Matthew Poole's Commentary
And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.Ziba, by presents and false suggestions, obtaineth of David his master’s inheritance, 2 Samuel 16:1-4. Shimei revileth and curseth David, who restraineth Abishai from revenging it, 2 Samuel 16:5-14. Absalom cometh with Ahithophel to Jerusalem; lieth with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel, according to the counsel of Ahithophel, who was esteemed as an oracle, 15—23.
Ziba; a crafty man, who, being persuaded that God would in due time appear for the righteous cause of so good a king, and scatter the cloud which was now upon him, takes this occasion to make way for his future advancement. A bottle; a large bottle or vessel proportionable to the other provisions.
And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king's household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.For the king’s household to ride on; for the king and his wives and children were all on foot; not that he had not or could not procure asses for them at Jerusalem, but because he chose it as best becoming that state of penitence and humiliation in which they were.
And the king said, And where is thy master's son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father.Which though it might seem a very unlikely thing, yet such vain expectations do often get into the minds of men; nor was it impossible, that when David’s family was thus divided, and one part engaged against another, they might destroy themselves by mutual wounds; and the people being tired out with civil wars, might restore the kingdom to the family of Saul their old master, whereof this was the top branch. And this was a time of general defection of many whom the king had greatly obliged, witness Ahithophel. And Mephibosheth’s absence made the calumny more probable.
Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.Thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth; a rash sentence, and unrighteous, to condemn a man unheard, upon the single testimony of his accuser and servant. But David’s mind was both clouded by the deep sense of his calamity, and biassed by Ziba’s great and seasonable kindness, And he might think that Ziba would not dare to accuse his master of so great a crime, which, if false, might so easily be disproved.
I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight: thy favour is more to me than this gift; which, as a token of thy favour, I accept with all thankfulness.
And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came.Bahurim; a city in Benjamin, 2 Samuel 3:16 19:16; i.e. to the territory of it, for to the city he came not till 2 Samuel 16:14.
And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.He cast stones; not so much to hurt them, as to show his contempt of them.
All the people were on his right hand and on his left; which is noted to show the prodigious madness of the man; though rage (which is truly said to be a short madness) and the height of malice hath oft transported men to the most hazardous and desperate speeches and actions.
And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:Or rather, go out, as the word properly signifies. Be gone out of thy kingdom, as thou deservest.
The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.All the blood of the house of Saul; either,
1. The blood of Abner and Ish-bosheth; which he maliciously imputes to David, as if they had been killed by David’s contrivance; especially the former, because David did only give Joab hard words, as in policy he was obliged to do; but instead of punishing him, did reward and prefer him. Or,
2. The death of Saul’s seven sons, 2 Samuel 21:8, which, though related after this, seems to have been done before; of which See Poole on "2 Samuel 15:7".
In thy mischief: the same mischief thou didst bring upon others, is now returned upon thy own head. Or, thy sin hath found thee out, and thou art now receiving the just punishment of it.
Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?What have I to do with you? to wit, in this matter I ask not your advice, nor will I follow it; nor do I desire you should at all concern yourselves in it, but wholly leave it to me, to do what I think fit.
Because the Lord hath said unto him; not that God commanded it by his word, for that severely forbids it, Exodus 22:28; or moved him to it by his Spirit, for neither was that necessary nor possible, because God tempteth no man, Jam 1:13; but that the secret providence of God did order and overrule him in it. God did not put any wickedness into Shimei’s heart, for he had of himself a heart full of malignity and venom against David; but only left him to his own wickedness; took away that common prudence which would have kept him from so foolish and dangerous an action; directed his malice that it should be exercised against David, rather than another man, as when God gives up one traveller into the hands of a robber rather than another; inclined him to be at home, and then to come out of his doors at that time when David passed by him; and brought David into so distressed a condition, that he might seem a proper object of his scorn and contempt. And this is ground enough for this expression, the Lord said, not by the word of his precept, but by the word of his providence, in respect whereof he is said to command the ravens, 1 Kings 17:4, and to send forth his word and commandment to senseless creatures, Psalm 147:15,18.
