For 10¢ a day you can enjoy ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 9:1

Then David said, "Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Friendship;   Kindness;   Mephibosheth;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Brotherly Kindness;   Children;   Gratitude;   Gratitude-Ingratitude;   Home;   Kindness;   Kindness-Cruelty;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Religion;   Stories for Children;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Jonathan;   Mephibosheth;   Holman Bible Dictionary - David;   Lo-Debar;   Machir;   Mephibosheth;   Samuel, Books of;   Ziba;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - David;   Mephibosheth;   Samuel, Books of;   Ziba;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Jonathan;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Mephibosheth;   Samuel, Books of;   Ziba;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for March 26;  

Adam Clarke Commentary


David inquires after the family of Jonathan, and is informed

of Mephibosheth his son, 1-4.

He sends for him and gives him all the land of Saul, 5-8;

and appoints Ziba the servant of Saul, and his family, to till

the ground for Mephibosheth, 9-13.


Verse 2 Samuel 9:1. Is there yet any that is left — David recollecting the covenant made with his friend Jonathan, now inquires after his family. It is supposed that political considerations prevented him from doing this sooner. Reasons of state often destroy all the charities of life.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Remembering former kindnesses (9:1-10:19)

Although his power was now great, David did not forget his covenant with Jonathan. Unlike other kings, David would not destroy the family of the king whom he replaced (9:1; see 1 Samuel 20:12-17). David not only spared the life of Jonathan’s sole surviving son, the crippled Mephibosheth, but also restored to him Saul’s family property (2-8; cf. 4:4). David gave Mephibosheth the privilege of free access into the palace, and appointed one of Saul’s former servants to manage his property for him (9-13).

Another to whom David tried to be friendly was the new king of Ammon, whose father had helped David during his flight from Saul. But the Ammonites rejected David’s goodwill, suspecting that he was looking for ways of spreading his power into their country (10:1-5). They then decided to attack Israel, and even hired soldiers from various Syrian states to help them. The Israelite soldiers turned back the attackers, then, as if to show that Israel had no desire to seize Ammonite territory, returned home (6-14). (This was probably the battle referred to earlier in 8:3-8.)
The Ammonites were willing to accept defeat, but the Syrians were not. They prepared for a second attack on Israel. This time David did not stop when he had turned back the attackers, but overran their country and seized political control (15-19).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9:1". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible


This chapter and through 2 Samuel 21, according to many scholars, constitute a unit which even critical scholars accept as absolutely historical, an evaluation which should be applied to the whole Bible. Several names have been suggested for this section. "R. N. Whybray called it, `The Succession Narrative'; A. R. S. Kennedy named it, `The History of David's Court'; and G. W. Anderson labeled it, `The Court History.'"[1] "Many writers have consented to call this `The Narrative of the Succession.'"[2] Porter described this portion of the Bible as, "The supreme historical treasure of Samuel."[3]

"And David said, `Is there still any one left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake.'"

In answer to this question, David learned that a son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, the five-year old lad who had been crippled in his feet upon the occasion of the family's flight following the death of Saul, was still living (2 Samuel 4:4). The events mentioned in this chapter took place long afterward, because, in the meanwhile, Mephibosheth had grown up, married and had become the father of a young son Mica (2 Samuel 9:12).

"For Jonathan's sake." The background of David's inquiry here was his remembrance of that solemn covenant he had made with Jonathan when both of them were young (1 Samuel 20:14-17). David's honoring his sacred promise to Jonathan is one of the most beautiful and touching episodes in the whole life of King David; and there is perhaps also a typical suggestion in this of our own salvation through Jesus Christ.

Sinners all, we mortals, like Mephibosheth, have been wounded, crippled, because of the "fall" of our progenitors in Eden. Like David did for Mephibosheth, God has honored and blessed us with the promise of eternal life, inviting us to feast at His table in His kingdom perpetually. Also, God does this, not because of any merit or righteousness upon our part, but "for Jesus' sake."

