Fairview Baptist Church
Sunday School Archives
To send an email regarding the Lesson Study Guide follow the link below:
Email Link: firstname.lastname@example.org
This Sunday School Study Guide is provided
free of cost for personal study and as an aid for Sunday School teachers.
It contains copyright material and may not be reproduced in any form for
sale, without permission from the copyright holders.
Bailey Sadler Class
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE - 2014
Theme: Let Hope In!
What This Lesson Is About:
focus of this lesson is based on the fact that the Bible shows us that we are
never beyond hope. Regardless of the past, there is hope.
Easter: But Now . . . Victory
are never beyond hope.
2 Samuel 9:1-13
Extended (2 Samuel 9:1-7)
Questioned (2 Samuel 9:8)
Embraced (2 Samuel 9:9-13)
OF BACKGROUND PASSAGE:
was not only an effective warrior and administrator, but he also was a
beneficent ruler. He desired to honor the pledge he had made to Jonathan
and his family (1 Sam 20:14-15). He inquired and learned from Ziba, a
servant in Saul’s household, about Mephibosheth, who was Jonathan’s
only surviving son. Mephibosheth was crippled and lived in obscurity
(9:1-4). When he was brought before David, the king calmed his fears and
returned Saul’s property to him. Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem and ate
at the king’s table (9:5-13).
Bible Handbook; General Editor David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers;
Our past helps define us. That’s often a
good thing in terms of our heritage, upbringing, and experiences.
Unfortunately, our past failures, regrets, and shameful experiences can
also define us. We can feel trapped by our past, which can lead us to feel
nothing will change. Eventually, a sense of hopelessness develops. The
Bible shows us that we are never beyond hope. Regardless of the past,
there is hope.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay
Plaza, Nashville, TN.
Extended (2 Samuel 9:1-7)
1 David asked, “Is
there anyone remaining from Saul’s family I can show kindness to because
of Jonathan?” 2 There was a servant of Saul’s
family named Ziba. They summoned him to David, and the king said to him,
“Are you Ziba?” “⌊I am⌋ your servant,” he replied. 3 So
the king asked, “Is there anyone left of Saul’s family that I can show
the kindness of God to?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still
Jonathan’s son who was injured in both feet.” 4 The
king asked him, “Where is he?” Ziba answered the king, “You’ll
find him in Lo-debar at the house of Machir son of Ammiel.” 5 So
King David had him brought from the house of Machir son of Ammiel in
Lo-debar. 6 Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of
Saul came to David, bowed down to the ground and paid homage. David said,
“Mephibosheth!” “I am your servant,” he replied. 7
“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “since I intend to show you
kindness because of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all your
grandfather Saul’s fields, and you will always eat meals at my table.”
Questioned (2 Samuel 9:8)
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant that you take an
interest in a dead dog like me?”
Why do you think it is difficult for some people
to let go of the past and move forward?
did Mephibosheth express honor and gratitude to David?
does Mephibosheth’s question to David tell us about his (Mephibosheth) state
do you think Mephibosheth referred to himself as a dead dog?
does this tell us about the impact his past had on his self-image?
were the lame viewed in Jewish culture? (See
you think his handicap had a bearing on how he viewed his self-worth?
Why, or why not? (See 2 Sam.
Lessons in 2 Samuel 9:8:
discouraging situations in life can produce hopelessness in people.
is the source of help for all who are hopeless.
are not beyond help and hope if they receive God’s offer.
fail to receive hope because of ties to the past that are unresolved.
Embraced (2 Samuel 9:9-13)
9 Then the
king summoned Saul’s attendant Ziba and said to him, “I have given to
your master’s grandson all that belonged to Saul and his family. 10
You, your sons, and your servants are to work the ground for him, and you
are to bring in the crops so your master’s grandson will have food to
eat. But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, is always to eat at my
table.” Now Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants. 11
Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do all my lord the king
commands.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table just like one of the
king’s sons. 12
Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. All those living in
Ziba’s house were Mephibosheth’s servants. 13
However, Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem because he always ate at the
king’s table. His feet had been injured.
do you think David first approached Ziba to give him details of his plans for
were the practical actions David took to show kindness to Mephibosheth?
you think David’s kindness had the potential to give Mephibosheth a different
perspective on life?
How would you describe Mephibosheth’s state of
mind when he heard the orders David gave to Ziba?
so, do you think our kindness to others in need could have the same affect on
them? Why or why not?
you think extending kindness could present an opportunity to witness to a
non-believer? If so, why/how?
Do you think the shame and regret of our past
can keep us from embracing the hope God offers us in Christ?
Is so, why?
concerns did David’s restoration of Saul’s lands to Mephibosheth alleviate?
on verses 9-10, what did King David say to Ziba?
did Ziba respond to David’s kindness?
was the significance of Mephibosheth’s invitation to eat at the king’s table (vv. 10,13)?
you think the blessings extended to Mephibosheth are symbolic of the blessing
offered to believers in Jesus Christ?
so, how would you describe those particular blessings?
Lessons in 2 Samuel 9:9-13:
does not guarantee hope will be experienced.
more than we can ever hope for.
Look at the story once again from the perspective of David, Ziba,
and Mephibosheth. David had
made a promise and was determined to keep it.
Ziba was caught in the position of having to decrease, so to speak,
that another might increase. That
is not always a comfortable position to be in.
And Mephibosheth had lived in obscurity with an uncertain future.
Suddenly his life turned from one of despair to one filled with
hope. Clearly we all need hope
to live joyful and productive lives. In
order to experience that hope, however, we must learn to be free of our
past through a transformation that only God can accomplish.
Like David’s kindness transformed Mephibosheth, God, through
faith in Jesus Christ, can transform each of us.
As a Christian what measure of hope has God given to
you? How thankful are you for
your hope in Jesus Christ? Are
you thankful enough to share your hope with others?
If so, on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) how would you rate
yourself on your witness for sharing your hope with others? Does your
witness please you? God? If
not, ask Him to help you improve your witness!
are the implications of these truths for your life?
THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!
the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.
Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion
adapted from the following sources:
SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay
Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville,
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study;
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Commentary for the focal verses
comes from three sources: “The Pulpit Commentary,” “The New American Commentary,” and “Expositions Of Holy Scripture: Old
Testament,” and is provided for your study.)
(2 Samuel 9:1-7)
(2 Samuel 9:8)
(2 Samuel 9:9-13)
Pulpit Commentary; Volume 4: Ruth and Samuel: 2 Samuel 9:1-13
Verse 1. Is there yet any that is left
of the house of Saul? As
Mephibosheth was five years old at his father's death (2 Samuel 4:4), but now
had a son (ver. 12), a sufficient time must have elapsed for him to grow up and
marry; so that probably the events of this chapter occurred seventeen or
eighteen years after the battle of Gilboa. As David was king at Hebron for seven
years and a half, he had been king now of all Israel for about nine years. But
during this long period he had been engaged in a weary struggle, which had left
him little repose, and during which it might have been dangerous to draw the
house of Saul out of obscurity. But he was at last firmly established on the
throne, and had peace all around; and the time was come to act upon the promise
made to Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:14, 15), and which we may be sure David had never
Verse 2. A
servant whose name was Ziba. It
is evident from this that David was not certain that Jonathan had left behind
him a son; but not because of the change of name from Meribbaal (1 Chronicles
8:34); for Baal retained its innocent meaning of “lord” until the
time of Jezebel. It then became the title of the Phoenician sun god; and
Jezebel's shameless worship of this deity, and her cruelty to Jehovah's
prophets, made the people henceforth change the name Baal into Bosheth, “the
shameful thing” (see note on 2 Samuel 2:8). Mephibosheth had not changed his
name, but had lived in obscurity in the wild region beyond Mahanaim. Meanwhile
Ziba had probably taken care of Saul's property in the tribe of Benjamin. There
is no reason to doubt that he had been steward there for Saul, and after his
master's death had continued in possession of the estate. David, we may feel
sure, would not interfere with it, and Ziba would hold it for Saul's heirs, who
could not themselves take possession. To him David now sends, not because he
expected to hear of a son of his dear friend Jonathan, but because he was ready
to show kindness to any representative of the fallen monarch.
