2 Samuel 19:20
For your servant knows that I have sinned, so here I am today as the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord 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
A Wise King2 Samuel 19:18-23
Characteristic ForgivenessSpurgeon, Charles Haddon2 Samuel 19:18-23

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.

And the victory of that day was turned into mourning unto all the people.
The victory spoken of is a victory that was longed for, and yet when it came it was as intolerable as the sting of an adder. How is it that we are always wanting things, and often when we get them they are bitterness itself? David wanted to be rid of his enemies — he was in this case challenged to vindicate his own throne. This was no fight of his own forcing — he was obliged to meet the insubordination and the revolt of his own son. David, mighty king — you wanted to be rid of your enemies: they are dead: how now? "Yes," said he, "I wanted to be rid of my enemies, but not in that way." There it is again — it is always in some other way that we want our desire granted. You want to get clear of that son of yours? You don't. And you have said how much you would give if he were only out of the way. But all the while you made a great fatherly reservation when you said so, and a great motherly emphasis unexpressed was in your heart when you talked about his being out of the way. You meant somewhere — more comfortable, more useful, more happy. You did not mean out of the way in any tragic sense. O strange man — wild, tumultuous life. We want, and we don't want; we pray, and we don't want the answer, at least, not so — but thus, a crooked answer to a straight request. We are all trying for victory. See if that be not true. Every man, even the poorest, is aiming at some kind of victory in life. Think if this be not so, father, mother, child, man of business, man of letters, boy challenging schoolmate to a marble encounter — through and through life, every section of it, we are trying in some way to get the promised end. But we are taught here that there are occasions upon which the victory is not worth winning. Is that not so in most cases? What do men want? One says: Riches. He heapeth up riches and knoweth not who shall gather them — is the victory worth the winning? Another says: Well, I want to conquer that human heart, and make it mine — man's heart, woman's heart — saith the young. Is it worth doing? It may be, it may not be. I want that apple on the bough above — not that one, but the one higher. Is it worth fetching a ladder for? Try: you get it, but the worm had it first, and you spurn it with keen disappointment from your hand. It is well, therefore, for men, before they go out to battle, to answer the question — if I win, is it worth doing? — because there are victories that are defeats, there are triumphs that are stings, there are achievements that have nothing in them but graves and horrors and mockeries. Shall we say, without any desire to be too gloomy, that there is nothing upon earth out of God, out of Christ, that is worth doing, worth having? Are there any victories that cannot be turned into mourning? Blessed be God, there are victories that are followed by no compunction, no humiliation — blessings that have no sorrow in them. What is your complaint before God? What is the disease that is poisoning your blood, and burning in your marrow, and consuming your soul — your own peculiar diseases? Jealousy? Conquer it by the Spirit of God, pray about it, shut thyself up long months and have it out with heaven. It will be a victory for ever, unimpaired, complete, full of joyous self-content. What is thy disease, thou who dost say that jealousy is no element in thy constitution — what is thy plague? Self-indulgence, self-gratification, self-delight — self, self, self, morning, noon, and night. I alone, I am the world, think of me, comfort me, let me have my way, satisfy my want — is the key of thy life so struck, Conquer thyself. "If any man would be my disciple," saith Christ, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, not periodically, not with occasional heroism, but with steady, constant self-crucifixion, and let him follow Me." You have gone out to the battle. Hast thou won that battle? There is no other battle to be won; fight yourself — beat your-self — set the standard of a new being upon the fortresses and citadels of your own obstinacy, and then you may beat your sword into a ploughshare, and make a pruning-hook of your spear, for in your case there is no more war to be done. How is all this to be accomplished? The answer is as complete as the question is earnest and emphatic. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." We sometimes celebrate a mourning that shall be turned into victory, even the mourning of Christ the crucified Man, who said, "My soul is troubled, even unto death. Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" These are the words of mourning. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth — Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations." These are the words of victory. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." Unless we have known the bitterness of this mourning we never can know the joy of true victory.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Homiletic Review.
In the spiritual kingdom of God there are experiences akin to those recorded in the text; times when, amid victories that send a thrill of joy through heaven and may well excite hallelujahs in the Church below, the "sacramental host" feel like putting on sackcloth and sitting down to "weep between the porch and the altar." Such is the case often in times of revival, when God's spirit is poured out, and sinners are convicted and converted. Although it be an occasion for rejoicing and thanksgiving on the part of God's people, it is equally an occasion for humiliation and weeping. What are some of the reasons for mourning on the part of the Church in the midst of revival scenes?

1. That so few of God's professed friends enter actively into the work. The Spirit's presence in extraordinary power is a day of glorious opportunity, both for the Church and for sinners without. It is God's "set time to favour Zion." He then "waits to be gracious." It is "harvest time." Prayer has power to prevail. Souls are pressing into the kingdom.

2. That so many sinners are passed by and left in their sins, even in the day of special merciful visitation. We have witnessed and laboured in many revivals; seen a whole community shaken as by a "rushing mighty wind," and hundreds convicted and made to cry out, What must we do to be saved? And yet many were unmoved — only looked on and wondered or scoffed. And the Spirit passed by, and they were farther than ever before from salvation!

3. That so many are convicted who are not converted; wounded, but not healed. In times of revival, it is common for many sinners to be deeply interested, and even brought under conviction of sin, who never get farther.

4. That, in all probability, a large proportion of those who are not reached and rescued in a revival will finally perish in their sins! We dare not limit the power of God. But there is a world of fact to bear out the remark. The grace of God is at flood-tide in revival seasons: what hope when the ebb comes?

(Homiletic Review.)

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
Behold, Conscious, Joseph, Meet, Meeting, Purpose, Servant, Sin, Sinned, Sons, To-day
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 19:18-29

     5088   David, character

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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