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2 Samuel 9:1-13 – David’s Kindness to Jonathan’s Son Mephibosheth

Summary

In his covenant with Jonathan, David had promised to show loyalty to Jonathan's family (1 Samuel 18:1-4; 20:14-17). In this story, David shows kindness to Jonathan's son Mephibosheth.

Analysis

David had promised Jonathan that he would protect his family (1 Samuel 20:15-16). Consequently, David asks how he might help any surviving members of Saul/Jonathan's family (v. 1), which he does (vv. 11b-12). Within this framework of help for the only surviving member of the house of Saul are placed three dialogues: two with Ziba (vv. 2-4, 9-11a) that frame a central conversation with Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son (vv. 6-8).

A    David asks if he might help Jonathan's family (v. 1)
    B    Dialogue: David and Ziba (vv. 2-4)
        C    Dialogue: David and Mephibosheth (vv. 6-8)
    B′    Dialogue: David and Ziba (vv. 9-11a)
A′    David takes care of Jonathan's family (vv. 11b-12)

David's loyalty to Jonathan seems to be the essential message of this text. Three times he offers to demonstrate his loyalty (hesed) to any surviving member of the house of Saul (vv. 1, 3, 7), and, when he learns of Mephibosheth, he carries out his obligations. The repeated attempts to find ulterior motives in David's care of Saul's grandson are without foundation in the text.

2 Samuel 9:1-13

David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth

9David asked, ‘Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ 2Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and he was summoned to David. The king said to him, ‘Are you Ziba?’ And he said, ‘At your service!’ 3The king said, ‘Is there anyone remaining of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?’ Ziba said to the king, ‘There remains a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.’ 4The king said to him, ‘Where is he?’ Ziba said to the king, ‘He is in the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.’ 5Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. 6Mephibosheth* son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, and fell on his face and did obeisance. David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’* He answered, ‘I am your servant.’ 7David said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.’ 8He did obeisance and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I am?’

9 Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba, and said to him, ‘All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. 10You and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him, and shall bring in the produce, so that your master’s grandson may have food to eat; but your master’s grandson Mephibosheth* shall always eat at my table.’ Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. 11Then Ziba said to the king, ‘According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so your servant will do.’ Mephibosheth* ate at David’s* table, like one of the king’s sons. 12Mephibosheth* had a young son whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s* servants. 13Mephibosheth* lived in Jerusalem, for he always ate at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

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10 February 2011

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