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 9

In chapter nine David sought to discover if there were any left from the house of Saul. Jonathan and David had made a friendship pact between them that they would do good, and show kindness unto each other, and to each other's descendants forever. So now that David is established, he seeks to find out if there are any left from Saul's house that he might honor, and they might keep this pact that he had made with Jonathan. He was told concerning Jonathan's son Mephibosheth. Now Mephibosheth was only five years old when his father Jonathan was killed in battle with his grandfather Saul, when they battled against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. When his nurse heard that the Philistines had taken Jonathan, Saul in battle, she was fearful. She grabbed this little five year old son of Jonathan's, Mephibosheth, and sought to flee. As she did, she dropped him and broke both of his legs. Not being set properly, he became a cripple.

And so it was told David that Mephibosheth was yet alive. So David called to have Mephibosheth brought into him. And when Mephibosheth came in he bowed down, and did obeisance to David. David said, Don't be afraid, I want to actually honor you seeing I made this pact with Jonathan. And he said, I want to restore to you all that belonged to the house of Saul, all of the properties, the houses and the vineyards, and every thing that belonged to the family. I want to restore them to you. And you are to eat meat at my table from now on ( 2 Samuel 9:3-10 ).

He was to become a part of the entourage that ate with the king. So David showed great kindness for Jonathan's sake, and for the vows and all that he had made with Jonathan.

Then David took one of the servants and he made this servant and his family the servants of Mephibosheth, and Ziba with his fifteen sons and twenty servants [were given the orders to take care of his crops and to bring in the harvest, and to just watch over all that belonged to him.] ( 2 Samuel 9:10 ).

So David showed unto Mephibosheth great honor, and was extremely gracious unto him. "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9:1". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

A. David’s Faithfulness ch. 9

The story of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth (ch. 9) helps to explain David’s subsequent acceptance by the Benjamites. It also enables us to see that the writer returned here to events in David’s early reign.

"It is, in my personal opinion, the greatest illustration of grace in all the Old Testament." [Note: Swindoll, p. 169.]

If Mephibosheth was five years old when Jonathan and Saul died on Mt. Gilboa (2 Samuel 4:4), he was born in 1016 B.C. When David captured Jerusalem in 1004 B.C., Mephibosheth was 12. Now we see Mephibosheth had a young son (2 Samuel 9:12), so perhaps he was about 20 years old. People frequently married in their teens in the ancient Near East. So perhaps the events of chapter 9 took place about 966 B.C.

David’s kindness (Heb. hesed, loyal love, 2 Samuel 9:1; 2 Samuel 9:3; 2 Samuel 9:7) to Jonathan’s son, expressed concretely by allowing him to eat at David’s table (2 Samuel 9:7; 2 Samuel 9:10-11; 2 Samuel 9:13), shows that David was, at the beginning of his reign, a covenant-keeping king (cf. 1 Samuel 20:14-17; 1 Samuel 20:42). This was one of David’s strengths. [Note: Leo G. Perdue, "’Is There Anyone Left of the House of Saul . . . ?’ Ambiguity and the Characterization of David in the Succession Narrative," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 30 (October 1984):67-84, presented an interesting study of the complexity of David’s character.] His goodness to Mephibosheth was pure grace, entirely unearned by Saul’s son. Yet the story is primarily about loyalty.

It is doubtful that the Ammiel mentioned in 2 Samuel 9:4 was Bathsheba’s father (cf. 1 Chronicles 3:5), though this is possible. Lo-debar (lit. no pasture) was about 10 miles northwest of Jabesh-gilead in Transjordan and 10 miles south of the Sea of Chinnereth (Galilee). David provided for Mephibosheth’s needs in Jerusalem, but Ziba and his family cultivated Mephibosheth’s land and brought the produce to David. Thus the produce of his land paid the cost of Mephibosheth’s maintenance. The writer may have stressed the fact that Mephibosheth was lame (2 Samuel 9:3; 2 Samuel 9:13) to remind us of the sad fate of Saul’s line because of his arrogance before God. Mephibosheth physically had trouble standing before God and His anointed.

