When David had gone a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth was there to meet him. He had a pair of saddled donkeys loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred summer fruits, and a skin of wine.
(References: 2 Samuel 9:3, 9-13
; 2 Samuel 19:24-30
.) David had taken his last look at Jerusalem, and was "a little past the top" of Mount Olivet in his descent on the other side, when he was met by Ziba, the servant of Mephibesheth, with an apparently thoughtful and generous present. This man was originally a slave of the house of Saul; became a freed man at its downfall; made his fortune out of its ruins; and had fifteen sons and twenty slaves. About seventeen years before, when inquiry was made for "any of the house of Saul," he gave information concerning the son of Jonathan. By the restoration of Mephibosheth to his patrimony, Ziba was reduced to his former status, and thenceforward cultivated the land for his master. And now, foreseeing the issue of the conflict, he sought to ingratiate himself with the king, regain his position, and obtain his master's estate. Such appears to be the key to his conduct. We have here an illustration of a benefaction:
1. Occurring at a seasonable moment; when most needed and least expected; valuable in itself, and still more for the faithfulness and kindness it seemed to manifest. A man of David's generosity could not but be greatly affected by it. But an admirable gift does not always express a commendable purpose (Deuteronomy 16:19; Ecclesiastes 7:7). "Whatever Ziba intended in this present, God's providence sent it to David for his support" (Matthew Henry).
2. Proceeding from unworthy motives: selfishness, covetousness, cunning craftiness (2 Samuel 1:2-10), hidden under an ostentatious display of loyalty, sympathy, and benevolence. Ziba was well acquainted with the character of David, and shrewdly calculated upon the means of improving his present necessities to secure his own advantage. Impure motives often lurk, sometimes unconsciously, beneath imposing benefactions.
3. Conferred at another's expense; and by the employment of deceit, treachery, and robbery. "The whole, though offered as Ziba's, is the property of Mephibosheth: the asses are his, one of them his own riding animal: the fruits are from his gardens and orchards" (Smith, 'Dictionary'). Poor Mephibosheth! He was at this moment waiting for the return of his faithless and pitiless slave with the ass, to enable him to follow the king. His own account of his absence was consistent with his actions (2 Samuel 19:24); and the treachery of Ziba could not be denied. "Treacherous servants are a curse to their masters." It is no uncommon thing for one man to seek the credit which is due to another, and obtain it by deceiving, disappointing, and injuring him.
4. Accompanied with a false accusation. "And Ziba said," etc. (ver. 3). It was not improbable that the adherents of the fallen dynasty might seize the opportunity to attempt its restoration (ver. 5; 2 Samuel 20:1); and already, perhaps, David entertained some suspicion of the loyalty of Mephibosheth. Hence Ziba might calculate on finding a ready hearing for his calumny. But "every tie, both of interest and gratitude, combined to keep Mephibosheth faithful to David's cause. Innocent men are often suspected and accused groundlessly. "When much treachery and ingratitude have been experienced, men are apt to become too suspicious, and to listen to every plausible tale of calumny" (Scott). "I cannot but pity the condition of this good son of Jonathan; into ill hands did honest Mephibosheth fall, first of a careless nurse, then of a treacherous servant; she maimed his body, he would have overthrown his estate" (Hall). "A false witness will utter lies" (Proverbs 14:5).
5. Receiving an undeserved recompense. "Behold, thine is all that belonged to Mephibosheth" (ver. 4). "David, in the excitement of a momentary misfortune, is here guilty of a double wrong - first in treating the faithful Mephibosheth as a traitor, and then in royally rewarding the false and slanderous Ziba" (Erdmann). "Hearsay is no safe ground of any judgment. Ziba slanders, David believes, and Mepbibosheth suffers" (Hall).
6. Followed by flattering servility. "I humbly beseech thee," etc. "He pretends to value the king's favour more than the gift he had bestowed" (Patrick).
7. Revealed at length in its true character (ch. 19:27), as a selfish, deceitful, and base procedure; though even then the wrong done to the master is not fully repaired, nor the wickedness of the servant adequately punished.
1. Look beneath the outward appearance (John 7:24).
2. Guard against plausible detractors 3 Avoid hasty judgments (Psalm 116:11. Proverbs 14:15); and hear the other side.
4. Wait for the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. - D.
And when David was a little past the top of the hill.
