Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head!"
2 Samuel 16:9, 10. - (BAHURIM.)References: 1 Chronicles 2:6; 1 Samuel 16:6; 2 Samuel 2:18; 2 Samuel 10:14; 2 Samuel 21:17; 2 Samuel 23:18; 1 Chronicles 18:12.) Of the three sons of Zeruiah (2 Samuel 5:39), the youngest, Asahel, was slain in early life (2 Samuel 2:23); the oldest, Joab, was now present (ver. 10), "little trusting the revolution which a capricious stripling (like the Stuart Monmouth) was to lead;" the second, Abishai, was one of the earliest, bravest, and most faithful of David's supporters. As on a former occasion, when he sought to destroy Saul with a stroke, so now his thoughtless, headstrong, and undevout impulses needed to be checked. "The characteristic trait of his nature was a blunt, impetuous ferocity." His passionate emotion was -
I. NATURALLY EXCITED by the conduct of Shimei; and was, in some respects, commendable; inasmuch as it showed:
1. An ardent affection toward the king, his "lord;" like that of James and John toward Jesus (Luke 9:54), and of Peter and the other disciples (Luke 22:49; Matthew 26:51). The zeal of the Lord's enemies against him calls forth the zeal of his friends on his behalf.
2. A burning indignation against wrong doing. "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil."
3. A vehement desire for the triumph of justice. He doubtless felt that the offender deserved to die; and was eager to "take off his head," in order to the vindication of the royal honour, the maintenance of the Divine Law, and the promotion of the public good. He thus displayed something of the zeal of Phinehas (Numbers 25:13; Deuteronomy 33:9) and of Elijah (1 Kings 18:40; 2 Kings 1:10); without, however, being justified therein by the same necessity and authority, or imbued with the same simple, pure, and lofty spirit. It is difficult to indulge in resentment, even when proper to do so, without sin (John 2:17; Ephesians 4:26).
II. WRONGLY INDULGED. "Let me go over," etc. This request was marked by:
1. Inconsideration and want of judgment. It is doubtful whether his attempt, if permitted, would have succeeded, for Shimei was hardly likely to be without defenders (2 Samuel 19:17); it could scarcely fail to hinder the king's flight and imperil his safety; and its success would have effected no useful purpose at such a crisis. Zeal is often blind and misguided (Romans 10:2; Philippians 3:5; Acts 17:5) as to the right end, the proper means, and the suitable time. "Zeal without knowledge is as wildfire in a fool's hand."
2. Vindictiveness; such as frequently mingles with deserved indignation toward evil doers; is bitter (James 3:14) and violent; and makes him who entertains it partaker of the evil which he condemns. "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."
3. Presumption and vain glory; not altogether unlike that of Saul (2 Samuel 21:2) and of Jehu (2 Kings 10:16). How often do men feel confident of the rectitude of their course, although acting contrary to the will of God! and how often, whilst apparently full of zeal for public justice and "the glory of God," are they really full of pride and self-will!
"True zeal is merciful and mild,
III. RIGHTLY REPROVED. "What have I to do with you," etc,? The spirit of Abishai and Joab (who, perhaps, joined in the request) was different from that of David; which, in its self-control, patience, and forbearance, displayed the highest heroism, and foreshadowed the meekness of Christ. "True Christian zeal is no other than the flame of love. This is the nature, the inmost essence of it" (Wesley). What is contrary to it should be rebuked by:
1. The indication of the will of God (ver. 10).
2. The exemplification of a spirit of submission (John 18:11) and charity.
3. The assurance of the blessing with which it will be followed (ver. 12). "So the travellers went on. The roads diverged. The curses died away. The stones fell short of their aim. The evening closed on that long day of weariness and sorrow - the dreariest day that David had ever known; and he and the partners of his exile rested for the night" (Plumptre). - D.
Shimei the son of Gera; he came forth, and cursed still as he came.I. THE PROVOCATION DAVID RECEIVED.
1. The most irritating by which the patience of man was ever tried. The reason why God was pleased to allow this insult to be added to the other trials of David, is obvious. He wished to teach him how low his iniquities had sunk him, and to show him that the cup of the Divine indignation against him was not even yet exhausted. It tells us that the servant of God must expect to meet with insults and provocations from his fellow-sinners. We are not dwelling among angels, but among men. We are living in a fallen world, in a world that has renounced the authority of the God of peace, and thrown itself under the dominion of the prince of discord. It would be madness, then, to think of passing through it, as though it were a world of love.
2. The conduct of Shimei was cruel also, as well as irritating. The condition of David at this period appeared calculated to disarm by its misery the most inveterate of his enemies. We are ready to suppose in the hour of affliction that every heart must feel for us, and that the malice of our bitterest enemies must now for a season be changed into pity. But experience proves that the most afflicted are generally the most persecuted. Their calamities leave their adversaries nothing to hope from their favour, and little perhaps to dread from their displeasure.
3. The provocation which David received was also undeserved. It here was indeed blood which cried from the ground for vengeance on his head, but he had never injured Shimei; and as for his having been guilty of the death of Saul, and his family, no charge could be more unjust. But the ungodly are always selfish. They judge of others, not by the laws of impartial justice, but by the standard of self-interest.
II. But let us turn from the cruel and irritating conduct of this disappointed Israelite, and consider THE FORBEARANCE WHICH DAVID MANIFESTED.
1. He received the provocation of Shimei with meek silence. He heard his accusations, and he knew them to be false; but he answered him not a word. There are indeed cases in which it becomes absolutely necessary to vindicate our characters at any risk from the calumnies of the ungodly; but these occasions do not often occur. When our enemies are much incensed against us, it will generally be found that to reply to their aspersions serves only to increase their violence, and perhaps to give them an advantage over us. Silence under provocation is safety. To govern our lips is, in most instances, to govern our hearts.
2. But there may be silence where there is no meekness. No angry word may proceed from the lips, while the deadliest revenge is cherished in the heart. It is necessary therefore that we should observe, further, that David forgave the provocation of Shimei. His friends around him were incensed to the utmost, and were eager to vindicate the honour of their insulted monarch with their swords. Would the conduct of David have been either unlawful, or sinful, if he had commanded his attendants to take immediate vengeance on Shimei? It might not have been unlawful, for the laws of Judaea would undoubtedly have condemned the traitor, and the power of carrying them into execution was vested in David's hands; but laws were not designed by God to gratify vindictive passions. It is as sinful to seek revenge by the arm of the law as to seek it by the violence of our own arm. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."CONCLUSION.
1. A review of this history, as far as we have considered it, is calculated to leave impressed on us a conviction of the power of true religion; its power, not only to touch the fears and hopes of the soul. but the mighty power which it exercises over the dispositions, the temper, the heart.
2. This history reminds us also of the dignity which a meek and forgiving spirit imparts. The Bible tells us that "it is the glory of a man to pass over a transgression," and it gives us in this chapter a confirmation of the saying. Here, then, is a lesson for those who are striving to raise themselves to honour. You wish to be highly esteemed among men, and, in order to procure their respect, you imagine that no real or supposed insult must pass unnoticed, and that you must commence a struggle for superiority in rank and consequence. Is, then, the object of your wishes to be attained by such means as these? Impossible. Cease from the foolish attempt. Go and sit at the feet of David, and let him teach you that the readiest, the surest, the safest way to exalt yourselves is to lie low and be humble, to be "meek and lowly in heart," to triumph over the pride and folly which have hitherto been leading you captive.
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
PeopleAbishai, Absalom, Ahithophel, Arkite, David, Gera, Hushai, Mephibosheth, Saul, Shimei, Zeruiah, Ziba
TopicsAbishai, Abi'shai, Aside, Curse, Cursing, Cut, Dead, Dog, Pass, Please, Revile, Turn, Zeruiah, Zeru'iah
Outline1. Ziba, by presents and false suggestions, obtains his master's inheritance
5. At Bahurim, Shimei curses David
9. David with patience abstains, and restrains others, from revenge
15. Hushai insinuates himself into Absalom's counsel
20. Ahithophel's counsel
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 16:9
LibraryBut Although Patience be a virtue of the Mind...
8. But although patience be a virtue of the mind, yet partly the mind exercises it in the mind itself, partly in the body. In itself it exercises patience, when, the body remaining unhurt and untouched, the mind is goaded by any adversities or filthinesses of things or words, to do or to say something that is not expedient or not becoming, and patiently bears all evils that it may not itself commit any evil in work or word. By this patience we bear, even while we be sound in body, that in the midst …
St. Augustine—On Patience
David and Jonathan's Son
The Godly are in Some Sense Already Blessed
Appendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
Importance in Luke's History of the Story of the Birth of Christ
Meditations for one that is Like to Die.
No Sorrow Like Messiah's Sorrow
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