had been faithful to him through all his trial could have seen the promotion of Amasa without a feeling of disappointment and mistrust. Yet the immediate result did not justify that most certain truth that what is morally wrong can never be politically right. The real and permanent results of any action may be long in manifesting themselves, and may often seem at first to be far different from what they really are, which shows how unsafe it is to make the apparent success or failure of a deed the standard by which to judge of its morality.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
2 Samuel 19:1-8. The sinfulness of unmeasured grief. I. Wherein it consists and manifests itself.
1. As regards the Lord, in ignoring the gracious gifts which He sends us along with and amid our sufferings, and in frustrating His gracious design to purify us by suffering from all selfishness.
2. As regards our neighbour, in slighting and violating the duties of love that we owe Him.
3. As regards our own heart and conscience, in reckoning the powers of spirit and will by exhausting emotion and enervating inactivity. II. How it must be overcome.
1. Through the word of earnest admonition, which gives pain.
2. By energetically rising up to new life and faithful discharge of the duties of our calling.
3. By accepting the consolation and strength which come from above through the spirit of God.—Lange’s Commentary.
2 Samuel 19:11-15. Could not David himself go back with the victorious army he had with him in Gilead? He could, no doubt; but—
1. He would go back as a prince, with the consent and unanimous approbation of the people, and not as a conqueror forcing his way. He would restore their liberties and not take occasion to seize them or encroach upon them.
2. He would go back in peace and safety, and be sure that he should meet with no difficulty or opposition on his return, and therefore would be well satisfied that the people were well affected to him before he would stir.
3. He would go back in honour and like himself, and therefore would go back, not at the head of his forces, but in the arms of his subjects, for the prince that has wisdom and goodness enough to make himself his people’s darling, without doubt makes a much better figure than the prince that has strength enough to make himself his people’s terror … Our Lord Jesus will rule in those that invite Him to the throne in their hearts and not till He is invited. He first bows the heart and makes it willing in the day of His power, and then rules in the midst of his enemies (Psalms 110:2-3).—Henry.
One of the best proofs, it seems to me, that David’s schooling was effectual, is this, that all his family griefs, his experience of his own evil, the desertion of his subjects, did not lead him to fancy that he should be following a course acceptable to God, if he retired to the deserts, or ceased to be a shepherd of Israel, instead of doing the work which was appointed for him. It shows how healthy and true his repentance and faith were that he again set himself to organise the people and to fight their battles, to feed them and rule them with all his power; when a religious prudence or self-interest might have whispered, “Do thy best to make amends by services to God for the ills thou hast done; save thyself whatever become of thy people Israel.” These ungodly suggestions, the like of which came as angels of light to so many Christian monarchs in the middle ages, and sent them to do penance for their evils and to seek a crown of glory in monasteries, may have presented themselves to the man after God’s own heart. If they did, he proved his title to the name by rejecting them. He showed that he could trust God to put him in the position that was best for him, that he knew God did not put him into the world to provide either for his body or his soul, but to glorify His name and to bless His creatures.—Maurice.
2 Samuel 19:14. So it will one day be with the Jewish nation, which is now serving an Absalom of their own will, but will then greet the return of their true king, and say, “Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Mark 11:9-10).—Wordsworth.
CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES.—
2 Samuel 19:16. “Came down.” From the mountainous table-land into the Jordan valley.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 19:17. “A thousand men.” “To show what force he could raise for or against the king.” (Jamieson.) “They show the consideration which Shimei enjoyed in the tribe of Benjamin. and testify that a change had taken place in the former hostile feeling of this tribe towards David, comp. 2 Samuel 19:31.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 19:17. “Went over.” Rather, “they hasted or pressed over.” “Before the king,” rather, in the presence, etc. They passed over to the eastern bank, probably through a ford.
2 Samuel 19:18. “A ferry-boat.” “Probably rafts, which are still used on that part of the river. Josephus calls it a bridge of boats.” (Jamieson.) “As he was come over.” Keil, Bunsen and others refer this pronoun to David and read “as he (the king) was about,” etc. Erdmann understands it to refer to Shimei. Both place the transaction on the eastern bank of the river.
2 Samuel 19:29. “The house of Joseph.” “The rest of the tribes with the exception of Judah. This designation of the tribes that opposed Judah by the name of the leading tribe (Joseph. Joshua 16:1) was as old as the jealousy between these tribes and Judah, which did not commence with the division of the kingdom but was simply confirmed thereby into a permanent distinction. (Keil.) “He might have employed this phrase in order to exculpate his own tribe, by insinuating that it was drawn away by the preponderating influence of the great house of Joseph.” (Biblical Commentary.)