"Given David’s loathing for ’the lame and the blind’ since the war against the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6-8), one is brought up short by his decision to give Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, ’lame in both feet’ (2 Samuel 9:3; 2 Samuel 9:13), a permanent seat at the royal table. . . . Is David willing to undergo such a daily ordeal just in memory of his friendship with Jonathan, as he himself declares, or as the price for keeping an eye on the last of Saul’s line? Considering David’s genius for aligning the proper with the expedient, he may be acting from both motives." [Note: Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading, p. 255. James S. Ackerman, "Knowing Good and Evil: A Literary Ananysis of the Court History in 2 Samuel 9-20 and 1 Kings 1-2," Journal of Biblical Literature 109:1 (Spring 1990):43; Perdue, p. 75; John Briggs Curtis, "’East is East . . .,’" Journal of Biblical Literature 80:4 (1961):357; and David Payne, p. 197, shared the same opinion.]

The sensitive reader will observe many parallels between Mephibosheth and himself or herself, and between David and God. As Mephibosheth had fallen, was deformed as a result of his fall, was hiding in a place of barrenness, and was fearful of the king, so is the sinner. David took the initiative to seek out Mephibosheth in spite of his unloveliness, bring him into his house and presence, and adopt him as his own son. He also shared his bounty and fellowship with this undeserving one for the rest of his life because of Jonathan, as God has done with us for the sake of Christ (cf. Psalms 23:6).

"On the whole it seems very likely that in this instance David’s actions benefited not only Mephibosheth but served also the king’s own interests." [Note: Anderson, p. 143.]

In what sense can the affairs recorded in this chapter be considered part of David’s troubles? We have here one of David’s major attempts to appease the Benjamites. As the events of the following chapters will show, David had continuing problems with various Benjamites, culminating in the rebellion of Sheba (ch. 20). Not all of David’s troubles stemmed from his dealings with Bathsheba and Uriah.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And David said,.... To some of his courtiers:

is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul? which question was put by him, not in order to destroy them, lest they should disturb his government, as was usual with other princes, and especially such who got their crowns by usurpation; but to prevent any suspicion of that kind in the persons he inquired of, he adds,

that I may show him kindness, for Jonathan's sake? not for Saul's sake, who had been his implacable enemy, though he had sworn to him that he would not cut off his seed; but for Jonathan's sake, his dear friend, whose memory was precious to him. Some of the Jewish writers have thought, because this follows upon the account given of the officers of David, both in his camp and court, that this question was occasioned by a thought that came into his mind, while he was appointing officers, that if there were any of Saul's family, and especially any descendant of Jonathan, that was fit for any post or office, he would put him into one; but this seems to be a long time after David had settled men in his chief offices; for Mephibosheth, after an inquiry found out, was but five years of age when his father was slain, and so but twelve when David was made king over all Israel, and yet now he was married, and had a young son, 2 Samuel 9:12; so that it was a long time after David was established in the kingdom that he thought of this; which is to be imputed to his being engaged so much in war, and having such a multiplicity of business on his hands.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

David's Kindness to Jonathan's Son. B. C. 1039.

      1 And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?   2 And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he.   3 And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.   4 And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar.   5 Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar.   6 Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!   7 And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.   8 And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?

      Here is, I. David's enquiry after the remains of the ruined house of Saul, 2 Samuel 9:1; 2 Samuel 9:1. This was a great while after his accession to the throne, for it should seem that Mephibosheth, who was but five years old when Saul died, had now a son born, 2 Samuel 9:12; 2 Samuel 9:12. 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. The compendium which Paul gives us of the life of David is this (Acts 13:36), that he served his generation according to the will of God, that is, he was a man that made it his business to do good; witness this instance, where we may observe,

      1. That he sought an opportunity to do good. He might perhaps have satisfied his conscience with the performance of his promise to Jonathan if he had been only ready, upon request or application made to him by any of his seed, to help and succour them. But he does more, he enquires of those about him first (2 Samuel 9:1; 2 Samuel 9:1), and, when he met with a person that was likely to inform him, asked him particularly, Is there any yet left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness?2 Samuel 9:3; 2 Samuel 9:3. "Is there any, not only to whom I may do justice (Numbers 5:8), but to whom I may show kindness?" Note, 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 enquiry. The most necessitous are the least clamorous.

