2 Samuel 9 COMMENTARY (Ellicott)

2 Samuel 9
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

The account of David’s kindness to the house of Saul (entirely omitted in Chronicles).

(1) For Jonathan’s sake.—There is no note of time to show when this occurred, but, as Mephibosheth was only five years old at the time of his father’s death (2 Samuel 4:4), and now had a young son (2 Samuel 9:12), it must have been several years after David began to reign in Jerusalem. His motive is sufficiently expressed—for the sake of his early and much-loved friend Jonathan.

(3) The kindness of God.—Comp. 1 Samuel 20:14, = kindness such as God shows, very great, and in the fear of God. The crippled Mephibosheth, the only surviving descendant of Saul in the male line, disheartened by the misfortunes of his house, and probably fearing the usual Oriental custom of cutting off all the heirs of a monarch of another line, was living in such obscurity that he was only found through the information of his servant Ziba, a man of considerable substance, and perhaps known to some of the court.

(4) Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar.—From 2 Samuel 17:27-29, the situation of Lo-debar must have been east of the Jordan, and near Mahanaim, and Machir appears as a man of wealth and position. Up to this time he was probably secretly an adherent to the house of Saul; but David’s kindness to his master’s son won his heart, and afterwards, in David’s own great distress during his flight from Absalom, he proved a faithful friend. If this Ammiel is the same with the one mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:5 (called Eliam in 2 Samuel 11:3), Machir must have been the brother of Bath-sheba; but the name was not an uncommon one.

(6) Mephibosheth.—Called Merib-baal in 1 Chronicles 8:34; 1 Chronicles 9:40. (See Note on 2 Samuel 2:12.)

(7) Fear not.—Mephibosheth could not have remembered the affection between David and his father Jonathan, and was naturally in fear. (See 2 Samuel 9:3.) David at once reassures him, promises him all the real estate of his grandfather, which had either fallen to David or else to distant relations, and adds, “thou shalt eat bread at my table continually,”—a mark of great honour in Oriental lands. (See 2 Samuel 19:33; 1 Kings 2:7; 2 Kings 25:29, &c.)

(8) Such a dead dog.—The most contemptible thing possible. (See 2 Samuel 3:8; 2 Samuel 16:9; 1 Samuel 24:14.) Mephibosheth’s humility is more than oriental; it is abject, arising no doubt in part from his infirmity.

(10) Thy sons, and thy servants.—According to the latter part of the verse, and to 2 Samuel 19:17, Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants, and was therefore able to take care of a large estate.

May have food to eat.—This is to be taken in the general sense of means for the support of his household as a royal prince.

(11) He shall eat at my table.—If these are taken as David’s words, it is remarkable that he should have repeated them for the third time; but they are not likely to have been spoken, as some have suggested, by Ziba, either as a repetition, by way of assent, of David’s words, nor as equivalent to saying, “but for this he should have eaten at my table.” It is better to take them as a part of the narrative. In that case, David himself must have written this account, unless, with the LXX. and Syriac, we read, “at the table of David,” instead of my table.”

(12) Had a young son.—As far as is recorded, this was his only child, but he had a numerous posterity (1 Chronicles 8:35-40; 1 Chronicles 9:40-44).

(13) Was lame.—This fact is repeated here on account of its bearing upon the narrative in 2 Samuel 16:1-4; 2 Samuel 19:24-30.

And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?
And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he.
And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.
And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar.
Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar.
Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!
And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.
And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?
Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.
Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.
Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king's sons.
And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth.
So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet.
Courtesy of Open Bible