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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
2 Samuel 9

 

 

Introduction

SECTION 6. David And His House Are Established And He Is Promised That His Kingship Through His Seed Will Be For Ever (5:6-10:19).

In this section we will see how David’s rule is established far and wide as the nations come in submission to him, some voluntarily, others as a result of being overcome. It covers the whole of his reign in a series of vignettes which demonstrate his widespread glory, and builds up to YHWH’s promise that the kingship of his house will last for ever. But their order is not chronological, but topical. They are a depiction of David’s growing greatness and power, leading up to the guarantee that the kingship of his house will last for ever, and a description of the defeat of his most powerful enemies. Thus:

1). David initially purified Israel. He removed the one remaining specifically Canaanite bastion which was situated right in the middle of his kingdom, thus making clear the triumph of Yahwism, and the fact of the purifying of the land. At the same time he replaced the idolatrous king-priest of Jerusalem by establishing himself as YHWH’s priest-king over Jerusalem. He would see this as what Mechi-zedek had been before him when he had been ‘the priest of the Most High God’ who had ministered to Abraham. The idea was therefore based on a hallowed tradition (see Genesis 14:18-20). Like Judah previously (Judges 1:7) David had already shown his reverence for Jerusalem when he had brought the head of Goliath there (1 Samuel 17:54). This would either have been because he was patterning his behaviour on that of Abraham who had paid tithes to Jerusalem after his victory (Genesis 14:18-20) or because the tradition had grown up that saw Jerusalem as having been built on the mountains of Moriah, where Abraham had offered up Isaac (see 2 Chronicles 3:1). This reception of an ancient, traditionally respectable, priesthood would add a new religious dimension to his reign. Now David could be seen as lord over the whole land and as the nation’s intercessory priest, with the priests and Levites fulfilling their duties in accordance with the Law subject to his priestly control as priest of the Most High God (see 1 Chronicles 9:10-34; 1 Chronicles 15:16-24), something which he took advantage of in setting up the worship at the Tabernacle and Tent of Meeting (e.g. 1 Chronicles 9:23; 1 Chronicles 15:16).

2). David’s Kingship was seen as established because he dwelt in a house of cedar. David’s palace was built for him by the ‘princes’ of palace building, the Tyrians, in a clear act of treaty friendship from the greatest maritime nation in the world, which was thereby demonstrating its respect for David. Like the greatest of kings David now dwelt in a house of cedar. YHWH had upraised him so that he might join them in their glory. But we should recognise that this is symbolically preparatory for the even better ‘house’ that YHWH has destined for David (2 Samuel 7).

3). David produced a prolific number of sons and daughters. This was something seen in those days as very necessary to a great king, and as demonstrating the blessing of YHWH. David thus had a quiver full of children demonstrating that he was blessed by God (Psalms 127:5).

4). David triumphed over the Philistines twice, driving them back and routing them, while at the same time seizing their gods which he himself takes possession of (and burns), thus demonstrating to all the superiority of YHWH. It fully avenges the time when the Philistines had previously seized the Ark of God, and had publicly displayed it (1 Samuel 5-7). Now David was again the Smiter of the Philistines.

5). Having taken Jerusalem David brought the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH, the Ark of The Name of Him Who sits between the Cherubim, into Jerusalem and established it in its own special Tent as an indication that from now on this was to be where YHWH symbolically dwelt and ruled, making Jerusalem YHWH’s royal city with David as His intercessory priest-king. David was thus revealed as YHWH’s triumphant War-leader and Prince who by YHWH’s power had established YHWH as King in Jerusalem.

6). The house of Saul loses its final opportunity of participating in the blessing as a result of Michal’s barrenness resulting from her attitude towards David’s worship of YHWH.

7). David’s ‘House’ (his dynasty) was to be established for ever in its place in the purposes of God, something which will culminate in the everlasting king over the everlasting kingdom (e.g. Genesis 49:10-12; 1 Samuel 2:10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-4; Ezekiel 37:25; Daniel 7:13-14; Psalms 2:7-12). The reign of David’s house was thus to be everlasting.

8). David exercises his priestly ministry in a prayer of thanksgiving to YHWH.

9). Through the help and power of YHWH David triumphs over all who oppose him bringing wealth into the Tabernacle and greatness to his name.

