2 Samuel 9 – “David Honors Mephibosheth”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
David wishes to honor one of Jonathan’s descendants. He finds his son Mephibosheth and gives him land, grants him servants, and feeds him in Jerusalem.

II. Photo
Ziba tells David about Mephibosheth: “Ziba answered the king, ‘Yes, there is still a son of Jonathan whose feet are crippled.’” (v. 3)

III. Important Verses
1: David inquired, “Is there anyone still left of the House of Saul with whom I can keep faith for the sake of Jonathan?”
9-11: The king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I give to your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and to his entire family. You and your sons and your slaves shall farm the land for him and shall bring in [its yield] to provide food for your master’s grandson to live on; but Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, shall always eat at my table.” — Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty slaves. — Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do just as my lord the king has commanded him.” “Mephibosheth shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.”

IV. Outline
1. David’s desire to repay Jonathan
2-4. Meeting with Ziba
5-11. David’s decision to honor Mephibosheth
12-13. Mephibosheth is honored

V. Comment
Chapter 9 relates how David honors Jonathan by giving Saul’s property to Mephibosheth. He also gives Mephibosheth a slave named Ziba. Due to the abrupt nature of this episode, one might ask: “What is this chapter doing here?” Campbell writes: “2 Samuel 9 and 10 are best described as anticipatory appendixes to the sustained narrative of 2 Sam 11-20.” Indeed, Mephibosheth and Ziba do play roles in the upcoming narrative (16:1-4; 19:24-30). Those episodes read as follows:

  • “David had passed a little beyond the summit when Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth came toward him with a pair of saddled asses carrying two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred cakes of raisin, one hundred cakes of figs, and a jar of wine. The king asked Ziba, “What are you doing with these?” Ziba answered, “The asses are for Your Majesty’s family to ride on, the bread and figs are for the attendants to eat, and the wine is to be drunk by any who are exhausted in the wilderness.” “And where is your master’s son?” the king asked. “He is staying in Jerusalem,” Ziba replied to the king, “for he thinks that the House of Israel will now give him back the throne of his grandfather.” The king said to Ziba, “Then all that belongs to Mephibosheth is now yours!” And Ziba replied, “I bow low. Your Majesty is most gracious to me.”” (16:1-4)
  • “Then the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die”; and the king gave him his oath. Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul, also came down to meet the king. He had not pared his toenails, or trimmed his mustache, or washed his clothes from the day that the king left until the day he returned safe. When he came [from] Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you come with me, Mephibosheth?” He replied, “My lord the king, my own servant deceived me. Your servant planned to saddle his ass and ride on it and go with Your Majesty — for your servant is lame. [Ziba] has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like an angel of the LORD; do as you see fit. For all the members of my father’s family deserved only death from my lord the king; yet you set your servant among those who ate at your table. What right have I to appeal further to Your Majesty?” The king said to him, “You need not speak further. I decree that you and Ziba shall divide the property.”” (19:24-30)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Anderson, A. A. “2 Samuel” Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 11 (Waco Texas: Wordbooks, 1989).
Campbell, Antony F. “2 Samuel” The Forms of the Old Testament Literature, vol 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eedrdmans, 2005).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
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