2 Samuel 19:9-43
9 People from all of the tribes of Israel began to argue with one another. They were saying, “The king saved us from the power of our enemies. He saved us from the power of the Philistines. But now he has left the country because of Absalom. 10 We anointed Absalom to rule over us. But he has died in battle. So why aren’t any of you talking about bringing the king back?” 11 King David sent a message to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. It said, “Speak to the elders of Judah. Tell them I said, ‘News has reached me where I’m staying. People all over Israel are talking about bringing me back to my palace. Why should you be the last to do something about it? 12 You are my relatives. You are my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring me back?’ 13 “Say to Amasa, ‘Aren’t you my own flesh and blood? From now on you will be the commander of my army in place of Joab. If that isn’t true, may God punish me greatly.’” 14 So the hearts of all of the men of Judah were turned toward David. All of them had the same purpose in mind. They sent a message to the king. It said, “We want you to come back. We want all of your men to come back too.” 15 Then the king returned. He went as far as the Jordan River. The men of Judah had come to Gilgal to welcome the king back. They had come to bring him across the Jordan. 16 Shimei, the son of Gera, was among them. Shimei was from Bahurim in the territory of Benjamin. He hurried down to welcome King David back. 17 There were 1,000 people from Benjamin with him. Ziba, the manager of Saul’s house, was with him too. And so were Ziba’s 15 sons and 20 servants. All of them rushed down to the Jordan River. That’s where the king was. 18 They went across at the place where people usually cross it. Then they brought the king’s family back over with them. They were ready to do anything he wanted them to do. Shimei, the son of Gera, had also gone across the Jordan. When he did, he fell down flat with his face toward the ground in front of the king. 19 He said to him, “You are my king and master. Please don’t hold me guilty. Please forgive me for the wrong things I did on the day you left Jerusalem. Please forget all about them. 20 I know I’ve sinned. But today I’ve come down here to welcome you. I’m the first member of Joseph’s whole family to do it.” 21 Then Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for what he did? He called down curses on you. And you are the Lord’s anointed king.” 22 But David replied, “You and Joab are sons of Zeruiah. What do you and I have in common? Abishai, you have now become my enemy! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t I know that today I am king over Israel again?” 23 So the king took an oath and made a promise to Shimei. He said to him, “You aren’t going to be put to death.” 24 Mephibosheth was Saul’s grandson. He had also gone down to welcome the king back. He had not taken care of his feet. He hadn’t trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes. He hadn’t done any of those things from the day the king left Jerusalem until the day he returned safely. 25 He came from Jerusalem to welcome the king. The king asked him, “Mephibosheth, why didn’t you go with me?” 26 He said, “You are my king and master. I’m disabled. So I thought, ‘I’ll have a saddle put on my donkey. I’ll ride on it. Then I can go with the king.’ But my servant Ziba turned against me. 27 He has told you lies about me. King David, you are like an angel of God. So do what pleases you. 28 You should have put all of the members of my grandfather’s family to death, including me. Instead, you always provided what I needed. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to you?” 29 The king said to him, “You don’t have to say anything else. I order you and Ziba to divide up Saul’s fields between you.” 30 Mephibosheth said to the king, “I’m happy that you have arrived home safely. So just let Ziba have everything.” 31 Barzillai had also come down to go across the Jordan River with the king. He wanted to send the king on his way from there. Barzillai was from Rogelim in the land of Gilead. 32 He was a very old man. He was 80 years old. He had given the king everything he needed while the king was staying in Mahanaim. That’s because Barzillai was very wealthy. 33 The king said to Barzillai, “Come across the river with me. Stay with me in Jerusalem. I’ll take good care of you.” 34 But Barzillai said to the king, “I won’t live for many more years. So why should I go up to Jerusalem with you? 35 I’m already 80 years old. I can hardly tell the difference between what is good and what isn’t. I can hardly taste what I eat and drink. I can’t even hear the voices of male and female singers anymore. So why should I add my problems to yours? 36 “I’ll go across the Jordan River with you for a little way. Why should you reward me by taking care of me? 37 Let me go back home. Then I can die in my own town. I can be buried there in the tomb of my father and mother. But let Kimham take my place. Let him go across the river with you. Do for him what pleases you.” 38 The king said, “Kimham will go across with me. I’ll do for him what pleases you. And I’ll do for you anything you want me to do.” 39 So all of the people went across the Jordan River. Then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing. And Barzillai went back home. 40 After the king had gone across the river, he went to Gilgal. Kimham had gone across with him. All of the troops of Judah and half of the troops of Israel had taken the king across. 41 Soon all of the men of Israel were coming to the king. They were saying to him, “Why did the men of Judah take you away from us? They are our relatives. What right did they have to bring you and your family across the Jordan River? What right did they have to bring all of your men over with you?” 42 All of the men of Judah answered the men of Israel. They said, “We did that because the king is our close relative. So why should you be angry about what happened? Have we eaten any of the king’s food? Have we taken anything for ourselves?” 43 Then the men of Israel answered the men of Judah. They said, “We have ten of the 12 tribes in the kingdom. So we have a stronger claim on David than you have. Why then are you acting as if you hate us? Weren’t we the first ones to talk about bringing back our king?” But the men of Judah answered in an even meaner way than the men of Israel.
Oh my goodness so much has been happening for David. Now all the difficulties resolve and David gets to take back his role as King. Talk about complicated – both family and friends. How did he keep it all straight – who was with him and who was against?
The beautiful thing about this story is how David chooses to behave in the
circumstances. Many people turned on him in quite nasty ways while other people just did nothing and sided with David’s enemies. So now that it’s all gone back in David’s favour you might think he would be angry with those who turned on him. Instead he first listens to each one and then chooses to forgive.
The passage also starts with the men of Israel fighting amongst themselves and it then ends with them all having another argument. David is being wise and compassionate in between. You think they might have noticed how David was behaving but no they didn’t. I want to learn how to make choices like David rather than the rest of the people.
Lord thanks again for the pictures you paint with the stories you tell us. How amazing that David could behave well in these circumstances. Thank you for the things you taught him when in earlier times he did not choose to behave well. Help me to remember that it is possible to choose to behave well even when people attack me or treat me badly. I have Your love all of the time forever so if people don’t always love me I can still love them anyway – with your help which is always available.
Written by Therese Manning