2 Samuel 19 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 2 Samuel 19)

Verse 3

[3] And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.

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

Verse 5

[5] And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines;

Hast shamed — By disappointing their just hopes of praises and rewards, and by requiting them with contempt and tacit rebukes.

Verse 6

[6] In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.

Pleased thee — This is not be understood as exactly true; but David's carriage gave too much colour to such a suggestion; and 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 9

[9] And all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom.

At strife — Quarrelling one with another as the authors or abettors of this shameful rebellion, and discoursing privately and publickly of David's high merits, which God, being now reconciled to David, brings afresh to their memories.

Verse 10

[10] And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?

Now therefore — 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 re-establish him.

Verse 11

[11] And king David sent to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, saying, Speak unto the elders of Judah, saying, Why are ye the last to bring the king back to his house? seeing the speech of all Israel is come to the king, even to his house.

Judah — Who being the abettors of Absalom's rebellion, despaired of pardon, and therefore were backward to promote the king's restoration.

His house — Even to Mahanaim, where now the king's house and family is.

Verse 13

[13] And say ye to Amasa, Art thou not of my bone, and of my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if thou be not captain of the host before me continually in the room of Joab.

Of Joab — Who, besides his other crimes, had lately exasperated the king by his murder of Absalom, contrary to David's express command. And therefore the king having now the opportunity of another person who had a greater interest than Joab, 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.

Verse 14

[14] And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man; so that they sent this word unto the king, Return thou, and all thy servants.

He bowed — David by this prudent and kind message and his free offer of pardon.

Verse 17

[17] And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over Jordan before the king.

With him — Whom he brought, partly to shew his interest in the people, 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.

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 forwardness in meeting him.

Verse 20

[20] For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.

House of Joseph — The house of Joseph is here put for all the tribes, except Judah, which 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 joined with Joseph, because they marched under the standard of the house of Joseph, or of Ephraim, Numbers 10:22,23,24. Whence it is, that Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, are put together, Psalms 80:2.

Verse 22

[22] And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?

Adversaries — That is, that you put me upon things unfit for me to do, and contrary to my interest; for it was David's interest at this time to appease the people, and reconcile them to him, and not to give them any new distaste by acts of severity: for this would make others jealous, that he would watch an opportunity to be revenged on them.

King — Is not my kingdom, which 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 shew myself revengeful to Shemei? Shall I sully the publick joy and glory of this day, with an act of such severity? Or, shall I alienate the hearts of my people from me, now they are returning to me?

Verse 24

[24] And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.

The son — That is, the grandson, 2 Samuel 6:3,6.

His feet — By washing his feet, which was usual in those hot climates, and very refreshing; and therefore now neglected, as becoming a mourner.

Beard — But suffered it to grow very long, and disorderly, as was usual with persons in a forlorn, or mournful state.

Clothes — His linen cloathes. This and the former were signs, that he was a true and obstinate mourner, and evidences of the falsehood of Ziba's relation concerning him, chap. 16:3.

Verse 25

[25] And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth?

Jerusalem — Probably he had continued near Jerusalem, because he could not go to meet him, as others did.

Verse 26

[26] And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame.

Deceived me — By carrying away the ass which I bid him saddle for me.

Verse 27

[27] And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes.

Angel — To distinguish between true reports and calumnies; .

Verse 28

[28] For all of my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king?

Before — Before thy tribunal: we were all at thy mercy: not my estate only but my life also was in thy power, if thou hadst dealt with rigour, and as earthly kings use to do with their predecessor's and enemies children.

To cry — For the vindication of mine honour, and the restitution of my estate.

Verse 29

[29] And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.

Divide — The land shall be divided between thee and him, as it was by my first order, chap. 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.

Verse 35

[35] I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?

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

Verse 37

[37] Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother. But behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee.

That I may die in mine own city — That my bones may with little ado, be carried to the place of their rest. The grave is ready for me: let me go and get ready for it, go and die in my nest.

Verse 40

[40] Then the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him: and all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of Israel.

Half — Whereas the men of Judah came entirely and unanimously to the king, the Israelites of the other tribe came in but slowly, and by halves, as being no less guilty of the rebellion, than the tribe of Judah; but not encouraged to come in by such a gracious message as they were. And this is here mentioned as the occasion both of the contention here following, and of the sedition, chap. 20:1-22.

Verse 41

[41] And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David's men with him, over Jordan?

All — Such as were present.

Stolen — That is, conveyed thee over Jordan hastily, not expecting our concurrence.

David's men — All thy officers, 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

[42] And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king is near of kin to us: wherefore then be ye angry for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king's cost? or hath he given us any gift?

Of kin — Of the same tribe with us, and therefore both oweth the more respect to us, and might expect more respect from us.

Gifts — 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.

Verse 43

[43] And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

Ten — 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, or because Simeon, whose lot lay within the tribe of Judah, were joined with them in this action.

More right — 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; 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.

Fiercer — Instead of mollifying them with gentle words, they answered them with greater fierceness so that David durst not interpose in the matter.