2 Samuel 9


David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth

      • David asked, “Is there anyone still left from Saul’s family that I can show kindness to because of Jonathan?” They called to David a man named Ziba, who had been a servant of Saul’s house, and the king asked him, “Are you Ziba?” He replied, “I am your servant.” The king asked him, “Is there anyone of Saul’s family left that I can show the kindness of God to?” Ziba answered, “One of Jonathan’s sons is still living- he is crippled in both feet.” David asked, “Where is he?” Ziba replied, “He is in Lo Debar at the home of Ammiel’s son, Makir.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “…This incident is sandwiched between David’s victories in battle (8:1-18, 10), indicating that David also had concern for individuals and had a compassionate heart.”

        • On David’s showing “kindness,” the same source notes, “The Hebrew word (khesed) speaks of covenant loyalty and faithfulness. The word frequently describes God’s commitment to his people, but it can also describe the devotion and loyalty between any two persons. David’s use of the word here echoes the language of the covenant of friendship between himself and Jonathan (1 Sam 20:12-17). Mephibosheth was Saul’s only remaining descendant and the only son of Jonathan. Mephibosheth was crippled in both feet from a childhood accident (see 4:4).”

      • Guzik points out, “Machir the son of Ammiel later showed he was intensely loyal to David. When David’s son Absalom led a rebellion against David, Machir supported and helped David at great danger to himself (2 Samuel 17:27-29).”

      • So King David sent for him and had him brought from the home of Ammiel’s son Makir, in Lo Debar. When Jonathan’s son, Saul’s grandson, Mephibosheth, came to David he bowed low with his face to the ground to pay homage. David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he replied, “I am your servant.”

      • David said to him, “Don’t be afraid. I intend to show you kindness because of your father, Jonathan. I will give you back all the land that belonged to your grandfather, Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “Who is your servant that you would show regard for a dead dog like me?”

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The arrangement David sets up for Mephibosheth is similar to that of at least David’s older sons. The king’s sons ‘ate at David’s table,’ some of them lived in their own houses in Jerusalem (13:7, 20) and had fields and agricultural lands of their own to support them (13:23; 14:30).”

      • Guzik draws this comparison, “A similar promise is given to the followers of Jesus. Jesus told the disciples that they would eat and drink at His table in heaven (Luke 22:30).”

        • I noticed that translations render David’s reference to Jonathan variously as Saul’s son or Saul’s grandson. I just wanted to point out that this is a common occurrence and one reason genealogies can be difficult. ESV Study Bible explains, “Note that the word father (Hb. ‘ab) in 9:7 means ‘father’ in one sentence and ‘grandfather’ in the next. This phenomenon can also be seen in some of the genealogies…In 2 Sam 9:9-10, the ‘grandson’ is literally ‘son’ (Hb ben), as can be seen in the translation of the same Hebrew phrase in 16:3.”

      • Then the king called for Saul’s servant, Ziba, and told him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You, your sons, and your servants are to work the land for him and bring in the produce so that your master’s son will have food to eat. But, your master’s grandson, Mephibosheth, will always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “Ziba is here referred to as a servant (Hb na’ar, ‘young man, servant’), but because Ziba had 15 sons (v. 10), it was probably the more specific ‘steward of an estate.’ Ziba had probably continued to be the steward in charge of the land after Saul’s death, but had paid the benefits of the estate to David or to someone to whom David had assigned the land. But from now on he is required to pay the benefits to Mephibosheth.”

      • Ziba replied to the king, “Your servant will do everything that my lord the king commands.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table just like one of the king’s sons.

          • NET Bible’s text critical notes point out a difficulty with the latter sentence of v. 11, “Heb ‘my table.’ But the first person reference to David is awkward here since the quotation of David’s words has already been concluded in v. 10; nor does the ‘my’ refer to Ziba, since the latter part of v. 11 does not seem to be part of Ziba’s response to the king. The ancient versions are not unanimous in the way that they render the phrase. The LXX has ‘the table of David…; the Syriac Peshitta has ‘the table of the king’…; the Vulgate has ‘your table’… The present translation follows the LXX.”

      • Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. All of Ziba’s household were Mephibosheth’s servants. And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem and always ate at the king’s table.”

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “Mica had many descendants, through whom the house of Saul and Jonathan was preserved (1 Chron 8:35-40; 9:41-44).”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Both Ziba and Mephibosheth (9:6) used the phrase ‘I am your servant’ when presenting themselves before King David. By referring to himself as David’s servant, Ziba showed that he was no longer loyal to Saul’s dynasty. The sincerity of both later came into question (16:1-4; 19:17-30).”

      • In light of the above comment, this is a good place to mention that the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds another possible motivation for David’s treatment of Mephibosheth in addition to kindness or loyalty to his covenant with Jonathan:

        • Given the harsh treatment often meted out to former or potential rivals, David’s actions were gracious…On the other hand, bringing Mephibosheth into the royal court and to the king’s table may have served David’s own interests, as it would have placed Mephibosheth under immediate surveillance. From his own experience, he must have recognized the potential dangers of allowing a rival into the royal court (note Ziba’s actions in 16:1-4). Granted, Mephibosheth’s crippled condition would have made him an unlikely candidate for the throne, but he did have a young son named Mica (v. 12).”

        • In the ancient Near East, political prisoners were not kept in cells, but in the palace where they could be closely observed. Ration lists from Babylon and Assyria show clothing, food, and oil allotted to ‘guests’ of the king. In Persia, political detainees were kept in the king’s presence. Within the court, Mephibosheth may be free, but he is still essentially a prisoner. Still, for Jonathan’s sake he is kept alive and cared for. It would be reckless to just give him his freedom. That had been the general nature of Jonathan’s request from David.”

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