The Word Made Fresh
1David made an inquiry: “Is there anyone left of Saul’s family to whom I may show kindness in memory of Jonathan?” 2One of Saul’s family servants, Ziba, was summoned. 3David asked him if there was anyone remaining in Saul’s family. “I would like to demonstrate God’s kindness to them,” he said.
Ziba told him, “A son of Jonathan is left. He is crippled in both feet.”
4“Where is he?” the king asked. And Ziba replied, “He is at Lo-Debar in the house of Machir, son of Ammiel.”
5King David sent for him, and Mephibosheth came and prostrated himself before the king.
“You are Mephibosheth?” asked the king.
“I am your servant,” he replied.
7“Don’t be afraid,” David said. “I will treat you well for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will reclaim for you the land from your grandfather Saul’s estate, and you will be a guest at my table from now on.”
Mephibosheth bowed before him and said, “I am no more than a dead dog. Why should you do this for me?”
8The king summoned Ziba and told him, “Everything that belonged to your master Saul I have given to his grandson. 10You and your sons and your helpers are to farm the land for him and bring the harvest here so your master’s grandson will have food to eat, but he will always eat at my table.”
Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty helpers. 12He said to the king, “I will do everything just as you have said.”
So, Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table like one of his sons. 13Mephibosheth himself had a young son named Mica. Everyone in Ziba’s household became Mephibosheth’s servants, and Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem and always ate at the king’s table. He was crippled in both feet.
1-8: David announces that he will look after whatever remnant of Saul’s family there may still be, and finds Mephibosheth the cripple, the son of Jonathan, who had been David’s best friend. He restores to Mephibosheth the land owned by Saul, which must have been rather extensive since Saul was the son of the wealthy Kish (1 Samuel 9:1). David’s actions here serve two purposes: it serves to ease any lingering animosity on the part of Saul’s followers, and it keeps the remaining direct descendant of Saul squarely under David’s thumb.
9-13: David appoints Ziba, Mephibosheth’s caretaker, and his fifteen sons as stewards of Mephibosheth’s land and crops and other holdings. But Mephibosheth is kept close to David, being required to eat at the king’s table. We learn that Mephibosheth has a son, Mica, and we wonder if some trouble is waiting around the corner having to do with succession to the throne.
Mephibosheth seems to be harmless, but we leave this chapter wondering what palace intrigues may be brewing. David is king, but we have seen and shall see that being king is not necessarily the most secure job in the land.