Return of the King

II Samuel 19-20

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
March 2022

We have been studying the life of David.  Most people know the story about David killing Goliath and committing adultery with Bathsheba.  This is a chapter that most Christians are not as familiar with.  David reigned as king, but he faced a rebellion in the country, and it was led by his own son.

Absalom not only wanted to take his job, he wanted to kill him.  He was anointed king and he was popular.  David fled the palace.  Absalom moved in and began sleeping with David’s wives. The two sides finally came together and fought in a civil war.

Absalom was the favorite to win.  He had the advantages.  He had more troops.  He had all the momentum

David had the more seasoned fighters.  He had the better strategy.  He had God on his side.  The underdog won.  David wins the war but loses his son in the process.

In these chapters, we see what happened AFTER the war.  We see David the suffering king, David the confronted king and David the returning king.

The Suffering King

As the chapter begins, David is suffering.  He is depressed.  David just lost his son.  When he got the news, he was shaken (II Samuel 18:33) He was devastated.  He was distraught.  He was grieving.  He was mourning. Everyone knew what was going on.  The troops heard about it (II Samuel 19:2).

David turned victory into defeat.  Have you ever done that?  Instead of celebrating, he is weeping.  He is wailing like he lost the battle, rather than won it.  If you lose a loved one, it is normal to grieve but grief can become excessive.  David was so depressed that he was unable to do his job.

God can turn mourning into dancing.  You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness (Psalm 31:11 ESV).  Sometimes we turn dancing into mourning, like David did.

The Confronted King

Before David could be brought back as king until he was first brought back to his senses.  It took a rough military general to accomplish this.  Joab had to come and rebuke him to his face.

Sometimes we get like that.  We are so overcome with something that we can’t see straight.  It takes another person who is objective who can come in and give us clear advice.  Sometimes we have to be the one to give the advice or the rebuke to someone.

5 Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have HUMILIATED all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. 6 You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you.

I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7 Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.” (II Samuel 19:4-7 NIV)

Joab confronts David.  He rebukes him.  His soldiers risked their lives for David, and he did not thank them or congratulate them.  He was ungrateful.  He told him that his commanders and soldiers meant nothing to him.

He told him that he cared more for his enemies than for his friends. He said that “You love those who hate you and hate those who love you” (II Samuel 19:6 NIV)

Jesus said that we are supposed to love our enemies and those who hate us, but He did not say that we are to hate our friends.  He never said to stab your friends in the back and hurt those who are trying to help you.

What Joab said is very profound.  Why do you love those who hate you and hate those who love you?  Some in the political left do exactly that.

They hate their own country.  They hate soldiers who fight for their freedom.  They hate the police who risk their life to protect them, and they love América’s enemies.  They love dictators and all over the world who hate America.

Joab told David what would happen if he continued acting this way.  He said, “if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall” (II Samuel 19:7 NIV). He also told him how to fix the problem.  It was an easy solution.  The solution was to go out and encourage his men.

Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.” (II Samuel 19:7 NIV).

We will spend some more time on this next time we meet, as we do another character study.  We are going to look at the character of Joab in depth next week.

That brings us to the third and main part of II Samuel 19.  After seeing the suffering king and the confronted king, we now see the returning king.

The Returning King

In II Samuel 19, King David is brought back and restored.  He comes back to Jerusalem.  He has a homecoming.  People welcome him back.  Why is that important to us?  David is a type of Jesus.  He is a picture of Jesus.  The rejected king returns and sits back on the throne.

Jesus is our king.  He was also rejected by his own people.  Like David, people mocked him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him (John 1:11 NIV).  They said, “We will not have this man rule over us” (Luke 19:14 KJV).

One day, our King will return.  The rejected King will come back.  He will return to earth. He will return to Jerusalem. He will defeat his enemies in battle, like David did.  The saints will welcome him back.  He will be restored to His throne.

He will sit on the throne of David.  He will also face one final rebellion against his rule, just like King David faced after he was restored to his throne.  In Revelation 20, there will be one final rebellion on earth and against Jesus and that rebellion will be crushed

Now Jesus’ return will be a little different than King David’s return.  Jesus’ return will be a little different than David’s return.  It will be a little more glorious than David’s was.

Jesus will come on the clouds of heaven with all the angels.  David had to be told what to do by his general.  He had to be rebuked.  No one will need to correct Jesus or make him do the right thing when He returns.  His return will be permanent, not temporary.

