Second Samuel 19 Commentary
Mephibosheth shows up again. David had wrongly judged him because of what we strongly suspect were lies by Ziba. It is an embarrassing moment for the King. David had held a court session without the accused and passed judgment with the accuser as the only witness. As we can see here, it was a disaster. Mephibosheth was probably a victim of slander by a disloyal Ziba.
In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines. Proverbs 18 verse 17. This is a scandal of life. Ziba would not be the last manipulator; neither is David the last bad judge.
Joab is David’s nephew and fiercely loyal. He is a stone-heart army commander of Israel. But we suspect David has had too much of Joab and demotes him and promotes Amasa. The King is probably still upset about the killing of Absalom by Joab. We cannot wait to see how the handover process will proceed!
Shimei who had insulted the King shows up. David forgives him and rebukes Abishai who wants Shimei to pay with his life for having insulted the King. We admire David for this generosity.
Barzillai is a wealthy man who had helped the fleeing King. David wants to show gratitude by asking Barzillai to come with him to Jerusalem. How long have I to live, Barzillai asks. This is an important question coming from a man who understands time. Like Barzillai, each man is invited to ask the same question. How long have I to live for me to continue wasting time? How long have I to live for me to continue dressing like a sixteen-year-old girl? How long have I to live for me to continue dreaming about vanity?
Barzillai is a very wealthy man and he is eighty years old. He is wealthy probably because he learned to ask this same question as a lad. A man who cannot ask this question in his twenties will have problems understanding that at forty, he doesn’t have time to continue a vanity life. His mindset is that there is always time.
How long have I to live, is a question every sinner must ask. As Jeremiah puts it: “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.” Every man must ask this question with eternity in the picture.
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