“And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man: so that they sent this word unto the king, Return thou, and all thy servants” (2 Samuel 19:14). David’s return to Jerusalem after the death of Absalom was the result of a sovereign act of God. The word translated bowed, nâtâh (naw – taw´) means to stretch or spread out (5186). It is a picture of God extending his hand in order to accomplish something.
God does not always intervene in the lives of men, but he does control the outcome of events over time. God’s involvement in the affairs of men is a sign of his power (5186). As the creator of the universe, he does not just watch or oversee what is going on, he engages in activity that keeps the process going until a particular goal is achieved.
David’s return to Jerusalem was a sign that all was well again. The conflict was over. The word translated return, shûwb (shoob) means to turn back. “The basic meaning of the verb is a movement back to the point of departure” (7725). Although it is clear that David was returning to the city he had left sometime earlier, the significance of his return was greater. I believe his return signaled a return or restoration of his life from the point in time when he sinned against Uriah (2 Samuel 11:15).
The death of Absalom marked the end of a chapter in David’s life that had caused conflict in his family and in his country. Even though things had not reach the point of chaos, there was a great disturbance when Absalom attempted to take the throne from his father. The people of Israel lost confidence in David and were unsure of God’s will for their nation (2 Samuel 19:9-10). God’s involvement was necessary to restore order.
It says in 2 Samuel 19:9 that, “all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel.” The word translated strife, dûwn (doon) means to rule (1777). This word is comparable to the words adon and adonay which mean sovereign, Lord, and master (113, 136). If you think of strife in terms of conflict or a fight amongst people, it marks the point when an umpire is needed to settle the dispute. In Israel’s case, it marked the point when God needed to step in and make it clear that David was still his chosen leader of their nation.
Unfortunately, only the tribe of Judah was given the opportunity to welcome David back into the country and the other tribes of Israel did not appreciate being left out. “And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king?” (2 Samuel 19:43). In spite of David’s return to the throne, there was not a complete restoration of peace to the nation of Israel. The damage that was done by Absalom’s revolt left a permanent mark on David’s reputation as king and a crack in the foundation of Israel as a nation. The peace the nation experienced when David was at the peak of his career (2 Samuel 10:19), seemed to be lost when Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel (2 Samuel 15:6).