Mephibosheth, it will be recollected, was the only son of Jonathan. Now, when David was a little past the top of the hill where he had worshipped God, he met Ziba coming towards him with two asses, laden with cakes of raisins and summer fruits, a skin-bottle of wine, and two hundred loaves of bread. Probably, when David first saw Ziba, he thought that Mephibosheth had sent this timely contribution, and the first thing that annoyed him was to find that this present did not come from him at all. No doubt there was a good deal more conversation between David and Ziba than is recorded; the crafty man made it very plain that it was he who had been so thoughtful for the "king's wants; thus he led David on to suspect Mephibosheth's loyalty; and when the king asked him plainly why his master was not with him, feigning probably great reluctance to speak against his employer, and pretending that only loyalty induced him to speak, he told the lie against Mephibosheth. David was very apt to judge hastily: he was a man of a very warm temperament, with strong affections, and passions that were easily excited. Here Ziba seemed faithful, and mindful of his sovereign, when Mephibosheth was said to be ungrateful; and thinking that he has found devotion where he expected nothing, and ingratitude where he looked for love, as it was in the case of Ittai and Ahithophel, and really forgetting in the moment of his flight, and when in danger of losing his own throne, that he has no power to enforce his sentence, he awards to the crafty Ziba all the lands of Mephibosheth. How many times we are warned in Scripture against pronouncing hasty judgments; and which of us has not had to confess more than once that the bad opinion we have formed of some person was altogether erroneous? Again and again we have listened to unjust calumnies; we have thought there must be some truth in the accusation, some foundation for the slander, and we have acted very much like David here. David had gone but a few steps further before he encountered Shimei, another of the tribe of Benjamin. Bahurim is but a little distance from Bethany, on the other side of the Mount of Olives; but tilt they reached that spot, faint and weary, Shimei followed them with bitter curses. Now David had recovered himself; probably his conscience blamed him for his hasty ebullition of temper against Mephibosheth: and he may have felt that he had believed Ziba's story too easily. At least, when he spoke like that, he had forgotten his early friendship, and the beautiful and disinterested love of Jonathan. Now we are to see David in a better mood; grace has once more subdued nature. Now, Shimei was uttering unjust words: David of course knew that he did not deserve them. for no one could have been more forbearing to the house. of Saul: and perhaps Shimei's words reminded him, as well as Abishai's impetuousness, of his own conduct to that family in times past; and hence his command of his temper at this moment. Perhaps, too, the unjust slanders of Shimei made him aware that Ziba might have been slandering his friend Mephibosheth and just because he felt he did not deserve it, and his conscience did not prick him in the matter, perhaps he was the more able to forgive the man. This man Shimei evidently had long hated David. He had been hoping there would be some reverse in his fortunes, and he rejoiced in his enemy's downfall. But what. does David do? He loses sight of Shimei altogether; he looks above the instrument to the Agent; he sees God's hand in the matter, and to be angry, therefore, would be to be discontented with the providence of God. Oh that we could learn to follow David in this! There are numberless annoyances that happen to us all; and since "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God," we must be prepared for trials that will peculiarly test our faith and patience. If you forget that "the Lord reigneth," if you do not connect the providence of God with all that happens, the very smallest daily trouble may completely upset you, and you will be continually losing your temper. And then there was another great advantage to David in this circumstance, and, indeed, in the whole rebellion: it just showed him the value of human affection, and made him feel how fickle the populace is. And the bitter words of Shimei, perhaps more than anything else, would humble his pride and self-conceit. We are all too apt to flatter each other. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend;" but faithful friends are very few. Partly because we want to stand well with our friends, partly because we do not like to hurt their feelings, we never tell them of their faults. We repeat the good, but not the evil, that we hear about them; and as we do this to each other, and are naturally indulgent to our own failings, we are all too apt to have a good opinion of ourselves. The fact is that self-righteousness clings to us to the very last. We are apt to feel as if there was really something commendable in us. We use expressions about our sinfulness which too often have little meaning-in them; and strange as it may seem, we really forget our utter natural corruption. And lastly, observe that as, when David sent back the ark, he expressed a hope that God would bring him to see it again, so he is conscious of being in his Father's hands; he believes that this chastening is sent for good; and he looks forward to "a happy issue out of all his affliction." But let us never forget the end of it all: that if God begins, He will surely carry on the work of grace; that "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." And in the midst of all the trials that may come upon us, possibly even the desertion of friends — as David bore them meekly,. a type of Him who prayed for His enemies — so let us ever keep the bright certainty of eternal glory before us; and we shall be meek and patient, as David was; and we, like the Master, "for the joy set before us," shall "endure the cross, despising the shame;" and as there will be heaven for us hereafter, so there will be peace even now.
