2 Samuel 19:9-43: Make us merciful to those who harm us
David now faces the task of rebuilding his administration and including those who had taken Absalom’s side. He sends a message to the elders of Judah, inviting them to ask him back to Jerusalem, thus in essence forgiving them for supporting Absalom. He asks Amasa, Absalom’s general, to command his armies in place of Joab. Perhaps this is to punish Joab for killing Absalom or just a way to insure the loyalty of the troops under Amasa.
Others who opposed David now trip over themselves to show their loyalty to him. Shimei, who cursed David in his exile (2 Samuel 16:5-14), and Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, hurry to meet David as he crosses the Jordan. Shimei falls before king David, admits his sin in cursing him, and asks for mercy. Abishai who had wanted to cut off Shimei’s head earlier while he cursed them, still thinks he deserves death. David, however, maintains his character of mercy to his enemies and spares Shimei.
Then Mephibosheth, who had been earlier accused by Ziba of disloyalty to David (2 Samuel 16:1-4) arrives and explains his actions on the day of David’s exile. Ziba had told David that Mephibosheth had intentionally stayed with Absalom in hopes of gaining the kingdom for himself. Mephibosheth (who is lame) instead blames Ziba for not helping him on his donkey so he could follow David. Ziba betrayed him to David in order to get his property. David (like Solomon later), cannot decide who is telling the truth, so he orders the property equally divided between Mephibosheth and Ziba. Mephibosheth says, “Let him take everything, now that my lord the king has arrived home safely.”
However, not everyone wants to be in David’s court. David invites the always loyal Barzillai to go to Jerusalem with him. Barzillai asks to be excused because of his age, but asks David to take Kimham (his son?) with him. David agrees, crossing the Jordan with the army of Judah and half the army of Israel. David has done such a good job of capturing the hearts and minds of even his former enemies, that soon the men of Israel are arguing with the men of Judah over who is more loyal to David.
God of mercy, make us merciful to those who harm us.
DR. GARY HOLLOWAY
Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway.