2 Samuel 16 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 2 Samuel 16)

Verse 1

[1] And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.

Bottle — A large bottle, or vessel proportionable to the other provisions.

Verse 4

[4] Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.

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.

Verse 8

[8] The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.

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.

Verse 10

[10] And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?

What have I, … — 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, 1 Kings 17:4, and to send forth his word to senseless creatures, Psalms 147:15,18. Who shall reproach God's providence for permitting this? Or, who shall restrain him from executing his just judgment against me?

Verse 11

[11] And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him.

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.

Verse 14

[14] And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there.

Came — To the city of Bahurim.

Verse 17

[17] And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?

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.

Verse 21

[21] And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong.

Go — This counsel he gave, partly to revenge the injury done to Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, 2 Samuel 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.

Verse 22

[22] So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel.

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.

Verse 23

[23] And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

The counsel, … — 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.