2 Samuel 19:3
So they returned to the city quietly that day, as people steal away in humiliation after fleeing a battle.
Immoderate GriefB. Dale 2 Samuel 19:1-8

2 Samuel 19:1-8. - (MAHANAIM.)
This interview between David and Joab throws light upon the character of both, and the relations subsisting between them.

1. The best of men are by no means perfect. David's grief, although natural, and, in some respects, commendable, was unseasonable, excessive, and injurious; and exposed him to just reproof.

2. The worst of men are not altogether bad, but often exhibit admirable qualities. When Joab put Absalom to death against the king's order he was actuated partly by regard for the king's interest and the national welfare, "loyal disobedience;" he was also desirous of preventing unnecessary slaughter (2 Samuel 18:16), and showed a thoughtful concern for Ahimaaz (2 Samuel 18:19, 20, 22); and now, although his bearing toward the king was harsh and cruel (2 Samuel 3:24), he was fully justified in expostulating with him (as on another occasion, 2 Samuel 24:3).

3. The worst of men are often intimately associated with the best of men, and render them invaluable services; but their association is usually uncongenial, and productive of trouble and mischief (2 Samuel 3:39). By his great abilities Joab made himself necessary to David, and became confirmed in his high position (1 Chronicles 11:6); and by his complicity "in the matter of Uriah," he gained a despotic influence over him; hence his daring disobedience and overbearing attitude, and when the king, resenting his conduct, seeks to replace him as captain of the host, he strikes down his rival, then "calmly takes upon himself to execute the commission with which Amasa had been charged; and this done, 'he returns to Jerusalem, unto the king,' and once more he is 'over all the host of Israel'" (Blunt, 'Coincidences'). David's inordinate grief was -

I. REALLY REPRESENTABLE. "And the king covered his face," etc. (ver. 4). It was connected (as cause or effect) with:

1. The lack of due consideration of the moral causes of the event which he mourned over, and which was their natural and deserved consequence; and of the salutary influence which that event would have upon the nation. In surrendering himself to sorrow for the loss of his son, he was in some measure blind to the justice of his doom.

2. The absence of humble submission to the Divine will, such as he had previously displayed in "the day of his calamity" (2 Samuel 12:20; 2 Samuel 15:26; 2 Samuel 16:10).

3. The feeling of bitter resentment against those who had despised his commandment and disappointed his hopes. He would at first, perhaps, blame all his "servants;" and, when he was informed (2 Samuel 18:13) of the circumstances under which Absalom came to his end, would naturally regard the conduct of his executioners in its darkest aspect. "To understand this passionate utterance of anguish, we must bear in mind not only the excessive tenderness, or rather weakness, of David's paternal affection toward his son, but also his anger that Joab and his generals should have paid so little regard to his command to deal gently with Absalom. With the king's excitable temperament, this entirely prevented him from taking a just and correct view of the crime of his rebel son, which merited death, and of the penal justice of God, which had been manifested in his destruction" (Keil).

4. The neglect of urgent duties: thanksgiving to God for victory, the commendation of his faithful soldiers, the adoption of proper measures to confirm their attachment and secure peace and unity, the subordination of private grief to the public weal. "The deliverance that day was turned into mourning unto all the people," etc. (ver. 2). "Their hearty participation in the sorrow of their beloved king, for whom they had perilled their lives, soon changed to gloomy dissatisfaction at the fact that the king, absorbed in private grief, did not deign to bestow a look upon them" (Erdmann).

II. RUDELY REPROVED. "And Joab came into the house of the king," etc. (vers. 5-7). His reproof (2 Samuel 12:1) was:

1. Unfeeling, hard hearted, pitiless. He had no respect whatever for the natural feelings of the father; no sympathy with David's intense and peculiar emotion,

2. Unscrupulous and reckless; whilst declaring the truth in part (ver. 5), and as it appeared on the surface, casting unjust reproaches on the king for his heartless selfishness, ingratitude, and hatred (ver. 6).