TopicsAscent, Asses, Bearing, Behold, Beyond, Bottle, Bread, Bunches, Cakes, Clusters, Couple, David, Distance, Donkeys, Dry, Figs, Flask, Fruits, Grapes, Hill, Hundred, Jug, Loaded, Loaves, Meet, Mephibosheth, Mephib'osheth, Mephibosheth's, Met, Passed, Past, Raisin-cakes, Raisins, Saddled, Servant, Short, Skin, Slope, Stems, Steward, String, Summer, Summer-fruit, Summit, Waiting, Wine, Ziba
Outline1. Ziba, by presents and false suggestions, obtains his master's inheritance5. At Bahurim, Shimei curses David9. David with patience abstains, and restrains others, from revenge15. Hushai insinuates himself into Absalom's counsel20. Ahithophel's counsel
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 16:1
2 Samuel 16:1-2
2 Samuel 16:1-4
5524 servants, bad
LibraryBut Although Patience be a virtue of the Mind...
8. But although patience be a virtue of the mind, yet partly the mind exercises it in the mind itself, partly in the body. In itself it exercises patience, when, the body remaining unhurt and untouched, the mind is goaded by any adversities or filthinesses of things or words, to do or to say something that is not expedient or not becoming, and patiently bears all evils that it may not itself commit any evil in work or word. By this patience we bear, even while we be sound in body, that in the midst …
St. Augustine—On Patience
That Nob was placed in the land of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem, whence Jerusalem also might be seen,--the words of the Chaldee paraphrast, upon Isaiah 10:32, do argue. For so he speaks; "Sennacherib came and stood in Nob, a city of the priests, before the walls of Jerusalem; and said to his army, 'Is not this the city of Jerusalem, against which I have raised my whole army, and have subdued all the provinces of it? Is it not small and weak in comparison of all the fortifications of the Gentiles, …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
David and Jonathan's Son
'And David said, is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake? 2. And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. 3. And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. 4. And the …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Godly are in Some Sense Already Blessed
I proceed now to the second aphorism or conclusion, that the godly are in some sense already blessed. The saints are blessed not only when they are apprehended by God, but while they are travellers to glory. They are blessed before they are crowned. This seems a paradox to flesh and blood. What, reproached and maligned, yet blessed! A man that looks upon the children of God with a carnal eye and sees how they are afflicted, and like the ship in the gospel which was covered with waves' (Matthew 8:24), …
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12
Appendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
Massecheth Berachoth, or Tractate on Benedictions  Mishnah--From what time is the "Shema" said in the evening? From the hour that the priests entered to eat of their therumah  until the end of the first night watch.  These are the words of Rabbi Eliezer. But the sages say: Till midnight. Rabban Gamaliel says: Until the column of the morning (the dawn) rises. It happened, that his sons came back from a banquet. They said to him: "We have not said the Shema.'" He said to them, "If the column …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
Importance in Luke's History of the Story of the Birth of Christ
IT needs no proof that Luke attached the highest importance to this part of his narrative. That Jesus was indicated from the beginning as the Messiah -- though not a necessary part of his life and work, and wholly omitted by Mark and only briefly indicated in mystical language by John -- was a highly interesting and important fact in itself, and could not fail to impress the historian. The elaboration and detail of the first two chapters of the Gospel form a sufficient proof that Luke recognized …
Sir William Mitchell Ramsay—Was Christ Born in Bethlehem?
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. T hat which often passes amongst men for resolution, and the proof of a noble, courageous spirit, is, in reality, the effect of a weak and little mind. At least, it is chiefly owing to the presence of certain circumstances, which have a greater influence upon the conduct, than any inherent principle. Thus may persons who appear to set death and danger at defiance in the hour …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
Meditations for one that is Like to Die.
If thy sickness be like to increase unto death, then meditate on three things:--First, How graciously God dealeth with thee. Secondly, From what evils death will free thee. Thirdly, What good death will bring unto thee. The first sort of Meditations are, to consider God's favourable dealing with thee. 1. Meditate that God uses this chastisement of thy body but as a medicine to cure thy soul, by drawing thee, who art sick in sin, to come by repentance unto Christ, thy physician, to have thy soul healed …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
No Sorrow Like Messiah's Sorrow
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow! A lthough the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophecies (Luke 24:44) , bear an harmonious testimony to MESSIAH ; it is not necessary to suppose that every single passage has an immediate and direct relation to Him. A method of exposition has frequently obtained [frequently been in vogue], of a fanciful and allegorical cast [contrivance], under the pretext …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate, …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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