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II Samuel 19-21 Listen
Joab to David: Get a grip on yourself! (II Samuel 19:1-8)
1 And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom.
2 And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.
3 And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.
4 But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!
5 And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines;
6 In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.
7 Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.
8 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.
Absalom met his death hanging from a tree in II Samuel 18 (see notes). Now David has gotten word that Absalom is dead. He resides at Mahanaim, east of the Jordan, where he had established his headquarters during his exile from Jerusalem. The troops have returned from battle only to hear David crying out for his son Absalom. Joab decides it's time to straighten David out on this; after all, he's crying for the son who tried to kill him and take over. What about all the men who risked their lives to save David from his renegade son? "Come on David! Snap out of it!" Joab admonishes. Nobody talked to David like Joab; notice the words of Joab to David in verse 6, "...for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well." Taking Joab's advice, David cleans himself up and takes his seat at the gate of the city to show his appreciation for all that the troops had done for him.
9 And all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom.
10 And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?
11 And king David sent to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, saying, Speak unto the elders of Judah, saying, Why are ye the last to bring the king back to his house? seeing the speech of all Israel is come to the king, even to his house.
12 Ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh: wherefore then are ye the last to bring back the king?
13 And say ye to Amasa, Art thou not of my bone, and of my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if thou be not captain of the host before me continually in the room of Joab.
14 And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man; so that they sent this word unto the king, Return thou, and all thy servants.
15 So the king returned, and came to Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to conduct the king over Jordan.
We have a sticky situation here with the home folks. David's own tribe, Judah, had fallen in behind the rest of Israel to anoint Absalom as the King of Israel, but now he's dead. David's a little agitated that the people of Judah are dragging their feet in taking him back as their king; the rest of Israel has already acknowledged that reality. David, still residing east of the Jordan, sends a message to the priests and says they should notify the elders of Judah to facilitate David's return to his throne. David goes one step too far here in the name of compromise; he forgives Amasa and promises to leave him over the armies of Israel instead of reinstating Joab. Incidentally, Amasa was David's nephew by his sister, Abigail. Joab was also David's nephew, but by David's sister, Zeruiah.
In II Samuel 17 (see notes) we see that Amasa had been a traitor when he forsook David and supported Absalom! What was David thinking? While both were David's nephews it was Joab that remained loyal! Of course, that may have been because Absalom gave the big commander job to Amasa instead of Joab. Remember, the Tribe of Judah was huge compared to the rest. A couple of factors are at play here. First of all, Amasa controlled the army of Israel under Absalom's short rule. As of this time, he hasn't been removed as Israel's top general. An alliance with Amasa, who controls the army, can't hurt in helping Judah to once again rally around David as king. Secondly, Joab doesn't seem to treat David with the same level of respect as others. So, Judah's folks come to Gilgal to escort David over the Jordan and back to power over Israel. Amasa should enjoy his tenure as General of Israel's army; he soon won't have the guts to continue in that position (pun intended...read on). Joab doesn't give up that easily.
16 And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, which was of Bahurim, hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David.
17 And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over Jordan before the king.
18 And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was come over Jordan;
19 And said unto the king, Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart.
20 For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.
21 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’S anointed?
22 And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?
23 Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.
24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.
25 And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth?
26 And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame.
27 And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes.
28 For all of my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king?
29 And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.
30 And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house.
Then David goes on a pardoning spree. First up: Shimei, the guy who walked along beside David as he was leaving Jerusalem cursing David and throwing rocks at him back in II Samuel 16:5-14 (see notes). Shimei brought 1,000 men with him for his sincere apology act. What a difference in Shimei's attitude; he just gushes with superficial platitudes in verses 19-20. Surely David won't let him walk away unscathed! David's nephew (Joab's brother), Abishai, has what seems like the best idea - kill him! But, no, David makes an oath that he shall not die - at least at the hand of David. However, what isn't mentioned this day is that Shimei only gets a stay of execution; he gets his execution after all in I Kings 2:8-9 (see notes).