2 Samuel 19:22. “Ye sons,” etc. This expression shows that it was Joab’s proposal also. “Adversaries.” “Lit., a satan (See Numbers 22:22; comp. Matthew 16:23). (Erdmann.) “To-day.” David appears to lay stress upon this word—to-day, the day of restoration when he himself was receiving tokens of Divine forgiveness. “I am this day king.” David will show mercy, not because he has now become king and has the right to pardon, but because he sees in his restoration to his kingdom a proof of restoration to the Divine favour, and by showing favour to Shemei as his right will fulfil the obligation of gratitude to the Lord.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 19:24. “Dressed his feet,” etc. Lit., had not “made his feet and his beard,” i.e., not washed his feet or arranged his beard. (See Ezekiel 24:17). “The Hebrews cut off the hair on the upper lip and cheeks, but in mourning let it grow carelessly, as on the chin. There are various modes of trimming the beard, but whatever the mode it is always done with the greatest care, and a small comb is usually carried for the purpose.” (Jamieson).
2 Samuel 19:25. “He was come to Jerusalem.” Most modern expositors read here “When Jerusalem (i.e., the inhabitants of the city) came to meet, etc. So Kiel and Erdmann. A few change the proposition—when he was come from, etc.
2 Samuel 19:26. “I will saddle,” etc. This is the literal rendering, but as Erdmann remarks “the lame prince could not have thought of going himself to saddle the ass, and in all languages the expression “to do a thing” is equivalent to have it done. It is therefore better to translate “I will cause to be saddled.”
2 Samuel 19:27. “He slandered.” Mephibosheth had not merely inferred this from David’s words, and the tone in which they were spoken, but had certainly found it out long ago, since Ziba would not delay very long to put David’s assurance, that all the possessions of Mephibosheth should belong to him, in force against his master.” (Keil). “An angel,” etc., i.e., “he sees all just as it really is” (Keil) or, “he knows what is truth and right.” (Erdmann).
2 Samuel 19:29. “Why speakest thou,” etc. Some see in these words of David a disbelief in the explanation of Mephibosheth, and others an expression of displeasure against Ziba. But they seem rather to express David’s vexation at his former hasty decision, and, at the same time, his lack of courage to confess himself wholly in the wrong on that occasion.
2 Samuel 19:29. “I have said,” etc. Some expositors think that David here goes back to the first arrangement mentioned in 2 Samuel 9:7-10., whereby Ziba, as the tiller, would of course have an interest in the produce. But Keil remarks that the words here are directly at variance with the first promise: “I will restore thee all the land of Saul,” etc. The half-measure here adopted was, says Erdmann, “only a half-exculpation of an innocent man, and David was herein probably controlled by political considerations, being unwilling to make the respectable and influential Ziba his enemy.” “Jerome says, that the later Jews believed the division of David’s kingdom was an act of retributive justice for the unequal measure awarded to Mephibosheth.” (Jamieson.)
2 Samuel 19:35. “Can I discern.” Perhaps “intellectually too dull to be useful as a counsellor.” (Erdmann) or simply too weak in body to enjoy the luxuries of a court.
2 Samuel 19:37. “Chimham.” According to Josephus, his son. This is confirmed by 1 Kings 2:7.
2 Samuel 19:40. “Half Israel.” “The thousand Benjamites who came with Shimei, and other Israelites who dwelt near.” (Keil and others).
2 Samuel 19:41. “All the men,” etc. The representatives of the other tribes. This is generally understood to have taken place at Gilgal.
2 Samuel 19:42. “Have we eaten,” etc. i.e., Have you reason to be envious of us because we have enjoyed advantages that yon were deprived of?” (Erdmann).
2 Samuel 19:43. “That our advice,” Both Keil and Erdmann read here “And was not my word first to bring back the king.” From 2 Samuel 19:10-11, it appears that they were the first to propose David’s recall.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Samuel 19:16-40
SHIMEI, MEPHIBOSHETH, AND BARZILLAI
David on his way back to his capital exhibits in his conduct and experience some of the penalties, the dangers, and the blessings of prosperity.
I. One of its penalties. The man who had most bitterly insulted David in his day of adversity was the first to render him homage on his restoration to power. Taking into account the change in David’s circumstances, we can scarcely be doing Shimei an injustice if we assume that he was much more real when he was cursing and stoning the fugitive king than when he was asking pardon at the feet of the victorious monarch. It is one of the blessings of adversity that men then reveal their real feelings towards us; we are not sought by the hypocrite, or the self-seeker, when there is nothing to be gained by serving us or professing to esteem us. And on the other hand, all who are prosperous to any great extent, must pay the penalty of sometimes being in doubt about the sincerity of some of those who court their favour and sound their praises. The more exalted the position, the more likelihood there is of attracting false friends and of finding it difficult to discern between the real and the seeming in those who surround us, and it is one of the trials which those in high places must always have to bear. It meets David on the very threshold of his return to prosperity.
