17 2Samuel 16 David flees Jerusalem

by | Dec 21, 2016 | 01 Podcasts, Samuel

How should you respond when suffering unjustly? In 2 Samuel 16, David was used and abused by two members of Saul’s family:  Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth and Shimei the son of Gera.   Ziba and Shimei are the counterparts to Ittai and Hushai in the last chapter.  As David ascended the Mount of Olives (2 Samuel 15), Ittai & Hushai encouraged him.  As David descends to the wilderness (2 Samuel 16), he is met by Ziba, who uses him and Shimei, who abuses him.


In 2 Samuel 15, the consequences of David’s sin with Bathsheba came back in full force as his son Absalom seeks to take the kingship from him.  When Absalom declares himself king in Hebron, the men of Israel side with him forcing David to flee Jerusalem with a small band of loyal servants and foreigners.  He is encouraged in his journey by the loyalty of Ittai and Hushai.  He allows Ittai to come with him into exile.  But he sends Hushai back to the Jerusalem along with the priests, their sons, and the ark of the Covenant.

David had made a covenant with Jonathan that David would show steadfast love to Jonathan’s household when David became king (1 Samuel 20).  David kept that vow by bringing the only remaining son of Jonathan’s household, Mephibosheth, to Jerusalem, restoring Saul’s property to him and granting him a place of honor at David’s table.  David placed Ziba who had been a servant in Saul’s household in charge of the estate (2 Samuel 9).

David’s encounter with Ziba

1When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, bearing two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a skin of wine. 2And the king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who faint in the wilderness to drink.”  3And the king said, “And where is your master’s son?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father.'”  4 Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” And Ziba said, “I pay homage; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”  – 2 Samuel 16:1-4
  • When David asks in 16:3 “where is your master’s son?”  he is not asking for his geographical location, but he is asking which side is he on?  Ziba’s gifts signify loyalty to David and David is asking whether the gifts are from Mephibosheth or not?
  • Ziba lies to David, a fact revealed to us in 2 Samuel 19.
  • Notice it is only after Ziba obtains the material possessions that he bow in homage (16:4).
  • Ziba takes advantage of David in his troubles to gain wealth.

David’s encounter with Shimei

5When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually.  6And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.  7And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man!  8The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”  9Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.”  10But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?'”  11And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.  12It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today.”  13So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust.  14 And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself. – 2 Sameul 16:5-13
  • Shimei calls David a man of blood three times in verses 16:7-9.
  • Shimei interprets Absalom’s rebellion as punishment for the death of Saul (16:8), and the brutal murders of Abner and Ish-bosheth.  Ironically, though David is guilty of many things, theses deaths are not his fault.
  • Shimei mocks David at his lowest point, much like Jesus was mocked on the cross.
  • David interprets Absalom’s rebellion and Shimei’s cursing as the deserved consequences of his sin.
  • David gives three reasons to let Shimei live: 1) David is currently under judgment (vs 10); 2) if his own son seeks his life, it is not remarkable that the son of an enemy seeks his life (vs 11) and 3) God will repay the wrong (vs 12).
  • David neither proclaims his innocence to Shimei nor admits his guilt.  Essentially David says, I am guilty and I am in God’s hands.

Absalom arrives in Jerusalem

15Now Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.  16And when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”  17And Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?”  18And Hushai said to Absalom, “No, for whom the LORD and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain.  19And again, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? As I have served your father, so I will serve you.”  20Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your counsel. What shall we do?”  21Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.”  22So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof. And Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.  23Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the word of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed, both by David and by Absalom. – 2 Samuel 16:15-23
  • Instead of waiting for Absalom to question his arrival, Hushai presents himself to the traitor king.
  • If his true loyalties are discovered, Hushai faces certain death, most likely not just his own death, but the death of his entire household.
  • Hushai says “long live the king” without naming the king (16:16) and he refers to the King as the “chosen one of YHWH” — which is certainly not Absalom.
  • When Hushai says, “should I not serve the son just as I served the father” (vs 18-19), Absalom hears Hushai proclaiming a new loyalty, but Hushai most likely means he will continue serving the father as he serves the traitor son.
  • Taking the concubines is irrevocable break with his father David.


  • David’s example teaches us to 1) know who you are and 2)know who you serve.
  • David has repeatedly proclaimed that he serves as King at the grace of God.  The kingship is not his to demand, his to take or his right based on God’s promises.  He serves at the Lord’s pleasure.
  • Compare with 1 Peter 2:19-20 and Psalm 143

For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.

Next: 18 2Samuel 17 Hushai’s Warning Saves David

Previous:  16 2Samuel 15 Absalom’s Conspiracy

Series: The Rebellion of Absalom

Also: 2Samuel: David as King

Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.