Verse 3. The kindness of God. That is, extraordinary kindness. The devout mind of the
Orientals saw in everything that was more than common a manifestation of God,
and thus the epithet “of God” came to be applied to anything that was very
great (comp. Genesis 30:8, margin; 35:5; Psalm 65:9; Jonah 3:3, margin). David
would show Saul's seed kindness as wonderful as are God's dealings with man.
Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar. Of Lo-debar
nothing is known, but it must have been east of the Jordan, near Mahanaim. Of
Ammiel we read again in 2 Samuel 17:27, where we find that he was a man of
wealth, who helped to supply the wants of David and his men during the rebellion
of Absalom. Possibly this kindness of David towards one for whom he had feelings
of loyalty, as representing a royal house to which he had remained faithful, won
his heart. There was a magnanimity about it which would commend it to a man who
was himself generous and true.
Verse 6. He fell
on his face. Mephibosheth
probably expected the fate which in the East usually befalls the members of a
dethroned dynasty. Subsequently in Israel each new line of usurpers put to death
every male relative of its predecessor, and it was with difficulty in Judah that
one babe was rescued from the hands of its own grandmother, Athaliah, when she
usurped the throne. Looked at, then, in the light of Oriental policy, David's
conduct was most generous.
Verse 7. All the
land of Saul thy father. David
probably restored to Mephibosheth not only the lands at Gibeah, which Ziba had
managed to hold, but Saul's estates generally. There seems, nevertheless, to
have been on Ziba's part a grudge against Mephibosheth for thus getting back
from the king what he had hoped to keep as his own. The privilege of being the
king's friend, and eating at his table, was an honour that would be more highly
prized than even the possession of the estates.
Verse 8. A dead
first sight this extreme self-humiliation makes us look on Mephibosheth as a
poor creature, whom early misfortune and personal deformity had combined to
depress But really this is to impose on an Oriental hyperbole a Western
exactness of meaning. When in the East your entertainer assures you that
everything he has to his last dirhem is yours, he nevertheless expects you to
pay twice the value foreverything you consume; but he makes his exaction
pleasant by his extreme courtliness. So Ephron offered his cave at Machpelah to
Abraham as a free gift, but he took care to obtain for it an exorbitant price
(Genesis 23:11, 15). Mephibosheth described himself in terms similar to those
used by David of himself to Saul (1 Samuel 24:14); but he meant no more than to
express great gratitude, and also to acknowledge the disparity of rank between
him and the king.
Verse 9. Thy
master's son. Strictly
Mephibosheth was Saul's grandson, but words of relationship are used in a very
general way in Hebrew.
Verse 10. That
thy master's son may have food to eat. Instead
of “son,” Hebrew ben, some commentators prefer the reading of a few
Greek versions, namely, “house,” Hebrew, beth. But the difficulty
which they seek to avoid arises only from extreme literalness of interpretation.
Though Mephibosheth ate at the king's table, he would have a household to
maintain — for he had a wife and son — and other expenses; and his having
“food to eat” includes everything necessary, as does our prayer for “daily
bread.” He would live at Jerusalem as a nobleman and Ziba would cultivate his
estates, paying, as is usual in the East, a fixed proportion of the value of the
produce to his master. Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants (slaves).
He had evidently thriven; for, beginning as a slave in Saul's household, he had
now several wives and many slaves of his own, and had become a person of
considerable importance. He would still remain so, though somewhat shorn both of
wealth and dignity in becoming only Mephibosheth's farmer.
Verse 11. As for
Mephibosheth, said the
king, he, etc. These words are difficult, because they make David say the
same thing thrice. The text is probably corrupt, as it requires the insertion of
some such phrase as the “said the king” of the Authorized Version to make it
intelligible. Of the many emendations proposed, the most probable is that of the
LXX. and Syriac, which make this clause an observation of the historian pointing
out the high honour done to Mephibosheth in placing him on an equality with
David's own sons. It would then run as follows: So Mephibosheth ate at the
king's table as one of the king's sons.
Verse 12. Micha. This son of
Mephibosheth became the representative of the house of Saul, and had a numerous
offspring, who were leading men in the tribe of Benjamin until the Captivity
(see 1 Chronicles 8:35-40; 9:40-44).
The Pulpit Commentary; Volume 4:
Ruth and Samuel; Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
New American Commentary; Volume 7; 1-2 Samuel: 2 Samuel 9:1-13
this chapter David fulfills the pledge of familial support he made to Saul as
well as to Jonathan son of Saul (cf. 1 Sam 18:3; 20:42; 23:18; 24:21–22), the
one initially positioned in the Saulide dynasty as David’s chief challenger
for Israel’s throne. Through this narrative the biblical writer portrays David
as the supreme Israelite example of covenant faithfulness (Hb. ḥesed),
the highest virtue in Hebrew society. Judged by David’s own demanding criteria
(cf. Ps 15:1, 4), the king proved himself worthy to live on the Lord’s holy
hill by keeping his oath to Jonathan even though it ran the risk of hurting his
on the throne in Jerusalem after having effectively put down both internal and
external opposition, David was now in a position to fulfill his commitment to
“the house of Saul” (v. 1). Accordingly, at an unknown point in time but
perhaps before the events of 2 Sam 21:1–10 (cf. esp. 21:7), he began a search
for someone to whom he could “show kindness for Jonathan’s sake.” Ziba, a
well-to-do (cf. v. 10) “servant of Saul’s household” (v. 2) who apparently
managed the former king’s royal estate, was called in and questioned by the
narrator’s seemingly unnecessary repetition of David’s question in v. 3 (cf.
v. 1) is in fact significant in establishing the theme of this chapter. It
underscores that David was not an enemy of “the house of Saul” (v. 3); in
fact, he was an agent of “God’s kindness” (Hb. ḥesed;
“loving faithfulness”) working to benefit Israel’s former dynastic family.
his inquiry David learned that there was “still a son of Jonathan” (v. 4)
apparently living with a wife and son (cf. v. 12) in a self-imposed internal
exile “at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” Makir, mentioned
here for the first time, was a wealthy and powerful individual living east of
the Jordan at Lo Debar (modern Umm ed-Debar?) in the Jordan river valley of
Gilead. Later he proved to be one of David’s most loyal supporters (cf.
known outside of 2 Samuel as Merib-Baal (cf. 1
Chr 8:34; 9:40), was “crippled in both feet” (v. 3) as a result of an
accident in early childhood (cf. 4:4). David summoned him for appearance at the
royal court. Appropriately—and perhaps somewhat awkwardly—the
lame young man “bowed down” before the king “to pay him honor” (v. 6).
a dialogic script reflective of an interchange between a social superior and an
inferior (cf. 1 Sam 3:9), David called out Mephibosheth’s name; in turn,
Mephibosheth referred to himself as “your servant.” After establishing the
sociological parameters of this relationship by giving the proper initial
exchange, David issued a magnanimous decree that changed Mephibosheth’s
fortunes forever. First, David restored to the disfigured, exiled Saulide “all
the land that belonged to … Saul” (v. 7). This would have meant that the
family estate located about three miles north of Jerusalem in Gibeah would be
returned to Mephibosheth. Second, David gave Mephibosheth a privilege that
seemed to have perished the day his father Jonathan had died, the right to board
at the king’s table “always.” Saul had accorded David this
dispensation during his youth (cf. 1 Sam 20:5); now David returned the favor.
Third, David provided Mephibosheth
with a large contingent of servants and material wealth. He ordered “Ziba,
Saul’s servant” (v. 9) along with his “fifteen sons and twenty servants”
(v. 10), “to farm the land” that had originally belonged to Saul “and
bring in the crops” for Mephibosheth so that Jonathan’s son “may be
response to the king’s magnanimous pronouncements was one of abject humility
(cf. 2 Sam 7:18). After bowing down once again before David, he called himself
“your slave” (v. 8; NIV, “servant”; Hb. ˓ebed)
and “a dead dog” (cf. 1 Sam 24:14).
whose destiny had also been changed by the king’s imperial edict, had no
choice but to accept the new assignment—and this he did. However, when the
opportunity presented itself, Ziba apparently tried to manipulate David to issue
a different, more favorable edict (cf. 16:2–4).
presumably his entire family, including “a young son named Mica” (v.
