Thursday, April 10, 2014

2 Samuel 19-21 My lord the king has come safely home

From 2 Samuel 19-21


2 Sam 19.9-15; Story; David Returns to Jerusalem
2 Sam 19.16-43; Story; David Pardons His Enemies
2 Sam 20.1-26; Story; The Rebellion of Sheba
2 Sam 21.1-14; Story; David Avenges the Gibeonites
2 Sam 21.15-22; Story; War with the Philistines

Passage and Comments

David struggles to unite the kingdom again. He promotes Amasa to be general of his armies in a diplomatic move. Remember Joab was always until now been David’s general (2 Sam 19.9-15).

Shimei rushes to David and asks his forgiveness. Some suggest he should be put to death. But David refrains. Enough people have already died this day. Mephibosheth comes to David and explains his actions. He shows signs of long held grief over what has happened to David. Considering Ziba’s story, David doesn’t know who to believe so he divides up his property between him and Ziba. Mephibosheth does not care and is pleased for all David’s former kindness and he is still alive. Barzillai the Gileadite comes to David and is rewarded for his earlier support. The remaining men of Judah and Israel compete for how loyal they are to David the King (2 Sam 19.16-43).

The passage I wanted to focus on today concerns Mephibosheth. He is Jonathan’s son who has two lame feet. This is what happens when David is returning victorious to Jerusalem.
24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. He had neither taken care of his feet nor trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came back in safety. 25 And when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” 26 He answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me, for your servant said to him, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go with the king.’ For your servant is lame. 27 He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. (2 Sam 19.24-27)
Note that he has not taken care of his feet nor trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes. Such inattention to details of personal health and hygiene made Mephibosheth look as if he had been profoundly mourning for a considerable period of time.

Mephibosheth says what when David was leaving Jerusalem he wanted to leave with him. But Ziba deceived him saying he would saddle a donkey for him to meet the king. But he left without Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth is lame, so he had no way he could get to David or leave Jerusalem. Ziba then slandered Mephibosheth to David.

Mephibosheth keeps using very respectful terms when he is speaking to David.

Just recalling what happened previously;
16 When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, bearing two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a skin of wine. 2 And the king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who faint in the wilderness to drink.” 3 And the king said, “And where is your master’s son?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father.’ ” 4 Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” And Ziba said, “I pay homage; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king.” (2 Sam 16:1–4)
So Ziba brought food and it looks like he took all the donkeys in Mephibosheth’s household. If we return to David’s discussion with Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth continues;
28 For all my father’s house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king, but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to cry to the king?” (2 Sam 19:28)
Mephibosheth has said David could have put him to death a long time ago anyhow. Yet despite this David has been generous to him in inviting him to eat at his table. In light of this Mephibosheth waves his right to argue his case.
29 And the king said to him, “Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.” (2 Sam 19.29) 
David doesn’t know what to think. Believe Ziba or Mephibosheth? He divides the land in two. You would think Mephibosheth would protest this.
30 And Mephibosheth said to the king, “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.” (2 Sam 19:30)
Mephibosheth doesn’t care. In light of David’s former treatment of him and the fact David is still alive he would be happy to give it all away. The most important thing is that David is alive. Mephibosheth response here as well as his inattention to details of personal health and hygiene suggest he has been honest and Ziba has done a job on him. Mephibosheth should be commended for his behaviour, Ziba should be punished, David should rethink what has happened.

Following this we don’t hear about Mephibosheth or Ziba anymore . Both testify to how difficult it is to understand the character of some people at face value.

Story of Jesus

Mephibosheth recalls what David has done for him and it powerfully affects how he treats him afterwards. When Paul came to believe Jesus was the risen Christ, he understood that Jesus gave himself for him.
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)
Paul and Mephibosheth have something in common, they have been touched by grace.