      2. Those he enquired after were the remains of the house of Saul, to whom he would show kindness for Jonathan's sake: Is there any left of the house of Saul? Saul had a very numerous family (1 Chronicles 8:33), enough to replenish a country, and was yet so emptied that none of it appeared; but it was a matter of enquiry, Is there any left? See how the providence of God can empty full families; see how the sin of man will do it. Saul's was a bloody house, no marvel it was thus reduced, 2 Samuel 21:1; 2 Samuel 21:1. But, though God visited the iniquity of the father upon the children, David would not. "Is there any left that I can show kindness to, not for Saul's own sake, but for Jonathan's?" (1.) Saul was David's sworn enemy, and yet he would show kindness to his house with all his heart and was forward to do it. He does not say, "Is there any left of the house of Saul, that I may find some way to take them off, and prevent their giving disturbance to me or my successor?" It was against Abimelech's mind that any one was left of the house of Gideon (Judges 9:5), and against Athaliah's mind that any one was left of the seed royal,2 Chronicles 22:10; 2 Chronicles 22:11. Those were usurped governments. David's needed no such vile supports. He was desirous to show kindness to the house of Saul, not only because he trusted in God and feared not what they could do unto him, but because he was of a charitable disposition and forgave what they had done to him. Note, We must evince the sincerity of our forgiving those that have been any way unjust or injurious to us by being ready, as we have opportunity, to show kindness both to them and theirs. We must not only not avenge ourselves upon them, but we must love them, and do them good (Matthew 5:44), and not be backward to do any office of love and good-will to those that have done us many an injury. 1 Peter 3:9-- but, contrari-wise, blessing. This is the way to overcome evil, and to find mercy for ourselves and ours, when we or they need it. (2.) Jonathan was David's sworn friend, and therefore he would show kindness to his house. This teaches us, [1.] To be mindful of our covenant. The kindness we have promised we must conscientiously perform, though it should not be claimed. God is faithful to us; let us not be unfaithful to one another. [2.] To be mindful of our friendships, our old friendships. Note, Kindness to our friends, even to them and theirs, is one of the laws of our holy religion. He that has friends must show himself friendly,Proverbs 18:24. If Providence has raised us, and our friends and their families are brought low, yet we must not forget former acquaintance, but rather look upon that as giving us so much the fairer opportunity of being kind to them: then our friends have most need of us and we are in the best capacity to help them. Though there be not a solemn league of friendship tying us to this constancy of love, yet there is a sacred law of friendship no less obliging, that to him that is in misery pity should be shown by his friend, Job 6:14. A brother is born for adversity. Friendship obliges us to take cognizance of the families and surviving relations of those we have loved, who, when they left us, left behind them their bodies, their names, and their posterity, to be kind to.

      3. The kindness he promised to show them he calls the kindness of God; not only great kindness, but, (1.) Kindness in pursuance of the covenant that was between him and Jonathan, to which God was a witness. See 1 Samuel 20:42. (2.) Kindness after God's example; for we must be merciful as he is. He spares those whom he has advantage against, and so must we. Jonathan's request to David was (1 Samuel 20:14; 1 Samuel 20:15), "Show me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not, and the same to my seed." The kindness of God is some greater instance of kindness than one can ordinarily expect from men. (3.) It is kindness done after a godly sort, and with an eye to God, and his honour and favour.

      II. Information given him concerning Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan. Ziba was an old retainer to Saul's family, and knew the state of it. He was sent for and examined, and informed the king that Jonathan's son was living, but lame (how he came to be so we read before, 2 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 4:4), and that he lived in obscurity, probably among his mother's relations in Lo-debar in Gilead, on the other side Jordan, where he was forgotten, as a dead man out of mind, but bore this obscurity the more easily because he could remember little of the honour he fell from.

