2 Samuel 19:8
So the king got up and sat in the gate, and all the people were told: "Behold, the king is sitting in the gate." So they all came before the king. Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled, each man to his home.
Sermons
Immoderate GriefB. Dale 2 Samuel 19:1-8
David's Policy on His Return to JerusalemThe Century Bible2 Samuel 19:8-30
The Peaceful ReturnC. Bosanquet, M. A.2 Samuel 19:8-30
The Restoration of DavidG. T. Coster.2 Samuel 19:8-30
Thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. Joab's remonstrance with David was rude, and in the language of exaggeration; yet in substance it was wise, as the issue proved. The king's lamentations did show excessive love for his deceased son, who had been his deadly enemy; and his abandonment of himself to grief when he ought to have been thanking his brave friends as they returned from the battle, and congratulating them on the victory they had won for him, did indicate a present insensibility to their services and claims which might easily be construed as enmity. It is, however, no unusual thing for men to love their enemies and hate their friends; or at least, by their conduct, to give good reason for others to charge them with doing so.

I. THOSE DO SO WHO LOVE ERROR AND HATE THE TRUTH. For truth is one of our best friends, error one of our worst enemies. Moral and religious truth especially is life, health, guidance, happiness, to the soul; it leads to God and goodness and heaven. But error in such matters is death, disease, delusion; producing false peace and leading to destruction. Yet men often love the errors which favour what they are inclined to, and hate the truth which shows them their duties, sins, and dangers. They "love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil" (John 3:19). "Fools hate knowledge" (Proverbs 1:22). Hence they love false teachers and hate the true. "I hate him," said Ahab of Micaiah, "for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (1 Kings 22:8).

II. THOSE WHO LOVE THEIR LOWER RATHER THAN THEIR HIGHER SELF. Our lower nature is good in itself, but is very prone to run to excess, and become evil. Then, from a friend, it is transformed into an enemy. Our higher nature is a friend, especially when informed and directed by the Holy Spirit. Man's worth and blessedness depend on his obeying the latter and subduing the former. Too often, however, he takes the opposite course, yielding himself to the government of the flesh, and resisting the promptings of the spirit.

III. THOSE WHO LOVE THE WICKED AND HATE THE GOOD. Associating with the former and finding pleasure in their practices, but avoiding the society of the latter; loving flatterers, and hating faithful reprovers and advisers. Ungodly and unholy men are necessarily, though it may be unconsciously and unintentionally, the enemies of the souls of those whom they influence, whether by conversation or example; and the more attractive they are, so much the more dangerous. "Evil company doth corrupt good manners" (1 Corinthians 15:33, Revised Version).

IV. THOSE WHO DELIGHT IN BAD BOOKS, AND DISLIKE AND NEGLECT GOOD ONES. Good books are good friends, promoting in us that which is good. The Bible is the best of books. Bad books, books which suggest and foster evil, are enemies; and the more they interest their readers, the more they injure them. Yet many delight in them, and dislike the books which would profit them.

V. THOSE, IN A WORD, WHO LOVE, IF NOT SATAN, HIS WAYS, AND LIVE IN ENMITY WITH GOD AND CHRIST. Satan is our chief enemy, the head and ruler of all other spiritual foes. He seeks our ruin by manifold devices, and, so that we serve him, is quite content that we should do so in the fashion we most approve. We may join which company of his servants - the coarser or the more refined, the open or the secret - we may prefer. But to follow him in any way is, in effect, to love our worst enemy. Christ, on the other hand, and God in him, is our best Friend, who loves us most truly and most wisely, who has made greater sacrifices for us than any other can make, who has done for us what no other can do, who proffers us blessings beyond the power of any other to confer, who exalts those who love him to a position of honour and happiness to which no other can raise their friends, and lives on to bless them when others die and pass away. To reject him, to refuse him the love, allegiance, and obedience which he claims, is, in effect, to hate the Friend who is most of all needed by us, and most worthy to be loved with all the power of loving which our hearts possess. Let those to whom these representations apply reflect on the sin and folly of which they are guilty; the incalculable good they are losing; the incalculable evils they are choosing. Their eyes will at length be opened; may it be in time! - G.W.







Then the king arose and sat in the gate.
David, in his extreme and protracted sorrow for the death of Absalom, forgot to do justice to the attachment, sacrifices, and victorious valour of his friends. At news of this great and inopportune grief — no song of victory! no clear-shining eyes, no erect triumphant bearing! — "the people gat them by stealth that day into the city as people, being ashamed, steal away when they flee in battle." A perilous ingratitude this on the part of David. David's forces had been victorious; in the death of Absalom the head of the rebellion had died, and yet David was in no haste to return to Jerusalem. Though the anointed of the Lord, he had been the elect of the people to the throne of Israel. And now, after this great national upheaval, if be is to reascend the throne it must be at the earnest call of the nation. So he remained still at Mahanaim. "Now, therefore, why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?" The king! Now there was but one. Let him, then, with all clue honour be brought back to his own! So spake the people throughout the country. But the men of Judah, David's own tribe, were ominously silent — committed too strongly, it may have been, to the cause of Absalom to return quickly to their old allegiance. David would quicken their lagging loyalty. The high priests, Zadok and Abiathar, were sent to the elders of Judah with the question which touched at the tribal love of pre-eminence "Why are ye the last to bring the king back to his house?" with the remainder that they were the king's "brethren, his bones and his flesh;" and with the promise that Amasa, their captain, should supersede Joab in the command of the king's forces. Thus the king "bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man." "They sent this word unto the king, Return thou, and all thy servants." That was enough for David, unwise David! Not waiting to be escorted by all the tribes, not even by all the tribes that had been staunchest in their attachment to him, and foremost in resolution for his restoration, David, accompanied by Judah alone, and only half of Israel, crossed the Jordan and came to the ancient, camp at Gilgal. Little likely that the Ten Tribes — with such rivalry as prevailed between the tribes — would consent to be thus largely ignored. Much confusion and trouble to spring from this unwisdom of the king; presently, another spurt of rebellion, and further off — but not wholly unconnected with the rankling memories of this — the division of the nation into two never-again-united kingdoms.

I. SORROW, HOWEVER POIGNANT, SHOULD NOT HINDER US FROM DUTY, OR PREVENT THE EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE. Has this unhappy civil war brought only grief to him? Is his son the only one that has perished? Alas! the many mothers in Israel, never to look again on the brave soldier-son! Sorrow, with impartial, unwelcome step, enters palace and cottage. But, however keen and consuming, life's duties still remain to the living. We are not to be absorbed from recognition of these — gratitude among them, thankfulness for sympathy. It may speak in lowly tokens of remembrance, in courteous health-inquiries. Let it be recognised.

II. THE EVIL RESULTANT FROM PARTIALITY IS WRITTEN HERE. To the folly of favouritism not only are liable those in high places. It must be watched against by all who exercise any influence over others. The head of any community, however small, owes a debt of justice to each member of it. In the home, where the father and mother are the uncrowned king and queen, this folly needs especially to be avoided.

III. THE BEAUTY OF A CONTENTED SPIRIT APPEARS IN MEPHIBOSHETH. The crippled prince, not lame in soul as upon his feet — a true unselfish son of Jonathan through all — goes home with words of contentment, and glad, thankful loyalty upon his lips. Goes out of our sight and hearing; goes into the silence of a past which has no further word respecting him to speak to us. Went to the narrowed fortune and duties of his narrow life. Went, we doubt not, quiet and contented, and so on to the end. On with eye fixed on a princedom with no crippling hindrances to service, or to a lot in the eternal Canaan which should be his wholly and for ever. Then, son of Jonathan, "Go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and stand" — never to be removed — "in thy lot at the end of the days." Much might be said of the contentment of that man, as exemplary to us, when we are wronged. Well for us if, with our larger light, we have at all times a spirit as patient and thankful as his! I will be a star of glory, a rose of beauty, in the darkness and desert barrenness of life.

IV. PIOUS FORECASTS, COMELY IN ALL AND ESPECIALLY IN THE AGED, IS SEES IN BARZILLAI. Little do we know of him. But how much we seem to know, so vividly does he live to us in this ancient chronicle. Let Chimham go to the great city, take a place at Court, bear his part in the high places of the national life, this was not for Barzillai. His eyes were not so bright as once, nor his ears so alert. He would abide among his own people. He would die in his nest. He would be buried by the grave of his father and his mother. There, in the hallowed, familiar spot, he would have his dust to rest till the great awakening.

V. In David, victorious over rebellion, and restored to his throne, we have suggestion of HIS GREATER SON COMING BACK TO HIS OWN. Over rebellious hearts, over a rebellious world, Christ is triumphing onward to His universal reign. Not by weapons of war, but by love, he is vanquishing men unto Himself. The rebellious world is His world. The rebels are HIS creatures. He is but coming back to His own. He has the right of Creation to us. He re-enforces it by the winning right of redeeming love. Back to His own! In a sense you are all His. In the full, willing sense — surrendered to Him, be wholly His. Be the usurper dethroned. Be the rightful King acclaimed — obeyed.

(G. T. Coster.)

We talk about submission to the will of God; we speak of the Christian's peace, that it should abide with him even in times of deep distress; but preaching and practice are two very different things. Our religion may satisfy us when all is going well, when not suffering under any great misfortune; but when "the floods come," when "the rain descends, and the winds blow," though the house may not fall, it often totters. A complete and easy victory had been won. But how could the king think of this now? His son, who had stained his soul with grievous sins, had been suddenly cut off, and summoned to his account. Who cannot feel for David at this moment? Never, probably, did he feel so much as now the weight of public business: he would wish he were a private individual; then he might have indulged his grief, and mourned for many days. It certainly is very difficult sometimes to go through our ordinary duties;. the wheels do sometimes go very heavily; still David would soon find the advantage of having much to occupy him; and there can be no doubt that, hard as it is to work when we are sad, yet sorrows are much harder to bear when we are at leisure. David would never forget his unhappy son! And now that Absalom was dead, there was nothing to prevent the king's triumphant entry into Jerusalem: but there was much wisdom, as well as moderation and clemency, in his conduct at this time. The breach between the king and the people had been of their causing, and therefore it was right that they should acknowledge their fault: they had driven him from the capital, and therefore it was right that they should acknowledge their fault: they had driven him from the capital, and therefore they ought now to invite his return: coming back at their request, they would, in fact, choose him a second time for their king. The message sent to Amasa, and the promise that he should be commander-in-chief, would be the clearest proof of the sincerity of the general amnesty now proclaimed. David once more takes the reins of government; and we shall see in his conduct that singular mixture of weakness and decision, of kindness and want of judgment, which we have so often observed before. One of the first persons that he encounters on the banks of the Jordan is Shimei the son of Gera. According to the law, this man deserved to die. But it would not, do to begin by putting any man to death now; such an execution would shake men's confidence as to the former promise of pardon. Accordingly, Shimei is pardoned, although his crime, as we see afterwards, was not forgotten. If Shimei's confession was sincere, it should have been completely pardoned; if he was a hypocrite, he should have been punished. Perhaps some excuse for David's conduct may be found in the fact that he could not know for certain what was in his heart. But Jesus knows whether we are sincere or not, and when He grants us pardon, it is complete and full; he never qualifies it, He never recalls it; but our sins are "cast into the depths of the sea." The next person whose case is mentioned is Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan. Having given him the place of one of his children, David expected that he would have accompanied his household into exile. Annoyed at his absence, gratified by the contributions of Ziba, and too easily believing the story of the servant. But now Mephibosheth tells his own tale. The same motives of policy that induced David to pardon Shimei make him now pass over the offence of Ziba; besides, he cannot forget, perhaps, how opportunely the provisions had been brought to him. Certainly, so far, there is little to admire in David's conduct; there may be great worldly wisdom, but there is not much grace; he acts as a politic, rather than a religious, man. What we want is that depth of Christian principle which shall influence all our conduct, so that in all the relations of life it shall be plain that we are spiritual men. And now we gladly turn to the most interesting picture in this part of David's history, the last interview between him and Barzillai. Whatever David's failings may have been, he can never be said to be wanting in gratitude. What had David learned by all the events that had recently taken place? I think lust this, that it is utter folly to seek for satisfaction here, or to set our affections upon earthly things. And this is the end God has in view in all the various trials of life. Every public position requires grace in him who holds it; and certainly one of Satan's devices to keep men from a life of contemplation, from constant prayer, and from a close walk with God, is to give them many secular occupations. Barzillai says wisely, "If there is a time to undertake these things, there is a time also when it is well to lay them aside; and the aged should be content with obscurity."

(C. Bosanquet, M. A.)

The Century Bible.
1. David's return to Jerusalem. In his account of what followed, as of what preceded the crisis of the rebellion (chaps. 15., 16.), the historian has east the bulk of his narrative into the form of personal interviews with the king.

2. David's secret overtures to the tribe of Judah. Himself a member of the tribe whose ancient sanctuary had been the locus of the rebellion, David, with his statesman's eye, saw in the new situation a favourable opportunity of binding the southern clans anew to his person. Accordingly, he opens negotiations with Zadok and Abiathar. In thus playing off the South against the North, David was doubtless aware of the risk he ran of increasing the jealousy, already of long standing, between them, but in the circumstances David can scarcely be blamed for seeing in his southern kinsfolk, in the men who, as he says, were his bone and his flesh (ver. 12), the natural support of his dynasty.

(The Century Bible.)

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