Why did Barzillai forego the king’s favor? (2 Samuel 19:34–37) 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.”
2 Samuel 19:34 - 37
ESV - 34 But Barzillai said to the king, "How many years have I still to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35 I am this day eighty years old. Can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?
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Barzillai (first mentioned in 2 Samuel 17:27) was a wealthy eighty-year-old man who had been one of those who continued to support and protect David when David's son Absalom rebelled against him (2 Samuel 15-18) and tried to seize the throne for himself, causing David to flee Jerusalem in fear for his life. After Absalom had been defeated and killed, and David was returning to Jerusalem, Barzillai escorted him to the Jordan River. In gratitude for Barzillai's loyalty, protection, and support, David invited him to come to Jerusalem, where David would personally provide for him. However (as noted in the text cited in the question), Barzillai gratefully and humbly declined to come live at David's royal court, because of his advanced age, saying that he would only be a burden to David, and also because he wanted to die in his hometown, where his own mother and father had died and were entombed. However, Barzillai unselfishly asked that his servant Chimham (also spelled as Kimham) be taken in his place with David to Jerusalem, and David promised to do for Chimham everything that he would have done for Barzillai.
David wanted to reward Barzillai by caring for him at his palace in Jerusalem. Not only did David want to express his thanks, but by having so important a man in Jerusalem, it would strengthen ties with the trans-Jordanic citizens at a time when unity was an important commodity. But Barzillai graciously refused David's offer on the grounds that he was too old. Older people don't like to pull up their roots and relocate, and they want to die at home and be buried with their loved ones. At his age, Barzillai couldn't enjoy the special pleasures of life at court, and he would only be a burden to the king, who had enough to think about.--Wiersbe
Can't but wonder where this name occurred from. It applies today in South America where I have been 3 times and is a very mixed area with a certain amount of violence that would surprise you. The word means "strong and iron" in Hebrew. He was a friend of David in his fight with Absalom, father of Adriel, husband of Merah, Saul's eldest daughter. The name is used in 1st Kings, Ezra, and Neh. Also. That is about all you can know.
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