2 Samuel 19
-Joab was told how much David was grieving for his lost son, Absalom, in the wake of Joab and the people loyal to David’s victory. In fact the celebration was turned into a day of mourning for all the people because of David’s despondency. The people came into the city by stealth as if they were humiliated like an army fleeing from their opponent. The king kept covering his face in grief crying out loudly, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Joab decided he needed to make a strong confrontation to this situation and came to the king’s house that he was staying in with a message. He stated, “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hate you, and by hating those who love you. For you have shown today that princes and servants are nothing to you; for I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.” He went on with an exhortation and a threat, “Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the LORD, if you do not go out, surely not a man will pass the night with you, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” David got the hint and arose to sit in the gate. There all the people came before him. Meanwhile, all of Israel that had risen up against him with Absalom fled back to their respective tents (2 Samuel 19:1-8).
-There was a resulting quarrel in the tribes of Israel as to what to make of this situation with David as he was gone across the river in partial abdication of his throne. They knew their leader was dead and that David had been the man to deliver them. So, there was a conflict of interests, but in the end they decided that they wanted King David back as their anointed leader. David sent to Zadok and Abiathar, who were in Jerusalem, to reach out to the elders of Judah asking why they were the last one to bring the king back to his house. He had heard word from the rest of Israel that they wanted him back as king, but had heard no such news from Judah apparently. He petitioned them as his brothers, as his bone and flesh. We wanted to come back, but it appears he was unsure of their response towards him (2 Samuel 19:9-12).
-David also made a strategic military decision at this time. He commissioned Amasa, who had been Absalom’s man in charge over the Israelite army (2 Samuel 17:25), to replace Joab, who was now out of the king’s favor. This was a brilliant move to reunify both Judah and Israel in the spirit of reconciliation. “Thus he turned the hearts of all the men of Judah as one man, so that they sent word to the king, saying, “Return, you and all your servants.” At that point the king began his return and came as far as the Jordan. All of the important dignitaries of Judah came to Gilgal, just to the west of the Jordan, in order to meet and greet him as well as assist his crossing of the river. Shimei, who had cursed David previously (2 Samuel 16:5-13), came from Bahurim in a hurry with the men of Judah to meet King David. At his side were 1,000 men of Benjamin, with Ziba, the servant of the house of Saul whom David had appointed over Mephibosheth’s estate (2 Samuel 9:3-12; 16:1-4). His fifteen sons and twenty servants were also with him. They rushed to the Jordan before the king to greet him. They kept crossing the ford to bring over all of the king’s household in doing good in his sight. As David was about to cross, Shimei fell down before the king just as he was about to cross over. He pleaded in repentance, “Let not my lord consider me guilty, nor remember what your servant did wrong on the day when my lord the king came out from Jerusalem, so that the king would take it to heart. For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore behold, I have come today, the first of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.” But Abishai, Joab’s brother and son of Zeruiah, had retributive justice on his heart and questioned, “Should not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’s anointed?” David rebuked him and plainly even calling the sons of Zeruiah adversaries. He forgave Shimei and didn’t want any man in Israel to be put to death this day. He was secure in his position as king again and wanted to show the lovingkindness (checed) of the LORD God through his decisions. Therefore, the king spoke to Shimei kindly in swearing to him that he would not die (2 Samuel 13-23).
-Then the familiar Mephibosheth came down to meet the king in this spontaneous reunion of classic characters. Mephibosheth had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king left Jerusalem until now that he had returned in peace. When David saw him, he asked, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” Mephibosheth told him that his servant had deceived him and that he was told that, because of his lameness, he shouldn’t go on the journey. He accused his servant of slandering him to the lord his king. He built David up in stating that he was like the angel of God, and let him know that whatever decision he made towards him was all good with him. He still considered his father’s household as nothing but dead men before the king. He renounced all his rights, and he was grateful for all David had done in bringing him to the king’s table. He was not one for complaining at all. David quickly pronounced a judgment on this in dividing the land that he had previously given over to Ziba (see 2 Samuel 16:1-4) between both of them. Mephibosheth, though, said to the king, “Let him even take it all, since my lord the king has come safely to his own house (2 Samuel 19:24-30). I do suppose that Mephibosheth trusted David to completely take care of him from this point forward.
-One further character reappears in the narrative who had been a huge blessing to David in his time of trial (2 Samuel 17:27-29). Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim to help escort the king back towards his homeland across the Jordan. David offered Barzillai sustenance in coming with him to Jerusalem, but Barzillai was 80 years old and very old. He told David he had lost his capabilities to function with discernment, taste, and hearing. He figured he would be more of a burden than a help to the king in his presence. Instead of receiving a reward for his benevolence, he offered for a return to his ancestral homeland to be soon buried near the grave of his father and mother in peace. He wanted a servant by the name of Chimham to cross over with David, and then David could have his help as one who was young and more competent. David obliged this gracious offer and off they went. “All the people crossed over the Jordan and the king crossed too. The king then kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his place.” So the king went on to Gilgal with Chimham, all the people of Judah, and also half the people of Israel accompanying him (2 Samuel 19:31-40).
-There in Gilgal, all the men of Israel came to the king and pronounced consternation over the fact that Judah was bringing back David. They, being a fickle bunch, wanted first rights to reclaim David as their king even though they had acquiesced and actively participated in the rebellion of Absalom. Judah countered with the fact that he was a close relative of theirs. They could not understand the anger of these other tribes in this matter. They had eaten at their own expense and had not accepted any benefit on their behalf. The ten parts that Israel said they had with the king have to do with the ten tribes, not including Judah and Benjamin. They felt like Judah was treating them with contempt in this matter. They rationalized that it was them that at first propagated the notion of bringing David back as the king over all Israel. “Yet the words of the men of Judah were harsher than the words of the men of Israel (2 Samuel 19:41-43).” This reveals a growing tension and depth of the schism that was occurring in the country that would eventually separate the two kingdoms after the passing of Solomon (1 Kings 12:16-24, 2 Chronicles 10:1-19).
-*Application* The reconstruction process after a conflict can be a messy process. That’s why we should do everything we can to make peace on the front end, before feelings get hurt and divisions develop. Think about the things we are going through right now in our own country, and the efforts the enemy is making to divide well-meaning, productive people that really should have a common goal. It is easy to escalate things and pride will continually deconstruct. David shows us a different path. He was a unifier, and he forgave his enemies with class and courage. We too need to be secure in our call and position to the point that we can excuse those who may have wronged us and be willing to reconcile things for the better of all in perpetuity during the aftermath of a conflict. This is the Spirit of Christ Jesus, which, as believers in Him, should permeate our thinking as well.
Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 19:7, 39