2 Samuel 19:31-41
And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan.…
I. HIS SENSE OF THE NEARNESS OF DEATH. "How long have I to live?... I am this day fourscore years old." To him the thought of death seemed to be neither unfamiliar nor unpleasant. Christian men and women who are advanced ill years should seek to copy Barzillai's example, accustoming themselves to the thought and approach of death.
II. HIS CONTENTMENT UNDER THE INFIRMITIES OF AGE. "Can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink?" He had no wish for court-life, for he was no longer fit to enjoy it. His powers were waning; he was no longer able to find enjoyment in that which ministered pleasure to others. Resignation marks his words. Some aged people are fretful over their infirmities. Peevishness is a common characteristic of advanced life. Others endeavour to conceal the ravages of time, and eagerly mingle in the pleasures of youth. With one foot in the grave, they wish to appear and be considered as young as possible. Both courses are alike unbecoming in those who are in "the sere and yellow leaf."
III. HIS UNWORLDLINESS. "Why should the king recompense it me with such a reward?" David's proposal would have been greedily grasped at by many. Notwithstanding its attractiveness Barzillai courteously declined it. How beautiful to see at a time of life, when men, as a rule, cling more closely to worldly things, such an un-regretful renunciation of worldly honour and prosperity!
IV. HIS UNSELFISHNESS. "Behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good to thee." Barzillai was not unwilling that another should enjoy the benefits of which he felt he was unable to avail himself. Too often aged people, no longer able to "enjoy life," frown upon those younger than themselves, who do enjoy it. Forgetful that they themselves were once young, they seek to crush the harmless desires and damp the seasonable enjoyments of youth.
V. HIS FILIAL AFFECTION. "Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother." Even at his great age, the memory of his parents was fresh and tender. It is pleasant to remember that the good that Barzillai was thus privileged to do to his earthly sovereign was not "interred with his bones," but "lived after him." David graciously granted the old man's request, and Chimham not only was taken as his father's substitute to eat at the royal table, but in addition obtained a portion of David's patrimonial possession near Bethlehem (Jeremiah 41:17). "The memory of the just is blessed."
(Thomas S. Dickson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan.