The Peaceful Return
2 Samuel 19:8-30
Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told to all the people, saying, Behold, the king does sit in the gate…

We talk about submission to the will of God; we speak of the Christian's peace, that it should abide with him even in times of deep distress; but preaching and practice are two very different things. Our religion may satisfy us when all is going well, when not suffering under any great misfortune; but when "the floods come," when "the rain descends, and the winds blow," though the house may not fall, it often totters. A complete and easy victory had been won. But how could the king think of this now? His son, who had stained his soul with grievous sins, had been suddenly cut off, and summoned to his account. Who cannot feel for David at this moment? Never, probably, did he feel so much as now the weight of public business: he would wish he were a private individual; then he might have indulged his grief, and mourned for many days. It certainly is very difficult sometimes to go through our ordinary duties;. the wheels do sometimes go very heavily; still David would soon find the advantage of having much to occupy him; and there can be no doubt that, hard as it is to work when we are sad, yet sorrows are much harder to bear when we are at leisure. David would never forget his unhappy son! And now that Absalom was dead, there was nothing to prevent the king's triumphant entry into Jerusalem: but there was much wisdom, as well as moderation and clemency, in his conduct at this time. The breach between the king and the people had been of their causing, and therefore it was right that they should acknowledge their fault: they had driven him from the capital, and therefore it was right that they should acknowledge their fault: they had driven him from the capital, and therefore they ought now to invite his return: coming back at their request, they would, in fact, choose him a second time for their king. The message sent to Amasa, and the promise that he should be commander-in-chief, would be the clearest proof of the sincerity of the general amnesty now proclaimed. David once more takes the reins of government; and we shall see in his conduct that singular mixture of weakness and decision, of kindness and want of judgment, which we have so often observed before. One of the first persons that he encounters on the banks of the Jordan is Shimei the son of Gera. According to the law, this man deserved to die. But it would not, do to begin by putting any man to death now; such an execution would shake men's confidence as to the former promise of pardon. Accordingly, Shimei is pardoned, although his crime, as we see afterwards, was not forgotten. If Shimei's confession was sincere, it should have been completely pardoned; if he was a hypocrite, he should have been punished. Perhaps some excuse for David's conduct may be found in the fact that he could not know for certain what was in his heart. But Jesus knows whether we are sincere or not, and when He grants us pardon, it is complete and full; he never qualifies it, He never recalls it; but our sins are "cast into the depths of the sea." The next person whose case is mentioned is Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan. Having given him the place of one of his children, David expected that he would have accompanied his household into exile. Annoyed at his absence, gratified by the contributions of Ziba, and too easily believing the story of the servant. But now Mephibosheth tells his own tale. The same motives of policy that induced David to pardon Shimei make him now pass over the offence of Ziba; besides, he cannot forget, perhaps, how opportunely the provisions had been brought to him. Certainly, so far, there is little to admire in David's conduct; there may be great worldly wisdom, but there is not much grace; he acts as a politic, rather than a religious, man. What we want is that depth of Christian principle which shall influence all our conduct, so that in all the relations of life it shall be plain that we are spiritual men. And now we gladly turn to the most interesting picture in this part of David's history, the last interview between him and Barzillai. Whatever David's failings may have been, he can never be said to be wanting in gratitude. What had David learned by all the events that had recently taken place? I think lust this, that it is utter folly to seek for satisfaction here, or to set our affections upon earthly things. And this is the end God has in view in all the various trials of life. Every public position requires grace in him who holds it; and certainly one of Satan's devices to keep men from a life of contemplation, from constant prayer, and from a close walk with God, is to give them many secular occupations. Barzillai says wisely, "If there is a time to undertake these things, there is a time also when it is well to lay them aside; and the aged should be content with obscurity."

(C. Bosanquet, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king doth sit in the gate. And all the people came before the king: for Israel had fled every man to his tent.

WEB: Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. They told to all the people, saying, "Behold, the king is sitting in the gate." All the people came before the king. Now Israel had fled every man to his tent.

David's Policy on His Return to Jerusalem
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