A. David’s kind heart towards the house of Saul.
1. (1) David’s kind question.
Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
a. Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul: In 2 Samuel 7 David asked, “What can I do for God?” and he proposed to build a temple for the Lord. Now David asked another question we should each ask: “What can I do for others?”
i. David’s question showed great love because Saul made himself an enemy of David. It was customary in those days for the king of a new dynasty to completely massacre anyone connected with the prior dynasty. David went against the principle of revenge and against the principle of self-preservation and asked what he could do for the family of his enemy.
b. That I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake: David did this because he remembered his relationship and covenant with Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:14-15). His actions were not only based on feelings, but also on the promise of a covenant.
2. (2-4) Ziba, a former servant of Saul, tells David about Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan.
And there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba. So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” He said, “At your service!” Then the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.” So the king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.”
a. Ziba: David could only learn that there was a descendant of Saul still living and could only learn where he was through this servant named Ziba. This meant that Mephibosheth was in hiding.
b. The kindness of God: This phrase is key to understanding David’s motivation in this chapter. David wanted to show someone else the same kindness God had shown to him.
c. There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet: We first learned of Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 4:4. It tells us that this son of Jonathan was made lame in his feet from an accident when the household heard that his father Jonathan and his grandfather Saul died in battle.
i. We should remember why Mephibosheth’s nurse gathered the boy and fled in haste at the news of Saul and Jonathan’s death. She rightly feared that the leader of a new royal dynasty would execute every potential heir of the former dynasty (2 Samuel 4:4).
d. A son of Jonathan: This means that according to the prior dynasty of Saul, Mephibosheth had the right to the throne. He was a son of the first-born son of the king, and other potential heirs were dead. In a political sense, David could have seen Mephibosheth as a rival or a threat.
i. Later in 2 Samuel 16:5-8 we see a man named Shimei who was a partisan for the house of Saul against David. There were at least a few in Israel who felt that the house of Saul should still reign over the nation and that David shouldn’t be king. Mephibosheth might draw upon these partisans and develop a rival following.
ii. Ishbosheth was Mephibosheth’s uncle, and he waged a bloody war against David for the throne of Israel. There was at least an outside chance that Mephibosheth might do the same.
e. He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel: This speaks of Mephibosheth’s low station in life. He didn’t even have his own house. Instead, he lived in the house of another man.
i. 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).
B. David’s kindness to Mephibosheth.
1. (5-6) Mephibosheth makes a humble appearance before David.
Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar. Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, “Mephibosheth?” And he answered, “Here is your servant!”
a. Then King David sent and brought him out of the house: Mephibosheth must have been terrified when messengers from David knocked at his door and demanded that he come with them to see the king. In the back of his mind, he anticipated the day when David would do as other kings did and massacre every potential rival to his throne.
i. The knock on the door also meant that Mephibosheth was no longer hidden from David. He felt secure as long as he believed the new king didn’t know about him.
b. He fell on his face and prostrated himself: According to the custom of the times, Mephibosheth had a lot to fear from David. Yet his fear of David was not founded in fact, only on assumption.
i. Up to this point Mephibosheth and David never had a relationship, and it was because Mephibosheth wanted it that way. He avoided David out of unfounded fears.
2. (7-8) David removes the fears of Mephibosheth.
So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” Then he bowed himself, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?”
a. Do not fear: These words would be cruel or meaningless unless David gave Mephibosheth a reason to not fear.
b. I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake: David made a covenant with Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20, promising to show kindness to the descendants of Jonathan. David gladly made good on his promise, though Jonathan was long dead.
c. Will restore to you all the land of Saul: David simply promised Mephibosheth would receive what was his. Mephibosheth knew about these lands all along, but he was afraid to take possession of them because it would expose him before the king. David went against all custom in showing such kindness to an heir of the former dynasty.
d. And you shall eat bread at my table continually: This went far beyond giving Mephibosheth what was rightly his. He gave Mephibosheth the honor of a close relationship with the king.
i. 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).
e. What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I? Mephibosheth didn’t feel worthy of such generosity. He considered himself a dead dog, meaning a worthless and insignificant person.
i. All the years of hiding from the king and living in fear and poverty made Mephibosheth think of himself as worthless.
3. (9-12) David’s instructions to Ziba.
And the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master’s son may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread at my table always.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king has commanded his servant, so will your servant do.” “As for Mephibosheth,” said the king, “he shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.” Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants of Mephibosheth.
a. You therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him: In addition to the land, David gave Mephibosheth servants to work the land. The food from the land was for Mephibosheth’s family, because he now ate at David’s table.
b. He shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons: Mephibosheth was happy to know that David didn’t want to kill him. To have a promise like this was almost unbelievable.
4. (13) David fulfills his promise to Mephibosheth.
So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet.
a. Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: No longer hiding in fear of the king, this descendant of Saul now lived openly among the people of God.
b. He ate continually at the king’s table: No longer in poverty and separated from the king, now he had great privileges before the king.
c. He was lame in both his feet: Mephibosheth’s weakness did not vanish. His life was far better, but he was still lame.
i. David’s grace to Mephibosheth is a wonderful picture of God’s grace to us. We are Mephibosheth.
· We are hiding, poor, weak, lame, and fearful before our King comes to us.
· We are separated from our King because of our wicked ancestors.
· We are separated from our King because of our deliberate actions.
· We separated ourselves from the King because we didn’t know Him or His love for us.
· Our King sought us out before we sought Him.
· The King’s kindness is extended to us for the sake of another.
· The King’s kindness is based on covenant.
· We must receive the King’s kindness in humility.
· The King returns to us what we lost in hiding from Him.
· The King returns to us more than what we lost in hiding from Him.
· We have the privilege of provision at the King’s table.
· We are received as sons at the King’s table, with access to the King and fellowship with Him.
· We receive servants from the King.
· The King’s honor does not immediately take away all our weakness and lameness, but it gives us a favor and standing that overcomes its sting and changes the way we think about ourselves.
ii. David’s grace to Mephibosheth is also a pattern for us in serving and ministering to others. We are David.
· We should seek out our enemies and seek to bless them.
· We should look for the poor, weak, lame, and hidden to bless them.
· We should bless others when they don’t deserve it, and bless them more than they deserve.
· We should bless others for the sake of someone else.
· We must show the kindness of God to others.
© 2022 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org