Next rolls in Mephibosheth, Jonathan's crippled boy (and Saul's grandson) whom David had shown every kindness back at the palace. He's kind of rough looking - explains that his servant Ziba had lied about Mephibosheth's loyalty to Absalom (II Samuel 16:1-4, see notes), and that Ziba had left him stranded so that he could not leave Jerusalem with David (he was crippled). David forgives him, but only gives him back half of the possessions that he had taken from him and awarded to Ziba. So, does that mean that David still wasn't sure who was telling the truth, Mephibosheth or Ziba? Perhaps. More than likely, however, David felt he could not afford to make any enemies on his first day back as King over all of Israel.
31 And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan.
32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years old: and he had provided the king of sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim; for he was a very great man.
33 And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem.
34 And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem?
35 I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?
36 Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward?
37 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. But behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee.
38 And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee: and whatsoever thou shalt require of me, that will I do for thee.
39 And all the people went over Jordan. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place.
40 Then the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him: and all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of Israel.
41 And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David’s men with him, over Jordan?
42 And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king is near of kin to us: wherefore then be ye angry for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king’s cost? or hath he given us any gift?
43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.
This old man of 80 had helped David during this traumatic time with provisions, etc. back in II Samuel 17:27 (see notes). He's now here to help escort David back over the Jordan to Jerusalem. David offers him an all-expense-paid stay back at the palace for the rest of his life. As an old guy, Barzillai declines the offer for himself, but secures it for his boy, Chimham. Chimham, you got it made, buddy! David, later on his death bed, instructs Solomon to stand by his promise to Barzillai (I Kings 2:7, see notes). So, the men of Judah and half the remaining people of Israel show up to escort David back to Jerusalem, but not without a little bit of a jealous dispute between the men of Judah and the rest of the men of Israel. After all, even though they were David's own tribesmen, Judah had lagged behind the rest of Israel in accepting David back as King of Israel. So...you can understand the nature of this dispute.
Incidentally, notice the reference here in verse 43 that the leaders of Israel make when they say, "We have ten parts in the king." You will recall that in the distribution of land in Joshua 19 (see notes) that the Tribe of Simeon received land within the Tribe of Judah instead of their own distinct territory. That's undoubtedly the reason they are not numbered with the "ten" tribes here in this passage - they were part of Judah. As a matter of fact, when the Kingdom of Israel split into two after Solomon's reign in I Kings 12 (see notes), these ten tribes, indeed, split from Judah.
1 And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.
2 So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.
3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.
4 Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present.
5 So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him.
6 And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us.
7 And there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
8 When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab’s garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.
9 And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
10 But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.
11 And one of Joab’s men stood by him, and said, He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab.
12 And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still.
13 When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
This guy named Sheba (isn't that a girl's name) decides "It ain't over 'til it's over!" Verse 1 calls him a "man of Belial." While the KJV frequently transliterates the Hebrew word, Belial, as a proper name, in fact it is a general Hebrew word meaning worthless or wicked. Seeing it capitalized, one might get the impression that it was the name of a pagan god, but not so. Sheba decides to mount another rebellion against David, and remarkably, the men of Israel (the ten tribes) buy into it. They did so because of the fact that David seemed to be embracing Judah (who had been hesitant to bring him back as king) over the other ten tribes who had first accepted David's restored kingship.
Despite this northern-tribe rebellion led by Sheba (a Benjamite), the men of Judah remain firmly behind David. So, David returns to Jerusalem, takes back control of his household, reassigns the 10 concubines who had been defiled by Absalom (they lived as widows for the rest of their lives) back in II Samuel 16:21-22 (see notes) and makes preparation for war again; this time it's Judah led by David against Sheba leading the rest of Israel.
David sends his new commander out to gather together the army from among the men of Judah, but Amasa doesn't show up with an army in the three days he was allocated to do so. David then appoints Abishai (another of David's nephews and brother of Joab) to take David's men and go after Sheba. Joab and his men tag along; Amasa then catches up with them. Joab goes to greet Amasa...with a sword! While greeting Amasa, Joab takes the sword in his hand and kills him...whoa...didn't see that coming! That was easy; now Joab is commander of the army again. Ironically, Joab had remained faithful to David in Absalom's treason, and Amasa had rallied around Absalom. It was a political compromise that allowed Amasa to remain in control over the army after David's restoration to the throne. Really, he couldn't be trusted, and Joab knew it.