After the civil war was over, Absalom was defeated.  He was killed.  David won.  You would expect David to go back home to the palace and continue to reign as king.  The war is over.  The enemies were defeated.  The rebellion was crushed but that is NOT what happened.  Why?

Just because Absalom was dead did not make David king again.  He is living on the other side of the Jordan.  He is not living in Jerusalem and is not going back any time soon.  He is waiting for something.

David lost his kingship.  He was waiting for an invitation to be reinstated as king. He had to be brought back to Jerusalem.  He had to be asked to come back.

David did NOT use force to get back on the throne. He did NOT use his troops to get back on the throne.  Jesus will return with the armies of heaven and with a sword in his mouth but what David did here is a picture of what Jesus does today.

Jesus does not force Himself on people, like Putin does by invading a sovereign country, against its will.  He is not a dictator.  He is not a tyrant.  He will not come into people’s hearts unless he is invited.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20 NIV)

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life (Revelation 22:17 NIV).  They are invited to come.  They are not forced to come against their will.

Political Crisis

After the war was over, the nation had a big problem.  They kicked David out of the palace, crowned Absalom as king and now Absalom is dead, and they do not have a leader.  They have no king.  David was gone.  He was on the other side of the Jordan.  If they wanted him, someone would have to go get him and bring him back.

The nation did something that all of us have done at one time or another.   They took the rightful king off the throne and chose another king to replace him.  Have you ever kicked off the rightful king and replaced him with an imposter?

Have you ever chosen an imposter king?  Have you ever chosen a replacement king?  Have you ever kicked the king off the throne and replaced him with something that looks really good?[1]  Absalom was attractive.  He had some appeal.  Absalom was attractive from his head to the soles of his feet.

Have we ever allowed an Absalom to reign on the throne of our life?  The Jews chose an imposter king named Absalom and now he is dead.  Now the nation does not have a king.  There is no leader.  It is leaderless.  They have a political crisis.

You would expect Judah to be the first to ask David to come back to be king but instead it was the ten northern tribes that began asking if David should return and David heard about it.

9 Throughout the tribes of Israel, all the people were arguing among themselves, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies; he is the one who rescued us from the hand of the Philistines. But now he has fled the country to escape from Absalom; 10 and Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, has died in battle. So why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?”

11 King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests: “Ask the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his palace, since what is being said throughout Israel has reached the king at his quarters? 12 You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring back the king?’ 13 And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my own flesh and blood? May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you are not the commander of my army for life in place of Joab.’”

14 He won over the hearts of the men of Judah so that they were all of one mind. They sent word to the king, “Return, you and all your men.” 15 Then the king returned and went as far as the Jordan. (II Samuel 19:9-14 NIV)

Responses to the Returning King

The king returns and in II Samuel 19-20 we see different responses to the return of the king by four different people.  They are Shimei (shih-MAY), Mephibosheth, Barzillai (Bar-ZIL-ai) and Sheba.

We want to look at each one of these responses. Many will have these same responses to the return of King Jesus.  It raises the question, how will you meet the king?

1) The Hypocrite Response

The first response is the hypocritical response.  It was the response of Shimei (II Samuel 19:16-23).

16 Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 With him were a thousand Benjamites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul’s household, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was. 18 They crossed at the ford to take the king’s household over and to do whatever he wished.

When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king 19 and said to him, “May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20 For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first from the tribes of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.” (II Samuel 19:16-23 NIV)

Who was Shimei?  What do we know about him? He was the man who came from the same tribe as King Saul.  He was a Benjamite.

He encountered David when he was leaving Jerusalem when he was on the run.  He criticized David.  He mocked him.  He cursed at him.  He threw things at him.  He called David a murderer and said that God was finally judging him for his crimes.  He was the man who was angry, hateful and ugly.

Now he falls prostrate before David, acknowledges that he has sinned and asks David not to hold against him the dumb things that he said.  Now, he acts like he is David’s most loyal follower.  The question is, did he really repent?  Some think that he did, but it seems fairly clear that this was not genuine.

He is repenting ONLY out of self-interest.  He does not want to get killed.  He is not repenting because he is genuinely sorry for what he did.  He still does not like David but the man he supported is now dead.

He looks like he is repentant.  He falls down before David.  He says the right words.  He says that he had sinned.  He says that he was sorry.  David forgives him but he is not genuinely sorry.  This is an example of false repentance.

