How fickle the men of Israel were in this passage! One minute they’re having a discussion with the men of Judah about fairness. The men of Israel were feeling like they had been left out or minimalized, and then abruptly turned in the opposite direction, against David.
There’s a _____ in every crowd. You fill in the blank! In this account, it turns out to be a troublemaker. Every good story has a villain. Even fairy tales often have a frightening side. Today our troublemaker is Sheba.
Can you imagine having seen both covered wagons coming across the prairie AND a man on the moon! Talk about a lifetime of experiencing new and sometimes “new-fangled” things. When we respect our elders, we are not only giving honor to the person but to the experiences they lived through. We can see history through their eyes.
For King David, he was especially fond of the elderly man in our story today. Barzillai of Gilead was not only coming now to pay homage and respect to the king, but he had contributed generously to David’s cause when in conflict with Absalom. Such charity is always remembered warmly. David was ready to “adopt” Barzillai and bring him back to Jerusalem to care for him. That was truly an honor to be chosen by the king.
King David continues to be reacquainted with the people of the land. Just a few chapters ago (Chapter 16), we read of encounters with Ziba and Shimei. You may recall that Shimei was previously harassing David as he left Jerusalem, jeering and throwing rocks at him. Now the same man is welcoming David home.
It appears David did not hold a grudge against this man. Shimei had to believe that David would be seeking revenge for his past disrespectful behavior. We see Shimei bowing down, crying out, “My lord the king, please forgive me.”
Do the Israelites really know what they want? It seems like the land is in a bit of an upheaval after the events of recent days. A family feud gets way out of control where it affects an entire nation. That’s a powerful family.
It began as a conflict between brothers over Tamar, a sister to one and half-sister to the other. This is already a bit of a different scene than we would see today. Bloodshed was also punished in a different way than we are used to. Then anger ensues from son to father due to difference of opinion in how a situation should have been handled. It was David’s own daughter, after all. Shouldn’t the king have done something?
Joab doesn’t have much compassion for David’s mournful spirit. In his abrupt fashion, Joab reminds David that business must go on. David was almost rudely plucked from his grieving to get on with being a king. Had he thought how his behavior would be making his army and throng of supporters feel? Minimized to be sure.
Sometimes we need that advisor or friend in our lives to shake us up a bit. Especially when we find ourselves wallowing in a non-beneficial pool of muck. Sometimes we are comfortable in our agony. Sometimes we just want to shut out the world and have some quiet time.