II. One of its dangers. The treatment which David gives to Mephibosheth exhibits an indifference to the feelings of the son of Jonathan, and an amount of injustice which are very unworthy of him. Almost all students of the Bible agree in accepting Mephibosheth’s explanation as the truth of the matter—the meekness with which he submits to David’s decision reminds us of the unselfish spirit of his father, and makes us feel sure that he had been the victim of a false and designing man. How painful, then, must have been the reception which David gave him, granting him no opportunity of proving his innocence and fidelity, but dismissing him with the implication at least that he and his traitorous servant stood on a level in David’s estimation. Various motives have been assigned to account for David’s unworthy conduct in this matter. Some think he acted from motives of policy (see critical notes), and others that he was irritated by the consciousness that he had been deceived by Ziba, yet was unwilling to confess himself wrong. But in whatever light we regard his action we must find David guilty of an arbitrary exercise of rights which might belong to him legally, but which were no more morally his than if he had been in a private station. If Mephibosheth had had only the ordinary claim of a subject, David could have had no moral right to dispose of his case in this summary manner, and deprive him of half his estate without good reason. But it would have been difficult for David to find any man in the land to whom he owed so much as to the son of Jonathan, and his obligation was not lessened but increased by the error of judgment into which he had lately fallen. The fact that he had passed so unjust a sentence upon him on the former occasion made it his duty now to make every reparation in his power, instead of which he treats him with a haughty indifference, if not with disdain. This indifference to the feelings and claims of those whose destinies are in their hands is a sin to which men in power are especially prone; when their deeds are not liable to be called in question by their fellow men they are apt to act as though their will was the rule of the universe, and to forget that the higher the position the greater the responsibility. David at this time seems to have thus fallen into this common temptation.
III. One of its greatest blessings. There can be no more blessed gift of wealth or power than the ability which it affords a man to show gratitude to those who have befriended him in his time of need. It is always more blessed to give than to receive, but it is a special joy to a grateful heart to repay those whose kindness has cheered it in the dark days of sorrow, and to show them that we know how to value the most precious gift which one human creature can bestow upon another. David experienced this joy when he found himself in a position to say to Barzillai, “Whatsoever thou shalt require of me, that will I do unto thee,” and we may be sure that he did not fail to fulfil his promise to the son, although unable to do so to the father. We can but desire that he who rewarded Barzillai’s fidelity in the person of Chinham, had remembered to repay Jonathan’s love by being generous to Mephibosheth. In this inconsistency of David—in this mingling of dutiful remembrance and ungrateful forgetfulness, we see how far removed are the best men from that symmetry of character which marked the Perfect Man, Christ Jesus.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
2 Samuel 19:30. It is just a soul capable of such noble self-denial that feels most keenly the sting of any suspicion of its love or fidelity, and as no further reference is made to Mephibosheth in the sacred narrative, especially as David gives no charge concerning him to Solomon at his death eight years later, it is not unlikely that he did not long survive the grief and pain that Ziba’s treachery caused him.—Taylor.
Mephibosheth thought, perhaps, of the word of the law, that God visits sins on children unto the third and fourth generation.—Peter Martyr.
2 Samuel 19:31-40. The picture and example of a venerable and pious old age.
1. Blessed of God, it devotes the temporal goods it has received to the service of compassionate brotherly love, far from all avarice;
2. Honoured by men, it desires not the vain honour of this world far from all ambition;
3. Near the grave, it longs only for home, far from all disposition to find blessedness in this life;
4. But as long as God grants life, even with failing powers it still serves the Lord and His kingdom, and in this service honours him by the devotion even of its dearest—far from ail self-seeking.—Lange’s Commentary
Barzillai’s words remind us of the influence that age produces upon men. I. A mellowness of heart. There is a feeling soft and subdued running through the words of this patriarchal Gideonite. Old Time has, I think, generally this effect on the hearts of men. “Men, like peaches and pears,” says Holmes, “grow sweet a little while before they begin to decay. I don’t know what it is—whether a spontaneous change, mental or bodily, or whether it is through the experience of the thanklessness of critical honesty, but it is a fact that most writers, except sour and unsuccessful ones, get tired of finding fault at about the time they are beginning to grow old. At thirty we are all trying to cut our names in big letters upon the wall of this tenement of life; twenty years later we have carved them or shut up our jack-knives. Then we are ready to help others and care less to hinder any, because nobody’s elbows are in our way. Do you know that in the gradual passage from maturity to helplessness the harshest characters have sometimes a period in which they are gentle and placid as young children? I have heard it said, but I cannot be sponsor for its truth, that the famous chieftain, Lochiel, was rocked in a cradle like a baby in his old age.” Time produces upon men.