New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

2Sa 9:1 David said, Is there yet any who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?-
These words may have been said in David's heart, or perhaps as a nationwide announcement. David sought to show all grace to the house of Saul, in response to the grace he had received from God. And he didn't let the opportunities to show grace just meet him along life's way, but rather proactively sought them out. And this is a pattern to us. The fulfilment of God's promises is His showing kindness to us (s.w. Gen. 24:12,14); to show kindness is to respond to grace or something done for us (s.w. Gen. 40:14; Josh. 2:12; Jud. 1:24; 8:35; Ruth 1:8; 2 Sam. 10:2). Nothing good had been done to David by the house of Saul; but God had done David so much good. And he reflected that by showing grace to those who had not shown it to him. See on 2 Sam. 10:1.

2Sa 9:2 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? He said, Your servant is he-
As noted on :1, this is an example of proactively seeking out opportunities to show grace. David was apparently unaware of Jonathan's lame son (:3) or else he would have shown this grace earlier. Perhaps Ziba and Mephibosheth didn't quite believe David could show so much grace to the house of Saul after what they had done to him. We take from this the principle that it is always hard to believe real grace. 

2Sa 9:3 The king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him? Ziba said to the king, Jonathan has yet a son, who is lame of his feet-
See on Ps. 35:14. David wept for Saul as if he was his friend or brother (Ps. 35:14). Who was David's friend and brother? Surely Jonathan his brother-in-law. But he wept for Saul, David says, as he wept for Jonathan. This is testified to historically by David's lament of 2 Sam. 1. And still David sought out the house of Saul, “that I may shew the kindness of God” unto them. It was the experience of Divine kindness that motivated David.

2Sa 9:4 The king said to him, Where is he? Ziba said to the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar-
"Lo Debar" is literally 'place of no pasture'; we can assume it was therefore an impoverished area. 

2Sa 9:5 Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar-
It could be that David personally did this, hence LXX "David went, and took him out of the house of Machir". He was so eager to personally do the hard work of showing grace.

2Sa 9:6 Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David-
"Mephibosheth" is apparently a name which would have arisen from changing his original name, Meribbaal 'man of Baal' (1 Chron. 8:34), to something which means 'the dispeller of shame'. i.e. Baal. The suffix 'baal' could suggest that even Jonathan was closer to idolatry than we would like, and at least he didn't use the 'Yah' suffix in the name of his children. But Mephibosheth had perhaps repented of this, renouncing Baal as shameful, and yet still struggled to believe in the extent of Yahweh's grace to him through David.

And fell on his face, and showed respect. David said, Mephibosheth. He answered, Behold, your servant!-
The record gives us the tragic picture of a fearful (:7) lame man now fallen flat on his face before the powerful king David. And David shows him every grace.

2Sa 9:7 David said to him, Don’t be afraid; for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your father. You shall eat bread at my table continually-
Mephibosheth's fear reflects the difficulty we all have in accepting grace. Indeed faith in the gospel is effectively a climbing of this mountain, to believe in grace. See on 2 Sam. 1:23; Ps. 35:14. As he hoped for fellowship at the Messianic King’s table in the future, so David delighted in inviting his former enemies to partake of his table, now he was king (2 Sam. 9:7,11,13). And if we hope to share the Lord’s table in the Kingdom, we must share it with our weaker brethren now. I see in all this such a triumph for David, that a man should reflect the love of God to such an extent, to love in the face of such hatred, to not just love those who loved him. The deep sorrow of the Lord Jesus for Judas and all those who turn away is surely typified here. Right at the bitter end, the Lord still referred to him as his friend (Mt. 26:50), even though a few hours before he had been speaking of how the faithful few were his friends, and how he would give his life for his friends (Jn. 15:13-15).

2Sa 9:8 He bowed down, and said, What is your servant, that you should look on such a dead dog as I am?-
This was how David had felt about himself (1 Sam. 17:17 LXX; 24:14 cp. 2 Sam. 9:8; 16:9). As he, the dead dog, had been shown grace, so he was determined to show it to other dead dogs. And this is how we should feel towards apparently hopeless cases; for there but for God's grace went I.

The promises to David are described as the mercy of God (Is. 55:3; Ps. 89:33,34). God having a son is the sign of His love for us, and this must elicit a response in us. David himself marvelled that such mercy had been shown to him: "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house… You know Your servant" (2 Sam. 7:18-20). And yet in the very next chapters, we read of how David made a renewed attempt to show mercy to the house of Saul. Mephibosheth says that he is "Your servant… what is your servant, that you should look upon such… as I am?" (2 Sam. 9:8). Mephibosheth is using the very words which David used to God; David is showing mercy to Mephibosheth in the very way in which the promises of God to him were the "mercies" shown to David. Appreciating that the promises concern us personally, and that they reveal such loving grace from the Father, can only lead to a similar response in showing love and grace through entering into the lives and destinies of others.

2Sa 9:9 Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, All that pertained to Saul and to all his house have I given to your master’s son-
It's not clear whether the "master" of Ziba refers to Jonathan, or whether his master was Mephibosheth and Ziba being told that the inheritance is going to go to Mephibosheth's son Mica (:12). We get the impression that Ziba had abused Mephibosheth's handicap and somehow manipulated to get the land of Saul and Jonathan given to him and his family as an inheritance.

2Sa 9:10 You shall till the land for him, you, and your sons, and your servants; and you shall bring in the harvest, 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-
There could be here the implication that Ziba had used Saul's land for his own enrichment, and not always given Mephibosheth enough to eat. Mephibosheth is called Saul's son (2 Sam. 9:7,10; 19:24), although he was actually Jonathan's son. This suggests that the son was brought up in Saul's house. This certainly does not give the impression that Jonathan separated himself from his father's house, even though he strongly disagreed with Saul. There was no fear of guilt by association with Bible characters, but rather a standing up for Godly principle in whatever situation they were in.

The invitation to eat at David's table is emphasized (:7,11,13). Likewise after Solomon's ascension, there was judgment and reward; in the form of being able to eat at his table (1 Kings 2:7 cp. 2 Sam. 9: 7,10; 19:28).  After Christ's return, the reward is to break bread with Him (Lk. 14:15; 22:30). Breaking bread with Him now is a sign of joyful fellowship with Him in anticipation of that; it shouldn’t therefore be a scary, worrying experience.

2Sa 9:11 Then Ziba said to the king, According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so your shall servant do. So Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table, like one of the king’s sons-
This eating at table with David is stressed three times (:7,11,13). Whom you shared your table with was significant; and the handicapped were often kept out of public view. David's grace is shown by how he opened his table to the otherwise hopeless and obscure. The Lord Jesus did the same, and so should we.

2Sa 9:12 Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica-
See on :9 for the significance of this mention.

All that lived in the house of Ziba were servants to Mephibosheth-
The idea is perhaps that Ziba had abused Mephibosheth's handicap, and had become wealthy as a result; for her had many sons and servants (:10). But now that is all changed around, in the spirit of grace. Now the crippled Mephibosheth is made the master and Ziba and his family become Mephibosheth's servants.

2Sa 9:13 So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem; for he ate continually at the king’s table. He was lame in both his feet
It was common in those days for the handicapped to be isolated from society and not placed in public view. But grace inverted all of that. The lameness of Mephibosheth is emphasized, and juxtaposed against the fact he ate always at David's table, as if they were family.