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Thursday, May 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 9

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-13

Mephibosheth, a Type of Saving Grace

2 Samuel 9:1-13


The story of Mephibosheth is most fascinating. It has a backward look, as we remember the espousals of Jonathan to David. Let us mark this first of all:

1. The espousals of David and Jonathan. The hearts of these two men were knit together as real lovers. They clave to each other. They made vows the one to the other. They did more, they proved the sincerity of their love by their continued fidelity. Words are cheap and easily spoken, and sometimes they are no more than passing flatteries. Deeds prove love.

2. The hatred of Saul toward David. Saul became envious of David because of his slaughter of the giant, Goliath; and also because the women ascribed to David the slaying of ten thousands, and to Saul of but thousands. This hatred of Saul's never changed the heart of Jonathan, Saul's son, toward his beloved friend. Jonathan even warned David of Saul's intent on his life, and delivered him from the snares that Saul had set for David's death.

We need more of the Jonathan type of love. We need to love through difficulties and obstacles, that humanly, are unsurmountable.

3. The reward of an undying love. David did not fail to requite Jonathan's love. After Jonathan was dead in battle, David proved the reality of his love in his kindness toward Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son. In this kindness David proved himself a true man, for the man he brought to his own table, although Jonathan's son, was also Saul's grandson and he was the heir to Saul's throne.

We trust that many abiding truths will be brought later as the story is studied as a whole.


Saul, David's enemy, and the seeker of David's life, is dead in battle. Jonathan, David's friend, is also dead. David is now enthroned in Saul's stead, and is king over Israel. The Philistines who had slain Saul had been defeated by David. Peace was now secured, and David turned his attention toward strengthening his kingdom, and making his reign a blessing to his subjects.

1. Mark how David sought to be kind to the house of Saul. David did not enquire if there were any left of the house of Jonathan. It was toward Saul, the one who had so often tried to kill him, and who had forced him to dwell an exile from home and country, whom he desired to favor.

In this David was following in the footsteps of One who had forgiven him so great a debt. He had been by nature a sinner against God, and yet God had been kind to him, and had washed away his sins, and blotted out his transgressions.

2. Mark how David wanted to show kindness to Saul's house for Jonathan's sake. He remembered the love which Jonathan, Saul's son, had shown to him. He remembered his pledge to Jonathan, "Thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house forever."

Sacred trysts should not be neglected. God has not been unmindful of His pledges to us, which He made in His Son. For Christ's sake He has saved us with a most glorious salvation. All of this will appear as the lesson proceeds.


When Ziba, a servant of the house of Saul was called, king David spoke, saying, "Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him?"

1. David's kindness was not natural to his flesh. He called his kindness, "The kindness of God," as much as to say, "My kindness to Saul's household is prompted by the Spirit of the Living God who dwells in me."

Here is a great truth. We need not boast our noble and godlike deeds as though they emanated from within our own being. Our comeliness is His comeliness, placed upon us. Our goodness, and our gentleness, and our kindness, is that which we possess through the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which makes us loving toward our enemies.

2. David's kindness toward Saul was in fact a true picture of God's kindness toward us. Herein we have one of the Bible's best definitions for "grace." Grace is God's kindness toward the sinful, the ungodly. Grace is favor that is unmerited. Grace is goodness that is undeserved. Grace deals with us while we are yet sinners. It is unfathomable and incomprehensible.

To love the lovely, and to be kind to those who have been kind to us, is not the kindness of God as manifested in grace. Grace was the kindness of God in providing salvation for the hell-deserving. Grace is the kindness of God in leading to life and light and love for evermore those who are worthy of eternal death.


Ziba told David that Jonathan had a son, named Mephibosheth, who was lame in both of his feet. This son dwelt in the house of Machir in Lodebar.

1. Mephibosheth dwelt in Lodebar. Lodebar means, "the place of no pasture." That is where all sinners dwell. Sin impoverishes us. Sin robs us of our rights and riches. The wicked, for a while, may prosper, but how are they cut down in a moment and brought into darkness and despair! It is their latter end that causes us to ponder. To them is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

2. Mephibosheth was lame in both of his feet. When a child, he was made lame when his nurse dropped him, as she carried him, running away from David's victorious march. Lame from boyhood lame, for ever lame. The sinner is lame, and cannot get to God unaided and unsought. He is helpless to bring back to himself the restoration of all that he has lost in Adam's sin. He is helpless because he cannot lift his feet from the miry clay of his evil deeds and place them upon the rock, Christ Jesus. He cannot save himself from sin, neither can he save himself unto eternal life.


We may draw many lessons along the line of grace, from this act of David.

