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II Samuel 19

Chapter 19

I really cannot figure out David’s relationship to Joab and Abishai.  I would say that it has a love/hate quality to it except for the fact that I can never discern David’s love (or expressed thankfulness) toward them.  He is afraid of them at times, and their strength (of body, will, and personality) often approaches his own; only in rank are they less than he.  David recognizes their abilities and is, probably, thankful for their services, but he seems constantly frustrated by the fact that they do not understand his heart and mind (19:22).  I believe that David would have liked to be rid of them at times but is only now able to capitalize on the opportunity.  He may also suspect, or know, that Joab killed Absalom.  For Joab’s part, neither he nor Abishai ever do anything treasonous against David’s kingship, although they often do things against his will.  They seem loyal to him, and yet, of course, this loyalty may not be toward his person but rather toward his kingship, through which they enjoy considerable power and influence.   Such a conclusion seems more probable in the case of Joab than in that of Abishai, but even so, it does not appear that Joab wanted the kingship itself.  If he had, he would not have advised David to go out in v. 7.  After all, Joab was the commander of the army and had been the one to kill Absalom.  If he had led the men revolt against David, it seems likely that he would have been in a very good position to seize the throne.  Perhaps Joab did not want the stress of being king, or perhaps he realized that he could not fill the role as well as David did and that he would be better off maintaining his position as commander of the army.  I suppose another possibility is that he had some genuine loyalty toward David.  See also notes on 12:28.

v. 19:  This is interesting behavior.  You might consider it to be simply groveling since Shimei’s life is in jeopardy now that the king has returned, but, in truth, his life is no more in danger at this point than when he taunted the king earlier (16:5-14).  I can only attribute his former boldness to a pent up emotional outburst, which he now regrets (in part because he fears for his life).

v. 24:  This statement, coupled with that of v. 30, indicates that Mephibosheth’s story is the true one.  He is not as concerned for his life or his fields as he is for David’s safety.  He wants the king to realize that his love and loyalty are genuine.

v. 41:  It is interesting to try to figure out how the dividing line developed between “Israel” and “Judah.”  Many people consider this to have been written after the breakup of the kingdom because of the use of these terms, but to me that argument is not very convincing.  It may well have been written later, but I do not think that the use of these terms is very good evidence for that scenario because the phenomenon (the division of the nation into north and south) is already very clearly present as far back as the reign of Ish Bosheth (2:8-9).  One wonders whether or not the kingdom assumed this split identity because of the transference of the kingdom to David.  If so, it is interesting to note (for the sake of irony) that Benjamin, the tribe of Saul, eventually becomes identified with Judah[1], and the northern kingdom becomes more associated with Ephraim.  This is not surprising, given Ephraim’s long history of prominence and influence as recorded in the book of Judges.

While I am on the subject, note the possible parallels of Israel’s/Ephraim’s (v. 20) behavior here with Ephraim’s in Judges 12 and 8.

v. 43:  This greater share they have in David is not due to their being 10 tribes; they say besidesthis fact (the fact that they are 10 tribes) they have a greater share in David.  Therefore, they must be referring to the claim that they were first to speak of bringing David back.


[1] This also happens to Dan, although both of these smaller tribes seem to have maintained their individuality within the larger context of being “Jews” (i.e. being associated with Judah).  For instance, in Romans 11:1, Paul claims to be from the tribe of Benjamin.

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