      III. The bringing of him to court. The king sent (Ziba, it is likely) to bring him up to Jerusalem with all convenient speed, 2 Samuel 9:5; 2 Samuel 9:5. Thus he eased Machir of his trouble, and perhaps recompensed him for what he had laid out on Mephibosheth's account. This Machir appears to have been a very generous free-hearted man, and to have entertained Mephibosheth, not out of any disaffection to David or his government, but in compassion to the reduced son of a prince, for afterwards we find him kind to David himself when he fled from Absalom. He is named (2 Samuel 17:27; 2 Samuel 17:27) among those that furnished the king with what he wanted at Mahanaim, though David, when he sent for Mephibosheth from him, little thought that the time would come when he himself would gladly be beholden to him: and perhaps Machir was then the more ready to help David in recompence for his kindness to Mephibosheth. Therefore we should be forward to give, because we know not but we ourselves may some time be in want, Ecclesiastes 11:2. And he that watereth shall be watered also himself,Proverbs 11:25. Now,

      1. Mephibosheth presented himself to David with all the respect that was due to his character. Lame as he was, he fell on his face, and did homage,2 Samuel 9:6; 2 Samuel 9:6. David had thus made his honours to Mephibosheth's father, Jonathan, when he was next to the throne (1 Samuel 20:41, he bowed himself to him three times), and now Mephibosheth, in like manner, addresses him, when affairs are so completely reversed. Those who, when they are in inferior relations, show respect, shall, when they come to be advanced, have respect shown to them.

      2. David received him with all the kindness that could be. (1.) He spoke to him as one surprised, but pleased to see him. "Mephibosheth! Why, is there such a man living?" He remembered his name, for it is probable that he was born about the time of the intimacy between him and Jonathan. (2.) He bade him not be afraid: Fear not,2 Samuel 9:7; 2 Samuel 9:7. It is probable that the sight of David put him into some confusion, to free him from which he assures him that he sent for him, not out of any jealousy he had of him, nor with any bad design upon him, but to show him kindness. Great men should not take a pleasure in the timorous approaches of their inferiors (for the great God does not), but should encourage them. (3.) He gives him, by grant from the crown, all the land of Saul his father, that is, his paternal estate, which was forfeited by Ishbosheth's rebellion and added to his own revenue. This was a real favour, and more than giving him a kind word. True friendship will be generous. (4.) Though he had thus given him a good estate, sufficient to maintain him, yet for Jonathan's sake (whom perhaps he saw some resemblance of in Mephibosheth's face), he will take him to be a constant guest at his own table, where he will not only be comfortably fed, but have company and attendance suitable to his birth and quality. Though Mephibosheth was lame and unsightly, and does not appear to have had any great fitness for business, yet, for his good father's sake, David took him to be one of his family.

      3. Mephibosheth accepts this kindness with great humility and self-abasement. He was not one of those that take every favour as a debt, and think every thing too little that their friends do for them; but, on the contrary, speaks as one amazed at the grants David made him (2 Samuel 9:8; 2 Samuel 9:8): What is thy servant, that thou shouldst look upon such a dead dog as I am? How does he vilify himself! Though the son of a prince, and the grandson of a king, yet his family being under guilt and wrath, and himself poor and lame, he calls himself a dead dog before David. Note, It is good to have the heart humble under humbling providences. If, when divine Providence brings our condition down, divine grace brings our spirits down with it, we shall be easy. And those who thus humble themselves shall be exalted. How does he magnify David's kindness! It would have been easy to lessen it if he had been so disposed. Had David restored him his father's estate? It was but giving him his own. Did he take him to his table? This was policy, that he might have an eye upon him. But Mephibosheth considered all that David said and did as very kind, and himself as less than the least of all his favours. See 1 Samuel 18:18.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 2 Samuel 9:1". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.