David became the king of Israel after the death of their first king, Saul. Saul had been jealous of David for many years before his death, and had tried to kill David many times. David was Saul’s son-in-law, a loyal servant and subject to his king. During his time with the family of Saul, he had come to have a sincere and abiding brotherly love towards Jonathan. Jonathan died during the same battle as Saul, and David had mourned greatly for the loss of his dear friend and brother. This chapter begins with:
1 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?
2 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.
3 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.
4 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 Lo-debar.
David desired to honor the family of Saul, because he had made a covenant with Jonathan to do so. When seeking to know if any of the family remained, a servant named Ziba was brought before David. Ziba told King David, about Jonathan’s lame son who was in Lo-debar with the family of Machir.
5 Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar.
6 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!
David sent for the son, named Mephibosheth, and when he was brought before him, he worshiped David. When his name was called by David, he offered himself a servant to the king. It almost seems as though he was afraid for what might be done with him.
I wonder what age he was at this point, because when his father died, he was only 5 years old (see 2 Samuel 4:4). David had ruled in Judah for seven and a half years, which means that Mephibosheth was at least twelve and a half when David took the throne of Israel. David remained in Hebron for 3 years, before relocating to Jerusalem (see 2 Samuel 5:5), so the boy was likely to be older than fifteen. We do not know how long it was after that point, when David asked for Mephibosheth to be brought before him, so he could have been a young man still. This hearkens back to David being a young boy when he was brought into the house of Saul to play for him and be his servant.
7 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.
8 And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?
David told him not to fear, because he wanted to show kindness towards him as he had promised his father. He offered Mephibosheth all the land of Saul and a seat at his own table continually. David probably felt as though this young man was family to him. Mephibosheth seems to have said that he was not worthy of all that was offered to him by the king.
9 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.
10 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.
11 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.
12 And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth.
13 So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.
David called Ziba to him and told him all that he gave to Mephibosheth. He commanded the servant and his household, to work for the son of Jonathan and his family. He said that Mephibosheth would eat at his table as one of his own sons. Ziba and his household became the servants of Mephibosheth, just as the king had commanded. Mephibosheth moved back to Jerusalem and was treated like family of the king.
David was a man of honor and integrity. He had made a covenant with Jonathan, and even at a time when he could have gone on without doing anything, he searched out how he could fulfill his covenant to the house of Jonathan. We will have opportunities in our lives, when we can make the choice not to follow through on a promise, but to go on without anyone on earth knowing the difference, or to do the thing that shows our own honor and integrity. These choices will be most important in the covenants we make with God. I know that God will always know what we choose, and when we live with integrity, we will be greatly blessed. If not, we will be held accountable for our choices and the eventual consequence may far outweigh the effort to have lived with integrity in this life.