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Deeper Commentary

2Sa 16:1 When David was a little past the top, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, and on them two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred clusters of raisins, one hundred summer fruits and a skin of wine-
As noted on 2 Sam. 15, the circumstances David faced repeated incidents throughout his earlier life, or the essence of them. He had earlier unexpectedly encountered a gift of 200 loves of bread coming towards him in the wilderness, from Abigail (1 Sam. 25:18). She may well have been with him at this time too. Raisins and wine were also part of the present Abigail had sent him. The situations were clearly controlled by God. David was being comforted, as we are by perceiving these things, that situations never spin totally out of Divine control. Even in our lowest moments there are evidences that somehow God is involved, even if we cannot attach meaning to event.

2Sa 16:2 The king said to Ziba, What do you mean by these? Ziba said, The donkeys are 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 are faint in the wilderness may drink-
We will learn from 2 Sam. 19:26,27  that Ziba had deceived Mephibosheth, who had desperately wanted to come to support David. It could be that Ziba was going over to Absalom's side, and the present was intended for him; whilst he abandonned his master Mephibosheth, who wanted to support David. But encountering David and his sizeable party on the road, Ziba changed his position and claimed the gift was for David, and Mephibosheth was aiming to become king.

Psalm 23:5 "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" refers to this time. Shimei and other "enemies" were aware of his path. The reference is to the feasts prepared for him in the desert by Ziba (2 Sam. 16:2) and Barzillai (2 Sam. 17:27-29). But the phrase "prepare a table" is that used of the preparation of the table of shewbread (Ex. 40:4), and it is used in a religious sense in Is. 65:11; Ez. 23:41. Perhaps David held some kind of religious ceremony whilst on the run, the equivalent to our breaking of bread meeting. And his experience of the Lord's table strengthened him with great encouragement, as we also can experience.


2Sa 16:3 The king said, Where is your master’s son? Ziba said to the king, Behold, he is staying in Jerusalem; for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will restore me the kingdom of my father’-
A bit of reflection would have indicated the untruth of this; because clearly Absalom was obsessed with becoming king, and would not want to restore the house of Saul after all they had done to the house of David. Further, Mephibosheth was from Benjamin, and it was the people of Judah, especially those in Hebron, who wanted Absalom to rule over them. It was he and not the reclusive cripple Mephibosheth who had stolen the hearts of Israel.

2Sa 16:4 Then the king said to Ziba, Behold, all that pertains to Mephibosheth is yours. Ziba said, I do obeisance. Let me find grace in your sight, my lord, O king-
Although the news was fake, David didn't know that at the time. It would have seemed that all the grace he had shown to the house of Saul was in vain, and had not resulted in any loyalty but rather in an ill fated, opportunistic attempt to grab power for himself. This fake news was surely used by God to provoke in David a collapse mentality, which was intended to make him cast himself further upon God's grace alone. 

2Sa 16:5 When king David came to Bahurim, behold, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera. He came out and cursed continually as he came-
Psalm 7 is relevant to this cursing. Ps. 7:1 describes it as "A meditation by David, which he sang to Yahweh, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite". But Cush may be another name for Shimei; or perhaps "the black one of Benjamin" may be another term for Saul. But much in the Psalm is so appropriate to Shimei's cursing of David as he fled from Absalom. But it could equally refer to some supporter of Saul the Benjamite during David's wilderness years. Most likely it could be that a Psalm composed in the wilderness years was later rewritten by David with reference to Shimei's abuse of him.  

Psalm 109:17 also seems to reference Shimei: "Yes, he loved cursing, and it came to him. He didn’t delight in blessing, and so it was far from him". This points towards Shimei, whose cursing of David at the time of Absalom's rebellion clearly hurt David very deeply. At the time, David forgave him. But he didn't maintain that intensity of forgiveness, because on his deathbed he asks Solomon to ensure Shimei even as an old man is slain because of it. His statement here that the cursing "came to him" may be a 'future perfect', stating the future as if it has already happened, as a way of stating intention. And David expressed this intention to Solomon to ensure Shimei was cursed with death for his cursing. We too struggle to maintain levels of forgiveness we grant to people, and we perceive how God's "frank" and permanent forgiveness (Lk. 7:42) is of an altogether higher quality and nature than our forgiveness.


2Sa 16:6 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-
Death by stoning was the punishment for adultery, and it was hard for David to argue that this was inappropriate. He had been saved from that by grace, but now it seemed that God was demanding that the death penalty be carried out. David would have been beating himself up that he had not responded to the grace shown him as he ought to have done.