1. David sent messengers to Mephibosheth. God has sent us to the world. We are commissioned to go into all the world and preach the Gospel unto every creature.

Christ Himself was sent into the world; and before He left He said to the disciples, "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." How can people believe in Him of whom they have not heard; how can they hear without a preacher, and how can they preach except they be sent.

Across the sands went David's ambassadors to Mephibosheth. Let us also go.

"Can we, whose souls are lighted with wisdom from on high;

Can we to souls benighted, the Lamp of God deny?"

2. David fetched Mephibosheth. Fetched him from Lodebar, fetched him to the king's palace. He did not bid him come, he brought him. The shepherd went into the wilds and found the sheep which was lost, and then he put him on his shoulders and brought him home.

Joseph sent wagons to bring his aged father, Jacob, to Egypt. To Israel of old God said, "And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry , and will deliver you."

God still bears us in His arms.


The Scriptures are silent about the journey from Lodebar to King David's palace. The events are included in one word, "fetched." Not so the events when Mephibosheth arrived at the palace.

1. Mephibosheth fell on his face. Here is the right attitude for a subject receiving great favor from his king; here, also, is the right attitude for a sinner seeking favor from his God.

We need more of humiliation and of contrition. We need a deeper sense of our own sin, on the one hand, and a deeper conception of God's holiness and greatness, on the other hand. It is the broken and the contrite heart that God will not despise.

2. Mephibosheth did reverence. We should not worship men, but we should worship God. We need to see in God the high, and the holy, the eternal One. Mephibosheth realized both the greatness of king David and his clemency. He knew that David had the power to slay him, and the power to keep him alive. He knew that David had the power to confiscate all the goods which belonged to the house of Saul, or the power to restore all to him, as an act of grace. Therefore we marvel not that he did him reverence.


1. Restoring to Mephibosheth what he had lost in Saul. Not only did David show kindness unto the house of Saul but he also said, "I will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father."

When the Lord saves us, He puts us back into the place from which Adam fell. Indeed, all we lost in Adam we regain in Christ. There is, however, more for us than this. God goes David one better, He lifts us up far above what we lost in Adam; He gives us sonship and heirship with Christ forevermore. Heaven itself with all its riches and marvels of glory is included in the salvation which God wrought out for us through His Son and our Saviour.

2. Granting to Mephibosheth a seat at his table. David said to Jonathan's son, "Thou shalt eat bread at my table continually." It must have been a wonderful thing to have come from Lodebar and from the place of fear and be housed in Jerusalem in the place of security. Few people had the privilege of eating bread continually at David's table, but Mephibosheth had that privilege; and yet, Mephibosheth was of the house of Saul.

We have here exactly what God accords to us; only, once more, God goes David one better. David took Jonathan's son to live with him. Jesus Christ said, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." He also said, that both He and the Father would come unto us and make their abode with us. David did not go to Lodebar to dwell with Mephibosheth. Our Lord, however, does dwell with us in our Lodebar. There is a deeper meaning here. Ultimately God will take us out of this wilderness and we shall be for ever with the Lord. As David received one of Saul's sons, so are we to be received into eternal habitation and eat for ever at the Lord's table.


Here is something worth your while. The King called Ziba and said, "Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat."

Is there an analogy for us in all of this? After the Lord has saved us and caused us to eat at His table as one of the King's sons, does He, moreover, furnish us with servants to watch over us and to serve us?

Let us quote you a verse from Hebrews, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" The angels are our servants. They encamp round about those who fear the Lord and they deliver them.


In speaking of the grace of God made manifest in David's kindness towards Mephibosheth, we are overwhelmed with amazement. It is simply impossible for us to fathom it all, and to grasp the height, and the depth, and the length, and the breadth of God's grace toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

We were crossing the Amazon River one hundred miles at sea. When the Captain of our steamer told us that such was the case, we demurred, saying, "It is impossible to cross the Amazon a hundred miles from the South American shore line." He reminded us, however, that the Amazon four thousand miles from where we stood on board his ship, lying as it did between Ecuador and Bolivia, was one mile wide; and, that at its mouth it was one hundred miles wide, carrying millions of tons of fresh water per second into the bosom of the Atlantic.

The Captain told us if we did not believe the water was fresh, that we could draw up a bucket with a rope, and taste the water. After he had told us this we thought of another river, the River of Grace, that flows from the throne of God and passes hard by every sinful heart. We knew that, with our little tin cup, drinking from the Amazon we could quench our thirst, but we could never drain the river dry. So it is with the Grace of God. Multiplied millions have drunk and have been satisfied, and yet the river flows on full and free.

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 2 Samuel 9". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/2-samuel-9.html.
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