David and Mephibosheth

Oct 2014

THIS EFFORT REGARDING the “sweet singer of Israel” would not be complete, I think, if Mephibosheth were not included.

Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son and was, therefore, the grandson of Saul. In fact, it seems that he was the only one left of that lineage.

The Scripture says, “And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (II Sam. 9:1).

This verse proclaims the great truth that God pardons and blesses sinners “for Christ’s sake” (Eph. 4:32). There is no merit in any of us that would warrant the kindness of God, but all is done for us because of Christ. David was actually referring back to the happenings of I Samuel, Chapter 18, where he made a covenant with Jonathan. The covenant pertains to the great price that Jesus paid at Calvary. Verse 1 shows David seeking Mephibosheth. Ever is the Lord seeking the sinner (Jn. 3:16).

David was now victorious in every capacity. There were no enemies strong enough to contest him because God had blessed him to a greater degree than one can begin to imagine.

Now David remembered the covenant he had made with Jonathan, Saul’s son. Jonathan had died with Saul on Mount Gilboa. They died fighting the Philistines. Whereas Saul was ungodly, Jonathan was the very opposite, actually, one could say, one of the godliest men in Israel at that particular time. He loved David as much as if they were blood brothers. The covenant they made with each other, which was made, incidentally, when Saul was trying to kill David, was a blood covenant that was as binding as anything that could be made. In essence, whatever belonged to David belonged, as well, to Jonathan, and vice versa. The difference was, at that time, David had nothing, while Jonathan, in essence, one might say, had everything. In fact, in the natural succession of things, he would have ascended to the throne of Israel upon the death of his father. However, he knew that the Lord had anointed David to be the king of Israel, at least, when that time would come. All of this means that there was a strong conviction in Jonathan’s mind that the Lord was transferring the kingdom from Saul to David and that, consequently, David’s final success was inevitable! Jonathan, no doubt, relayed his feelings to David, which probably greatly encouraged the psalmist.

All of this means that Jonathan would in no way have helped his father Saul in his attempts to kill David, but, at the same time, he never fully threw in his lot with David either. If he had broken with Saul completely and joined David in his test of faith by not returning to his house, quite possibly, that which he said, “ … and I shall be next unto you … ” (I Sam. 23:17), would have been realized. He did not do that, and he was never heard from again in the Holy Scriptures until he appears slain by the Philistines on Mount Gilboa.


Up unto this time, which was about eight years into David’s reign, he had been almost constantly engaged in wars. But now, all the enemies were subdued, so he asked if there were any left of the house of Saul that he might show him kindness. Due to the turn of events, it is quite possible that David was not acquainted with Mephibosheth at all, or else, in all of the activity, it had not crossed his mind. At any rate, one by the name of Ziba, who had been a servant to Saul, was called before David. When the “sweet singer of Israel” inquired about the descendants of Saul, “Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan has yet a son, which is lame on his feet” (II Sam. 9:3).

There’s a scriptural lesson in this in that Jesus desires to show the kindness of God to sinners. I have seen more people come to Christ when I would tell them by television, “God loves you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or how bad it’s been, believe it or not, God loves you.” That statement, which is altogether true, has melted more hearts than anything else. In fact, the Lord has shown such kindness to sinners by coming to this mortal coil and dying on the Cross.

“Lame on his feet” presents an apt description of the lost soul that doesn’t know the Lord Jesus Christ. Spiritually speaking, they cannot walk properly.

When Ziba mentioned Jonathan’s son, the first question from David was, “Where is he?”


When David asked as to the whereabouts of Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, Ziba answered, saying, “Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar” (II Sam. 9:4).

Lo-debar means “the desert place.” That’s where all unsaved people live, irrespective of their financial or social position. They live in a desert place, which refers to the fact that they are bereft of all things of God.

Man cannot know his true worth and cannot understand his true feelings until he accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Only then can he realize his true worth, who he really is, and his mission in life.

Millions are constantly trying to “find themselves.” They will never do so because they look in the wrong places. When one finds Christ, one finds oneself. Until then, their looking is in vain.

Created by God, God alone can satisfy the craving of the human heart. Nothing else can, and nothing else will. Fame, popularity, money, power, etc., cannot slake that spiritual thirst. That’s why Jesus told the woman at the well, “Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn. 4:13-14).


The Scripture says, “Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lo-Debar” (II Sam. 9:5).

The Scripture doesn’t give us any more information regarding this event, but it must have been striking, to say the least.

It must be understood that in those days, kings did not show rivals any mercy. They, instead, killed them and did so instantly. In a sense, Mephibosheth was a claimant to the throne, and he must have lived in fear the eight years that David had been king. Would David find him? Would he kill him?

He knew how his grandfather Saul had tried for years to kill David. He had no way of knowing David’s thinking. What his father Jonathan had told him about David, no one knows. Probably, in light of events, he was told nothing, and the day of reckoning finally arrived.


