[From July 11, 2013]
"When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi... Machir... and Barzillai... brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat barley, meal, parched grain, beans & lentils, honey & curds, sheep & cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat..."
(2 Samuel 17:27-29)
King David is on the run. His son (Absalom) wants his throne (and his head!). David has chosen to flee rather than fight his own flesh and blood. He and his group of supporters arrive in Mahanaim - just East of the Jordan. While there, 3 men bring them supplies (see the list above). Scripture tells us they figured David & Co. were "hungry, weary, and thirsty in the wilderness" (v.29).
So I figured I'd comment on the generosity & hospitality of these 3 people - as a reminder to us all. Then I started reading the notes in my study Bible as to who they were. This is what I discovered, upon a little "digging"...
SHOBI... "son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Amonites." Shobi's Dad, Nahash, was a brutal Amorite King. He'd gouge out the right eye of all the people he vanquished in war. In fact, according to 1 Samuel 10, he was the reason Saul became king of Israel! But when David took over as king, tensions must've changed. 2 Sam. 10 says that David & Nahash had a treaty together. When Nahash died, David offered to extend that peace to Hanun, his son. Hanun refused... sought to fight David... and was soundly defeated. So now, Shobi, his brother, seems to be both honoring his father's treaty with David, and making amends for his brother's rude insult. And being of royal lineage, Shobi would have had ample resources to share!
MACHIR... "son of Ammiel from Lo-debar." In 2 Samuel 9, David seeks to honor the pledge he made to Saul's son, Jonathan, to care for his family after his death. David discovers one of Jonathan's sons is still alive - a crippled young man. Though from King Saul's lineage, his physical deformity made him unable to go to war (and thus unsuitable to be king). David learned that "Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar" was caring for (or at least providing hospitality for) Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son. David subsequently offered to provide for him. I'm guessing Machir loved Mephibosheth and was grateful for all the kindness David showed him... and thus wanted to repay him at his time of need.
BARZILLAI... "the Gileadite from Rogelim." Though we know nothing about him prior to this passage, in 2 Samuel 19 we learn that he was "a very wealthy man" (v.32). He was also much older. And obviously generous. David also loved him and offered to care for him back in Jerusalem (when his throne was restored). But Barzillai politely declined and opted to stay in his homeland.