and crossed at the ford to carry over the king's household and to do what was good in his sight. When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell down before the king
2 Samuel 19:16-23. - (THE JORDAN.)2 Samuel 16:5) was base and iniquitous. "The wheel turns round once more; Absalom is cast down and David returns in peace. Shimei suits his behaviour to the occasion, and is the first man, also, who hastes to greet him; and had the wheel turned round a hundred times, Shimei, I dare say, in every period of its rotation would have been uppermost" (Sterne). But he may have been actuated by something better than selfish and time-serving policy; at least, the history affords no intimation that his repentance was insincere and hypocritical. And he was forgiven by David (of whose clemency he had been persuaded) -
I. ON THE CONFESSION OF WRONG DOING (vers. 19, 20) with:
1. Deep abasement. He "fell down before the king."
2. Free, full, unqualified, and open self-condemnation. "Thy servant did perversely," and "doth know that I have sinned."
3. Fervent petition for mercy, "Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me," etc.
4. Professed devotion and zealous endeavour to repair the wrong which had been done. "And behold I am come the first this day," etc. He had brought with him a thousand men of Benjamin, to do honour to the king whom he had formerly despised; perhaps, also, to show the value of his reconciliation and services (which were really important at such a time, in the light of subsequent events, 2 Samuel 20:1). Confession must precede the assurance of forgiveness; and, when made in a becoming manner, should be graciously treated (Luke 17:3, 4). God alone knows the heart.
II. AGAINST THE DEMAND FOR PUNISHMENT (vers. 21, 22); in which Abishai displayed, as before (2 Samuel 16:9):
1. An impulse of natural vengeance toward the evildoer; unaltered by change of circumstances, unsoothed by Shimei's repentance.
2. A desire for the rigorous execution of the Law, according to which the traitor and blasphemer should suffer death "without mercy." Its stern and relentless requirements, unmodified by its deeper and more merciful principles, are represented in "the sons of Zeruiah."
3. A spirit of reckless imprudence; not less injurious to the king's interests on "this day" of his triumphant return than it was on the day of his perilous flight.
4. An assumption of unjustifiable authority, and interference with the king's rights and privileges, feelings and purposes; incurring a repetition of the rebuke, "What have I to do with you," etc.? "Ye will be an adversary [satan, Numbers 22:22; 1 Chronicles 21:1] to me;" hindering the exercise of mercy and the joy of my return (1 Samuel 11:12, 13). "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Matthew 16:23). "Our best friends must be considered as adversaries when they would persuade us to act contrary to our conscience and our duty" (Scott).
III. WITH THE ASSURANCE OF MERCY. "Thou shalt not die" (ver. 23; 2 Samuel 12:13). "And the king sware unto him." From:
1. An impulse of personal feeling of the noblest nature; by which (regarding Shimei's offence as a personal one) he was raised above the level of "the Law," and anticipated the forgiving spirit of a higher dispensation.
2. A sense of the exceeding mercy of God toward himself; by, which he was disposed to show mercy toward others.
3. A perception of the wisest policy to be adopted on such an extraordinary "day" as that of his restoration to the throne. "Shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? For do I not know that I am this clay king over Israel?" (It is noticeable how frequently he is designated "the king" in this chapter.)
4. An exercise of the royal prerogative of pardon. This prerogative, indeed (though prompted by a generous impulse), he no doubt stretched beyond due bounds. Hence, reflecting on the matter at the close of his life (during which he kept faithfully to his oath), he committed (not from a feeling of personal revenge, but of sacred duty) the vindication of the Law to his successor (1 Kings 2:8, 9). "It can be explained only from the fact that David distinguished between his own personal interest and motive, which led him to pardon Shimei, without taking the theocratic legal standpoint and the theocratic interests of the kingdom, of which Solomon was the representative, and so held himself bound on theocratic political grounds to commit to his successor the execution of the legal prescription which he had passed over" (Erdmann).
1. In showing mercy to private as well as public offenders, due regard must be paid to the claims of public justice.
2. It is better to err on the side of too much mercy than too much severity.
3. How vast is the mercy of God toward men, in him whom he has "exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour," etc. (Acts 5:31)!
And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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