10). David’s sons themselves become priests.

11). David fulfils his promise to Jonathan and establishes his son both in his ancestral lands and at the royal court, thus showing favour to the house of Saul for Jonathan’s sake as he had promised. In contrast with Michal Mephibosheth has a son, demonstrating YHWH’s compassion on what remains of the house of Saul.

12). David defeats the greatest current threat to Israel by defeating the Aramaean Empires and rendering their kings harmless.

It must be noted that underlying what is described here, and indeed underlying the whole Davidic narrative, are the words, ‘And the Spirit of YHWH came on David from that day forward’ (1 Samuel 16:13). That was the reason why David was so continually successful and what enabled him to glorify YHWH in all aspects of life. (And it was that same Spirit Who would later empower the everlasting King).

We can thus analyse this Section as follows:

Analysis.

a David Reacts To Taunts And Captures Jerusalem Thus Purifying And Uniting The Land (2 Samuel 5:6-10).

b Hiram Builds David A House Of Cedar Which Demonstrates the Establishment Of His House And Kingship On Behalf Of God’s People (2 Samuel 5:11-12).

c David Bears Many Sons (2 Samuel 5:13-16).

d David Utterly Defeats The Philistines Releasing Their Grip For Ever On Israel (2 Samuel 5:17-25).

e David Brings The Ark Of God Containing the Covenant Into Jerusalem With Rejoicing Expressing His Love For And Dedication To YHWH (2 Samuel 6:1-19).

f Michal Expresses Her Disgust At David’s Behaviour Resulting In The Barrenness Of The House Of Saul (2 Samuel 6:20-23).

g David Wishes To Build A House Of Cedar For YHWH And Learns That YHWH Is Above Houses Of Cedar (2 Samuel 7:1-7).

f The House Of David Is To Be Fruitful Result In An Everlasting Kingship (2 Samuel 7:8-17).

e David’s Prayer Expresses His Gratitude To YHWH For All His Goodness (2 Samuel 7:18-19).

d David Utterly Defeats All His Enemies Round About Freeing Israel From The Threat Of Invasion (2 Samuel 8:1-15).

c David’s Sons Become ‘Priests’ (2 Samuel 8:16-18).

b David Establishes The House Of Saul By Receiving Jonathan’s Son At Court and Giving Him Back His Ancestral Lands (2 Samuel 9:1-13).

a David Reacts To Taunts And Defeats The Greater Powers Who Threaten His Borders Thus Establishing The Land (2 Samuel 10:1-19).

The Restoration Of The Wealth Of The House Of Saul And Jonathan In The Person of Jonathan’s Son Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:1-13).

While it has been made clear by the barrenness of Michal that YHWH had fully removed the kingship from even an indirect connection with the house of Saul for ever, it was fitting on the other hand that David should remember his covenant with Jonathan, and that YHWH should thereby show genuine compassion towards Saul’s descendants. Man of blood David may have been. But this story confirms that he was both loyal and true, and that he could show great magnanimity towards those who were willing to respond rightly towards him, just as he looked to YHWH to show great magnanimity towards him.

The story, (which is in direct contrast to that in 2 Samuel 10), commences with David making an attempt to seek out any member of the house of Saul in order that he might ‘show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake’. (Compare how in 2 Samuel 10:2 he wanted to show the king of Ammon kindness for his father’s sake). It may at first sight appear strange that David was not aware of what descendants of Saul remained, but what that does testify to is firstly David’s lack off vindictiveness and total confidence in his own position, and secondly to the fact that those who had Mephibosheth’s interests at heart had not wanted to draw David’s attention to a Saulide who might be seen as a possible contender for the throne (in the hands of unscrupulous men) and have to be ‘got rid of’. They could so easily have sought to claim Saul’s lands back for Mephibosheth. But it is apparent that they had not. Furthermore Mephibosheth’s lameness would also have contributed to his being kept out of the limelight, for in those days the lame were looked on both with pity and contempt (compare 2 Samuel 5:6) and attention would not have been drawn to him. In the circumstances it was to the great credit of Machir that he was concerning himself with Mephibosheth’s safety and wellbeing.