3. Unbecoming the relation of a subject to his sovereign; in language and manner, as well as in substance.

4. United, nevertheless, with wise counsel and solemn warning. "And now arise, go forth," etc. (ver. 7). No doubt David felt greatly hurt; and "the immediate effect of his indignation was a solemn vow to supersede Joab by Amasa; and in this was laid the lasting breach between himself and his nephew, which neither the one nor the other ever forgave" (Stanley) But, convinced that he had given occasion for reproof, he now patiently submitted to it (Psalm 141:5.) "Hard natures and harsh words have their uses in life after all" (Scott). "The undisciplined word of Joab became a means of discipline to David, and the king turned from the destructive path into which unbridled feeling had led him."

III. READILY RESTRAINED and laid aside. "And the king arose," etc. (ver. 8). "He was stung into action, and immediately roused himself to the discharge of his royal duties." Would we overcome immoderate grief? We must:

1. Listen to the admonitions of truth, however disagreeable; and learn the evil of indulging it.

2. Receive the consoling assurances of Heaven, and pray for needful strength.

3. Repress it with prompt and determined effort.

4. Devote ourselves with diligence to necessary and useful activities.

"Heaven hath assigned
Two sovereign remedies for human grief:
Religion, surest, firmest, first, and best
Strength to the weak, and to the wounded, balm;
And strenuous action next."

(Southey.) Ordinary grief must be restrained within due bounds. But there is a sorrow - tender, hopeful, godly sorrow for sin, to which we may freely and fully surrender ourselves; for it always conducts to greater purity, strength, and joy. - D.

Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king.
And Mephibosheth, also, the son of Saul, came down to meet the king. Our too otiose English is unjust to Mephibosheth; or else it has taken Mephibosheth's infirmity in his feet much too seriously. Mephibosheth was not so crippled in his intellect, at any rate, as to stay in Jerusalem till the king came home. He was too eager for that to congratulate the king on his victory. We all know how the mind overmasters the body, and makes us forget all about its lameness on occasions. And Mephibosheth was at the Jordan all the way from Jerusalem almost as soon as Shimei himself. Four hundred years before, just at the same place, when the inhabitants of Gideon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles old and rent and bound up, and old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them, and all the bread of their provisions was dry and mouldy. And Joshua said, Who are ye, and whence come ye? And they said, From a very far country thy servants are come, because of the name of the Lord thy God. And Joshua made a league with them, to let them live; and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. And all that about Joshua and the Gibeonites came back to David's mind when he saw Mephibosheth lifted down off his ass. For Mephibosheth had not dressed his wooden feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes for grief, so he said, from the day that the king departed. Nor had he taken time to-day to make himself decent for such a journey, such was his joy that the king was coming back again to Jerusalem, Yes, but what came of thee that morning, Mephibosheth? asked David. I looked for thee. I was afraid that in the overthrow some evil had befallen thee. Thou art not able to bear arms for me; but thy father so strengthened my hands in God that to have seen the face of his son that morning, and to have heard thy voice would have done for me and for my cause what thy father did. My lord, said Mephibosheth — but "the tale was as lame as the tale-bearer." Ziba had stolen his ass just as he was mounting him to come with the king — and so on. David did not stoop to ask whose ass this was that Mephibosheth had got saddled so soon this morning. Say no more, Mephibosheth, said David, as he saw Jonathan's son crawling so abjectly before him. Dr. Kitto complains of David's "tart answer" to Mephibosheth. But if David was too tart, then with what extraordinary and saintly sweetness Mephibosheth received the over-tartness of the king. "Let Ziba take all my estates to-day forasmuch as nay lord the king is come again in peace to his own house." No, there was nothing cripple in Mephibosheth's intellects. "Mephibosheth was a philosopher," says Dr. Parker. "I find no defect of his wits in Mephibosheth," says honest Joseph Hall. And the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the Lord's oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan, the son of Saul.

(A. Whyte, D. D.)