—II. An indisposition for exertion. It seems benevolently arranged that, as the limbs get feeble and incapable of action, the inclination to exertion decreases too. The patriarch, therefore, gets reconciled to his position. The mind ceases to will what the body is incapable of performing. A craving for rest creeps over the frame as years advance. It is well that it should be so, in order that the soul may calmly ponder upon questions of its imperishable interests and that death may come with no sudden shock. If age brings on this indisposition to effort, let us work while we can—work while the mind is active and the limbs are blithe. Time produces upon men—III. A lack of interest in the world. At one time an invitation to attend in state a king to his capital would have been a very strong temptation to this very great man, but now such an invitation has no attraction; he declines the king’s pressing offer. To an old man the world is a plum that has lost its bloom—an orange that has been sucked till the peel is dry. Time produces upon men—IV. An incapacity for earthly enjoyments. Years not only steal away our strength, but our relish for earthly pleasures. In this I see divine benevolence, for it means a loosening of the bonds that link us to this mortal state. Time produces upon men—V. An interest in the dead. “Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again that I may die in my own city and be buried in the grave with my father and my mother.” Here is the filial instinct glowing in the breast of an old man. After the romantic wanderings of a long life, time brings the spirit back to the home of the childhood, and makes it yearn to sleep the long sleep of death by the side of “father and mother.” Here is a rebuke to worldliness. What if you amass a princely fortune? Whilst it will not make you happy, either in the morning of your youth or the zenith of your noon, it will be utterly worthless to you if you live to old age.
Here is too, an argument for religion. Form an alliance with those eternal principles that will make your spirits young and strong amidst the infirmities of age.—Dr. David Thomas.
The subject of 2 Samuel 19:41-43 belongs to the next chapter.
CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES.—
“There.” “In Gilgal, at the assembly of the tribes; the word indicates directly the place; indirectly the time of the following history.” (Erdmann). “A man of Belial.” A worthless man. “He was,” says Luther, “one of the great rogues of the high nobility, who had a large retinue among the people, and consideration or name, as Catiline in Rome.” “A Benjamite.” “Probably one of the rabid Sauline party, if he were not, as is possible, of Saul’s own family.” (Erdmann) “To his tents.” “See on 2 Samuel 19:8.”
2 Samuel 19:2. “Went up.” “From the plain of Gilgal to the hill country of Ephraim.” (Erdmann).
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Chapter 2 Samuel 19:41, to 2 Samuel 20:2
THE REBELLION OF SHEBA
I. The fidelity of those who serve from self-interest cannot be depended on for a single day. All the acts of the men of Israel at this time seem to have been inspired by one consideration only, viz., What line of policy looks most likely to promote our interests? There was no question as to their duty, either to God or man. Hence they rallied to the standard of Absalom when he bid fair to overturn the throne of his father, returned to David when they found they had embarked in a losing cause, and revolted again from him the first moment all did not fall out in accordance with their wishes. So little are those to be depended on who have no higher rule of life, and so greatly are those to be pitied who put their trust in them. “We have ten parts in David,” said they, and, almost in the same breath, We have no part in him. To-day, Hosanna, to-morrow, Crucify.—Henry.
II. The unreasoning discontent of the multitude is the opportunity of the selfish and ambitions leader. There are always men quick to take advantage of the passion and ignorance of their fellow creatures, and to use them as stepping stones for their own aggrandisement. But for the foolish petulance of the men of Israel on this occasion, this son of Bichri would have never had even the pitiful notoriety which he thereby acquired; and there have been many like him in all ages who have only risen from obscurity by similar means. It would have been indeed for the peace of the world if all such reckless men had met with as speedy a downfall as did Sheba, but they have often lived long enough to involve many more in a common ruin. Before men give themselves up to the leadership of another they should consider well whither he is leading them and what guarantees he can give that his motives are pure. But they cannot do this if they themselves are under the dominion of pride and envy, as the men of Israel were at this time. Where any unruly passion is in the ascendant, the voices of reason and conscience are not listened to, and downfall of some kind must come.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
Chap, 19, 2 Samuel 19:41-43. In the conduct of the different tribes on this occasion, we may see a faithful picture of what is every day to be witnessed in the world around us. While some men, although convinced of the proper course to pursue, are still talking about their intentions—are consulting with their own interests—resolving, and hesitating, and again resolving—yet, after all doing nothing effectually; others like the tribe of Judah, when once persuaded of their duty, admit no farther argument on its expediency, but act with promptitude and decision. This forward zeal, however, gave great umbrage to the rest of Israel, for, like other worldly characters, it was not so much the good itself that they desired to see done, as to have themselves the credit of performing it.—Lindsay.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 19". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany