2 Samuel 2:5-7
And David sent messengers to the men of Jabeshgilead, and said to them, Blessed be you of the LORD…
David was now king of the tribe of Judah by their own choice, but the rest of the tribes had not declared themselves. Amongst these the tribes beyond the Jordan were of special importance and influence; and David took an opportunity of reminding them of his position and claims. The chief city amongst those tribes was Jabesh-Gilead. Brave men from that city had rescued the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and, after burning them, had buried their bones under the tamarisk tree (Revised Version) at Jabesh. David, being made acquainted with what they had done, sends messengers to assure them of his appreciation of their conduct, and at the same time to hint that, Saul being dead, and he having been appointed king over Judah, the way was clear for them to aid, if so disposed, in promoting his election as king by the other tribes. The message was at once a suitable expression of his gratitude and a politic endeavour to ingratiate himself with them.
I. DAVID'S GRATITUDE.
1. On what account. Their burial of Saul. He speaks of this as kindness to him. We can show kindness to the dead by suitably interring them. Other ways of doing this would be upholding their reputation, caring for those they leave behind, promoting for their sakes any cause in which they were deeply interested. David could not but highly appreciate the brave deed of these men. His own marvellous courage would impel him to admire theirs. But it was the respect they had thus shown to their departed sovereign which especially moved him to send a message to them. His gratitude for this was quite in accordance with his usual feelings towards Saul, both during his life and after his death.
2. How he expresses his gratitude.
(1) By sending the messengers and message. "I also will requite," etc., should be (according to Otto Thenius and the 'Speaker's Commentary') "I also show you this goodness," viz. sending the messengers with a kind message. They would value David's message as soldiers distinguishing themselves in the field value a message from the queen.
(2) By the terms of the message. In which he invokes upon them the blessing of God, his "kindness and truth," his true, faithful, constant kindness. A phrase common in the Old Testament (Psalm 25:10; Psalm 40:11, etc.; Genesis 24:49; Genesis 47:29, etc.), and reproduced in the New with some additional meaning (John 1:14). To pray for God's blessing on those to whom we feel grateful is always suitable. When we can do nothing else, we can do this; and when we can show gratitude in other ways, we do well to show it thus also. For God's blessing far surpasses ours, and will render ours more valuable and effectual. Only we should be careful not to substitute prayers for deeds when these are possible. But in some way or other we ought to express as well as cherish gratitude and other kindly feelings to others. It is good for ourselves and good for others. It encourages good and noble deeds. It tends to bind men together in the best bonds. It promotes happiness of a high order. We may enlarge the thought. We are required to confess God and our Saviour, as in other ways so by thanksgiving and praise. It is meet and right so to do. It promotes our own spiritual good and that of others. It glorifies God.
II. DAVID'S POLICY. He intended by this message not only to give to brave men their due, but to win their favour towards himself. He justly thought that those who had at such hazards honoured their deceased king would be fitting helpers of himself, and likely to become loyal subjects. There was nothing unworthy in the course he took, for there was no flattery in his expressed appreciation of their conduct, and his endeavour to gain their cooperation was not an act of mere selfishness or ambition, but of regard to the will of God who had chosen him to be King of Israel, and to the welfare of the people, which was bound up with his speedy and peaceful recognition as king. We have here an illustration of mixed motives; and we learn that:
1. We should not hesitate to do what is right because tee see that it will also be beneficial to ourselves. All piety, rectitude, and benevolence tend, and are usually seen to tend, to the good of those who practise them. The promises of God are promises of blessing to those who serve him and their brethren, and are to be received as encouragements in doing so.
2. We may even in some cases aim to do good to ourselves by doing what is right. Only we must place first that which is first, or our good deeds will cease to be good, and become only another form of selfishness. Where motives are mixed, we need carefully to guard our hearts lest the lower predominate.
3. We should be glad of opportunities of showing pure, disinterested kindness. We thus most closely resemble our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, and secure the best evidence of our being the children of God (Luke 6:32-36; John 13:34, 35; Ephesians 5:1, 2).
4. We ought not, without clearest evidence, to suspect of selfish motives those who in doing good secure for themselves present reward. It is to be hoped that only few are like the contributor to some charity who, being asked whether he wished his gift to be published, replied, "Why do you suppose I gave it to you?" And when the motives are not clearly revealed, it is often as just as it is charitable to give credit for the best. - G.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have shewed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him.