Verses 40–43

David came over Jordan attended and assisted only by the men of Judah; but when he had advanced as far as Gilgal, the first stage on this side Jordan, half the people of Israel (that is, of their elders and great men) had come to wait upon him, to kiss his hand, and congratulate him on his return, but found they came too late to witness the solemnity of his first entrance. This put them out of humour, and occasioned a quarrel between them and the men of Judah, which was a damp to the joy of the day, and the beginning of further mischief. Here is, 1. The complaint which the men of Israel brought to the king against the men of Judah (2 Sam. 19:41), that they had performed the ceremony of bringing the king over Jordan, and not given them notice, that they might have come to join in it. This reflected upon them, as if they were not so well affected to the king and his restoration as the men of Judah were, whereas the king himself knew that they had spoken of it before the men of Judah thought of it, 2 Sam. 19:11. It seemed likewise as if they intended to monopolize the king’s favours when he had come back, and to be looked upon as his only friends. See what mischief comes from pride and jealousy. 2. The excuse which the men of Judah made for themselves, 2 Sam. 19:42. (1.) They plead relations to the king: “He is near of kin to us, and therefore in a matter of mere ceremony, as this was, we may claim precedency. It was into our country that he was to be brought, and therefore who so fit as we to bring him?” (2.) They deny the insinuated charge of self-seeking in what they had done: “Have we eaten at all of the king’s cost? No, we have all borne our own charges. Hath he given us any gift? No, we have no design to engross the advantages of his return; you have come time enough to share in them.” Too many that attend princes do so only for what they can get. 3. The men of Israel’s vindication of their charge, 2 Sam. 19:43. They pleaded, “We have ten parts in the king” (Judah having Simeon only, whose lot lay within his, to join with him), “and therefore it is a slight upon us that our advice was not asked about bringing back the king.” See how uncertain the multitude is. They were lately striving against the king, to drive him out; now they are striving about him, which shall honour him most. A good man and a good cause will thus recover their credit and interest, though, for a time, they may seem to have lost them. See what is commonly the origin of strife, nothing so much as impatience of contempt or the least seeming slight. The men of Judah would have done better if they had taken their brethren’s advice and assistance; but, since they did not, why should the men of Israel be so grievously offended? If a good work be done, and well done, let us not be displeased, nor the work disparaged, though we had no hand in it. 4. The scripture takes notice, by way of blame, which of the contending parties managed the cause with most passion: The words of the men of Judah were fiercer than those of the men of Israel. Though we have right and reason on our side, yet, if we express ourselves with fierceness, God takes notice of it and is much displeased with it.