12)—was permanently relocated back in Benjamite territory “in Jerusalem”
(v. 13). There
Mephibosheth “always ate at the king’s table” even though “he was
crippled in both feet.” David’s acceptance of a lame man in his house
confirms that the royal pronouncement banning “the lame” in the royal
residence was intended as a figurative reference to an ethnic group, not
mobility-impaired individuals (cf. comments at 5:8).
New American Commentary; Volume 7; 1-2
Samuel; Robert D. Bergen;
General Editor E. Ray Clendenen;
© Copyright 1996 Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee.
Expositions Of Holy Scripture: Old
Testament 2 Samuel 9:1-13
This charming idyl of faithful love to a dead friend
and generous kindness comes in amid stories of battle like a green oasis in a
wilderness of wild rocks and sand. The natural sweetness and chivalry of
David’s disposition, which fascinated all who had to do with him, comes
beautifully out in it, and it may well stand as an object lesson of the great
Christian duty of practical mercifulness.
I. So regarded, the narrative brings out first the
motives of true kindliness.
Saul and three of his four sons had fallen on the
fatal field of Gilboa; the fourth, the weak Ishbosheth, had been murdered after
his abortive attempt at setting up a rival kingdom had come to nothing. There
were only left Saul’s daughters and some sons by a concubine. So low had the
proud house sunk, while David was consolidating his kingdom, and gaining victory
wherever he went.
But neither his own prosperity, nor the absence of any trace of Saul’s
legitimate male descendants, made him forget his ancient oath to Jonathan. Years
had not weakened his love, his sufferings at Saul’s hands had not embittered
it. His elevation had not lifted him too high to see the old days of lowliness,
and the dear memory of the self-forgetting friend whose love had once been an
honour to the shepherd lad. Jonathan’s name had been written on his heart when
it was impressionable, and the lettering was as if ‘graven on the rock
forever.’ A heart so faithful to its old love needed no prompting either from
men or circumstances. Hence the inquiry after ‘any that is left of the house
of Saul’ was occasioned by nothing external, but came welling up from the
depth of the king’s own soul.
That is the highest type of kindliness which is spontaneous and self-motived.
It is well to be easily moved to beneficence either by the sight of need or by
the appeals of others, but it is best to kindle our own fire, and be our own
impulse to gracious thoughts and acts. We may humbly say that human mercy then
shows likest God’s, when, in such imitation as is possible, it springs in us,
as His does in Him, from the depths of our own being. He loves and is kind
because He is God. He is His own motive and law. So, in our measure, should we
aim at becoming.
But David’s remarkable language in his questions
to Ziba goes still deeper in unfolding his motives. For he speaks of showing
‘the kindness of God’ to any remaining of Saul’s house. Now that
expression is no mere synonym for kindness exceeding great, but it unfolds what
was at once David’s deepest motive and his bright ideal. No doubt, it may
include a reminiscence of the sacred obligation of the oath to Jonathan, but it
hallows David’s purposed ‘mercy’ as the echo of God’s to him, and so
anticipates the Christian teaching, ‘Be ye merciful, even as your Father is
merciful.’ We must receive mercy from Him before our hearts are softened, so
as to give it to others, just as the wire must be charged from the electric
source before it can communicate the tingle and the light.
The best basis for the beneficent service of man is experience of the
mercy of God. Philanthropy has no roots unless it is planted in religion. That
is a lesson which this age needs. And the other side of the thought is as true
and needful; namely, that our ‘religion’ is not ‘pure and undefiled’
unless it manifests itself in the service of man. How serene and lofty, then,
the ideal! How impossible ever to be too forgiving or too beneficent! ‘As your
heavenly Father is,’—that is our pattern. We have not shown our brother all
the kindness which we owe him unless we have shown him ‘the kindness of
II. The progress of the story brings out next the
characteristics of David’s kindliness, and these may be patterns for us.
Ziba does not seem to be very communicative, and
appears a rather unwilling witness, who needs to have the truth extracted bit by
bit. He evidently had nothing to do with Mephibosheth, and was quite content
that he should be left obscurely stowed away across Jordan in the house of the
rich Machir (2 Sam. 17:27-29). Lo-debar was near Mahanaim, on the eastern side
of the river, where Ishbosheth’s short-lived kingdom had been planted, and
probably the population there still clung to Saul’s solitary representative.
There he lived so privately that none of David’s people knew whether he was
alive or dead. Perhaps the savage practice of Eastern monarchs, who are wont to
get rid of rivals by killing them, led the cripple son of Jonathan to ‘lie
low,’ and Ziba’s reticence may have been loyalty to him. It is noteworthy
that Ziba is not said to have been sent to bring him, though that would have
At any rate, Mephibosheth came, apparently dreading whether his summons
to court was not his death-warrant. But he is quickly reassured. David again
recalls the dear memory of Jonathan, which was, no doubt, stirred to deeper
tenderness by the sight of his helpless son; but he swiftly passes to practical
arrangements, full of common-sense and grasp of the case. The restoration of
Saul’s landed estate implies that it was in David’s power. It had probably
been ‘forfeited to the crown,’ as we in England say, or perhaps had been
‘squatted on’ by people who had no right to it. David, at any rate, will see
that it reverts to its owner.
But what is a lame man to do with it? and will it be wise to let a
representative of the former dynasty loose in the territory of Benjamin, where
Saul’s memory was still cherished? Apparently, David’s disposition of
affairs was prompted partly by consideration for Mephibosheth, partly by
affection for Jonathan, and partly by policy. So Ziba, who had not been present,
is sent for, and installed as overseer of the estate, to work it for his new
master’s benefit, while the owner is to remain at Jerusalem in David’s
establishment. It was prudent to keep Mephibosheth at hand. The best way to
weaken a pretender’s claims was to make a pensioner of him, and the best way
to hinder his doing mischief was to keep him in sight.
But we need not suppose that this was David’s only motive. He gratified
his heart by retaining the poor young man beside himself, and, no doubt, sought
to win his confidence and love. The recipient of his kindness receives it in
characteristic Eastern fashion, with exaggerated words of self-depreciation,
which sound almost too humble to be quite sincere. A little gratitude is better
than whining professions of un worthiness.
And how did Ziba like his task? The singular remark that he had
‘fifteen sons and twenty servants’ perhaps suggests that he was a person of
some importance; and the subsequent one that ‘all in his house were servants
to Mephibosheth’ may imply that neither they nor he quite liked their being
handed over thus cavalierly.
But, however that may be, we may note that common-sense and practical
sagacity should guide our mercifulness. Kindly impulses are good, but they need
cool heads to direct them, or they do more harm than good. It is useless to set
lame men to work an estate, even if they get a gift of it. And it is wise not to
put untried ones in positions where they may plot against their benefactor.
Mercifulness does not mean rash trust in its objects. They will often have to be
watched very closely to keep them from going wrong. How many most charitable
impulses have been so unwisely worked out that they have injured their objects
and disappointed their subjects! We may note, too, in David’s kindliness, that
it was prompt to make sacrifice, if, as is probable, he had become owner of the
estate. The pattern of all mercy, who is God, has not loved us with a love which
cost Him nothing. Sacrifice is the life-blood of service.
III. The subsequent history of Mephibosheth and Ziba
is somewhat enigmatical.