There is evidence that Mephibosheth was poor. Everything that had belonged to his father Jonathan had, in effect, become the property of the state. In other words, he lost all the lands that his grandfather and father had once held. This would have meant that he had no servants, and so, when the knock at the door came, he had to limp forward to answer the call. As the door opened and he saw a gilded chariot being pulled by prancing steeds, he knew that this was a state vehicle.

The man or men may have looked at him and asked, “Are you Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan?” “Yes,” he would have answered softly. They would have said, “You are to come with us.”

He might have asked if he could gather a few things, but the answer was, “You won’t need them.” I don’t know for certain how it happened, but if it happened this way, fear would have filled the heart of Mephibosheth. He might have reckoned that he was being sent for in order to be killed.


What his thoughts were as it regarded the trip to Jerusalem is anyone’s guess. He was, no doubt, told nothing because the soldiers, who would have taken him to Jerusalem, would not have known what David’s intentions were. They had just been sent on a mission, and this is what they had done - brought Mephibosheth to Jerusalem.

However, when the chariot arrived at the palace, there must have been a number of people there to meet him. Due to the fact that David, the king of Israel, had sent for him, he would have been treated with great respect and dignity.


The Scripture says: “Now when Mephi-bosheth, 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 your servant!”
(II Sam. 9:6).

The Scripture is quick to bring out that Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan,
the son of Saul.
By all rights and in any court, he would have deserved death
and would have been killed instantly. So, when he managed to drag his lame
leg before David, the Bible says, “He fell on his face, and did reverence.”


But the Scripture says that “David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore you all the land of Saul your father (grandfather); and you shall eat bread at my table continually” (II Sam. 9:7). By David saying to him, “Fear not,” it is obvious that fear did envelop Mephibosheth. As stated, he did not know what was going to happen or why he was being called to Jerusalem. In any other situation, he would have been killed instantly, but now, David told him not to be afraid.

He said to him:
“I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake.” Whenever the sinner comes to the Lord, God the Father says, “I will show you kindness for Jesus’ sake.” We deserve death, but instead, we are given eternal life.

“I will restore you all the land of Saul your father (grandfather).” He thought he was going to be killed, but instead, he heard David saying that all of the acreage that had been owned by his grandfather Saul and his father Jonathan, which, no doubt, was considerable, would be restored to Mephibosheth. One moment, he was in poverty, and the next moment, he was rich beyond his wildest dreams. Whenever the sinner comes to Christ, everything that has been lost is now restored, a restoration that will never end and will know no boundaries. “And you shall eat bread at my table continually.” This meant that Mephibosheth would, in essence, be a part of the government. He would have a role as advisor or something of this nature.


The Scripture says, “And he bowed himself, and said, What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (II Sam. 9:8).

Mephibosheth did what is so hard for most people to do. He admitted that he was a spiritual cripple, deformed, and unable to save himself.

Then the Word says, “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (II Sam. 9:13).

This grand blessing was all because of the covenant made between David and Jonathan those years before. Likewise, there is a covenant presently called the New Covenant, and all are free to enter, and the blessings will be of untold degree.

This New Covenant was cut at Calvary. There our Lord shed His life’s blood and, thereby, paid the ransom that all of us owed but could not pay. It was paid to God. The covenant that David made with Jonathan was, in a sense, a type of the New Covenant. Now, the beautiful thing about the New Covenant is that it cannot be broken.

A covenant is that which is made between two or more parties. The New Covenant was made between God and man. Now, when we add man to the mix, we have to wonder why it cannot be broken, for the simple fact that every single covenant that God had ever made with man, man had broken it immediately. But now, although the New Covenant is made between God and man, it cannot be broken.



The New Covenant is not so much words on paper, even though it is given to us in the form of the New Testament, but, in reality, is a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord is the New Covenant. The meaning of that covenant was given to the Apostle Paul, which is the meaning of the Cross.

But yet, the question remains to be answered as to how this covenant cannot be broken, considering that man forms a crucial part.

The answer is, Jesus Christ is both God and Man. Everything He did was done on our behalf. In other words, He did it all for us. That speaks of His coming into this world, being born in Bethlehem of a virgin, living a perfect life, and never failing in word, thought, or deed, not even one single time. He kept the law perfectly and did so totally on our behalf, at least, for those who will believe. And then, to address the broken law, which was incumbent upon every human being, He went to the Cross and gave Himself as a sacrifice in the shedding of His life’s blood, where the covenant was cut, so to speak. Upon simple faith in Christ and what He has done for us at the Cross, God accepts any and all into the fold who will simply believe (Jn. 3:16).

While you and I may fail, and while some may even desire to get out of the covenant, irrespective, that does not affect the covenant. It remains unsullied and, in fact, inviolable. The same experience had by Mephibosheth is our experience as well.

Man deserves death, and that goes for all of us, but due to what Christ did at the Cross, our heavenly Father instead offers us eternal life and blessings unparalleled.

A few days before, Mephibosheth was little more than a slave, living in abject fear. Now, he dwelt in the palace in Jerusalem, eating every meal at the king’s table. What a beautiful description of salvation, which has come to us at great price, but for which we paid nothing at all.

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