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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 9

Verses 1-13

The Personal Affairs of David (9:1-12:31)

David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth (9:1-13)

It was customary in the ancient Near East for a new dynastic ruler to put to death all the descendants of the preceding royal line and thus eliminate possible rivals. Jonathan’s son Merib-baal (a name later altered to "Mephibosheth"; see comment on 2 Samuel 2:8-32; 2 Samuel 4:1-12) was exactly in this position — a potential rival. He had been living at Lo-debar near Mahanaim and thus in proximity to his uncle Ish-bosheth. At the time of the incident recorded here he was apparently the only descendant of Saul left alive. This would mean that this occurrence must be subsequent to that recorded in 2 Samuel 21, when Saul’s sons were killed to satisfy the Gibeonites. Probably Mephibosheth went into hiding because of his lameness, a condition already explained in 2 Samuel 4:4. David remembered his covenant with Jonathan and his promise to Saul. His inquiry whether there was any descendant of Saul left to whom he could show covenant mercy ("kindness") brought to light the existence of Mephibosheth. The latter was brought to David, who endeavored to make amends for his forgetfulness of covenant obligation. Mephibosheth was set up in a house; Saul’s servant, Ziba, was made his steward; he was granted the signal honor of being a regular guest at the royal table; and all the income of the estates of Saul and his house was given to him. The story is an interesting commentary on the strength of the covenant bond and also on the character of David. Doubtless it would help David politically with factions still attached to Saul’s family, if he treated Saul’s grandson well. But there is something deeper implied in this story; David at this point was a man of integrity who was prepared to accept his covenant obligations fully and who sought to show covenant love, steadfast loyalty, within his covenant bond.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Samuel 9". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/2-samuel-9.html.