Ziba, servant of Mephibosheth, meets David with provisions, and by false insinuations obtains the grant of his masters property, 2 Samuel 16:1-4. Shimei abuses and curses David, who restrains Abishai from slaying him, 2 Samuel 16:5-14. Hushai makes a feigned tender of his services to Absalom, 2 Samuel 16:15-19. Absalom calls a council and Ahithophel advises him to go in to his father's concubines, 2 Samuel 16:20-22. Character of Ahithophel as a counselor, 2 Samuel 16:23.
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.Two hundred loaves of bread - The word loaf gives us a false idea of the ancient Jewish bread; it was thin cakes, not yeasted and raised like ours.
Bunches of raisins - See on 1 Samuel 25:18 (note).
Summer fruits - These were probably pumpions, cucumbers, or watermelons. The two latter are extensively used in those countries to refresh travelers in the burning heat of the summer. Mr. Harmer supposes they are called summer fruits on this very account.
A bottle of wine - A goat's skin full of wine; this I have already shown was the general bottle in the Eastern countries; see on 1 Samuel 25:18 (note).
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.The asses be for the king's household - This is the Eastern method of speaking when any thing is presented to a great man: "This and this is for the slaves of the servants of your majesty," when at the same time the presents are intended for the sovereign himself, and are so understood. It is a high Eastern compliment: These presents are not worthy of your acceptance; they are only fit for the slaves of your slaves.
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.To-day shall the house of Israel - What a base wretch was Ziba! and how unfounded was this accusation against the peaceable, loyal and innocent Mephibosheth!
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 - This conduct of David was very rash; he spoiled an honorable man to reward a villain, not giving himself time to look into the circumstances of the case. But David was in heavy afflictions, and these sometimes make even a wise man mad. Nothing should be done rashly; he who is in the habit of obeying the first impulse of his passions or feelings, will seldom do a right action, and never keep a clear conscience.
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.David came to Bahurim - This place lay northward of Jerusalem, in the tribe of Benjamin. It is called Almon, Joshua 21:18; and Alemeth, 1 Chronicles 6:60. Bahurim signifies youths, and Almuth youth; so the names are of the same import.
Cursed still as he came - Used imprecations and execrations.
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.
And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:
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.
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.
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?Because the Lord hath said - The particle וכי vechi should be translated for if, not because. For If the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David, who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so!
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.Let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him - No soul of man can suppose that ever God bade one man to curse another, much less that he commanded such a wretch as Shimei to curse such a man as David; but this is a peculiarity of the Hebrew language, which does not always distinguish between permission and commandment. Often the Scripture attributes to God what he only permits to be done; or what in the course of his providence he does not hinder. David, however, considers all this as being permitted of God for his chastisement and humiliation. I cannot withhold from my readers a very elegant poetic paraphrase of this passage, from the pen of the Rev. Charles Wesley, one of the first of Christian poets: -
"Pure from the blood of Saul in vain,
He dares not to the charge reply:
Uriah's doth the charge maintain,
Uriah's doth against him cry!
Let Shimei curse: the rod he bears
For sins which mercy had forgiven:
And in the wrongs of man reveres
The awful righteousness of heaven.
Lord, I adore thy righteous will,
Through every instrument of ill
My Father's goodness see;
Accept the complicated wrong
Of Shimei's hand and Shimei's tongue
As kind rebukes from Thee.
It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.
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.
And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there.
And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.The men of Israel - These words are wanting in the Chaldee, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and Arabic, and in two of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS.
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.
And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?
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.Whom the Lord and this people - choose - Here is an equivocation; Hushai meant in his heart that God and all the people of Israel had chosen David; but he spake so as to make Absalom believe that he spoke of him: for whatever of insincerity may appear in this, Hushai is alone answerable. What he says afterwards may be understood in the same way.
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.
Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do.
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.Go in unto thy father's concubines - It may be remembered that David left ten of them behind to take care of the house, see 2 Samuel 15:16. Ahithophel advised this infernal measure, in order to prevent the possibility of a reconciliation between David and his son; thus was the prophecy to Nathan fulfilled, 2 Samuel 12:11. And this was probably transacted in the very same place where David's eye took the adulterous view of Bath-sheba; see 2 Samuel 11:2.
The wives of the conquered king were always the property of the conqueror; and in possessing these, he appeared to possess the right to the kingdom. Herodotus informs us that Smerdis, having seized on the Persian throne after the death of Cambyses, espoused all the wives of his predecessor, lib. iii., c. 68. But for a son to take his father's wives was the sum of abomination, and was death by the law of God, Leviticus 20:11. This was a sin rarely found, even among the Gentiles.
Every part of the conduct of Absalom shows him to have been a most profligate young man; he was proud, vindictive, adulterous, incestuous, a parricide, and, in fine, reprobate to every good word and work. We still however recollect that David had grievously sinned, and we should also recollect that he suffered grievously for it; and that his humiliation, repentance, and amendment, were most decisive and exemplary. Reader, God is as just as he is merciful.
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.
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.