2 Samuel 19:23
Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.
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(23) The king sware unto him.—This oath of David assuring immunity to Shimei brings to mind his dying charge to Solomon concerning him (1Kings 2:8-9): “His hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.” The whole transaction is to be viewed from a political point. Shimei had been guilty of high treason in David’s distress; at his return he had confessed his fault, and exerted himself to help on David’s restoration to the throne. He had accordingly been pardoned, and David, somewhat rashly, had confirmed this pardon with an oath, in such a way that he was unable to punish any subsequent treasonable tendencies showing themselves in Shimei. From the character of the man, however, and from Solomon’s address to him in 1Kings 2:44, it is plain that he remained thoroughly disloyal. David saw this, and hindered by his oath from treating him as he deserved, pointed out the case to Solomon. Solomon settled the matter by a compact (into which Shimei willingly entered), that his life should be forfeited whenever he should go out of Jerusalem. There he was under supervision; elsewhere he could not be trusted. After a few years he violated this condition, and was executed. David had made a rash oath, and observed it to the letter, but no farther, towards a thorough traitor.

19:16-23 Those who now slight and abuse the Son of David, would be glad to make their peace when he shall come in his glory; but it will be too late. Shimei lost no time. His abuse had been personal, and with the usual right feeling of good men, David could more easily forgive it.This is the first time that the "house of Joseph," or "Joseph," stands for all the ten tribes of which Ephraim was the head and leader. While Saul of Benjamin was king, or while Mahanaim was the capital of his son's kingdom, it was not natural so to name them, nor does it seem so at first sight in the mouth of Shimei the Benjamite. But it is very possible that he used the phrase for the purpose of exculpating himself and his own tribe from having taken the initiative in the rebellion, anti of insinuating that they were drawn away by the preponderating influence of the great house of Joseph. On the other hand, the phrase may be an indication that the passage was written after the separation of the kingdom of Israel, when the phrase was a common one. 20. I am come the first … of all the house of Joseph—that is, before all the rest of Israel (Ps 77:15; 80:1; 81:5; Zec 10:6). Thou shalt not die, to wit, this day, as Abishai desireth; nor whilst I live, nor by my hands, as it is repeated and explained, 1 Kings 2:8; nor for this cause alone. For though David gave order to Solomon for his punishment after his death; nor was it fit for the public good that such a horrid crime should go unpunished; yet he would not have him punished for this fault alone, but for some other capital crime, which he presumed Shimei’s temper would easily betray him to, and Solomon’s deep wisdom would easily find out, 1 Kings 2:9.

The king sware unto him, that he would not put him to death with the sword, as it is expressed, 1 Kings 2:8.

Therefore the king said unto Shimei, thou shalt not die,.... This day by my hands, or order, or by the sword, 1 Kings 2:8,

and the king sware unto him; that he should not die for that offence, or for that only; but if he committed a new one, this oath was no longer binding on him, and not at all upon his heir and successor.

Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not {k} die. And the king sware unto him.

(k) By my hands, or during my life, see 1Ki 2:8,9.

23. the king sware unto him] David cannot be acquitted of breaking the spirit if not the letter of his oath by the charge which he gave to Solomon (1 Kings 2:8 ff.).

Verse 23. - The king sware unto him. David's magnanimity was not the result merely of policy, but also of joyful feeling at seeing all the tribes so readily welcome him back to the throne. But in spite of his oath, he orders Solomon to execute him, regarding what he had done as a sin past forgiveness. In so doing we can hardly acquit David of breaking his oath, even granting that Shimei's repentance was insincere, and that the motive of his actions was the desire simply to save his life. But we must remember that our Lord described his injunction, "that ye love one another," as "a new commandment" (John 13:34); and the utmost that can be said in David's favour is that his character was generous and full of chivalry. A half excuse may be found for his order in the supposition that Shimei was an inveterate conspirator, and dangerous to Solomon's peace. This view seems confirmed by the command given to Shimei to build a house at Jerusalem (1 Kings 2:36), where he would always be under surveillance. But had not David himself praised the man who "sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not" (Psalm 15:4)? 2 Samuel 19:23"For thy servant knoweth (i.e., I know) that I have sinned, and behold I have come to-day the first of the whole house of Joseph, to go to meet my lord the king." By "the whole house of Joseph" we are to understand the rest of the tribes with the exception of Judah, who are called "all Israel" in 2 Samuel 19:12. There is no reason for the objection taken by Thenius and Bttcher to the expression בּית־יוסף. This rendering of the lxx (παντὸς Ἰσραὴλ καὶ οἴκου Ἰωσήφ) does not prove that כּלישׂראל was the original reading, but only that the translator thought it necessary to explain οἴκου Ἰωσήφ by adding the gloss παντὸς Ἰσραὴλ; and the assertion that it was only in the oratorical style of a later period, when the kingdom had been divided, that Joseph became the party name of all that were not included in Judah, is overthrown by 1 Kings 11:28. The designation of the tribes that opposed Judah by the name of the leading tribe (Joseph: Joshua 16:1) was as old as the jealousy between these tribes and Judah, which did not commence with the division of the kingdom, but was simply confirmed thereby into a permanent distinction. Shimei's prayer for the forgiveness of his sin was no more a proof of sincere repentance than the reason which he adduced in support of his petition, namely that he was the first of all the house of Joseph to come and meet David. Shimei's only desire was to secure impunity for himself. Abishai therefore replied (2 Samuel 19:21), "Shall not Shimei be put to death for this (זאת תּחת, for this, which he has just said and done), because he hath cursed the anointed of Jehovah?" (vid., 2 Samuel 16:5.). But David answered (2 Samuel 19:22), "What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah (cf. 2 Samuel 16:10), for ye become opponents to me to-day?" שׂטן, an opponent, who places obstacles in the way (Numbers 22:22); here it signifies one who would draw away to evil. "Should any one be put to death in Israel to-day? for do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?" The reason assigned by David here for not punishing the blasphemer as he had deserved, by taking away his life, would have been a very laudable one if the king had really forgiven him. But as David when upon his deathbed charged his successor to punish Shimei for this cursing (1 Kings 2:8-9), the favour shown him here was only a sign of David's weakness, which was not worthy of imitation, the more especially as the king swore unto him (2 Samuel 19:24) that he should not die.
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