Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 2 Samuel 9:1-13. David’s kindness to Mephibosheth
Since Mephibosheth was only five years old at the time of his father’s death (ch. 2 Samuel 4:4), and now had a young son (2 Samuel 9:12), the incident here recorded cannot have occurred till David had been reigning at Jerusalem for some seven years at least, when Mephibosheth would be about 20 years old. The narrative finds a natural place here as an appendix to the general summary of the public history of David’s reign, and before the account of his great sin with its fatal consequences. It is omitted in Chronicles as being a matter of private interest.
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?1. that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake] In fulfilment of his oath to Jonathan. See 1 Samuel 20:14-17; 1 Samuel 20:42.
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.
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.3. the kindness of God] A reference to Jonathan’s words in 1 Samuel 20:14. “The kindness of God” means kindness or mercy such as God shews to men, unfailing, unsought, unlimited. Cp. Luke 6:36.
lame on his feet] See ch. 2 Samuel 4:4.
Machir the son of Ammiel] A man of wealth and position, to judge from the welcome which he gave David in his flight from Absalom (ch. 2 Samuel 17:27-29). He may have taken charge of Mephibosheth at Jonathan’s death. It may be inferred from his name that he belonged to the tribe of Manasseh (Numbers 32:39-40).
Lo-debar] A town on the E. of the Jordan in the neighbourhood of Mahanaim, possibly the same as the Debir of Joshua 13:26. Its site is not determined.
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.
Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar.5. fet] This archaic form for fetched appears in several passages in the original edition of the E. V. (1611). It is found in Shakespeare:
“On, on, you noblest English,
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!”
Henry V., A. III. S. I. 18, 19.
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!6. Mephibosheth] See note on ch. 2 Samuel 4:4.
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.7. Fear not] Mephibosheth might be afraid that David had only hunted him out to treat him after the common fashion of Oriental usurpers, who often put all their predecessor’s kindred to death. He seems to have lived in concealment at Lo-debar.
the land of Saul thy father] Saul’s private estate at Gibeah, which passed into David’s possession when he came to the throne (ch. 2 Samuel 12:8). Father = grandfather, as frequently: so in 2 Samuel 9:9 son = grandson.
thou shalt eat bread at my table] A common mark of honour in Oriental countries. See 1 Kings 2:7; 2 Kings 25:29. The physician Democedes, who cured Darius, was made “a member of the king’s table” (ὁμοτράπεζος βασιλέϊ, Herod. III. 132): and Histiaeus of Miletus was invited to come up to Susa, and be Darius’ “mess-companion” (σύσσιτος, Herod, v. 24).
And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?8. he bowed himself] The same Heb. word as “did reverence” in 2 Samuel 9:6.
a dead dog] The vilest and most contemptible object possible. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 3:8; and cp. ch. 2 Samuel 16:9; 1 Samuel 24:14.
Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.
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: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.10. shall till the land] This arrangement suggests that Ziba was already in occupation of the land, so that the only change to him would be that Mephibosheth would now receive the fruits instead of David.
that thy master’s son, &c.] Though Mephibosheth himself was to be a guest at the royal table, he would require the revenues of this estate for the support of his family and household. It may be inferred from the number of Ziba’s servants that they would be considerable.
Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king's sons.11. As for Mephibosheth, said the king] There is nothing to warrant the insertion of the words “said the king:” nor can the words be Ziba’s assertion that he would himself have entertained Mephibosheth royally. It remains to follow the LXX. in reading at David’s table for “at my table,” and to take the clause along with the next two verses as the narrator’s conclusion of the story, thus: “So Mephibosheth did eat at David’s table, as one of the king’s sons.”
And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth.12. Micha] He had a numerous posterity. See 1 Chronicles 8:34, ff., where he is called Micah.
So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet.