2 Samuel 19:17
along with a thousand men of Benjamin, as well as Ziba the steward of the house of Saul and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed down to the Jordan before the king
David's Policy on His Return to JerusalemThe Century Bible2 Samuel 19:8-30
The Peaceful ReturnC. Bosanquet, M. A.2 Samuel 19:8-30
The Restoration of DavidG. T. Coster.2 Samuel 19:8-30
The Pardon of ShimeiB. Dale 2 Samuel 19:16-23

2 Samuel 19:16-23. - (THE JORDAN.)
The conduct of Shimei towards David in his flight (2 Samuel 16:5) was base and iniquitous. "The wheel turns round once more; Absalom is cast down and David returns in peace. Shimei suits his behaviour to the occasion, and is the first man, also, who hastes to greet him; and had the wheel turned round a hundred times, Shimei, I dare say, in every period of its rotation would have been uppermost" (Sterne). But he may have been actuated by something better than selfish and time-serving policy; at least, the history affords no intimation that his repentance was insincere and hypocritical. And he was forgiven by David (of whose clemency he had been persuaded) -

I. ON THE CONFESSION OF WRONG DOING (vers. 19, 20) with:

1. Deep abasement. He "fell down before the king."

2. Free, full, unqualified, and open self-condemnation. "Thy servant did perversely," and "doth know that I have sinned."

3. Fervent petition for mercy, "Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me," etc.

4. Professed devotion and zealous endeavour to repair the wrong which had been done. "And behold I am come the first this day," etc. He had brought with him a thousand men of Benjamin, to do honour to the king whom he had formerly despised; perhaps, also, to show the value of his reconciliation and services (which were really important at such a time, in the light of subsequent events, 2 Samuel 20:1). Confession must precede the assurance of forgiveness; and, when made in a becoming manner, should be graciously treated (Luke 17:3, 4). God alone knows the heart.

II. AGAINST THE DEMAND FOR PUNISHMENT (vers. 21, 22); in which Abishai displayed, as before (2 Samuel 16:9):

1. An impulse of natural vengeance toward the evildoer; unaltered by change of circumstances, unsoothed by Shimei's repentance.

2. A desire for the rigorous execution of the Law, according to which the traitor and blasphemer should suffer death "without mercy." Its stern and relentless requirements, unmodified by its deeper and more merciful principles, are represented in "the sons of Zeruiah."

3. A spirit of reckless imprudence; not less injurious to the king's interests on "this day" of his triumphant return than it was on the day of his perilous flight.

4. An assumption of unjustifiable authority, and interference with the king's rights and privileges, feelings and purposes; incurring a repetition of the rebuke, "What have I to do with you," etc.? "Ye will be an adversary [satan, Numbers 22:22; 1 Chronicles 21:1] to me;" hindering the exercise of mercy and the joy of my return (1 Samuel 11:12, 13). "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Matthew 16:23). "Our best friends must be considered as adversaries when they would persuade us to act contrary to our conscience and our duty" (Scott).

III. WITH THE ASSURANCE OF MERCY. "Thou shalt not die" (ver. 23; 2 Samuel 12:13). "And the king sware unto him." From:

1. An impulse of personal feeling of the noblest nature; by which (regarding Shimei's offence as a personal one) he was raised above the level of "the Law," and anticipated the forgiving spirit of a higher dispensation.

2. A sense of the exceeding mercy of God toward himself; by, which he was disposed to show mercy toward others.

3. A perception of the wisest policy to be adopted on such an extraordinary "day" as that of his restoration to the throne. "Shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? For do I not know that I am this clay king over Israel?" (It is noticeable how frequently he is designated "the king" in this chapter.)

4. An exercise of the royal prerogative of pardon. This prerogative, indeed (though prompted by a generous impulse), he no doubt stretched beyond due bounds. Hence, reflecting on the matter at the close of his life (during which he kept faithfully to his oath), he committed (not from a feeling of personal revenge, but of sacred duty) the vindication of the Law to his successor (1 Kings 2:8, 9). "It can be explained only from the fact that David distinguished between his own personal interest and motive, which led him to pardon Shimei, without taking the theocratic legal standpoint and the theocratic interests of the kingdom, of which Solomon was the representative, and so held himself bound on theocratic political grounds to commit to his successor the execution of the legal prescription which he had passed over" (Erdmann).


1. In showing mercy to private as well as public offenders, due regard must be paid to the claims of public justice.

2. It is better to err on the side of too much mercy than too much severity.

3. How vast is the mercy of God toward men, in him whom he has "exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour," etc. (Acts 5:31)!

4. Those who have received mercy must live in the sphere of mercy and obedience, otherwise mercy ceases to be of any avail (1 Kings 2:42-46; Matthew 18:32-35). - D.

Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?
I. MANY HAVE LOST THE COMFORTABLE PRESENCE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Some have long dwelt in the cold shade of suspended fellowship, and must be anxiously pining after its restoration. Now to such as these, who see no longer the bright and morning star, we say, "Why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?" If your soul has been nipped with the frosts of a long and dreary winter, if the Sun of Righteousness do but cross the line and manifest his meridian splendour, your summer will return at once. Let the king come, and all his court will follow — all the graces display themselves where the Lord of grace is revealed. Always beware of any instruction or direction which would withdraw you from the cross as the sole and simple ground of your comfort. While your bark is tossed about at sea, it is very likely that she wants a new copper bottom, or the deck requires holy-stoning, or the rigging is out of repair, or the sails want overhauling, or fifty other things may be necessary; but if the wind is blowing great guns, and the vessel is drifting towards those white-crested breakers, the first business of the mariner is to make for the haven at once, to avoid the hurricane. When he is all snug in port, he can attend to hull and rigging: and all the odds and ends besides. So with you, child of God, one thing you must do, and I beseech you do it. Do not be looking. to this, or to that, or to the other out of a thousand things that may be amiss, but steer straight for the cross of Christ, which is the haven for distressed spirits. "Why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?"

1. Perhaps, you reply, "We speak not a word of this because we are afraid that the king may have forgotten us." Oh, cruel thought concerning so kind a friend! Hear ye his own words, "I am God; I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."

2. But you say, "How shall I return to him? I feel ashamed to come to him yet again." Recollect that, bad as you are, you are not now worse than when you first came to him. "Why speak ye not a word of bringing the King back?"

3. I hope the answer to that question is not that you have forgotten Him. Forgotten the man of Gethsemane, crimsoned with his own blood for you? Forgotten Him whose hands were pierced for you, who bore the crown of thorns, and bowed his head, and gave up the ghost for you? Forgotten that faithful lover who ever since he ascended above the stars has never ceased to intercede for you, and such as you? Oh, shame indeed!


III. A LARGE CLASS ARE REBELLIOUS SUBJECTS OF THIS KING. "The ox knoweth its owner, and the ass its master's crib," but you do not know, and you have lived all these years without considering. Is it not unjust? Does not conscience tell you that you do wrong to rebel against the God that made you? Christ is your lawful King, and you are a rebel against Him.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Joab's timely advice, followed by the suffering father. (Proverbs 14:28; Proverbs 16:15.)


1. Restoration of the king's presence must be sought by rebel subjects.

2. Because he would be king of their hearts, not of the land and city merely. So Christ's sovereignty now must be voluntary. One day it will be obligatory, as was Solomon's. (Philippians 2:10; Revelation 2:27.) Christ will only rule over willing hearts in His kingdom of grace. Many Christians have their own way. Christ does not coerce; but they are slaves to self instead of being Christ's freedmen. Observe the nature of Christ's kingdom in the heart. (Romans 14:17; 1 John 3:9, with Galatians 3:16; Galatians 4:19; Colossians 1:27 (Matthew 2:3 — born king); 1 Corinthians 15:45-50, 24.) Christ waits to be invited as David did. He will not reign at Mahanaim, only at Jerusalem; but He sends messages. David's message to rebellious Judah is really a pardon, and as such moved the hearts of the people. (Ver. 14.)

II. PARDON OF SHIMEI. Abishai was legally right (Exodus 22:28; 1 Samuel 26:9), but was reminding David of that incident in his past life, and thus helping him to remain true to his own generous instincts. (1 Samuel 24:5.) The grand answer. I am King, because I can be a Saviour. (1 Samuel 11:12, 13.) Christ might have been King in right of His election (Psalm 2:6-8), and will be some day; but He willed to reign by right of His cross. (Psalm 72:1, 2, 14.)


IV. BARZILLAI, TYPE OF THE TRULY WEANED SOUL, content to do without temporal blessings and sensible comforts; satisfied with the certainty of the king's favour. Fruitful also, leaving those whom he has led to Christ to carry on his service. Chimham apparently received David's own inheritance. (Jeremiah 41:17; John 17:24; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 22:16; Revelation 2:28.

(R. E. Faulkner.)

Abiathar, Abishai, Absalom, Amasa, Barzillai, Benjamin, Benjamites, Chimham, David, Gera, Israelites, Joab, Joseph, Mephibosheth, Saul, Shimei, Zadok, Zeruiah, Ziba
Bahurim, Gilgal, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Mahanaim, Rogelim
Along, Benjamin, Benjamites, Fifteen, Forded, Household, Jordan, Presence, Prosperously, Rushed, Rushing, Saul, Saul's, Servant, Servants, Sons, Steward, Thousand, Twenty, Ziba
1. Joab causes the king to cease his mourning
9. The Israelites are earnest to bring the king back
11. David sends to the priest to incite them of Judah
18. Shimei is pardoned
24. Mephibosheth excused
32. Barzillai dismissed, and Chimham his son taken into the king's family
41. The Israelites expostulate with Judah for bringing home the king without them

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 19:17

     5556   stewardship

National Sorrows and National Lessons
On the illness or the Prince of Wales. Chapel Royal, St James's, December 17th, 1871. 2 Sam. xix. 14. "He bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man." No circumstances can be more different, thank God, than those under which the heart of the men of Judah was bowed when their king commander appealed to them, and those which have, in the last few days, bowed the heart of this nation as the heart of one man. But the feeling called out in each case was the same--Loyalty,
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons

BY REV. GEORGE MILLIGAN, M.A., D.D. "There is nothing," says Socrates to Cephalus in the Republic, "I like better than conversing with aged men. For I regard them as travellers who have gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom it is right to learn the character of the way, whether it is rugged or difficult, or smooth and easy" (p. 328 E.). It is to such an aged traveller that we are introduced in the person of Barzillai the Gileadite. And though he is one of the lesser-known characters
George Milligan—Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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