2 Samuel 19: A Bittersweet Victory. David Mourns His Son, Yet He Must Rule Israel

David had a bittersweet victory. He won the battle, but at the cost of his son Absalom. He was consumed with grief, overwhelmed with sorrow. I know what that’s like — when you find out that a close relative or friend has died. It happened to me yesterday, a close cousin of mine died. It stopped me in my tracks. I had to stop and grieve. For some people it takes longer than others. That’s why my church holds GriefShare meetings. I dug out some old pictures of him in family gatherings and posted them on Facebook. My notifications were flooded with condolence messages.

The story here of David’s grieving is a little different. Joab basically tells him to snap out of it. You’ve got a kingdom to run. As a result, when people come before him, he shows them grace. Let’s dig in…

2 Samuel 19

Word soon reached Joab that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom. As all the people heard of the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness. They crept back into the town that day as though they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Then Joab went to the king’s room and said to him, “We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed of ourselves. You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than ever before.”

So the king went out and took his seat at the town gate, and as the news spread throughout the town that he was there, everyone went to him.

Meanwhile, the Israelites who had supported Absalom fled to their homes. And throughout all the tribes of Israel there was much discussion and argument going on. The people were saying, “The king rescued us from our enemies and saved us from the Philistines, but Absalom chased him out of the country. 10 Now Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, is dead. Why not ask David to come back and be our king again?”

11 Then King David sent Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, to say to the elders of Judah, “Why are you the last ones to welcome back the king into his palace? For I have heard that all Israel is ready. 12 You are my relatives, my own tribe, my own flesh and blood! So why are you the last ones to welcome back the king?” 13 And David told them to tell Amasa, “Since you are my own flesh and blood, like Joab, may God strike me and even kill me if I do not appoint you as commander of my army in his place.”

14 Then Amasa convinced all the men of Judah, and they responded unanimously. They sent word to the king, “Return to us, and bring back all who are with you.”

David’s Return to Jerusalem

15 So the king started back to Jerusalem. And when he arrived at the Jordan River, the people of Judah came to Gilgal to meet him and escort him across the river. 16 Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin, hurried across with the men of Judah to welcome King David. 17 A thousand other men from the tribe of Benjamin were with him, including Ziba, the chief servant of the house of Saul, and Ziba’s fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed down to the Jordan to meet the king. 18 They crossed the shallows of the Jordan to bring the king’s household across the river, helping him in every way they could.

David’s Mercy to Shimei

As the king was about to cross the river, Shimei fell down before him. 19 “My lord the king, please forgive me,” he pleaded. “Forget the terrible thing your servant did when you left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20 I know how much I sinned. That is why I have come here today, the very first person in all Israel[c] to greet my lord the king.”

21 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shimei should die, for he cursed the Lord’s anointed king!”

22 “Who asked your opinion, you sons of Zeruiah!” David exclaimed. “Why have you become my adversary today? This is not a day for execution, for today I am once again the king of Israel!” 23 Then, turning to Shimei, David vowed, “Your life will be spared.”

David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth

24 Now Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, came down from Jerusalem to meet the king. He had not cared for his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes since the day the king left Jerusalem. 25 “Why didn’t you come with me, Mephibosheth?” the king asked him.

26 Mephibosheth replied, “My lord the king, my servant Ziba deceived me. I told him, ‘Saddle my donkey so I can go with the king.’ For as you know I am crippled. 27 Ziba has slandered me by saying that I refused to come. But I know that my lord the king is like an angel of God, so do what you think is best. 28 All my relatives and I could expect only death from you, my lord, but instead you have honored me by allowing me to eat at your own table! What more can I ask?”

29 “You’ve said enough,” David replied. “I’ve decided that you and Ziba will divide your land equally between you.”

30 “Give him all of it,” Mephibosheth said. “I am content just to have you safely back again, my lord the king!”

David’s Kindness to Barzillai

31 Barzillai of Gilead had come down from Rogelim to escort the king across the Jordan. 32 He was very old—eighty years of age—and very wealthy. He was the one who had provided food for the king during his stay in Mahanaim. 33 “Come across with me and live in Jerusalem,” the king said to Barzillai. “I will take care of you there.”

34 “No,” he replied, “I am far too old to go with the king to Jerusalem. 35 I am eighty years old today, and I can no longer enjoy anything. Food and wine are no longer tasty, and I cannot hear the singers as they sing. I would only be a burden to my lord the king. 36 Just to go across the Jordan River with the king is all the honor I need! 37 Then let me return again to die in my own town, where my father and mother are buried. But here is your servant, my son Kimham. Let him go with my lord the king and receive whatever you want to give him.”

38 “Good,” the king agreed. “Kimham will go with me, and I will help him in any way you would like. And I will do for you anything you want.” 39 So all the people crossed the Jordan with the king. After David had blessed Barzillai and kissed him, Barzillai returned to his own home.

40 The king then crossed over to Gilgal, taking Kimham with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel escorted the king on his way.

An Argument over the King

41 But all the men of Israel complained to the king, “The men of Judah stole the king and didn’t give us the honor of helping take you, your household, and all your men across the Jordan.”

42 The men of Judah replied, “The king is one of our own kinsmen. Why should this make you angry? We haven’t eaten any of the king’s food or received any special favors!”

43 “But there are ten tribes in Israel,” the others replied. “So we have ten times as much right to the king as you do. What right do you have to treat us with such contempt? Weren’t we the first to speak of bringing him back to be our king again?” The argument continued back and forth, and the men of Judah spoke even more harshly than the men of Israel.

2 Samuel 19 NLT
  • How silly does that sound? Arguing over David and tribal rights. Kind of reminds me of “not my president” after a certain election. And now, the shoe’s on the other foot. No American with a brain wants to admit the current president is the “head of the free world”. This goes to show that political divisions are not new. Here, they were fighting over a king. Personally, I can’t wait until we’re under the rule of King Jesus! Your Kingdom Come!
  • Joab reminded David that Absalom was his enemy. David grieved for a reconciliation that didn’t happen. After someone’s died. It’s too late. When I was with my cousin a few years ago in Puerto Rico, I should have asked him if he was saved. I wasn’t bold enough. I’m hoping he saw at least one of my posts on Facebook and considered his salvation. He never called me, I never called him. Now, it’s too late. I don’t know if he’s in Heaven and that makes me sad.
  • Why do you think that David showed grace to all the people who came to him? It’s a reflection of Jesus. Shimei deserved death, but David pardoned him and spared his life. Likewise, we deserve death for our sins and Jesus died in our place so we can live forever with him in Heaven.
  • Restoring relationships is not easy. It takes humility and boldness. After someone dies, it’s too late. What about your relationship with Jesus? He wants to reconcile with you! After you’re dead, it’s too late.
  • If you’re trying to reconcile an earthly relationship, work towards a solution that serves God’s purpose. Be on God’s team. Be merciful and kind.

There’s a proverb that fits here…

Wounds from a sincere friend
    are better than many kisses from an enemy.

Proverbs 27:6 NLT

One of David’s psalms that was written about this time is a worship song….

Psalm 29

Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
    honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
    Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
    The God of glory thunders.
    The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
    the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
    he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
    with bolts of lightning.
The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
    and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”

10 The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
    The Lord reigns as king forever.
11 The Lord gives his people strength.
    The Lord blesses them with peace.

Pslam 29 NLT

Above the Storm there is Peace

My heart breaks to see what’s going on in the world today. If it wasn’t for my personal assurance and confident HOPE that this world is not all there is, I’d be a basket case. I’m angry, sad, frustrated, heartbroken, disgusted, ashamed, etc., etc., etc.

Paul wrote…

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.

Colossians 3:1-6 NLT

I pray this every day…

Lord, manifest your kingdom realm and cause your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth as it is in Heaven!

Do you have God’s Peace, Hope and Joy?

It’s all free, you know. You don’t have to a thing except BELIEVE!

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
  • Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift and Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Graves into Gardens



Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

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