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CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES—
2 Samuel 9:1. “And David said.” This could not have occurred until David had reigned many years, seeing that Mephibosheth was only five years old when his father died, and was now a father himself. (See 2 Samuel 9:12 and 2 Samuel 4:4.)
2 Samuel 9:3. “The kindness of God.” This expression is understood by some as “love and kindness shown in God, and for God’s sake,” (Keil); by others as “a kindness such as God Himself shows,” (Erdmann); while Patrick takes the expression as a superlative form to denote simply very great kindness. Wordsworth paraphrases it “love for the Lord’s sake, and in the Lord’s sight, and according to the Lord’s example.”
2 Samuel 9:4. “Lodebar.” From 2 Samuel 17:27 we learn that this was beyond Jordan, near Mahanaim; it is generally thought to be identical with Lidbir or Debir, mentioned in Joshua 13:26. From the same source we learn that Machir was a man of position and wealth.
2 Samuel 9:7. “Fear not.” Mephibosheth’s alarm may have arisen merely from “the simplicity and bashfulness of a youth who had lived in a nomad country, and who was awed by the splendour of a court,” (Jamieson), or from the fear that David was about to follow the custom of oriental rulers, and slay all the representatives of the royal family which he had displaced. “All the Land,” etc. “It is evident from these words that the landed property belonging to Saul had either fallen to David as crown lands, or had been taken possession of by distant relations after the death of Saul.” (Keil.)
2 Samuel 9:8. “A dead dog.” “Mephibosheth’s early misfortunes threw a shade over his whole life, and his personal deformity—as is often the case when it has been the result of accident—seems to have exercised a depressing and depreciatory influence on his character (see also 2 Samuel 19:26; 2 Samuel 19:28).” (Smith’s Bib. Dict.)
2 Samuel 9:10. “Although a daily guest at the royal table, Mephibosheth had to make provision as a royal prince for the maintenance of his own family and servants.” (Keil.)
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE CHAPTER
DAVID AND MEPHIBOSHETH
I. The merit of a dead parent is often a channel of blessing to the living child. Other things being equal, it is doubtless a blessing to descend from parents of gentle blood—from those who belong to the nobility of this world. Any member of such a family, if he be at all worthy of the name he bears, finds that name a fortune in itself in respect to the earthly and temporal advantages it confers upon him. But such a man does not monopolize all the honour and respect shown to children on account of their parentage. Men who cannot boast of a long pedigree, but who can rejoice in the greater honour of descending from the morally great, have often found the goodness of their departed father or mother bearing fruit for them, their sons and daughters, long after their parents have left the world. It is a principle which has received a Divine sanction, for God who declares that He visits the sins of the fathers upon the children (Exodus 20:5), has, both by word and deed, repeatedly blessed the children for the father’s sake. (Genesis 26:4-5; Genesis 28:13, etc.). In the case of Mephibosheth, the principle had not until now fully asserted itself. The son of one whose nature was as noble as his birth was princely, and whose heroic submission to the Divine will and devoted friendship have been very rarely equalled and never surpassed, Mephibosheth seems hitherto to have come sadly short of what was due to him as the sole surviving heir of Jonathan. Those who protected his helpless infancy and sheltered him in his crippled manhood may have been in part actuated by regard for his father, but none owed him so much as David, who now at last discharges the debt and makes his friend’s child feel that, after all, God had not forgotten to care for the son of a faithful servant.
II. True friendship rejoices to find a child to receive the gratitude which it would have rendered to the dead father. If Jonathan had lived until this day of David’s exaltation, he would have been satisfied to be David’s friend—to be next unto him (1 Samuel 23:17) in the kingdom of Israel, and David would have known how to estimate such unselfish loyalty and must have regarded such a friend with profound and admiring gratitude. We may be sure that nothing would have been wanting on David’s side which could give expression to the feelings which must have filled his soul. But the calamity which had deprived Mephibosheth of his father had removed David’s beloved friend, and all that he could now do was to put the son in the father’s place. This he did so far as it was possible. He could not rejoice in the presence of Jonathan at his table, but Mephibosheth should take his place and keep his father’s memory green in the king’s heart. None who is truly grateful to a friend for favours in the past will make that friend’s death an excuse for neglecting to acknowledge and to repay the debt of gratitude. A true man will feel it his duty and his delight to place any who belong to his benefactor in that benefactor’s place, and to do that relatively which he can no longer do personally.
III. Elevation to power should be embraced as a God-given opportunity for repaying past favours. When David first received kindly notice from Jonathan he was but an unknown youth who could only give grateful love in return for the prince’s favour. And as the years rolled on and he became more known only to be more in need of a true friend, Jonathan’s brotherly faithfulness was often his only source of human counsel and cheer. But now times had changed, and David was on the throne of Israel, while Jonathan’s child was an exile and apparently dependent upon the bounty of others, and so an opportunity was given to the king to testify his grateful remembrance of past kindnesses. It would be well if all men who rise from obscurity to fame and power were to make their elevation a like opportunity of remembering those who befriended them in their days of adversity, and of testifying their gratitude to them. If they neglect to do this, they omit to perform a most sacred duty, and show themselves wanting in one of the main elements of a noble disposition.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
This fragment of history may be looked upon in two lights. I. As supplying a fine illustration of human friendship.… Jonathan was still fresh in the heart of David. Death cannot really deprive us of our friends after all. Memory holds them, enshrines them, presses them to the heart, makes them more real to us after death than before.… Friendship gives a common interest: what our friend loves, we love; His children in a sense are ours.… II. As a faint image of Divine love to the world.… We are warranted I presume, to use facts in human history, as Jesus used the waving cornfields, etc.… to illustrate spiritual and Divine facts. Besides, the good in man is a Divine emanation, and the best means of giving an idea of God. I see more of the Eternal in a true kindness of a holy man—such kindness as David now displays—than in any part of material nature … I feel justified therefore, in looking upon David’s conduct towards Mephibosheth as serving to illustrate God’s conduct towards our ruined world.…
1. The kindness was unsought. The son of Jonathan did not make any application.… Did the world seek the gift of God?…
2. The kindness was in consideration of someone else. It was “for Jonathan’s sake.” … Christ is not the cause of God’s love, but He is the channel.…
3. The results of the kindness are illustrative of the Divine. It found out Mephiboslieth.… Christ came to seek and to save.… The apostles were sent out in search of God’s objects of love.… God’s love searches out men. Providence, conscience, and the Gospel, are His messengers.… It restored to him his patrimonial inheritance.… God’s love restores us to our lost possessions. Salvation is “paradise regained” etc. It exalted to distinguished honours. “And thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.” “If any man hear my voice, I will come in unto him,” etc.—Dr. David Thomas.
2 Samuel 9:1. Good men should seek opportunities of doing good. The liberal deviseth liberal things (Isaiah 32:8.) For the most proper objects of our kindness and charity are such as will not be frequently met with without inquiry. The most necessitous are the least clamorous. David had too long forgotten his obligations to Jonathan, but now, at length, they are brought to his mind. It is good sometimes to bethink ourselves whether there be any promises or engagements that we have neglected to make good; better do it late than never.—Henry.
We must also see where Jesus our fast friend hath any receivers; that since our goodness extendeth not to Him, we may show Him kindness in His people, who are His seed and prolong His days upon earth. (Isaiah 53:10; Psalms 16:3.—Trapp.
2 Samuel 9:8. Humiliation is a right use of God’s affliction. What if he was born great? If the sin of his grandfather hath lost his estate, and the hand of his nurse hath deformed and disabled his person, he now forgets what he was, and calls himself worse than he is, “a dog.” Yet, “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” There is dignity and comfort in life; Mephibosheth is therefore a dead dog unto David. It is not for us to nourish the same spirits in our adverse estate, that we found in our highest prosperity. What use have we made of God’s hand, if we be not the lower with our fall? God intends we should carry our cross, not make a fire of it to warm us: it is no bearing up our sails in a tempest. Good David cannot disesteem Mephibosheth ever the more for disparaging himself; he loves and honours this humility in the son of Jonathan. There is no more certain way to glory and advancement, than a lowly dejection of ourselves.—Bp. Hall.
2 Samuel 9:13. Here also we see that the “sure mercies of David” overflowed on the faithful and humble-minded in the family of Saul. Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, was admitted to partake in the royal prerogatives of David’s son, and to sit continually at David’s table; and so it will be with the Jews; when they are Mephibosheths in faith and humility, they will be Mephibosheths in honour, they will be admitted to share in the glory of the True David in the Church militant here and triumphant hereafter.—Wordsworth.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30