Usually the former is supposed to have been slandered by the latter, and
to have been truly attached to David. But it is at least questionable whether
Ziba was such a villain, and Mephibosheth such an injured innocent, as is
supposed. This, at least, is plain, that Ziba demonstrated attachment to David
at the time when self-love would have kept him silent. It took some courage to
come with gifts to a discrowned king (2 Sam. 16:1-4); and his allegation about
his master has at least this support, that the latter did not come with the rest
of David’s court to share his fortunes, and that the dream that he might fish
to advantage in troubled waters is extremely likely to have occurred to him. Nor
does it appear clear that, if Ziba’s motive was to get hold of the estate, his
adherence to David would have seemed, at that moment, the best way of effecting
If we look at the sequel (19:24-30) Mephibosheth’s excuse for not
joining David seems almost as lame as himself. He says that Ziba ‘deceived
him,’ and did not bring him the ass for riding on, and therefore he could not
come. Was there only one ass available in Jerusalem? and, when all David’s
entourage were streaming out to Olivet after him, could not he easily have got
there too if he had wished? His demonstration of mourning looks very like a
blind, and his language to David has a disagreeable ring of untruthfulness, in
its extreme professions of humility and loyalty. ‘Me thinks the cripple doth
protest too much. David evidently did not feel sure about him, and stopped his
voluble utterances somewhat brusquely: ‘Why speakest thou any more of thy
matters?’ That is as much as to say, ‘Hold your tongue.’ And the final
disposition of the property, while it gives Mephibosheth the benefit of the
doubt, yet looks as if there was a considerable doubt in the king’s mind.
We may take up the same somewhat doubting position. If he requited
David’s kindness thus unworthily, is it not the too common experience that one
way of making enemies is to load with benefits? But no cynical wisdom of that
sort should interfere with our showing mercy; and if we are to take ‘the
kindness of God’ for our pattern, we must let our sunshine and rain fall, as
His do, on ‘the unthankful and the evil.’
Expositions Of Holy Scripture: Old Testament; By
Alexander Maclaren, D. D., Litt. D.;
Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 2006,
Hebrew verb rendered paid homage
describes a position of humility before a person of authority.
The verb can be used to describe prostration before God in worship (Gen.
24:52). The verb can also be used to
describe humility before another person. Interestingly,
the verb is used to describe an encounter between David and Jonathan before
David was forced to flee from Saul’s wrath.
David bowed (same verb) three times before Jonathan as a sign of deep
friendship (1 Sam. 20:41). In our
passage (2 Sam. 9:6), Jonathan’s son humbled himself before King David as a
sign of respect and fear.
Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Did reverence (KJV): A
subject coming before his king would be expected to show honor and respect.
Therefore, in David’s presence, Mephibosheth acknowledged his
subservient role by acts of reverence (v. 6). Reverence
in its primitive root meant “to depress.”
It came to mean “to prostrate one’s self (lie flat), to bow, to
stoop” as an act of homage or obeisance to one of superior rank.
The word was also used to describe one’s act of worship before God.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
Dead dog—The Hebrew phrase dead dog occurs only three times in the Old Testament, and all of
them are in 1 and 2 Samuel. David
used the phrase of himself in conversation with Saul (1 Sam. 24:14).
Saul entered a cave where David was hiding and David allowed him to leave
unharmed. David then called out to
Saul using the term as a humble reference to himself.
In 2 Samuel 9:8 Mephibosheth used it of himself when he appeared before
David. Abishai also use the words in
2 Samuel 16:9 when Shimei cursed David. Dogs
were not pets in the ancient near east but were considered worthless scavengers.
A dead dog described someone
who made no boast of importance or worth.
Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
In ancient society dogs were not the pets we prize in our day.
Most dogs were scavengers. They
had little value alive, so they were completely worthless when dead.
Dog was a term of contempt when
applied to another person (1 Sam. 17:43). To
apply it to one’s self, as Mephibosheth did in 2 Samuel 9:8, was to declare
one’s unworthiness for a favor he was receiving from a superior.
However, keep in mind that the Eastern man was a master of hyperbole,
meaning he often used exaggeration to make a point.
David applied the term dead dog
to himself (24:14), but he also had a strong self-image and confidence that came
from his trust in the Lord (17:45-46).
JONATHAN (Jahn' uh
name meaning, “Yahweh gave.” Eldest son of King Saul; mother:
Ahinroam; brothers: Abinadab, Malchishua and Ish-baal; sisters Merab
and Michal; son Mephibosheth (Merib-Baal).
possessed courage, fidelity, and friendship. He led 1,000 soldiers to
defeat the Philistines at Geba (Gibeah) (1 Sam. 13:2-3). Then Jonathan
took only his armor-bearer to the rocky crags at Michmash and brought panic
to the Philistines by killing twenty of them (1 Sam. 14:1-16). Saul
discovered that Jonathan was missing, called for the ark of God, went to
battle, and defeated the Philistines. Jonathan ate honey, unaware that Saul
had forbidden the people to eat that day. Saul would have had Jonathan put to
death, but the people spoke in praise of Jonathan and ransomed him from
death (1 Sam. 14:27-46).
The next four
accounts about Jonathan focus on his friendship with David. First,
Jonathan formed a close friendship with David by giving him his robe,
armor, sword, bow, and girdle (18:1-5). Second, Jonathan pleaded
successfully with Saul to reinstate David (19:1-7). Third, Jonathan left
Saul’s table angrily to inform David that the king would never receive David
again (20:1-42). Fourth, Jonathan held a final meeting with David at Horesh.
They made covenant with one another as Jonathan acknowledged David as the
next king (23:16-18).
The end of 1
Samuel reports the end of Saul and three of his sons, Jonathan, Abinadab,
and Melchishua, at Mount Gilboa (1 Sam. 31:1-13). Their bodies were
first hung on the wall of Beth-shan and later retrieved to Jabesh.
Eventually, David had the bones buried in the land of Benjamin, in Zela
in the tomb of Kish, Jonathan’s grandfather (2 Sam. 21:12-14).
ZIBA (Zi' buh):
Personal name, perhaps Aramaic
for “branch.” Servant of Saul. When David desired to show kindness
to surviving members of Jonathan’s family, Ziba directed David to Mephibosheth
(2 Sam. 9:1-8). David placed Ziba in charge of Mephibosheth’s restored property (9:9-13).
During Absalom’s rebellion, Ziba assisted David with supplies and
(falsely) accused Mephibosheth of treason (2 Sam. 16:1-4). David rewarded Ziba
with Mephibosheth’s property. Mephibosheth met David on his return to power in Jerusalem
and accused Ziba of deception (2 Sam. 19:24-29). David, either uncertain whom to
believe or else desiring to leave no strong rivals, divided Saul’s property
between Ziba and Mephibosheth.
MEPHIBOSHETH (Me phibo
name meaning, “shame destroyer” or “image breaker.” A son of Jonathan,
who was granted special position and privilege in David’s court (2 Sam. 9).
Jonathan was killed in battle when Mephibosheth was five years old. Fearing that the
Philistines would seek the life of the young boy, a nurse fled with
him, but in her haste she dropped him and crippled him in both feet (2 Sam.
4:4). Mephibosheth may be an intentional change by copyists to avoid writing the
pagan god’s name “baal.” The original name would be Merib-Baal (1
Chron. 8:34). When David invited
Mephibosheth to be a part of his court, he entrusted the family property to
a steward, Ziba. During the Absalom rebellion Ziba tried
unsuccessfully to turn David against Mephibosheth. Upon the king’s return to Jerusalem,
Mephibosheth vindicated himself and was allowed to remain in the king’s house
(2 Sam. 16; 19).
Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers;
LAME lām (פִּסֵהַ, piṣēaḥ, נָכֵה, nākhēh; χωλός, chōlós): (1)
The condition of being unable or imperfectly able to walk, which unfitted any
descendant of Aaron so afflicted for service in the priesthood (Lev 21:18), and
rendered an animal unsuitable for sacrifice (Dt 15:21). The offering of animals
so blemished was one of the sins with which Malachi charges the negligent Jews
of his time (Mal 1:8-13). (2) Those
who suffered from lameness, such as Mephibosheth, whose limbs were injured by a
fall in childhood (2 Sam 4:4; 9:3). In the prophetic description of the
completeness of the victory of the returning Israelites, it is predicted that
the lame shall be made whole and shall leap like a hart (Jer 3:18; Isa
35:6). The unfitness of the lame for warfare gives point to the promise that the
lame shall take the prey (Isa 33:23). Job in his graphic description of his
helpfulness to the weak before his calamity says, “And feet was I to the
lame” (Job 29:15). The inequality of the legs of the lame is used in Prov
26:7 as a similitude of the ineptness with which a fool uses a parable.
