2 Samuel 9:6–13 comment (0)
April 10, 2014
By Catherine Lawrence
Bible Studies for Life By Catherine Lawrence
Department of Religion, Samford University
2 Samuel 9:6–13
Christians need hope. When we fail, we need hope. When we are in pain, we need hope. When we have regrets, we need hope. When life takes strange and difficult turns, we need hope. When our past rises up to condemn us, we need hope. Our lessons for the next several weeks seek to help us understand and receive the hope God offers for these very circumstances and for every other circumstance of our lives. Today’s lesson is drawn from an incident in which David, king of Israel, had an opportunity to extend hope to someone who may have thought he was beyond hope.
Second Samuel 9:1–13 tells of David’s loyalty to his friend Jonathan, the son of King Saul. David and Jonathan had established a covenant with one another (1 Sam. 18:1–5; 20:12–17, 42; 23:15–18), whereby David had promised always to show loyalty to Jonathan and his descendents. Now both Jonathan and his father Saul were dead (1 Sam. 31:1–6), and David had become king over all Israel (2 Sam. 5:1–5). In order to honor his covenant with Jonathan, King David initiated a search for any of Saul’s descendents who remained alive. Ziba, a former servant of Saul, informed David that a son of Jonathan was still alive and residing east of the Jordan River in Lo-debar (2 Sam. 9:5). This son’s name was Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth had been crippled in both feet since age 5 (2 Sam. 4:4; 9:3, 13). When David heard the news, he sent for Jonathan’s son.
Hope Extended (6–7)
When Mephibosheth appeared before the king, he approached David with appropriate expressions of deference and respect (2 Sam. 9:6). David’s initial response, “Do not be afraid,” suggests that Mephibosheth had entered the king’s presence with great fear and trembling. Fear would have been understandable since it was common practice for a new king to eradicate all potential claimants to the throne of the previous king (see 1 Kings 15:29, 16:11; 2 Kings 10:6–7; 2 Sam. 21:1–14). As a remaining claimant to Saul’s throne, Mephibosheth very well may have feared for his life as he approached David, but David reassured him that he had no need to fear. The king intended to express his loyalty to Jonathan and to the covenant they had established by showing kindness to his son, Mephibosheth. David promised to give to Mephibosheth all the land that had once belonged to his grandfather Saul; in addition, Mephibosheth would always eat at the king’s table. In a situation where Mephibosheth had every reason to fear, David extended hope.
Hope Questioned (8)
Upon hearing that David’s intention was to exhibit kindness to him, Mephibosheth questioned his own worthiness. He referred to himself as a “dead dog.” Mephibosheth knew that because of his family ties he represented a potential threat to David, and yet he found himself experiencing the favor of the king.
Hope Embraced (9–13)
David arranged for the sons and servants of Ziba, Saul’s former servant, to work the land on behalf of Mephibosheth. The resulting produce of the land provided Mephibosheth with an income. More importantly Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem and always ate at the king’s table, just as David’s own sons would have done (vv. 11, 13). The passage does not comment on whether Mephibosheth continued to see himself as an unworthy recipient of the king’s kindness. We can hope that he fully embraced his good fortune and allowed himself to enjoy the benefits of living under David’s care. If he did, perhaps it was because Mephibosheth came to see that his own personal sense of worthiness (or unworthiness) was of no consequence. Mephibosheth’s hope — and the ground from which sprung every good thing he received — lay solely in the king’s determination to be faithful to his covenant with Jonathan.
Ultimately hope is not dependent upon past or present circumstances. Hope lies in God and in His determination to be faithful to His children.