David was marching through a valley with steep sides, from the top of which Shimei could cast stones. Psalm 23 refers to this march, especially Psalm 23:4 "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death".  There was naturally the fear of an ambush, for David's location was thereby clearly known to his enemies. Yet "I will fear no evil, for You are with me". David's sense that 'God is with me' is that of 'Emmanuel', God with us, the great comfort to the exiles in Isaiah's restoration prophecies. He felt the essence of the result of the yet future work of the Lord Jesus.

2Sa 16:7 Shimei said when he cursed, Be gone, be gone, you man of blood, and base fellow!-
Shimei called David a "bloodthirsty man" (:7,8 s.w.). And the same words are used by God about David (1 Chron. 28:3). So we can wonder whether David was too quick in Ps. 5:6 to assume that the 'man of blood' who was hated by God and was of course not him.

2Sa 16:8 Yahweh has returned on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned! Yahweh has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son! Behold, you are caught by your own sinfulness, because you are a man of blood!-
It was the blood of Uriah and the soldiers killed alongside him which was being punished. But Shimei says that David had shed the blood of the house of Saul. This was all a cruel mixture of truth and error. David would likely have noted the reference to the house of Saul, and wrongly corroborated it with Ziba's claim that in fact Absalom was planning to be co-regent along with Mephibosheth.

2Sa 16:9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?-
This was how David had felt about himself (1 Sam. 24:14 cp. 2 Sam. 9:8; 16:9). So his humility precluded him from having Abishai's attitude.

Please let me go over and take off his head-
The Philistines in 1 Sam. 29:4 recalled how David had carried the head of Goliath to Saul (1 Sam. 17:57). To carry the heads of a king's enemies was a way to get the king's favour, as in Jud. 7:25; 2 Sam. 4:8; 16:9; 20:21; 2 Kings 10:6-8. Again we see the inspired, historical record has consistency. It would have required a clever editor to insert this theme of beheading to curry a leader's favour throughout the entire Biblical record. But the histories were clearly written at different times; a later hand would not have thought of all these realistic touches to sprinkle so consistently throughout it. The internal harmony of the Bible is to me the greatest indication that it is what it claims to be, the Divinely inspired word of God, evidencing His editing throughout. 

2Sa 16:10 The king said, What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? Because he curses, and because Yahweh has said to him, ‘Curse David’, who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’-
David assumes that “the Lord hath said unto [Shimei], Curse David”; but later he orders Solomon to punish Shimei for doing this. So it seems that David had a way of assuming God had spoken when it was more his own assumption. It is another example of David's tendency to wildly over interpret, which led him to a mistaken obsession about building the temple and assuming Solomon to be his Messianic seed.

Or we could read this as an example of where Yahweh confirms an evil man in his evil way, telling him to do what he wants to do; just as the evil spirit from Yahweh confirmed Saul in his downwards path.

2Sa 16:11 David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, who came forth from my bowels, seeks my life. How much more this Benjamite, now? Leave him alone, and let him curse; for Yahweh has invited him-
David graciously overlooked Shimei's cursing, promising him that he would not die because of it (2 Sam. 16:10,11; 19:23). But he didn't keep up that level of grace to the end: he later asked Solomon to ensure that Shimei  was killed for that incident (1 Kings 2:8,9). And one wonders whether it was Shimei’s words which so broke David’s heart that he later wrote: “Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man…as he loved cursing, so let it come unto him; as he delighted not in blessing, so may it be far from him. He clothed himself also with cursing as with a garment…” (Ps. 109:16-18).

2Sa 16:12 It may be that Yahweh will look on the wrong done to me, and that Yahweh will repay me good for the cursing of me today-
Hannah's request in 1 Sam. 1:11 that God look upon her affliction and answer it was heard, and she became an inspiration to her descendant David; who often makes the same request, unashamed to be inspired by the example of a woman (s.w. 2 Sam. 16:12; Ps. 9:13; 25:18 and so often in the Psalms).