In the enigmatical and probably corrupt passage describing David’s
capture of Jerusalem, the lame and blind are mentioned twice. In 2 Sam 5:6
it was a taunt on the part of the Jebusites that even a garrison of cripples
would suffice to keep out the Israelites. The allusion in 5:8 may be read,
“Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites let him … slay both the lame and blind,
which hate David’s soul” as it is in Septuagint. The Vulgate (Jerome’s
Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) says, “David had offered a reward on that day to
the man who should smite the Jebusite and reach the water pipes of the houses,
and remove the blind and lame who hated David’s soul.” It is possible,
however, that Budde’s emendation is more correct and that it is a threat
against the indiscriminate slaughter of the Jebusites: “Whoso slayeth a
Jebusite shall bring his neck into peril; the lame and blind are not hated of
David’s soul.” The proverbial saying quoted in 5:8 cannot be correct as
rendered in the King James Version, for we read in Mt 21:14 that the lame
came to our Lord in the temple and were healed.
The healing of the lame by our Lord is recorded in Mt 11:5; 15:30, 31; 21:14; Lk
7:22; 14:13. In Heb 12:13 the Christians are counseled to courage
under chastisement, lest their despair should cause that which is lame to be
“turned out of the way.”
SOURCE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; James Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor; Parsons
Technology, Inc.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
BACKGROUND FOR 2 SAMUEL
Care for Mephibosheth: 2
Samuel 9:3: lame
in both feet. See the comment on Mephibosheth and his
disability in 2 Samuel 4:4.
2 Samuel 4:4: Mephibosheth’s
injury. Although the biblical text does not clarify the details, it is
generally believed that the battle at Mount Gilboa in which Saul was killed led
to Philistine control of the entire central region. If that is true, it is
likely that the Philistines would have sacked Saul’s capital at Gibeah. Such
circumstances would explain the frantic flight of Saul’s household and the
subsequent injury of Mephibosheth. A neck or spine injury could have made
Mephibosheth a paraplegic, but it need not have been so extensive as that.
Broken legs or ankles improperly set or poorly treated could likewise lame him.
Splinting to set bones was a practice known in the ancient world, but compound
fractures were often considered hopeless.)
Samuel 9:4: Lo
Debar. This was an area north of the Yarmuk River in
Transjordan that was allied with Saul and later transformed into a vassal state
by David. The site of Tell Dober, which has evidence of occupation in the Iron I
and II periods, may well be the city that controlled this region. It lies at the
southwestern tip of the Golan and is north of the Yarmuk.
Samuel 9:7: David’s
action contrasted to normal. Mephibosheth had good cause to be afraid of David.
There is wide precedent in Mesopotamian texts for the elimination of all rival
claimants to the throne when a king comes to power (compare Baasha’s murder of
Jeroboam’s family in 1 Kings 15:29). Such purges also occurred years
later as a form of revenge for political opposition or rebellion attempted
against previous rulers. For example, Ashurbanipal mutilated, executed and fed
the bodies of his grandfather’s rivals to dogs as part of his first official
acts as king of Assyria. David, however, treats Mephibosheth, the only
surviving male member of the royal family, as the rightful heir to Saul’s
estates. His generosity is coupled with the command to eat at David’s table.
In this way Mephibosheth is treated with honor, though some have noted it also
keeps him under observation should he be inclined to subversion.
at the king’s table. Political prisoners were seldom kept in prison
cells. It was more advantageous for the king to hold them in confinement within
his palace or royal city, treating them to the pleasures of the “king’s
table” but always keeping a close eye on their activities. Reports in ration
lists from the Babylonian and Assyrian periods provide evidence of food,
clothing and oil provided to “guests” of the king. Persian courts contained
political detainees as well as “allies” who were kept in the king’s
presence to insure a continual flow of taxes and soldiers for the army. Thus
Mephibosheth, like Jehoiachin many years later (2 Kings 25:27-30), enjoyed the
largesse of the king’s court but was not truly free.
IVP Bible Background Commentary Old Testament; by Craig
S. Keener; InterVarsity Press; Downers Grove, Illinois 60515
King and His Kingdom
is a retired pastor, First Baptist Church, Monroe, Louisiana.
HICH OF THE
FOLLOWING EPITAPHS would you prefer to grace your tombstone:
“A Man of God,” “A Man After God’s Own Heart,” or “He Served His
Generation by the Will of God”? David
or his loved ones could have chosen any of these epitaphs to grace David’s
tombstone. The Chronicler spoke of
David as “the man of God” (2 Chron. 8:14).1
God identified David as “a man after his own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14;
see also Acts 13:22). Scripture
reports that David “served his own generation by the will of God” (Acts
the youngest of Jesse’s sons (1 Sam. 16:10-11).
He was of the tribe of Judah, the tribe God ordained to rule over Israel
until the Messiah should come—after which He (the Messiah) was to rule (Gen.
49:10; Ezek. 21:25-27). David was of
the lineage of Judah through Perez, whom Judah sired through his incestuous
relationship with Tamar, his daughter-in-law (Gen. 38:24-30; 1 Chron.
2:3-5,9-15). David’s ancestors
included his great-great-grandmother Rahab, his great-grandfather Boaz and his
great grandmother Ruth, and his grandfather Obed (Josh. 2:1; Ruth 4:12-22; Matt.
1:5). David testified of his
mother’s godliness by speaking of her as the Lord’s “handmaid” (Ps.
David spent his
youth in Bethlehem, his ancestral home (1 Sam. 17:58; Ruth 2:4; Luke 2:4).
The Book of First Samuel brings David on the scene at the time God was
rejecting Saul as Israel’s king because of his disobedience to the Lord (1
Sam. 13:14; 15:23). David was
described as “ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking” (16:12, NKJV).
As a shepherd, he showed skill and courage when he killed a lion and
courage when he killed a lion and a bear, thereby delivering his lambs from them
(17:36). David played the harp and
later wrote many of the Psalms. He
was recommended to Saul as “skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man
of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord was with him”
(16:18, NKJV). Most important, God
identified David as a man after His own heart, whom He had chosen to be
Israel’s king to fulfill all His will (13:17; 16:11-13; 1 Kings 8:16; Acts
David’s Service Under Saul
summoned David to his court to play the harp to comfort him from the evil spirit
that troubled him (1 Sam. 16:14,19). At
first, Saul loved David and made him his armor-bearer (v. 21).
“In this role David served as Saul’s personal bodyguard, an office
reserved for one who enjoyed the king’s complete confidence.
Thus David became a regular member of Saul’s court.”2
Saul’s love turned to hate, however, as David’s warrior feats, such
as killing Goliath and victories over Philistines, made David more popular than
Saul (17:50; 18:6-9). Saul first
tried to kill David with a javelin and then by challenging David to collect the
dowry of 100 Philistine foreskins necessary to marry Michal, Saul’s daughter
(18:11,25). David, however,
“behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him” (v. 14).
God even gave David the love and protection of Jonathan, Saul’s son,
who was heir to Saul’s throne (18:1-4; 19:1-7).
Moreover, Michal, whom Saul hoped would be a snare to David, loved David
and helped him escape the king’s threats (18:21,28; 19:12-18).
David’s Days as a Fugitive
continued to protect David during the days David eluded Saul and was fleeing for
his life (23:14). Both Saul and his
son Jonathan knew God had anointed David to reign over Israel in place of
rejected Saul (13:13-14; 16:12-13). Jonathan
bowed to God’s will for David to reign instead of him and would have gladly
served as David’s chief helper (23:16-18).
But Saul sought to kill David, an action that would have established
Jonathan on Israel’s throne (20:30-31).
In spite of Saul’s determination
to kill him, David remained loyal to King Saul.
Moreover, rather than usurp the kingship, David trusted God to establish
him on Israel’s throne at His appointed time.
Most significant was David’s treatment of Saul at the times God
delivered the king into his hands (24:1-22; 26:5-25).