Who shall then say? not unto Shimei, for it was justly said so to him afterwards, 1 Kings 2:9, but unto the Lord; who shall reproach God’s providence for permitting this? Or, who shall by words or actions restrain him from executing God’s just judgment against me?
And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him.Ver. 11. No text from Poole on this verse.
It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.It may be; he speaks doubtfully, because he was conscious that by his sins he had forfeited all his claim to God’s promises.
The Lord will look on mine affliction with an eye of commiseration.
And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.Not that he could reach him or hurt him with it; but only as an expression of contempt. And the like is to be thought concerning the stones, wherewith he could not think to reach David, when he was encamped with his men on every side.
And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there.Came to the city of Bahurim, 2 Samuel 16:5.
And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.No text from Poole on this verse.
And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king.To wit, Absalom, whom he pretends to own for his king and liege lord.
And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?Is this thy kindness to thy friend? doth this action answer that profession of greatest friendship which thou hast hitherto made to him? Dost thou thus requite his favour and true friendship to thee? He speaks thus only to try him. And he saith, thy friend, by way of refection on David; as one who was a friend to Hushai, and to strangers, but not to his own sown, whom, by his severity and design to give away his right to Solomon, he provoked to this course; and therefore he doth not vouchsafe to call him his father.
And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide.Though as a private person I owed and paid friendship to David whilst he was king; yet I must make all my obligations give place to the authority of God, who putteth down and setteth up kings at this pleasure; and to the common sense and decree of the whole body of the nation. But Hushai expresseth himself very cautiously; for though he would be thought to understand Absalom, yet in truth this character did not agree to him, whom neither God nor all the people had chosen, bout only a part, and that the worst part of them.
And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father's presence, so will I be in thy presence.Thou art his son, and heir, and successor, and now in his place and stead; whereby my friendship which was due to him is devolved upon thee by right of inheritance; and I reckon that my friendship is not wholly alienated from him, when it is transferred upon one that came out of his bowels.
Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong.This counsel he gave, partly to revenge the injury done to Bath-sheba, who was the daughter of Eliam, 2 Samuel 11:3 who was
the son of Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 23:34; and principally for his own and the people’s safety, that the breach between David and Absalom might be made wide and irreparable by so vile an action which must needs provoke David in the highest degree, both for the sin and shame of it; as the like action had done Jacob, Genesis 49:3,4; and cut off all hopes of reconciliation, which otherwise might have been expected by some treaty between Absalom and his tender-hearted father; in which case his followers, and especially Ahithophel himself, had been left to David’s mercy.
Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father; and therefore obliged by thy own interest to prosecute the war with all possible rigour, and to abandon all thoughts of peace; as knowing that his father, though he might dissemble, yet would never forgive so foul and scandalous a crime.
Then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong; they will fight with greater courage and resolution when they are freed from the fear of thy reconciliation, which otherwise would make their hearts faint and hands slack in thy cause. But by this we may see the character of Absalom’s party, and how abominably wicked they were, whom such a loathsome and scandalous action tied the faster to him, whom for that very reason they should have deserted and abhorred. And we may further learn how corrupt and filthy the body of the people was, and how ripe for that severe judgment which is now hastening to them.
So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel.Upon the top of the house, to wit, of the king’s palace, the very place from whence David had spied and gazed upon Bath-sheba, 2 Samuel 11:2. So that his sin was legible in the very place of his punishment.
Unto his father’s concubines, i.e. to one or some of them; and by so doing did further make claim to the kingdom as his own; and, as it were, take possession of it; it being usual in the eastern countries to account the wives and concubines of the late king to belong of right to the successor: See Poole on 2 Samuel 12:8.
In the sight of all Israel; who saw him go into the tent, and thence concluded that he lay with them, as he had designed to do.
And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.Was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God; it was received by the people with equal authority and veneration, and was usually attended with as certain success; which is mentioned as the reason why a counsel which had so ill a face, should meet with such general approbation.
With David; to whose pious disposition he accommodated himself, as policy obliged him; but being weary of it, he takes this first occasion to discover himself, and execute that wickedness which before lay in his heart.