In poor Mephibosheth's case, it would seem as if his early and lifelong infirmity, taken along with the hopeless loss of his brilliant prospects, had all eaten into his heart till he became the false, scheming creature that David found him out to be. Hephaeston loved Alexander, while Craterus loved the king. And Jonathan was like Hephaeston in this, that he loved David at all times, whereas his son Mephibosheth resembled Craterus in this, that he preferred David on the throne to David off the throne. Jonathan strengthened David's hand in God in the wood of Ziph; but Mephibosheth, like another classical character, fled the empty cask. How Mephibosheth's heart had overflowed with gratitude to David when the royal command came that he. was to leave Machir's house:in Lo-debar, and was henceforth to take up his quarters in the king's house in Jerusalem! All Mephibosheth's morosity and misanthropy melted off his heart that day. But such was Mephibosheth at the bottom of his heart that, as he continued to eat at David's table, Satan entered into Mephibosheth and said to him in his heart that all this was by original and Divine right his own. All this wealth, and power, and honour, and glory. But for the bad fortune of his father's royal house on Mount Gilboa, all this would to-day have been his own. "Ingratitude," says Mozley, "is not only a species of injustice, it is the highest species of injustice." And the ingratitude of Mephibosheth grew at David's table to this high injustice, that he waited for both David and Absalom to be chased out of Jerusalem, that, he might take their place. There is no baser heart than an ungrateful heart. And it was Mephibosheth's ungrateful heart that prepared him for the baseness that he was found out in both at the flight of David and at his victorious return.

"The virtues were invited once

To banquet with the Lord of All:

They came — the great ones rather grim,

And not so pleasant as the small.

They talked and chatted o'er the meal,

They even laughed with temp'rate glee;

And each one knew the other well,

And all were good as good could be.

Benevolence and Gratitude

Alone of all seemed strangers yet;

They stared when they were introduced

On earth they never once had met."Dean Milman says that the writings both of Tacitus and Dante are full of remorse. And it is, as I believe, in our own remorse that we shall find the true key to Mephibosheth's heart. When a government goes out of power, when a church is under a cloud, when religion has lost her silver slippers, and when she walks in the shadow of the street, and when any friend has lost his silver slippers — then we discover Mephibosheth in ourselves, and hate both him and ourselves like hell. And commentators have taken sides over the case of Mephibosheth very much as they have found that contemptible creature skulking in themselves, and have had bitter remorse on account of him. "I am full of self-love, fear to confess Thee, or to hazard myself, or my estate, or my peace... My perplexity continues as to whether I shall move now or not, stay or return, hold by Lauderdale, or make use of the Bishop. I went to Sir George Mushet's funeral, where I was looked at, as I thought, like a speckled bird... Die Dom. — I find great averseness in myself to suffering. I am afraid to lose life or estate. Shall I forbear to hear that honest minister, James Urquhart, for a time, seeing the stone is like to fall on me if I do so?" And then our modern Mephibosheth has the grace to add in his diary, like the book of judgment: "A grain of sound faith would easily answer all these questions: — I have before me Mr. Rutherford's letter desiring me to deny myself." And though you will not easily believe it; the author of that letter himself has enough of Jonathan's crippled and disinherited son still in himself to give a tang, and more than a tang, of remorse to some of his best letters. "Oh, if I were free of myself! Myself is another devil, and as evil as the prince of devils. Myself! Myself! Every man blames the devil for his sins, but the house and heart devil of every man is himself. I think I shall die still but minting and aiming to be a Christian man!" This, then, is the prize for finding out that enigma of motive, Mephobosheth's hidden heart. This is the first prize, to receive of God the inward eye to discover Mephibosheth in our ourselves.

(A. Whyte, D. D.)

Mephibosheth... had
There is a very suggestive story told of Napoleon when his army was in dire need, retreating from Moscow in 1813. The soldiers were ragged, dirty, starved, and unkempt, and it seemed to be impossible to present the smart and orderly appearance which usually characterises troops on the march. But in the very heart of their necessity one of the generals came before Napoleon one morning as nearly attired as if for parade. The Emperor's commendation was instant: "My General," he said, "you are a brave man!" Napoleon was a man of the keenest and clearest insight, and he could read a character through a trifle. He knew perfectly well that a man who put care and energy and precision into a courtesy would not be lacking upon the field. Is not the story suggestive of the finer characteristics of the Christian life? Real Christian heroism manifests itself in trifles. How do we finish our speech? Into what kind of dress do we put our courtesies? In what form and manner does our service express itself? Are we as scrupulous and painstaking when little demand is made upon us, as we are amid the crises and heavier battles of life? Christian heroism is not only an affair of great conflicts, it also manifests itself on those smaller occasions when so many people relax both effort and desire.

(Hartley Aspen.)

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
Ashamed, Battle, Flee, Fleeing, Flight, Gat, Got, Humiliated, Quietly, Secretly, Shamed, Snuck, Steal, Stealeth, Stealth, Stole, Town, War, Withdrew
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 19:1-7

     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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