David refused to avenge himself against Saul; he instead left Saul’s
judgment to God (24:12; 26:10,23). Moreover,
David continued to honor Saul as God’s anointed king of Israel.
He refused to put Saul to death and even repented of the disrespect he
had shown to God’s anointed by cutting off the skirt of Saul’s robe when the
king was in the cave (24:5-8). David
pledged to care for Jonathan’s family and later expanded this pledge to
include caring for all of Saul’s descendants (20:13-17; 24:21-22).
God’s time for David to reign came after the Philistines killed Saul,
Jonathan, and Saul’s other sons in battle (31:1-6).
God then commanded David, who was 30 years old at the time, to go to
Hebron where the men of Judah anointed him as king (2 Sam. 2:1-7; 5:4).
Then, after 71/2 years of war with Saul’s house, David became king over
all Israel and Judah—from Dan to Beersheba (3:1,10; 5:1-5).
As Israel’s king, David had many
accomplishments. One was to
establish Jerusalem as the nation’s capital and religious center (5:6-7;
6:12-19)—a designation that resulted in people referring to Jerusalem as
“the city of David” (compare 2 Sam. 5:7; 1 Kings 8:1).
He also unified Israel and extended its borders to approach the ideal
boundaries of the promised land (Gen. 15:18; 2 Sam. 8:1-14).
Although God denied David’s desire to build Him a house, David put into
Solomon’s hands the God-given pattern for the temple, gathered materials to
build it, and provided for continuous musical praise to God in it (1 Chron. 22;
significant was the covenant God made with David to fulfill His redemptive
purposes for humankind. The covenant
called for God to establish David’s house, his kingdom, and his throne forever
(2 Sam. 7:16). Although God would
fulfill His covenant promises, David’s successors would have to walk in
God’s ways as David had done (1 Kings 9:4-5).
Because Solomon followed other gods, though, the Lord divided the kingdom
in the days of Solomon’s son Rehoboam and left David’s descendents to reign
only over Judah (11:1-13; 12:19). The
covenant found further fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ—the
Messiah—who was (and is) David’s Son and at the same time David’s Lord
(Ps. 110:1; Matt. 1:1-17; 22:41-45). He
will reign not only over Judah, but “over the house of Jacob for ever; and of
his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).
In the Messiah’s finished work, His kingdom will include not only
Israel’s redeemed but the redeemed of “every kindred, and tongue, and
people, and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
Tragically David marred his reign by
growing weary in well-doing, committing adultery with Bathsheba, murdering her
husband in an attempt to cover Bathsheba’s pregnancy from the adultery (2 Sam.
11:1—12:15). Nathan the prophet
announced David’s sin—true to sin’s destructive nature—would cause the
sword never to depart from David’s house, his wives to be violated, and evil
to rise against him out of his own house. Moreover,
because David “treated the Lord with such contempt in this matter,” the
child conceived by his adultery would die (12:14).
Further, David numbered his army in
sinful pride and failed to discipline his own children (24:1-10; 1 Kings 1:6).
As predicted, violence continued in David’s house through his last
days. When he was quite old, David
had to put down the attempt of Adonijah—his eldest son—to usurp the throne
from Solomon, God’s appointed king (1 Kings 1:1-38; 1 Chron. 22:9-10; 23:1;
29:22). In his last recorded
interaction with Solomon, David charged his son to walk in God’s ways.
Doing so would mean Solomon would prosper as king and always have a son
on Israel’s throne (1 Kings 2:1-4).3
David died at the age of 70 and was buried in Jerusalem.
David had served as king of Judah and then of all Israel for a total of
40 years (vv. 10-11).
How does God
use David the man after His own heart to bless others even today?
I’ll mention only four of the ways.
One is to inspire godliness. Reading
and rereading the biblical account of David led my wife to say, “I want to be
a woman after God’s own heart.” A
second is to encourage godly leadership. Rulers
are to be God’s representatives through whom He leads people to walk in His
way. As we lead in our various
capacities, may we do right in the sight of the Lord as David did (2 Kings
18:3). A third is to illustrate
forgiveness through genuine repentance. David’s
sin reminds us “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom.
3:23). However, if we like David
will repent when we violate God’s will and His Word, then we too will find in
God’s mercy cleansing, renewal, and restoration to His favor (2 Sam. 12:13;
Pss. 32; 51).
A fourth way God uses David is to
call thirsty and hungry humanity to come to Him for life and soul satisfaction.
Those who come will enter a free and everlasting covenant with God based
on “the sure mercies of David” (Isa. 55:1-4).
The One through whom God continues to make this covenant is the Second
David,4 even the Suffering Servant who gave Himself as an offering
for our sin (Jer. 30:9; Isa. 52:13—53:12; Luke 23:33-46).
This David—the Lord Jesus
Christ—was indeed born of the seed of David and was declared to be the Son of
God by His resurrection from the dead (Acts 13:34-39; Rom. 1:3-4).
He truly satisfies the hungry and thirsty soul that comes to Him.
Referring to Himself, Christ said: “I am the bread of life.
He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall
never thirst” (John 6:35, NKJV).
Unless indicated otherwise, all
Scripture quotes are from the King James Version.
Ben F. Philbeck, Jr., “1-2 Samuel”
in Broadman Bible Commentary, gen ed.
Clifton J. Allen, vol. 3 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1970), p. 52.
In his parting words David also
instructed Solomon to exact retribution on Joab and Shimei and to show kindness
to the sons of Barzillai (1 Kings 2:5-9).
For a fuller discussion of the
prophecies concerning Jesus as the Second David, see F. F. Bruce, “The Sure
Mercies of David” in The Annual Lecture
of the Evangelical Library (London: The Evangelical Library, 1954), p. 9-10.
a Forgotten Hero
Beckler is a church planter and resort minister in Durango, Colorado.
IS A HERO
whom we tend to forget in the midst of Israel’s unfolding history.
First Samuel, the Old Testament record that captures Jonathan’s story,
brilliantly tells about Samuel, Saul, and David.
Yet, woven into the story line of these prominent leaders, we find
Jonathan, the son of King Saul. Readers
might describe his life with terms such as courage, loyalty, military skill,
submissions, and bravery. At other
times, though, he appeared frustrated, hurt, and angry.
Although his story is not the main theme of 1 Samuel, Jonathan was a
crucial and strategic part of God’s plan for Israel.
name literally means “The Lord gave.” He
was Saul’s oldest son. His
mother’s name was Ahinoam. His
brothers were Abinadab, Malchishua, and Ish-bosheth.
His sisters were Merab and Michal. His
son was Mephilbosheth.1
What we know about Jonathan starts with descriptions of
military courage in 1 Samuel 13. Being
the king’s eldest son, Jonathan received leadership responsibility for half of
the military troops, with Saul keeping the other half under his leadership.
Jonathan took his troops to attack a Philistine garrison (or governor2).
This attack initiated a showdown between Israel and the Philistines.
Samuel 13-14 records Saul mustering the Israelites for war and then waiting with
a sense of hesitancy. Jonathan,
however, appeared anxious and ready to attack.
Despite the military weakness of Israel’s troops, Jonathan saw God as
the giver and taker of military victory. While
contemplating a two-man assault on a Philistine outpost, Jonathan proclaimed to
his armor bearer, “Perhaps the Lord will help us.
Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (1
Sam. 14:6). Scripture reveals that
Jonathan exhibited trust and confidence in his God.
This was in contrast to his father Saul, who seemed uncertain and
insecure towards God, especially on the battlefield.3
being a courageous warrior, was likely an underlying reason for much of Saul’s
military success.4 As
well, Jonathan’s military skill and courage certainly influenced his approval
of David. Jonathan was impressed
with the warrior stamina of this young man, who defeated Goliath with faith in
God and a sling. David, unlike Saul,
was a man who understood that God was the conqueror of Israel’s enemies.
