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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
2 Samuel 9

 

 

Verses 1-13

A. David"s Faithfulness ch9

The story of David"s kindness to Mephibosheth (ch9) helps to explain David"s subsequent acceptance by the Benjamites. It also enables us to see that the writer returned here to events in David"s early reign.

"It Isaiah , in my personal opinion, the greatest illustration of grace in all the Old Testament." [Note: Swindoll, p169.]

If Mephibosheth was five years old when Jonathan and Saul died on Mt. Gilboa ( 2 Samuel 4:4), he was born in1016 B.C. When David captured Jerusalem in1004 B.C, Mephibosheth was12. Now we see Mephibosheth had a young son ( 2 Samuel 9:12), so perhaps he was about20 years old. People frequently married in their teens in the ancient Near East. So perhaps the events of chapter9 took place about966 B.C.

David"s kindness (Heb. hesed, loyal love, 2 Samuel 9:1; 2 Samuel 9:3; 2 Samuel 9:7) to Jonathan"s Song of Solomon , expressed concretely by allowing him to eat at David"s table ( 2 Samuel 9:7; 2 Samuel 9:10-11; 2 Samuel 9:13), shows that David was, at the beginning of his reign, a covenant-keeping king (cf. 1 Samuel 20:14-17; 1 Samuel 20:42). This was one of David"s strengths. [Note: Leo G. Perdue, ""Is There Anyone Left of the House of Saul ... ?" Ambiguity and the Characterization of David in the Succession Narrative," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament30 (October1984):67-84 , presented an interesting study of the complexity of David"s character.] His goodness to Mephibosheth was pure grace, entirely unearned by Saul"s son. Yet the story is primarily about loyalty.

It is doubtful that the Ammiel mentioned in 2 Samuel 9:4 was Bathsheba"s father (cf. 1 Chronicles 3:5), though this is possible. Lo-debar (lit. no pasture) was about10 miles northwest of Jabesh-gilead in Transjordan and10 miles south of the Sea of Chinnereth (Galilee). David provided for Mephibosheth"s needs in Jerusalem, but Ziba and his family cultivated Mephibosheth"s land and brought the produce to David. Thus the produce of his land paid the cost of Mephibosheth"s maintenance. The writer may have stressed the fact that Mephibosheth was lame ( 2 Samuel 9:3; 2 Samuel 9:13) to remind us of the sad fate of Saul"s line because of his arrogance before God. Mephibosheth physically had trouble standing before God and His anointed.

"Given David"s loathing for "the lame and the blind" since the war against the Jebusites ( 2 Samuel 5:6-8), one is brought up short by his decision to give Jonathan"s son Mephibosheth, "lame in both feet" ( 2 Samuel 9:3; 2 Samuel 9:13), a permanent seat at the royal table.... Is David willing to undergo such a daily ordeal just in memory of his friendship with Jonathan, as he himself declares, or as the price for keeping an eye on the last of Saul"s line? Considering David"s genius for aligning the proper with the expedient, he may be acting from both motives." [Note: Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading, p255. James S. Ackerman, "Knowing Good and Evil: A Literary Ananysis of the Court History in2Samuel9-20,1Kings1-2 ," Journal of Biblical Literature109:1 (Spring1990):43; Perdue, p75; John Briggs Curtis, ""East is East ...,"" Journal of Biblical Literature80:4 (1961):357; and David Payne, p197 , shared the same opinion.]

The sensitive reader will observe many parallels between Mephibosheth and himself or herself, and between David and God. As Mephibosheth had fallen, was deformed as a result of his fall, was hiding in a place of barrenness, and was fearful of the king, so is the sinner. David took the initiative to seek out Mephibosheth in spite of his unloveliness, bring him into his house and presence, and adopt him as his own son. He also shared his bounty and fellowship with this undeserving one for the rest of his life because of Jonathan, as God has done with us for the sake of Christ (cf. Psalm 23:6).

"On the whole it seems very likely that in this instance David"s actions benefited not only Mephibosheth but served also the king"s own interests." [Note: Anderson, p143.]

In what sense can the affairs recorded in this chapter be considered part of David"s troubles? We have here one of David"s major attempts to appease the Benjamites. As the events of the following chapters will show, David had continuing problems with various Benjamites, culminating in the rebellion of Sheba (ch20). Not all of David"s troubles stemmed from his dealings with Bathsheba and Uriah.

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/2-samuel-9.html. 2012.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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