2 Samuel 19:1-8. - (MAHANAIM.)
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
Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king.
(A. Whyte, D. D.)
"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.)
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
TopicsAshamed, Battle, Flee, Fleeing, Flight, Gat, Got, Humiliated, Quietly, Secretly, Shamed, Snuck, Steal, Stealeth, Stealth, Stole, Town, War, Withdrew
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 19:1-7
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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