Shimei brings a thousand men from Benjamin with him, along with fifteen sons and twenty servants.  He brings back up with him.  That was to pressure David and perhaps to intimidate him.  This was insincere, fake, phony repentance.  It was self-serving.

There are many hypocrites today.  There are many in churches all throughout the country.  They claim to love Jesus on Sunday but do not demonstrate that love the other six days of the week.  Some are part of false religions but when Jesus returns, they will be the first to say that they follow Him.       Jesus said that all the hypocrites would end up in Hell.

44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the HYPOCRITES, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:44-51 NIV)

2) The Humble Response

The second response is the humble response.  It is the broken response.  It is the response of Mephibosheth (II Samuel 19:24-30).

Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely. 25 When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?”

26 He said, “My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, ‘I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so I can go with the king.’ But Ziba my servant betrayed me. 27 And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever you wish. 28 All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?”

29 The king said to him, “Why say more? I order you and Ziba to divide the land.” 30 Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him take everything, now that my lord the king has returned home safely.”

Shimei pretended to be broken.  He fell down before David, but it was all an act.  Mephibosheth represents someone who is completely humble.  He demonstrates it by his actions.

Who was Mephibosheth?  He was King Saul’s grandson.  He was Jonathon’s son.  Jonathan was David’s best friend.  He was also crippled.  He was disabled.  He was completely dependent on others.

David took him in and let him live in the palace.  He gave him land.  Ziba had accused him of being a traitor and wanting to take over the throne after David left and David partly believed him

David came back into Jerusalem and saw Mephibosheth.  He asked him why he did not come with him.  He said because he was lame.  He said that he was planning on visiting him, but Ziba betrayed him.  Apparently, he left without him and when he met David, he slandered Mephibosheth.

How do we know that Mephibosheth did repent?  He showed genuine signs of mourning in his clothing, his beard and his feet.  He did not see David to get anything out of him.  He completely submitted to his authority. The only thing he cared about was David returning back as king.

When Jesus returns, some will be proud, and some will be completely humble. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ (Matthew 25:37-38 NIV).

3) The Faithful Response

The third response is the faithful response.  It was the response of Barzillai (II Samuel 19:31-40)

31 Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. 32 Now Barzillai was very old, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33 The king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you.”

34 But Barzillai answered the king, “How many more years will I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? 35 I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is enjoyable and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of male and female singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? 

36 Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? 37 Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever you wish.”

38 The king said, “Kimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever you wish. And anything you desire from me I will do for you.” 39 So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and bid him farewell, and Barzillai returned to his home.

Who was Barzillai?  He was an old man.  He was a wealthy man.  He was not just wealthy.  He was VERY wealthy (II Samuel 19:32).  God had blessed him, and he gave back to people.  He did not spend all his money on himself.

He supported David financially when he needed help.  He represents a godly, mature believer.  He is out serving even as an old man.

David wants to reward him.  He wants him to come to Jerusalem with him, but Barzillai turns him down.  He says that he is too old.  He sends someone else, a servant named Kimham.  He is always thinking of other people.

When Jesus returns, he will encounter some mature Christians who have served him for years.  He will encounter people who are giving.  He will encounter people who think of the needs of others.

4) The violent response

The fourth reaction to the coming of the king was the violent response.  It was the militant response.  It was the response of Sheba (II Samuel 20:1-22).  When Absalom’s rebellion did not work, Sheba tried a second time to overthrow King David.  He was another Benjamite, like Shimei. He got some people to follow him.

He sounded the trumpet and shouted, “We have no share in David, no part in Jesse’s son! Every man to his tent, Israel!” 2 So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem. (II Samuel 20:1-2 NIV)

After David came back to Jerusalem, he did two things.  First, he took care of the concubines and protected them.  Second, he ordered Amasa to take care of the rebellion that was taking place.  Amasa did not get the job done, so Joab took care of and killed Amasa in the process.

The military surrounded the city where Sheba was hiding.  There was no way for food or water to get in.  A woman asked him why they were there.

Joab said that Sheba has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.” (II Samuel 20:21 NIV).  The woman told the people and the people cut his head off and threw it over the wall.

Why is this important?  When King Jesus returns, He will also receive a violent response from some.  If you don’t believe me, read Revelations 19.  Some will try to fight him, and it will be instant death.  Jesus will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He will return with a sword in His mouth. The Second Coming will be bloody and gory.


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