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1 Sam. 20:14-15 – Jonathan was concerned that his family be preserved when David eventually took over the kingdom; covenant loyalty

1 Sam. 20:41-42 – bond between David and Jonathan; exchanged promises of a continuing relationship between their two families

2 Sam 4:4 – account of how Mephibosheth was injured – son of Jonathan (not son of Saul mentioned once elsewhere 2 Sam. 21:8)

Name means: “a shameful thing” “he scatters shame”

Carr: For just a moment, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of Mephibosheth. He is one of the few remaining members of the house of Saul. He is living in a place called Lo-debar, which means “no pasture.” He is probably living each day in fear for his life; afraid that King David will come and take his life way. No doubt he is a poor man. He does not have access to the wealth or the lands of his family. He is a crippled man. His father was killed in battle and when the news came, his nurse tried to flee with the child and he was dropped and his legs were permanently damaged, 2 Sam. 4:4. He was five when this happened. All of his life he has been warned that David might find him. He lives in fear and he lives in misery every day.


This is a beautiful picture of divine grace (especially when you remember the unkind and unjust treatment David suffered at the hand of Saul) – with the caveat that David had earlier promised Jonathan that he would care for his family (so the story in its context is also about loyalty). Still you can see all of the aspects of grace:

– sovereign initiative

– seeking out the helpless

– showering him with undeserved mercy and love and favor

– protecting him and caring for him

– yet requiring some aspect of personal responsibility



A. (:1) Sovereign Initiative of a Loyal Heart

“Then David said, ‘Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’”

David gets a chance to catch his breath from his intense military campaigns and desires to follow up on his former commitment to his good friend Jonathan.

Ryrie (on 1 Sam. 20:14-15) – hesed – Love and loyalty, the two essential aspects of a covenant relationship, are bound together in this word. Jonathan recognized that David would one day be king and requested protection for himself and his family when David would take the throne.

B. (:2-5) Compassionate Empathy of a Loving Heart

1. (:2) Reconnecting to the House of Saul

“Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David; and the king said to him, ‘Are you Ziba?’ And he said, ‘I am your servant.’”

Very dangerous situation for Ziba; must have been very fearful

Blaikie: Re Ziba – a man of more substance than principle, as his conduct showed at a later period of his life. Ziba, we are told, had fifteen sons and twenty servants. He seems to have contrived to make himself comfortable notwithstanding the wreck of his master’s fortunes, more comfortable than Mephibosheth, who was living in another man’s house.

2. (:3a) Seeking out an Opportunity to Show Kindness

“And the king said, ‘Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?’”

We must always remember that it is the life of God flowing through us that can be a blessing to others. It is not our kindness, but God’s kindness that we are privileged to be able to show to others. The origin of the grace and the goodness is not from ourselves.

3. (:3b) Discovering a Helpless Cripple

“And Ziba said to the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet.’”

Not someone that would be much of a threat to the king

Requires quite a commitment to take on the care of the handicapped.

4. (:4-5) Bringing Him Into the King’s Presence

a. (:4) Locating Mephibosheth in Humble Circumstances

“So the king said to him, ‘Where is he?’” And Ziba said to the king, ‘Behold, he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.”

Matthew Henry: This Machir appears to have been a very generous free-hearted man, and to have entertained Mephibosheth, not out of any disaffection to David, or his government, but in compassion to the reduced son of a prince, for afterward we find him kind to David himself, when he fled from Absalom; he is named (ch. xvii.27.) among those that furnished the king with what he wanted at Mahanaim; though when David sent for Mephibosheth from him, he little thought that the time would come when he himself would gladly be beholden to him; and perhaps Machir was then the more ready to help David, in recompence for his kindness to Mephibosheth; therefore we should be forward to give, because we know not but we ourselves may sometimes be in want.”

b. (:5) Relocating Mephibosheth to the Royal Palace

“Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar.”

C. (:6-7) Abundant Blessings of a Gracious Heart

1. (:6) Formal Introduction

“And Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself. And David said, ‘Mephibosheth.’ And he said, ‘Here is your servant!’”

Name means “he scatters shame” or “shameful thing”

2. (:7) Three Gracious Promises

a. Blessing of Protection – based on covenant loyalty and kindness

“And David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan,”

b. Blessing of Possessions

“and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul;”

This would constitute a considerable fortune. What would be the reaction of those who had to give it up??

c. Blessing of Provisions

“ and you shall eat at my table regularly.’”

D. (:8) Humble Thankfulness of a Servant Heart

“Again he prostrated himself and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?’”

Ryrie: someone contemptible and useless


A. (:9-10) David’s Charge to Ziba Regarding Stewardship

1. (:9) Laying out the Privileges

“Then the king called Saul’s servant Ziba, and said to him, ‘All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson.’”

2. (:10) Laying out the Responsibilities

a. Farming the Land

“And you and your sons and your servants shall cultivate the land for him, and you shall bring in the produce so that your master’s grandson may have food”

b. Royal Treatment

“nevertheless Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall eat at my table regularly.”

c. Impressive Work Force and Resources

“Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.”

B. (:11a) Ziba’s Commitment to Obey the King’s Charge

“Then Ziba said to the king, ‘According to all that my lord the king commands his servant so your servant will do.’”

C. (:11b-13) Mephibosheth’s Enjoyment of the King’s Favor

1. (:11b) Treated as the King’s Son

“So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table as one of the king’s sons.”

2. (:12a) Provision for His Own Son

“And Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica.”

3. (:12b) Faithful Service from House of Ziba

“And all who lived in the house of Ziba were servants to Mephibosheth.”

4. (:13a) Royal Treatment

“So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate at the king’s table regularly.”

5. (:13b) Undeserving of Such Favor – Key point to the story

“Now he was lame in both feet.”