The story then goes on to show how David not only restores to Mephibosheth all Saul’s lands, but even more importantly in many ways, invites him to sit among his sons at the king’s table. It made evident the fact that he felt totally secure in his own position, and that his love for Jonathan, and the commitment that he had made to him, had not in any way diminished (1 Samuel 20:15-16). He was loyal to the end. Many a king in those days would have considered that exterminating those of his rival’s house took precedence even over a sworn covenant.

It will be noted that in the section chiasmus above this incident parallels that which demonstrated YHWH’s establishment of David’s kingship and David’s receipt of a house of cedar. In the same way as David had received a house of cedar from YHWH, so Mephibosheth receives back his lands and his name, and is established at the royal court ‘for Jonathan’s sake’.

We find here a beautiful picture of the love of Jesus Christ for us. Like Mephibosheth we are ‘lame in both our feet’, but our Lord Jesus Christ not only came to redeem us back to Himself at the cost of His blood, but also promised that we would sit with Him at the King’s Table, yes, and even that, once we are there, He Himself will act as our servant and feed us at that table (Luke 12:37; Matthew 20:25-28). It is because of what He has done for us that our heavenly Father shows us kindness ‘for Jesus’ sake’.

Analysis.

a And David said, “Is there yet any who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1).

b And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “Your servant is he” (2 Samuel 9:2).

c And the king said, “Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” And Ziba said to the king, “Jonathan has yet a son, who is lame of his feet” (2 Samuel 9:3).

d And the king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar.” Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar (2 Samuel 9:4-5).

e And Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, and fell on his face, and did obeisance. And David said, “Mephibosheth.” And he answered, “Behold, your servant!” (2 Samuel 9:6).

f And David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat bread at my table continually” (2 Samuel 9:7).

e And he did obeisance, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look on such a dead dog as I am?” (2 Samuel 9:8).

d Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that pertains to Saul and to all his house have I given to your master’s son. And you shall work the land for him, you, and your sons, and your servants, and you shall bring in the fruits, that your master’s son may have bread to eat, but Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread always at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants (2 Samuel 9:9-10).

c Then said Ziba to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so shall your servant do.” “As for Mephibosheth,” said the king, “he shall eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11).

b And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:12).

a So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet (2 Samuel 9:13).

Note that in ‘a’ David wishes to show kindness to the house of Jonathan, and in the parallel he does so. In ‘b’ we learn of Ziba the servant of Saul, and in the parallel he becomes servant to Mephibosheth. In ‘c’ we learn of Jonathan’s son who is lame in both his feet, and in the parallel David seats him at the king’s table ‘as one of the king’s sons’. In ‘d’ David graciously fetches Mephibosheth from Lo-Debar and in the parallel he establishes him and gives him all that had pertained to the house of Saul. In ‘e’ Mephibosheth makes his obeisance to David, and in the parallel he does the same. Centrally in ‘f’’ David declares how he will show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake.


Verse 1-2

The Restoration Of The Wealth Of The House Of Saul And Jonathan In The Person of Jonathan’s Son Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:1-13).

While it has been made clear by the barrenness of Michal that YHWH had fully removed the kingship from even an indirect connection with the house of Saul for ever, it was fitting on the other hand that David should remember his covenant with Jonathan, and that YHWH should thereby show genuine compassion towards Saul’s descendants. Man of blood David may have been. But this story confirms that he was both loyal and true, and that he could show great magnanimity towards those who were willing to respond rightly towards him, just as he looked to YHWH to show great magnanimity towards him.

The story, (which is in direct contrast to that in 2 Samuel 10), commences with David making an attempt to seek out any member of the house of Saul in order that he might ‘show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake’. (Compare how in 2 Samuel 10:2 he wanted to show the king of Ammon kindness for his father’s sake). It may at first sight appear strange that David was not aware of what descendants of Saul remained, but what that does testify to is firstly David’s lack off vindictiveness and total confidence in his own position, and secondly to the fact that those who had Mephibosheth’s interests at heart had not wanted to draw David’s attention to a Saulide who might be seen as a possible contender for the throne (in the hands of unscrupulous men) and have to be ‘got rid of’. They could so easily have sought to claim Saul’s lands back for Mephibosheth. But it is apparent that they had not. Furthermore Mephibosheth’s lameness would also have contributed to his being kept out of the limelight, for in those days the lame were looked on both with pity and contempt (compare 2 Samuel 5:6) and attention would not have been drawn to him. In the circumstances it was to the great credit of Machir that he was concerning himself with Mephibosheth’s safety and wellbeing.

The story then goes on to show how David not only restores to Mephibosheth all Saul’s lands, but even more importantly in many ways, invites him to sit among his sons at the king’s table. It made evident the fact that he felt totally secure in his own position, and that his love for Jonathan, and the commitment that he had made to him, had not in any way diminished (1 Samuel 20:15-16). He was loyal to the end. Many a king in those days would have considered that exterminating those of his rival’s house took precedence even over a sworn covenant.

It will be noted that in the section chiasmus above this incident parallels that which demonstrated YHWH’s establishment of David’s kingship and David’s receipt of a house of cedar. In the same way as David had received a house of cedar from YHWH, so Mephibosheth receives back his lands and his name, and is established at the royal court ‘for Jonathan’s sake’.

We find here a beautiful picture of the love of Jesus Christ for us. Like Mephibosheth we are ‘lame in both our feet’, but our Lord Jesus Christ not only came to redeem us back to Himself at the cost of His blood, but also promised that we would sit with Him at the King’s Table, yes, and even that, once we are there, He Himself will act as our servant and feed us at that table (Luke 12:37; Matthew 20:25-28). It is because of what He has done for us that our heavenly Father shows us kindness ‘for Jesus’ sake’.

Analysis.

a And David said, “Is there yet any who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1).

b And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “Your servant is he” (2 Samuel 9:2).

c And the king said, “Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” And Ziba said to the king, “Jonathan has yet a son, who is lame of his feet” (2 Samuel 9:3).

d And the king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar.” Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar (2 Samuel 9:4-5).

e And Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, and fell on his face, and did obeisance. And David said, “Mephibosheth.” And he answered, “Behold, your servant!” (2 Samuel 9:6).

f And David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat bread at my table continually” (2 Samuel 9:7).

e And he did obeisance, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look on such a dead dog as I am?” (2 Samuel 9:8).

d Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that pertains to Saul and to all his house have I given to your master’s son. And you shall work the land for him, you, and your sons, and your servants, and you shall bring in the fruits, that your master’s son may have bread to eat, but Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread always at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants (2 Samuel 9:9-10).

c Then said Ziba to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so shall your servant do.” “As for Mephibosheth,” said the king, “he shall eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11).

b And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:12).

a So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet (2 Samuel 9:13).

Note that in ‘a’ David wishes to show kindness to the house of Jonathan, and in the parallel he does so. In ‘b’ we learn of Ziba the servant of Saul, and in the parallel he becomes servant to Mephibosheth. In ‘c’ we learn of Jonathan’s son who is lame in both his feet, and in the parallel David seats him at the king’s table ‘as one of the king’s sons’. In ‘d’ David graciously fetches Mephibosheth from Lo-Debar and in the parallel he establishes him and gives him all that had pertained to the house of Saul. In ‘e’ Mephibosheth makes his obeisance to David, and in the parallel he does the same. Centrally in ‘f’’ David declares how he will show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake.

2 Samuel 9:1

And David said, “Is there yet any who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

We do not, of course, know at what stage in David’s reign this occurred (although we do know that it was some time before Absalom’s rebellion). But it was very probably in the middle of his reign, for Mephibosheth, who was twelve when David took the throne of Israel, seemingly by this time had a son (unless we see the mention of his son as simply indicating that he had one later). We should recognise that very few if any of David’s contemporary kings would even have considered the possibility of showing kindness to the house of those from whom they had taken over their kingship. Indeed they would have been busy rooting them out in order to destroy them. It was therefore a sign of David’s genuine compassion and loyalty towards Jonathan that he sought out a member of the house of Saul, not so that he could destroy him, but so that he could show him kindness ‘for Jonathan’s sake’. It makes clear that he had never forgotten the bond that had lain between them. It also make clear the total confidence he has in the ability of YHWH to maintain him on his throne. We should note also in passing that he began his search before he was aware that Mephibosheth was disabled. It was not a case of adopting a lame duck.

2 Samuel 9:2

And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “Your servant is he.”

It is clear that David’s words were addressed to his ‘servants’ (advisers and courtiers) for it appears to have been they who sought out Ziba, a former estate manager of Saul, and brought him to David. It is probable that Ziba was somewhat afraid for he would recognise the danger inherent in his position as one of the deceased king’s prominent ‘servants’. We can almost hear the tentative note in his voice as, to the king’s question as to his identity, he says, ‘I am he’.


Verse 3

And the king said, “Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” And Ziba said to the king, “Jonathan has yet a son, who is lame of his feet.” ’

He must therefore have been greatly relieved when the reason that he had been summoned turned out to be in order for David to show mercy to Saul’s descendants. For David questioned him about them in order to show ‘the kindness of God’ towards them. To David the ‘kindness of God’ was the highest form of unmerited kindness that it was possible to show, for he knew from experience what the kindness of God was like because God had shown His kindness towards him.. It might on the other hand mean a kindness wrought in the heart by God, but either way the thought is similar. Alternately in Hebrew idiom it can be seen as simply indicating ‘great kindness’ (in the same way as ‘the mountains of God’ could mean ‘great mountains’).

Note David’s awareness of the fact that Ziba would have been loth to answer his next question had he not indicated his intention to show mercy. It was not a wise thing to appear to be on terms with, or even familiar with, the household of the previous dynasty. It was no doubt the assurance of David that made him reply, ‘Jonathan has yet a son’ but he immediately hurried on to say ‘he is lame in both his feet’. That at least indicated that he was less likely to pose a threat to David.


Verse 4

And the king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar.” ’

When David enquired of his whereabouts Ziba informed him that he was under the protection of, and in the house of, Machir, the son of Ammiel (my kinsman is God), in Lo-debar (possibly the Lidebir of Joshua 13:26 RV margin). Machir was a very wealthy man living in Transjordan (probably not far from Mahanaim - 2 Samuel 17:27-29; compare Joshua 13:26), who would later prove his genuine loyalty to David by helping to provision him and his men when David himself was fleeing from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:27-29), an act of generosity and loyalty that could also have landed him in trouble if Absalom had been victorious. But when the news reached his house that Mephibosheth had been summoned into the kings presence he too must have felt some trepidation, both for himself (he would know that he himself could only too easily be accused of harbouring a rival claimant to the throne) and for Mephibosheth. Indeed it is very probable that the depth of his love and admiration for David was increased by this incident, even though David would have been totally unaware that he was casting his bread upon the waters which would in future return manifold (Ecclesiastes 11:1).


Verse 5

Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar.’


Verse 6

And Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, and fell on his face, and did obeisance. And David said, “Mephibosheth.” And he answered, “Behold, your servant!”

If Ziba and Machir had been filled with trepidation Mephibosheth must have been literally terrified. In a king’s language ‘the kindness of God’ could have a number of meanings, not least of which was ominous in that it could be a euphemism for coming death. Whatever he had been told he probably could not bring himself to believe any other than that this summons was bad news. Note the emphasis on the fact that he was the son of Jonathan, who was the son of Saul. That in itself could be sufficient to guarantee his demise. Note also the slow, deliberate build up of the narrative. The tension would also be building up for the hearer when the story was read out. He would know what usually happened to the children of former dynasties. It is not surprising that Mephibosheth flung himself on his face before David.

On the other hand the writer also wants us to know that this was the one that David was seeking, a true Saulide of Jonathan’s house, to whom David was about to show great kindness ‘for Jonathan’s sake’.


Verse 7

And David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat bread at my table continually.”

But David immediately reassured him and told him that he need not be afraid, because his intentions were good towards him. He intended ‘surely’ to show him kindness for Jonathan his father’s sake. Indeed he intended to restore to him all his family’s lands, and give him the privilege of eating at the king’s table permanently. He would become the king’s friend. Humanly speaking this was a huge risk. A Saulide who was wealthy and could gain influence at court could always be a danger, even if innocently. It is an indirect assertion of David’s confidence in YHWH.


Verse 8

And he did obeisance, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look on such a dead dog as I am?” ’

Mephibosheth again did obeisance to David in acceptance of his generous gifts, and his words indicate his true gratitude, but they may also well have included an element of his own bitterness at being a lame duck. He had to be carried everywhere. And there were few diversions for such as he. Thus his reference to himself as a ‘dead dog’ reflects both his sense of humility in the presence of the great king, and something of his bitterness. Compare for the description 16:9; 1 Samuel 24:14. A dead dog was the greatest nuisance possible. Alive it had been a continual flea-bitten scavenger to be avoided if at all possible, but dead it had become one mass of maggots and wholly to be rejected. No one wanted to take responsibility for a dead dog.


Verse 9-10

‘Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that pertains to Saul and to all his house have I given to your master’s son. And you shall work the land for him, you, and your sons, and your servants, and you shall bring in the fruits, that your master’s son may have bread to eat, but Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread always at my table.”

As good as his word David then called for Ziba and explained that he had given to Mephibosheth everything that had once belonged to Saul, and that Ziba was to be his estate manager and take practical overall responsibility for the maintenance of his lands. Ziba would know from this that he would be accountable to the king himself. He and his sons and servants were to look after the land and were to store up its fruit for Mephibosheth. This was, of course, also a reward for Ziba. He was being given a position of great responsibility, probably far above what he had had previously. He and his sons would not be lacking anything for it would be recognised that he would receive his fair portion of the produce, and that they would be able to hire many servants to do the hardest work. It is quite possible that he was already watching over the lands and obtaining his livelihood from them, (someone would be watching over them), but not to the extent that would now be possible when enjoying the king’s favour.


Verse 10

‘Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.’

Note the emphasis on Ziba’s own grandeur. He had fifteen sons, and twenty servants. He was thus a man of position and prestige in his own right, and was well equipped to fulfil the king’s command.


Verse 11

Then said Ziba to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so shall your servant do.” As for Mephibosheth the king had said, “he shall eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons.”

Ziba accepted the king’s command (he actually had little option) and assured the king that he would carry out his will as a true ‘servant’. The king meanwhile confirmed that Mephibosheth would eat at the royal table, and would indeed be treated as one of the king’s sons. (‘The king had said’ is lacking in the Hebrew, but is clearly required. Compare verse 10a. The whole sentence is an added participial clause confirming the privilege that was to be Mephibosheth’s with ‘he shall eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons’ being a kind of comment put into the first person). It was an exceedingly magnanimous gesture.

It should be noted that David nowhere refers to Mephibosheth’s lameness. It is Ziba and the writer who draw attention to his condition, the one to try to protect him from the king’s vengeance, the other so as to emphasise that he was no threat to the throne, and David’s magnanimity. There may also be the thought that his condition was a true picture of the house of Saul, as a house that could only stumble before God. David himself, however, appears to have treated him on a level of total normality. He was simply moved by loyalty to Jonathan, and ultimately by generosity, not by pity.


Verse 12

And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants to Mephibosheth.’

We now learn that Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. He would be very much a youngster, but he would not be lame, and could well have turned out in the future, as a Saulide, to be a threat to David’s dynasty. Thus David’s act of kindness was not simply based on Mephibosheth’s incapacity. It was based on his total confidence in YHWH. Mica would apparently be maintained on the Saulide estates watched over by his mother, and Ziba. He would himself later bear four sons and his son’s sons would become skilled fighting men and archers, and would themselves be very fruitful, developing into a large family (1 Chronicles 8:34-40). But there is never any hint of disloyalty. David’s confidence had not been displaced.

The mention of this son is probably deliberately intended as in contrast to Michal’s barrenness. God’s blessing on Mephibosheth is to be seen as not only including Saul’s lands and a place at the king’s table, but also as including a fruitful wife. Unlike Michal he was being given all that a person could desire because his attitude was right.

Meanwhile we learn that Ziba and his family served Mephibosheth. It was only later that ambition would drive him to be disloyal to Mephibosheth. It was not Mephibosheth’s loyalty that would be in question, but Ziba’s.


Verse 13

So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet.’

So from this time on Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, the royal city, and ate continually at the king’s table. David proved to be as good as his word. The reference to the fact that he was lame in both his feet is probably intended to underline David’s generosity. Many another would have dismissed such a person as not fit to live in the royal city and sit at the king’s table, especially as he would be excluded from the court of the Tent of Meeting. But in David’s eyes he stood in the place of Jonathan his friend.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-samuel-9.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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