This, no doubt, resonated with Jonathan, who knew that the Israelites’
battles hinged on the Lord’s power.5
Didn’t Jonathan Assert His Right to Be the Future King of Israel?
role was complicated by the fact he maintained loyalty to Saul, his father and
Israel’s king. At the same time,
he loved and protected David, whom Saul perceived to be his chief political
threat. King Saul tragically lost
God’s blessing (see 15:26), and he was certainly concerned that David
threatened Jonathan’s succession of kingship.
In an argument with Jonathan, Saul confirmed this fear when he cried out,
“Every day Jesse’s son [meaning David] lives on earth you [meaning
Jonathan’ and your kingship are not secure” (20:31).
saw things differently. He appeared
to be at peace with David’s destiny as the next king.
To understand this, one must reach back to the battle scene at Michmash
(see 1 Sam. 14). After Jonathan and
his armor bearer successfully raided a Philistine outpost at the pass of
Michmash, Israel’s enemies were thrown into confusion.
Saul, zealous for a victory, called down a rash oath on his soldiers,
saying, “Cursed is the man who eats food before evening, before I have taken
vengeance on my enemies” (v. 24).
Unaware of this oath, Jonathan ate some honey as he
pursed the Philistines. Later, when
one of Israel’s soldiers revealed than an Israelite had violated the oath,
Saul vowed to keep his promise—namely to kill the man who had violated the
oath . . .even if it were his own son! When
the king discovered that Jonathan had unknowingly broken the oath, Saul intended
to kill him; but the Israelite soldiers protested, preventing Jonathan’s
death. But the curse of Saul was,
nonetheless, never lifted from his son. This
curse affected Jonathan’s capacity to envision himself as a future king.6
by the curse, Jonathan knew that another was destined to be king.
This is evident in the scene of 1 Samuel 18:3-4 where Jonathan gave David
his robe, belt, bow, and sword. These
gifts were markers of Jonathan’s status as a prince.7
Giving them to David was a sign of Jonathan bestowing the political right
of kingship on David.8
In Jonathan’s story we see an increase in his loyalty
and love for David. At the same
time, the level of estrangement between himself and his father also increased.
Jonathan, on two distinct occasions, pleaded for David.
At one point, his petition succeeded (see 19:1-7).
But on the second occasion, Jonathan angered his father to such a degree
that Saul not only tried to kill him but also issued a second curse on Jonathan:
“You son of a perverse and rebellious woman!
Don’t I know that you are siding with Jesse’s son to your own shame
and to the disgrace of your mother?” (20:31).
In so many words, Saul humiliated and hurt Jonathan, saying he was a
Saul, who desperately wanted Jonathan to be king, was the very one who
consistently cursed his son and pushed him away from kingship.
Was Jonathan’s Legacy for Israel?
the very end, Jonathan lived a complicated life.
He loved David, God’s anointed one, who was destined for kingship.
At the same time, he stood loyal to his father, who hated David!
This allegiance to family and Israel ultimately carried Jonathan to the
battlefield one last time, along with his father and brothers.
At Mount Gilboa, Jonathan was slain in a battle he probably knew, like
his father, would be his last (See 1 Sam. 31; 2 Sam. 1).
very own lament for Jonathan shows a deep sense of gratitude for his lost friend
(2 Sam. 1:17-27). David sang a
lament for both King Saul and Jonathan, called “The Song of the Bow.”
Though the lament is for both men, the song clearly concludes in honoring
Jonathan.10 David sang:
the mighty have fallen in the thick of battle!
lies slain on your heights.
for you, Jonathan my brother.
such a friend to me.
love for me was more wonderful than the love of a woman for me” (vv. 25-26).
Jonathan’s legacy was his willingness to pursue what was right for the future
of Israel. He was wise enough to
recognize that self-preservation was not his chief aim.
Instead, he saw David as God’s anointed and wanted God’s best for
Israel’s future. Indeed, such
heroes are easily lost in the story as larger, more important characters
outshine them. But we must not
forget Jonathan. His love, courage,
and loyalty helped Israel come into its own golden age, as David took the
J. Hancock, “Jonathan” in Holman Bible Dictionary, gen. eds. Chad Brand,
Charles Draper, and Archie England (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003).
2.See 1 Samuel 13:4
footnote on use of “garrison” in Holman Christian Standard Bible.
3.P. Kyle McCarter, The
Anchor Bible: 1 Samuel (New York: Doubleday: 1980), 242; Ronald F.
Youngblood “1 and 2 Samuel” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary,
vol. 3, ed. Frank e. Gaebelein (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 3:662.
5.Observe the similarity
between Jonathan’s words to his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14:6 with David’s
words in 1 Samuel 17:37.
See also McCarter, 305.
8.This was in contrast to
an earlier scene where King Saul offered armor to David (see 1 Sam. 17:38-39).
David refused Saul’s armor, but he didn’t refuse the gifts from
Jonathan. Jonathan, slated in his
family line for kingship, knew he was not the future king.
The prince’s robe belonged to David.
Jonathan affirmed through his gifts an understanding that David would
rightfully be the next king. See
10.David would show honor
to Jonathan long after his death. In
one way, he kept his word to his deceased friend by protecting and caring for
Jonathan’s son, Mephilbosheth. As
well, David had the bones of Saul and Jonathan moved to the land of Benjamin,
the land of Saul’s father Kish. Such
an act was to honor the former king and as well as to honor Jonathan.
“Jonathan” in Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, eds.
F.F. Bruce, R.K. Harrison, Ronald Youngblood, and Kermit Ecklebarger (Nashville:
Thomas Nelson, 1986), 591.
By Leon Hyatt, Jr.
Hyatt, Jr. is retired director of missions ministries Louisiana Baptist
Convention, Alexandria, Louisiana.
WO DESCENDANTS OF SAUL were named Mephibosheth:
a son by his concubine Rizpah (2 Sam. 21:8) and a grandson by his oldest son
Jonathan (2 Sam. 4:4; see also 1 Chron. 8:34, where he is called Meri-Baal, NIV).
This article focuses on Jonathan’s son who saw himself as a dead dog in
David’s presence (2 Sam. 9:8). Several
interesting but inconclusive suggestions have been offered for the meaning of
Mephibosheth’s name and the reason for its variation.1 Scripture
reveals four phases of Mephibosheth’s checkered life.
Privileged Son of
Israel’s Crown Prince
For the first five years of his life, Mephibosheth was the only son of
Jonathan, the expected heir to Israel’s throne (2 Sam. 4:4).
Jonathan customarily ate at his father King Saul’s table, with the
dignitaries of the land (1 Sam. 20:25-27), though he also had a house of his own
(1 Sam. 23:18). Events related to
Saul’s estate after his death indicate it was expansive and luxurious (2 Sam.
9:9-10; 16:1-4; 19:24-30). Scripture
tells nothing about Jonathan’s living conditions, but they must have been
among the finest in the land. Mephibosheth
spent his first five years pampered by the lavish attentions of his royal father
Sole Surviving Heir of
Saul’s family was ravaged with tragedy as a result of his sins.
His three oldest sons were killed in battle when the Philistines totally
destroyed Saul’s army. As a
result, Saul killed himself (1 Sam. 31:1-13).
Soon afterward Judah made David their king (2 Sam. 5:1-5), but Philistine
control was so strong in the north that the northern tribes were not able to
have a king for five and a half years. When
those tribes were able to gain a measure of independence, Saul’s general,
Abner, set up Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth (called Esh-Baal in 1 Chron. 8:33, NIV)
as their king (2 Sam. 2:8-11).2 Ish-Bosheth ruled weakly for two
years, and then tension arose between him and Abner.
As a result, Abner switched his loyalty to David.
In the turmoil that followed, David’s general, Joab, murdered Abner;
and two Israelite army captains murdered Ish-Bosheth (2 Sam. 3:7—4:12, NIV).
Seven other male descendants of Saul were executed as a result of a
vicious act of misplaced zeal by Saul, which he probably committed during the
desperate waning days of his reign. He sought to annihilate the residents of
Gibeon, a Canaanite city with whom Joshua had made a league of friendship when
the Israelites first entered the land (Josh. 9:3-27).
In punishment for Saul’s outrageous act, the Lord struck Israel with a
famine during David’s reign, probably early in his reign over Judah alone.
