David and Ziba

Chapter 16

David and Ziba

v1 David had just passed the top of the hill. Ziba, who was Mephibosheth’s servant, met David. Ziba had a row of *donkeys. There were saddles on the *donkeys. The *donkeys carried 200 loaves of bread and 100 round packs of raisins (a type of dried fruit). They also had 100 packs of figs (fruit) and a leather bag full of wine.

v2 The king said to Ziba, ‘Why have you brought these here?’

Ziba answered, ‘Your family can ride on the *donkeys. The men can eat the bread and the fruit. People may become tired in the desert. So they can drink the wine and feel better.’

v3 Then the king asked, ‘Where is Mephibosheth, the grandson of your master Saul?’

Ziba said, ‘He is staying in Jerusalem. He thinks, “Today the *Israelites will return my grandfather’s *kingdom to me.” ’

v4 Then the king said to Ziba, ‘I now give to you everything that belonged to Mephibosheth.’

Ziba said, ‘I am your servant. I hope that I will always please you, my master and king.’

At the beginning of 1 Samuel, you can read about how David became king. At first, he was the king over only the south of *Israel. Most people in the north of *Israel were still loyal to Saul’s family. Then they became loyal to David. But Absalom had become the king. David did not know whether Saul’s family would remain loyal to him. Chapter 9 tells the account of David and Mephibosheth.

Ziba looked after all Mephibosheth’s land (9:7-10). Ziba brought David a generous gift. The food was suitable for people who were travelling. But David suspected Ziba’s intention. David probably did not know whom he could trust at this time. Ziba said that Mephibosheth wanted to become king. David believed Ziba. David had given all Saul’s land to Mephibosheth in 9:7. Now David gave it to Ziba instead as a reward. But in 19:24-30, Mephibosheth said that he had always been loyal to David. And Mephibosheth said that Ziba had lied. Mephibosheth had never tried to become the king in the past. So, Ziba’s story was probably not true.

David and Shimei

v5 King David approached the village called Bahurim. A man from Saul’s family came out from the village. His name was Shimei, the son of Gera. He was insulting David as he came out. v6 Then Shimei threw stones at David and at all his officials. But all the soldiers and all David’s strong men gathered round David.

v7 Shimei insulted David as he said, ‘Go away. Go away. You are a murderer and a wicked man! v8 The *Lord is punishing you because you killed so many people in Saul’s family. You became the king instead of Saul. Now the *Lord has given your *kingdom to your son Absalom. This has ruined you. You are a murderer.’

v9 Then Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, spoke to the king. Abishai said, ‘This man is as bad as a dead dog. He should not insult my master the king. Let me go over there and cut his head off.’

v10 But the king said, ‘Sons of Zeruiah, this is not your affair. He may be insulting me because the *Lord told him to. If so, nobody should ask him why he does it.’

v11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his officials, ‘My own son is trying to kill me. This man comes from the *tribe of Benjamin. He has even more reasons to kill me. Leave him alone. Let him insult me because the *Lord has told him to. v12 Perhaps the *Lord will see that I am very unhappy. He may give me something good today instead of these insults.’

v13 So David and his men continued along the road. But Shimei went along the hill opposite David. Shimei continued to insult David. Shimei also continued to throw stones and earth at him. v14 At last, the king and everyone with him arrived (at the river Jordan). They were very tired. So, they stopped there and they had a rest.

Bahurim was east of the *Mount of *Olives. Shimei was a close relative of Saul. Shimei did not like David. So, Shimei insulted David and swore at him. Shimei accused David of wicked things that were not true. David had always tried to be kind to Saul and his family. Verse 8 may refer to the event in chapter 2. David’s men, but not David, had killed men from Saul’s family. Shimei also tried to hurt David. Shimei was angry because David had become the king instead of Saul and his family. Shimei said that the *Lord was punishing David. God’s law said that people should not insult their leader (Exodus 22:28). David’s soldiers protected him from this attack. Shimei was a coward. He only insulted David because David was running away from Absalom.

Abishai was Joab’s brother. Abishai was angry with Shimei. Abishai wanted to act immediately. (He had behaved like that in 1 Samuel 26:8.) He insulted Shimei when he called him a ‘dead dog’. That meant that he had no value. But David trusted the *Lord. David knew that he had murdered Uriah. So David thought that perhaps the *Lord was speaking by Shimei. However, David hoped that the *Lord would be kind to him. All this trouble made David and the people tired. They probably arrived at the place that David mentioned in 15:28. The river Jordan was about 32 kilometres (20 miles) east of Jerusalem.

Ahithophel advises Absalom

v15 Meanwhile, Absalom and all the men of *Israel had gone to Jerusalem. Ahithophel was with them. v16 Now Hushai the *Arkite was David’s friend. Hushai went to Absalom and said, ‘I hope that the king will live for a long time. I hope that the king will live for a long time.’

v17 Absalom said, ‘Why are you not being loyal to your friend? Why did you not go with him?’

v18 Hushai said to Absalom, ‘I will stay with the man whom the *Lord has chosen. These people and all the people of *Israel have chosen him. v19 In the past I served your father. So now, I should serve his son. I will serve you in the same way that I served your father.’

v20 Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘I want your advice. Tell us what we should do.’

v21 Ahithophel said, ‘Your father left behind some of his *concubines. They are looking after his palace. Go and have sex with them. Then all the people of *Israel will know that your father is your enemy. And all the people will support you more.’

v22 So they put up a tent for Absalom on the roof of the palace. Everyone could see it. Then Absalom went and had sex with his father’s *concubines.

v23 In those days, people thought that Ahithophel was very wise. In fact, his advice seemed like the wisdom that a person receives from God. Absalom trusted Ahithophel’s advice as David had done.

The account now goes back to Absalom. Absalom arrived in Jerusalem with Ahithophel. Ahithophel used to advise David. But now he was loyal to Absalom. However, Hushai was still David’s friend. Hushai pretended that he was loyal to Absalom. In verse 16, Hushai referred to ‘the king’, but he did not say ‘King Absalom’. Hushai said that he would serve the king that the *Lord chose. Absalom believed that he was the king. But Absalom did not realise that Hushai’s answers really referred to King David. ‘*Arkite’ refers to the family that Hushai belonged to. He was probably not an *Israelite.

God’s law said that a man should not have sex with his father’s wives or *concubines (Leviticus 18:7-8). In those days, a new king usually took the previous king’s wives and *concubines as his own (2 Samuel 12:8). This showed that the new king had all the royal power. This would also ruin the relationship between David and Absalom. So, Absalom did what Ahithophel said. In 12:11-12, Nathan had spoken God’s words to David. Here, the things that God had told Nathan actually happened.