And David replied, "Sons of Zeruiah, what have I to do with you, that you should be my adversaries today? Should any man be put to death in Israel today? Am I not indeed aware that today I am king over Israel?"
2 Samuel 19:16-23. - (THE JORDAN.)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.
For do not I know that I am this day king over Israel.
I. KNOW THE GREAT MAN BY HIS GOODNESS. Know real power, not by its tyranny', but by its kindness. David was given to this kind of expression of his greatness. Once he cut off Saul's skirt and spared the fool; he could have cut off Saul's head. It is better not to use all your power. Always have a great reserve of strength. Never deal your deadliest blow until you are wholly driven to it. You will win more victories by forgiveness than by vengeance, by retaliation, by so-called self-defence.
II. Apply this to the matter of PERSONAL CHARACTER and the defence of personal reputation. Some men are always defending themselves. They had better let it alone. Some little natures are always taking revenge. They will say, "Mark: he shall account for this; I have made a note before his name in my diary; he shall hear of this some other day." Oh, shame! That is not the spirit of Christ, the spirit of kingship, the spirit of divinest royalty; that is littleness, yea the veriest meanness.
III. Apply this to PRETENDED RULERS. In proportion as a man is only a pretended ruler in anything, in business, in the Church, in Parliament, anywhere — in proportion as. he is only a pretence he will be full of vengeance. Cut off their heads! is his policy: make short work of them: we must have a spirited policy; there must be no dillydallying here. Foolish talk; foolish heart! We are not to judge things. by stones that are thrown, by dust that is poured upon the wind, by the shouting and crying of poor natures: we must remember that God's eternity moves slowly but surely, and all his mills grind exceedingly small. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves": do not take yourselves into your own keeping, "but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written" — written in nature, written in every star, written in history, written in life — "Vengeance is mine." Vengeance can only belong to one court. All other vengeance is minor, trivial, partial, unjust.
II. Apply this to THE CHRISTIAN ARGUMENT. How slow it is sometimes to human seeming; how indifferent almost to its own issue! It looks calmly upon all the little fray of words, and says, For do not I know that I can save men, bless men, help men, as no other power or force upon earth can do? Why should I follow all these people that are trying to pull my letters to pieces? Why should I take vengeance upon them? The Christian argument often takes no notice of the metaphysical strife, the angry contest, the loud dispute; it does not come down to avenge itself; it says, I am the most beneficent power in human thought, I can therefore afford to wait, and be quiet, and be calm, and not a single life will I take if I can possibly help it.
V. See how wondrously all this FITS THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST. In Christ there is nothing vindictive, nothing clamorous, nothing precipitant. When the people would take him by force and make him king he vanished out of their sight. This was the difficulty he had to contend with in his life — refusing so long to declare himself. This might do for a refrain to the music of Christ's words — Do not I know that I am the Saviour of the world? Do not I know that I am this day King? Haste thee, smite thine enemies, crush all opposition, shine out of the heavens, out-dazzle the glory of summer noonday, and by that ineffable blaze declare thyself to be King! He says, No; that is not the way; that would be foolish, precipitant, impetuous, irrational: we must move with the currents of life: I have not come to institute a reformation, but to work out a regeneration. Why do the heathen rage? Because they are "the heathen." Why do the people imagine a vain thing? Because they are "the people," without regulation, discipline, lofty control, spiritual inspiration. Why is the Lord quiet upon His throne? Because He is upon it, and it is His. In one of two ways Jesus Christ is to be King over us all: He is to be King either with our consent, or against it. Choose ye this day. Or you must know that He is the King of kings and Lord of lords; and if you will not accept the sovereignty of His love you must accept the sovereignty of His fear. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
PeopleAbiathar, Abishai, Absalom, Amasa, Barzillai, Benjamin, Benjamites, Chimham, David, Gera, Israelites, Joab, Joseph, Mephibosheth, Saul, Shimei, Zadok, Zeruiah, Ziba
PlacesBahurim, Gilgal, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Mahanaim, Rogelim
TopicsAdversaries, Adversary, Anyone, Common, David, Death, O, Replied, Sons, To-day, Yourselves, Zeruiah, Zeru'iah
Outline1. 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 Themes2 Samuel 19:18-29
LibraryNational 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
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