When David asked the Gibeonites what restitution they required to relieve
the drought, they demanded the execution of seven male descendants of Saul.
David yielded to the demand and delivered to the Gibeonites two sons of
Saul by his concubine Rizpah and five grandsons of Saul by one of his daughters
(2 Sam. 21:1-9). Later David looked
for any descendant of Saul who might still be alive and learned the only
Mephibosheth remained (2 Sam. 9:1-3).
Though David’s search for an heir of Saul is recorded first, the
execution of Saul’s seven male descendants must have occurred first because
when David made his search, only Mephibosheth remained alive.
This conclusion is supported by at least three other considerations: (1)
The famine in punishment of Saul’s sin must have occurred soon after the deed.
Delay until David had been king for many years would have been unnatural
and unjust. (2) After the execution,
David buried Saul’s bones in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish (2 Sam. 21:14).
Their burial would not have been delayed for years.
(3) The seven who were executed were all young, and no mention is made of
their having wives (2 Sam. 21:10-13).
Scripture records four insights into Mephibosheth’s life during the
first years after Saul’s death. (1)
He was crippled. When news of
Saul’s death reached Saul’s capital Gibeah, Mephibosheth’s nurse picked
him up in haste and fled to safety. In
the rush, she either dropped him or he fell.
His legs likely were broken and healed without proper setting.3
Whatever the exact circumstances, the accident crippled both his feet for life
(2 Sam. 4:4; 9:3; 19:26). (2) David
deliberately spared Mephibosheth’s life when he delivered Saul’s seven other
male descendants to the Gibeonites (2 Sam. 21:7).
He spared Mephibosheth because of an oath he had made to Jonathan, who
had been his treasured friend and who had helped him escape from Saul’s plan
to kill him. He had promised
Jonathan that, when he came to power, if Jonathan were alive, he would spare
him; and if Jonathan was not alive, he would show mercy to Jonathan’s family
(1 Sam. 18:1-4; 20:1-17). (3)
Mephibosheth was protected by Makir in Lo Debar (2 Sam. 9:4, NIV) across the
Jordan River. Lo Debar was near
Mahanaim (2 Sam. 17:27), a town Moses had assigned to the tribe of Gad (Josh.
13:24-28). Abner had set up
Ish-Bosheth’s capital in Mahanaim (2 Sam. 2:8-9).
Evidently that area favored Saul and his family.
Makir was wealthy and generous (2 Sam. 17:27-29), and the pro-Saul
attitude of the area made it easy for him to extend his natural generosity to
Mephibosheth. Because of Makir’s
wealth, Mephibosheth probably lived comfortable during those years.
(4) Mephibosheth married and fathered a son named Mica (2 Sam. 9:12).
Honored Guest of King
After David became king of the whole nation, he spent about nine years
establishing his authority.4 During those years he conquered and
subjugated almost every nation that bordered Israel (2 Sam. 8).
Then he had time to give attention to personal concerns.
High on his agenda was completing the promise he had made to Jonathan
years before. Though David had
spared Mephibosheth’s life early in his reign, afterward he had been too
preoccupied with overcoming enemies to keep up with what had happened to
Mephibosheth. He must have had
Mephibosheth especially in mind when he sought to know if any of Saul’s
descendants were still alive. He
learned that one of the managers of Saul’s property named Ziba was still
supervising Saul’s estate. He
called for Ziba and learned from him that Mephibosheth was Saul’s only living
heir and that he was living with Makir in Lo Debar (2 Sam. 9:1-4).
David sent for Mephibosheth, who responded to the summons with great
fear. He wondered if David intended
to execute him, following the practice of oriental kings to annihilate any
possible rival. David quickly put
Mephibosheth at ease and returned to him the ownership of Saul’s estate.
David instructed Ziba to continue managing the estate but to give
Mephibosheth the rent that belonged to the owner.
In addition, he invited Mephibosheth to move to Jerusalem and eat at his
table like one of his own sons (2 Sam. 9:5-13).
For the next 11 or 12 years,5 Mephibosheth shared the honor of
David’s court and lived in luxury.
Under Suspicion of
One of the greatest tragedies of David’s life was the alienation and
rebellion of his third and probably oldest surviving son, Absalom.6
Absalom’s rebellion was so strong that David, his family, and his
administrative leaders had to flee from Jerusalem and take refuge across the
Jordon River. As they fled and
crossed the top of the Mount of Olives, Ziba was waiting for them with a pair of
saddled burrows for transportation, laden with bread and fruit for food and a
bottle of wine for medicine. David
asked where Mephibosheth was. Ziba
answered the Mephibosheth had remained at home, hoping the rebellion result in
his being made king as the rightful heir of Saul.
David believed Ziba and deeply resented Mephibosheth’s ingratitude.
He gave a hasty order that everything belonging to Mephibosheth should be
given to Ziba (2 Sam. 16:1-4).
After Absalom and his supporters were defeated and while David and his
followers were returning to Jerusalem, Mephibosheth met David just before David
crossed back over the Jordan River (2 Sam. 19:24-30).
Mephibosheth’s unkempt appearance confirmed that he had been in deep
mourning during all the time David had been away from Jerusalem.
David asked him why he had not gone with him when he fled.
Mephibosheth answered that he had intended to saddle a burrow and ride
with David. Since he was crippled,
securing and saddling a burrow was a slow process for him.
Ziba had rushed ahead of him and hastened to David.
Then Ziba had slandered him by telling David he had stayed behind
deliberately. David made another
hasty decision, without waiting for evidence as to whose story was true.
He decreed a compromise settlement, by which Saul’s estate was divided
between Ziba and Mephibosheth. Since
the settlement was made without witnesses or evidence, Mephibosheth’s guilt or
innocence was never proven. He must
have lived the rest of his life under suspicion that he had betrayed his great
benefactor in his hour of deepest trial. Nevertheless,
Mephibosheth accepted David’s decision without complaint, recognizing that he
was alive only because of David’s graciousness to him for Jonathan’s sake.
The factor that most characterized Mephibosheth’s life was that all
his experiences were the result of someone else’s actions.
He accepted what came to him, which was admirable; but other than
fathering a son he achieve nothing on his own. ♦
See various views in R. Payne Smith, “II Samuel” in The Pulpit Commentary (New
York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, n. d.), 36; “Mephibosheth” in Holman
Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, gen. ed. (Nashville, Tennessee: Holman
Bible Publishers, 1991), 946; Butler, “Meribaal,” 949-50; J. A. H. Balchin,
“Mephibosheth” in The International
Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand
Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986), 3:320; see
“Mephibosheth” in Baker Encyclopedia
of the Bible (Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Baker Book House, 1988), 2:1438-1439; W. F. Boyd, “Mephibosheth”
in Dictionary of the Bible, James
Hastings, ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1963), 643-644;
“Mephibosheth” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New
York: Doubleday, 1992), 4:696-697.
Robert D. Bergen, “1, 2 Samuel” in The
New American Commentary (Nashville:
Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996), 300-301.
To calculate the number of years Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, see
Smith, 324 (David’s 13- or 14-year rule over all Israel up to Amnon’s sin
and Absalom’s revenge); 2 Samuel 13:38 (plus Absalom’s 3 years in Geshur);
Smith, 367 (plus Absalom’s plotting against David for 4 years before his
rebellion); Smith, 240 (less the 9 years David ruled over all Israel before
Mephibosheth began to eat at his table).
Smith, 64, 102; Ben F. Philbeck, “1-2 Samuel” in The Broadman Bible Commentary (Nashville:
Broadman Press, 1970), 93; P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., “II Samuel” in The
Anchor Bible (Garden City, New
York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1984), 102; though see a differing view in
SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Summer 2002.
What Is The Answer
To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? (04/13/14) Who was (1) the
king of Judah who died of a foot disease (2) because . . . ? (A
two-part answer.) Answer next week: (1)
answer to last week’s trivia question: Who said how a husband should treat his wife?
(This is a two part
answer.) (04/06/14) Answer:
(1) Peter, (2) With honor; 1 Pet. 3:7 (KJV).