When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba, the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine.
The king asked Ziba, ‘Why have you brought these?’
Ziba answered, ‘The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the wilderness.’
The king then asked, ‘Where is your master’s grandson?’
Ziba said to him, ‘He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, “Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.”’
Then the king said to Ziba, ‘All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.’
‘I humbly bow,’ Ziba said. ‘May I find favour in your eyes, my lord the king.’
David is on the run, because of the rebellion of his son Absalom. It appears here that Mephibosheth, who had previously been treated kindly by David, has now betrayed David and is looking for power and privileges as the grandson of the former king Saul. However, this passage in fact shows how important it is to read a whole book to avoid taking things out of context.
There follows a period of political intrigue. Then Absalom is killed in battle, David mourns for his son and then returns to Jerusalem. Now we can see what was really going on…
2 Samuel 19:24-28
Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his moustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely.When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, ‘Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?’
He said, ‘My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, “I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so that I can go with the king.” But Ziba my servant betrayed me. And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever you wish. All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?’
Ziba was lying! Mephibosheth was innocent! David’s kindness to Mephibosheth is a beautiful picture of God’s grace to us. In spite of Mephibosheth’s disability he ate at King David’s table for the rest of his life. In spite of our weaknesses, we can enjoy a relationship with King Jesus forever.
The story of David: Part 10 Read 2 Samuel chapters 16 to 19.