In the end, however, David shows his appreciation for Joab's loyalty by directing his son, King Solomon, to have Joab executed in I Kings 2:5-6 (see notes). He cites as one of his justifications for doing so this slaying of the less-than-loyal Amasa here in this passage.
Sheba loses his head...to a woman! (II Samuel 20:14-26)
14 And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.
15 And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.
16 Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.
17 And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear.
18 Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter.
19 I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?
20 And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.
21 The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.
22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.
23 Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites:
24 And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder:
25 And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:
26 And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.
In pursuit of Sheba and his army, they locate him in a walled city named Abel in northern Israel. As they begin to besiege the city and tear down the walls, a woman of the city propositions Joab with her solution, "How 'bout we just throw Sheba's head out to you, and you go home?" "Good deal!" replies Joab. Soon afterward, here comes Sheba's head as promised, and everybody goes home - rebellion ended. David's back, and so is Joab! And Amasa? He's just lying dead in a field somewhere; it's not wise to cross Joab.
Incidentally, the Cherethites and Pelethites in verse 23 were likely a couple of Philistine tribes in Southern Israel who were loyal to David. Many scholars think they were King David's guards. We are told that it was common practice among monarchs during this period to have a guard of foreign mercenaries.
1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.
2 And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)
3 Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the LORD?
4 And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you.
5 And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,
6 Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did choose. And the king said, I will give them.
7 But 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.
8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:
9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.
10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.
11 And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.
12 And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, which had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:
13 And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.
14 And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was intreated for the land.
Remember the neighboring heathen tribe who tricked Joshua into letting them live in Joshua 9 (see notes)? Well, here they are again. Joshua had made an oath to them; Saul had broken it as King of Israel. We aren't given any details of how or when, but you will recall that Saul lived among them, and you should also remember how loose he was with his spear and the keeping of his oaths. Moreover, he didn't seem to have much tolerance for folks who irritated him. These Gibeonites resided within the borders of Saul's tribe, Benjamin.
Well...Saul's been dead for quite sometime, but now Israel has famine; David discovers (from the Lord) that it is because of Saul's wrongdoing in violating his oath to the Gibeonites. David goes to these Gibeonites to see what it will take for them to be appeased for Saul's wrongdoing. David gets outsmarted here; look at II Samuel 21:4, "And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you." David had been assured in his negotiations with them that nobody had to die here, but he didn't listen very well to the fine print of the carefully-worded contract before he agreed to its terms. They want to do their own killing of Saul's descendants.
David has already agreed (an oath, you see) to the terms of the contract, so he then surrenders seven children and grandchildren of Saul to the Gibeonites at their request for execution. Michal, David's wife, had been raising her sister's (Merab) five children. They were surrendered for death among the seven. It's a gruesome story. David had made a promise to Jonathan regarding his offspring. Therefore, Mephibosheth was not surrendered. Let's face it, David was outsmarted here. He should have consulted with God before he agreed to the contract with the Gibeonites. While God had chastised Israel for Saul's disregard for Israel's oath with them, God was not a party to this solution. However, verse 14 tells us that, despite the troubling solution agreed to by David, God responded by lifting the famine.
15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint.
16 And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David.
17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.
18 And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant.
19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.
20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.
21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him.
22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.
When they go out to fight the Philistines, Abishai has to bail David out from apparent death from a giant Philistine warrior named Ishbibenob. Because David just isn't the warrior he was in his youth, his men decide he just isn't battle worthy any longer. Then David's army fought a series of battles with the Philistines - winning each one. The really big Philistine with the unusual hands and feet is given special mention here - he had six digits on each hand and foot. I'm not sure how that enhanced his battle abilities, but after David's nephew (Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David) took out this Philistine giant, it must have made quite a conversation piece. Altogether, we have the slaying of four giants in this passage - warriors for the Philistines.