2Sa 16:13 So David and his men went by the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him, and cursed as he went, threw stones at him, and threw dust-
The language of cursing and dust recalls Gen. 3:19. That David's sin is indeed an epitome of all our sins is proved by the way in which the record of it is framed in the language of the fall. Adam is presented as David. Gen. 2:8,17 = 2 Sam. 12:5; Gen. 2:17 = 2 Sam. 12:9; Gen. 6:2 = 2 Sam. 12:9; Gen. 3:17 = 2 Sam. 12:10; Gen. 3:7 = 2 Sam. 12:11; Gen. 3:8 = 2 Sam. 11:24; 12:12; Gen. 3:21 = 2 Sam. 12:13; Gen. 3:17 = 2 Sam. 16:11; Gen. 3:19 = 2 Sam. 16:13. It should also be noted that David/Bathsheba language is used to describe Israel's spiritually fallen state (e.g. Ps. 38:7=Is. 1:6; Ps. 51:7=Is. 1:18; Ps. 65:2=Is. 40:15). David recognized this in Ps. 51:17, where he likens his own state to that of Zion, which also needed to be revived by God's mercy. As David's sin is likened to the killing of a lamb (2 Sam. 12:4), so the Jews killed Jesus. The troubles which therefore came upon his kingdom have certain similarities with the events of AD67-70.   They were also repeated in the Nazi Holocaust, and will yet be. Israel are yet to fully repent after the pattern of David.

2Sa 16:14 The king, and all the people who were with him, became weary; and he refreshed himself there-
The day David fled Jerusalem is recorded in more detail than any day in Biblical history. The tragedy of a good man having to suffer for his sins is thereby underlined to us.

2Sa 16:15 Absalom, and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him-
Absalom entered Jerusalem the day David fled (2 Sam. 15:37; 17:1). Ahithophel's advice to attack David immediately was undoubtedly the best advice.

2Sa 16:16 It happened, when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, had come to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, Long live the king! Long live the king!-
Hushai doesn't define which king he has in mind. This raises the question as to whether lying is always wrong, necessarily. Rahab's lies and those of the Hebrew midwives at the exodus are rewarded as acts of faith. But this is of course a slippery slope. But such open questions are left for our reflection, underlining that spiritual life cannot be run by laws but by principles. See on 2 Sam. 17:20.

2Sa 16:17 Absalom said to Hushai, Is this your kindness to your friend? Why didn’t you go with your friend?-
There is a kind of parallel here with David probing Ittai as to whether he wasn't in fact an agent of Absalom (2 Sam. 15:19).

2Sa 16:18 Hushai said to Absalom, No; but whoever Yahweh and this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his will I be, and with him I will stay-
This again (as noted on :16) is phrased ambiguously; for Hushai believed that Yahweh and the true Israel of God had chosen David and not Absalom.

2Sa 16:19 Again, whom should I serve? Shouldn’t I serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so will I be in your presence-
Hushai accepts that David has indeed lost the throne, for the time being.

2Sa 16:20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, Give your counsel what we shall do-
hithophel's counsel directly leads to the fulfilment of Nathan's prophecy that a usurper would sleep with David's wives. Perhaps he based his counsel about this upon Nathan's words. But probably those words of Nathan had been privately stated to David and not generally known. So we reflect how Ahithophel's advice and Absalom's acceptance of it was all of their own genuine freewill. And yet it was to fulfil God's word of punishment.

2Sa 16:21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, Go in to your father’s concubines, that he has left to keep the house. Then all Israel will hear that you are abhorred by your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strong-
Ahithophel assumed that such behaviour would make David hate Absalom. But he had not factored in David's deep spirituality and humility. For this did not make David hate Absalom, and at his death, David was heartbroken, despite having been reestablished as king. Further, I suggested on 2 Sam. 15:16 that David left his concubines in Jerusalem fully aware of what would happen according to Nathan's prophecy. But he did not seek to stop that prophecy coming true; he humbled himself to accept his sin and the judgment pronounced for it.

2Sa 16:22 So they spread Absalom a tent on the top of the house; and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel-
Walking upon the roof of his house connects with several passages which associate the roof top with a place of idolatry: 2 Kings 23:12; Jer. 19:13; 32:29; Zeph. 1:5. It may be that David regularly worshipped the idol of Bathsheba in his mind, upon the bed which he had on the house top. David's sin with Bathsheba is therefore not such a momentary slip. Significantly, it was in that very place where Absalom later lay with his wives in retribution for what he had done (2 Sam. 16:22). From this we could infer that David lay with Bathsheba in that same place on the roof top. This is significant insofar as it shows how exactly the thought leads to the action. David's thoughts in that spot were translated into that very action, in precisely the same physical location.

2Sa 16:23 The counsel of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if a man inquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom
Ahithophel was perhaps indeed inspired at times to speak God's words as a prophet. But this didn't mean therefore that all he said was true. The fact Absalom will now prefer Hushai's advice over Ahithophel's shows how Absalom didn't respect God's word. He ignored the words of the man accepted as an inspired prophet, and instead followed advice which was designed to appeal to his pride.