2 Samuel 9: David and Mephibosheth
David is king, and the line of Saul is all but wiped out. Meaning not quite wiped out—there is still Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, mentioned in Chapter 4. At the beginning of the chapter David doesn’t seem to be aware of Mephibosheth, however, since he starts off by asking around to find out if there are any descendents left to whom he can show kindness.
David finally finds a servant of Saul’s household, Ziba, and asks him. Ziba tells David about Mephibosheth, so David has him brought, restores to him all of the land that had previously belonged to his grandfather Saul, and tells him that from this point on he will eat at David’s table like one of David’s own sons.
David then brings back Ziba and passes on this same information: the land that had previously belonged to Saul now belongs to Mephibosheth. The ESV Study Bible makes a point of mentioning that because Ziba has so many sons, he’s probably more than just a regular servant, he’s more likely the steward of the estate, meaning that he would have been taking care of the land and paying the benefits to Saul. Then someone else probably took ownership of the land and was getting the benefits (maybe David himself?); now it’s going back to Mephibosheth, who will get the benefits again.
This may seem like a strange interlude in the story, but it does go back to promises David made to Jonathan and Saul in 1 Samuel 20 and again in 1 Samuel 24 that he wouldn’t wipe out Saul’s descendents.
It was an important point. We don’t think about this much anymore because we don’t have “kingdoms” the same way we did for much of human history, but it was a common practice that a new king would wipe out the old king’s family because he didn’t want the old king’s descendents coming back for revenge or to reclaim the throne. (In some cases throughout history a new king has gone so far as to kill members of his own family, in an effort to prevent others from coming after the throne!)
David goes a little further than just refraining from killing Mephibosheth, however, and treats him like his own son.
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