2 Samuel 19
King David goes home
When King David cries, everyone cries1Joab got the news of David’s reaction: “The king is crying and mourning for Absalom.”
2Judah’s celebration over the battlefield victory ended abruptly, as soon as soldiers heard David was mourning for his son. 3David's soldiers came quietly into the city. They looked more like an army ashamed of running from the battle instead of an army that won the war. 4The king buried his face into the palms of his hands and cried out loud, “Oh my son. Absalom. Oh Absalom. My son. My son.”
5Joab came to the house where David was staying. He tore into the king:
Look at what you’ve done to your soldiers and officers. They’ve won the battle. Does it look like it? They’re ashamed of it. Yet they saved your life and the lives of your sons, daughters, and wives.6Don’t you see what you’re doing now. You’re showing how much you love the people who hate you, and how much you hate the people who love you. You’re telling your commanders and soldiers they mean nothing to you. You’re telling them you would sacrifice them all in a heartbeat for Absalom. 7Get up and go warmly welcome your men back to you. If you don’t, you’ll lose them all before the next day comes. They’ll leave you tonight. And the result could be the worst disaster you’ve ever experienced in your life. And that’s saying something. 8King David got up right away and went outside, where he took his seat by the city gate. Word spread that he was out there. So the soldiers and others came to see him. Israelites who fought for Absalom, on the other hand, were rushing back to their homes.
Israel invites David back to Jerusalem9Leaders among the 12 tribes of Israel started arguing about what to do next. They said, “King David saved us from many enemies over the years. He even saved us from the Philistines. But he left the country because of Absalom. 10We anointed Absalom as our king, but he’s dead now, killed in action. So, why aren’t we talking about bringing back the king who’s alive?”
11King David sent this message to the two priests he had ordered to stay in Jerusalem during Absalom’s revolt, Zadok and Abiathar.
“Tell this to the leaders of Judah’s tribe: ‘All of Israel is talking about restoring me as king. Why aren’t you?12You’re my family, my own flesh and blood. Yet you’d be the last to bring me home?’ 13Give this message to Israel’s commander, Amasa. ‘You’re family, aren’t you—my flesh and blood? May God do more to me than you had hoped to do if I don’t make you commander of my army in place of Joab.’”  14That motivated Amasa. He convinced leaders in Judah to back David again. So they sent David a message: “Come home and bring all your people with you. We want you all back.”
David crosses the Jordan River15When the king and his followers crossed the Jordan River, leaders of Judah met him at nearby Gilgal  to welcome him.
16Shimei  came from the Gera clan in Saul’s tribe of Benjamin came. He traveled with the people of Judah to meet King David. 17A thousand came with him from Benjamin’s tribe. Ziba came, too. He had been Saul’s leading servant. He brought his 15 sons and 20 servants. They all rushed to the Jordan River to wait for the king. 18They came to help the king and his people make the crossing. As King David was about to step into the water, Shimei dropped to the ground.
19He said, “My master, please forgive and forget what I did to you when you left Jerusalem. 20I’m sorry. I know what I did was wrong. That’s why I’ve come here today to greet you before anyone else in all the tribes outside of Judah. You are my master and my king.”
21One of David’s best warriors, Abishai yelled, “We need to kill Shimei! He cussed the LORD’s only anointed king!”
22David told Abishai, “Will you and your brother ever stop telling me what to do? On a day like this, you want me to execute someone? I’m the king, for heaven’s sake. I don’t need anyone telling me what to do today.” 23The king promised Shimei, “I’m not going to have you killed.” David gave his promise.
Awkward: Saul’s grandson meets David24Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, came to meet the king. Mephibosheth was obviously in mourning. He hadn’t bathed, washed his clothes, or trimmed his beard since the day David fled Jerusalem. 25When he reached the king, David asked, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?”
26He said, “My servant betrayed me, my king. I told him to saddle a donkey for me so I could ride out with you. I had to ride because I’m lame. 27He has slandered me with his lies. But you’re like an angel, a messenger from God. You have insight that comes from the LORD. So, do whatever you think best. 28Everyone in my extended family was doomed to die  anyhow, once you became king. But you not only spared me and my family. You gave me a seat at your table. You let me eat my meals with you. So, what right do I have to ask the king for anything at all?”
29The king said, “No need to talk about this anymore. You and Ziba will split the land.” 30Mephibosheth said, “He can have it all. What I care about is standing in front of me. My king has come home safely."
David’s rich ally31As David made the trip home, an ally came with him: Barzillai from the Gilead town of Rogelim.  32Barzillai was 80 years old and comfortably rich. He kept King David well fed while David stayed in Mahanaim.
33David told Barzillai, “Come with me. I’ll return the favor and take care of you in Jerusalem and keep you by my side.”
34Barzillai said, “I don’t have that many years left. I don’t think that traveling to places like Jerusalem is for me anymore. 35I’m 80 years old. But I still know how to enjoy life. I can still taste my food and enjoy what I drink. I can hear musicians singing, the men and the women. So, don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay. I don’t want to add myself to your burdens. 36I’ll go part of the way with you on the other side of the Jordan River. There’s no need for you to reward me for anything I’ve done. 37But do allow me to go back to my home and live the rest of my life in my hometown, near the graves of my father and mother. And please accept my servant Chimham. He’ll stay with you as your own servant, and he’ll do whatever you ask.”
38The king said, “I’ll take Chimham with me and use him in whatever way you know is best. If you ever need anything from me, you’ll have it.” 39The king and his people crossed the Jordan River. David kissed Barzillai and gave him a blessing.  Then Barzillai went home. 40David left the river behind and traveled to Gilgal. Chimham went with him. Marching alongside David were all the soldiers of Judah and many soldiers from the northern tribes—Israel.
North tribes get mad at Judah41Leaders from the northern tribes in Israel asked, “Why are the people of Judah monopolizing the king? And why did they try to sneak him back across the river without us?”
42People in Judah said, “What’s your problem? He’s our relative, part of our tribe. Do you see us exploiting him in any way? Is he paying us? Have we eaten his food?”
43But the people of Israel—the northern tribes—said, “You’re one tribe. We’re 10.  We have 10 shares of this king—far more than you. And one more thing, we were the first to invite the king back to his kingdom. You were still mulling it over.” The people of Judah, however, won the debate. They were louder and angrier.
Scholars speculate over why David would promote a losing general over the winning general. Among the possible reasons, David was trying to compromise with the people of his own tribe of Judah who had sided with Absalom. Or perhaps David was demoting Joab for disobeying him in a big way, by executing the king’s son. David probably wanted to do more to Joab, as his dying wish suggests. He advised Solomon, his son and successor, to kill Joab for his actions over many years of misbehavior and bad judgment and murder. One such murder was of Amasa (2 Samuel 20:10; 1 Kings 2:5-6; 28-34).
Gilgal’s location is unclear. Joshua 4:19 puts it on what had been Canaan’s border and identifies it as Israel’s staging camp before they launched the attack on Jericho.
When David, earlier, fled for his life across the Jordan River, Shimei cussed him out and followed along for a while, throwing stones at him (2 Samuel 16:5-7).
When a new family dynasty started, it was common for the next king to execute anyone related to the former king. That made sure someone from the old dynasty couldn’t claim to be the rightful king. King Solomon—newly crowned—even killed his own brother, Adonijah, when he suspected potential for a coup (1 Kings 2:13-25).
Location unknown. Gilead was a territory east of the Sea of Galilee.
A blessing is the opposite of a curse. Instead of wishing harm on people, it’s a wish and a prayer for good things to happen to them. It praises people. It encourages them. It asks God to show kindness to them. Many people seemed to believe that the words, with God’s help, had the power to make the wish come true.
The math is unclear. There were 12 tribal territories, but Israel says it has 10 in the north and Judah alone in the south. Some scholars say Simeon was considered part of Greater Judah, much like outlying towns today are considered part of Greater Kansas City or wherever else. Others say Benjamin was considered part of Judah.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.