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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 9

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5

Second Samuel - Chapter 9

Covenant with Jonathan Fulfilled, vs. 1-5

It is not known just when David remembered his covenant with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3; 1 Samuel 20:8; 1 Samuel 20:16-17; 1 Samuel 23:18). Verse 12 of this chapter indicates that Mephibosheth was now an adult, for he was father of a son already. He was five years old when his father, Jonathan was slain (2 Samuel 4:4). David was king seven and a half years over Judah only, before he became king of all Israel (2 Samuel 5:5), so that Mephibosheth was then about twelve years of age. Perhaps about ten years had expired, at the least before David could perform the oath of his covenant with Jonathan (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5).

David had no knowledge of Mephibosheth and found out from a servant of Saul, a questionable character named Ziba, when he inquired of him. It is probable that Ziba was living on and enjoying the lands which had belonged previously to Saul and his family, to which he may have laid claim after the death of Ish-bosheth. It would have been to his advantage to keep the existence of the heir secret from the king. On the other hand it was doubtless feared that David, after the manner of ancient kings, might put to death all the heirs of the previous king.

Ziba told the king that Jonathan had a young son living in the house of Machir in Lo-debar, but that he was lame in both his feet. David stated that he wished to show the kindness of God unto him. Lo-debar is thought to have been identical with the place usually called Debir, in the land of Gilead, east of the Jordan Machir bore the famous name of Manasseh’s eldest son, whose family settled on the east side of Jordan when Israel came out of Egypt (Numbers 32:39-40).

Some have constructed an analogy from the condition of Mephibosheth to that of the lost sinner. Ammiel (the father of Machir) means "people of God"; Machir means "sold"; Lo-debar means "no pasture". Thus Mephibosheth, a lone and crippled man, lived in the land of "no pasture", with a man who was "sold", but who, yet, was of the "people of God." So the lost sinner, though "people" of God’s creation, lives among those "sold" under sin by the fall, in a land of "no pasture", or no hope (Ephesians 2:11-13). The sequel will continue this analogy.

Verses 6-13

Mephibosheth in the Palace, vs. 6-13

Mephibosheth knew that customarily and naturally of the times he had no standing with David, and came to him fearfully, casting himself wholly on the mercy of the king. Being quite young at his father’s death it is unlikely that he was aware of the close bond and covenant between his father and David. He did not know what to expect, or he may have expected the worse. He fell down prostrate before the king in utmost humility, declared himself the servant of David when he addressed him.

David’s very first verses were intended to reassure Mephibosheth and tender grace to him. For the sake of the covenant with Jonathan the king informed Mephibosheth he would restore t:) him all the possessions of his father and of his grandfather, King Saul. Mephibosheth accepted the king’s condescension with great humility, for David said that the lame man would be taken in to the king’s house as one of the princes. Mephibosheth recognized his relative worthless­ness in his answer, "What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?"

David called Ziba and informed him he had given Mephibosheth all that had belonged to his master, Saul. He further instructed Ziba to have charge of the estate and to bring its fruit to Mephibosheth that its in­crease should maintain his house, though Mephibosheth should be main­tained from the king’s bounty. This Ziba agreed to do, though one may wonder what his inner feeling was. It is probable that Ziba had been us­ing the increase of the estate for himself, for he had acquired twenty ser­vants and had a family including fifteen sons. When he later saw an op­portunity to libel Mephibosheth and re-possess the land he did not hesi­tate to do so (2 Samuel 16:1-4; 2 Samuel 19:24-30).

Mephibosheth was a young man by this time, having a young son of his own whose name was Micha. Descendants of Mephibosheth, through Micha (or Micah) are listed in 1 Chronicles 8:34-40; 1 Chronicles 9:40-44. So Mephibosheth lived in the palace with King David while Ziba, his sons and servants, tended his estate.

Continuing the analogy from the last topic: 1) Mephibosheth came to David falling down and seeking mercy, just as the sinner must come to Christ; 2) David restored to Mephibosheth all he had lost, like Christ restores to the repentant sinner all lost in Adam’s fall; 3) as Mephi­bosheth received all needed blessing of a material nature, but feasted at the king’s table, so the saved have their needs supplied materially while feasting on the spiritual things of the King. Some have made Ziba and care of Mephibosheth’s things analogous to the comfort of the Holy Spirit, but this does not seem appropriate in light of Ziba’s later conduct (above citation).

The most important lesson from this chapter are noted

above. However, note also, 1) promises should be kept, though it may be necessary to wait long; 2) kindness to the unfortunate is always pleasing in the Lord’s sight; 3) the Lord has promised to bless the children of the faithful, as portrayed in the continuation of Jonathan’s family.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-samuel-9.html. 1985.
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