Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
David's Kindness towards Mephibosheth - 2 Samuel 9:1-13
When David was exalted to be king over all Israel, he sought to show compassion to the house of the fallen king, and to repay the love which his noble-minded friend Jonathan had once sworn to him before the Lord (1 Samuel 20:13.; comp. 2 Samuel 23:17-18). The account of this forms the conclusion of, or rather an appendix to, the first section of the history of his reign, and was intended to show how David was mindful of the duty of gratitude and loving fidelity, even when he reached the highest point of his regal authority and glory. The date when this occurred was about the middle of David's reign, as we may see from the fact, that Mephibosheth, who was five years old when Saul died (2 Samuel 4:4), had a young son at the time (2 Samuel 9:12).
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?When David inquired whether there was any one left of the house of Saul to whom he could show favour for Jonathan's sake (ישׁ־עוד הכי: is it so that there is any one? equals there is certainly some one left), a servant of Saul named Ziba was summoned, who told the king that there was a son of Jonathan living in the house of Machir at Lodebar, and that he was lame in his feet. אישׁ עוד האפס, "is there no one at all besides?" The ל before בּית is a roundabout way of expressing the genitive, as in 1 Samuel 16:18, etc., and is obviously not to be altered into מבּית, as Thenius proposes. "The kindness of God" is love and kindness shown in God, and for God's sake (Luke 6:36). Machir the son of Ammiel was a rich man, judging from 2 Samuel 17:27, who, after the death of Saul and Jonathan, had received the lame son of the latter into his house. Lodebar (לודבר, written לאדבר in 2 Samuel 17:27, but erroneously divided by the Masoretes into two words in both passages) was a town on the east of Mahanaim, towards Rabbath Amman, probably the same place as Lidbir (Joshua 13:26); but it is not further known.
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.
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.David sent for this son of Jonathan (Mephibosheth: cf. 2 Samuel 4:4), and not only restored his father's possessions in land, but took him to his own royal table for the rest of his life. "Fear not," said David to Mephibosheth, when he came before him with the deepest obeisance, to take away any anxiety lest the king should intend to slay the descendants of the fallen king, according to the custom of eastern usurpers. It is evident from the words, "I will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father," 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. "Thou shalt eat bread at my table continually," i.e., eat at my table all thy life long, or receive thy food from my table.
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!
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.
And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?Mephibosheth expressed his thanks for this manifestation of favour with the deepest obeisance, and a confession of his unworthiness of any such favour. On his comparison of himself to a "dead dog," see at 1 Samuel 24:15.
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.David then summoned Ziba the servant of Saul, told him of the restoration of Saul's possessions to his son Mephibosheth, and ordered him, with his sons and servants, to cultivate the land for the son of his lord. The words, "that thy master's son may have food to eat," are not at variance with the next clause, "Mephibosheth shall eat bread alway at my table," as bread is a general expression, including all the necessaries of life. Although Mephibosheth himself ate daily as a guest at the king's table, he had to make provision as a royal prince for the maintenance of his own family and servants, as he had children according to 2 Samuel 9:12 and 1 Chronicles 8:34. Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants (2 Samuel 9:10), with whom he had probably been living in Gibeah, Saul's native place, and may perhaps have hitherto farmed Saul's land.
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.
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.Ziba promised to obey the king's command. The last clause of this verse is a circumstantial clause in form, with which the writer passes over to the conclusion of his account. But the words שׁלחני על שׁלחן, "at my table," do not tally with this, as they require that the words should be taken as David's own. This is precluded, however, not only by the omission of any intimation that David spoke again after Ziba, and repeated what he had said once already, and that without any occasion whatever, but also by the form of the sentence, more especially the participle אכל. There is no other course left, therefore, than to regard שׁלחני (my table) as written by mistake for דּוד שׁלחן: "but Mephibosheth ate at David's table as one of the king's sons." The further notices in 2 Samuel 9:12 and 2 Samuel 9:13 follow this in a very simple manner. בּית מושׁב כּל, "all the dwelling," i.e., all the inhabitants of Ziba's house, namely his sons and servants, were servants of Mephibosheth, i.e., worked for him and cultivated his land, whilst he himself took up his abode at Jerusalem, to eat daily at the king's table, although he was lamed in both his feet.
And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth.
So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet.