Joab is furious. How dare the king rob the men of their victory joy, and undermine his own rule by his tears? They risked everything for him, only to end up feeling ashamed and embarrassed, Joab tells David. Now he bosses the king into making an appearance to the people, to save his own kingship (vv.5-7). Joab is right in his assessment, but so wrong in his forcefulness with David, and will soon realise it.
With confusion in the whole country, David needs to act fast. He is effective, and the nation is eager to see him back in Jerusalem (vv.14-15). Two scenes follow, where those turned against him recognise that they need to beg for mercy, or die. Shimei is pardoned, to the fury of Abishai, Joab’s brother (vv.21-23). Mephibosheth finds the same pardon. David believes him to be telling the truth (which is probably the right reading of his explanation, and takes a pragmatic decision on his property (vv.24-30). Finally, brave old Barzillai makes another appearance, turning down the kin’gs favour, but knowing his blessing (vv.34-39).
The chapter ends where all defeated coups end – recriminations, bad blood, bickering (vv.38-43). It could be the end of a badly-led and fraught church meeting, or a clash of church leaders or members, couldn’t it? We are all sinners, afterall, and sinners with different views, values and agendas don’t make for easy company. The marvel is not that the nation falls apart, but that God continues with His people. But He always will. This is what covenant love does. May God gives us the humility both to receive it, and to share it.
A Prayer to Pray
Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me when I value forgiveness so little. Your precious blood was shed so that I can be forgiven, and Your Spirit was poured out so that I can forgive. Teach me these truths. Open my heart to worship You, and to forgive others. Amen.