"Where is your master's grandson?" asked the king. And Ziba answered, "Indeed, he is staying in Jerusalem, for he has said, 'Today, the house of Israel will restore to me the kingdom of my grandfather.'"
2 Samuel 16:1-4. - (OLIVET.)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.
Is this thy kindness to thy friend?
I. WE HAVE TO SHOW THAT YOU HAVE A FRIEND. His adversaries called Him "the Friend of sinners," and their design was to charge Him with being a Friend to their sins. This was infinitely false; but He was a Friend to their souls. This was infinitely true. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. Now let us look at a few of the qualities of this friend.
1. The characteristic of Benevolence. What is benevolence? Benevolence among men is often little more than a commerce of selfishness, and the offspring of sordid gain. Friendship amongst men arises from the possession of some amiable quality in the object regarded, either real or imaginary. But His friendship arises from no excellency in its subject, but is all undeserved favour.
2. The second characteristic of this friendship h sincerity. He is a friend who loves, not in words — in tongue, but in deed and in truth. "He gives us all things richly to enjoy."
3. A third characteristic of this friendship is ability. Where the ear is heavy, that it cannot hear, the hand is often shortened, that it cannot save. Nothing is more painful to real affection than inability. To see a beloved object suffering beyond your reach, — to behold in him wants which you cannot relieve, — to witness in him pains which you cannot alleviate, — to hear the voice from parched lips, "Pity me, pity me, Oh ye, my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me," and to be able only to shed unavailing tears.(1) Speak we of wisdom? "His understanding is infinite."(2) Speak we of wealth? His riches are boundless. "The world is His, and the fulness thereof" in heaven and in earth. Speak we of strength?" Lo! He is "strong" Nothing is too hard for Him. The Emperor Theodosius, having, on a signal occasion, opened all his prisons and released the prisoners, is reported to have said, "And now would to God I could open all the tombs and give life to the dead!" This was a noble saying, but in him it was an ineffectual one. However it is not so in regard to the Lord Jesus.(4) Fidelity is the fourth characteristic of this friendship. It was wrong in David to say, "All men are liars." He owns himself that he said it in his haste, and he should not have said it at all. There were few who ever had more faithful adherents than he.(5) The last characteristic of this friendship which we shall mention is perpetuity. Now this is distinguishable from the former article. That regards the stability of friendship, this regards the continuance of it. For, however true, however faithful, a friend may be, he is mortal. "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to the dust: in that very day his thoughts perish." Mortality is written on everything here. Yet have we "set our hearts upon that which is not." But what is the language of Jesus? "I will never leave thee. nor forsake thee."
II. That you HAVE OFTEN BEHAVED VERY INCONSISTENTLY, AND IMPROPERLY TOWARDS HIM, so as to constrain Him to say, "Is this thy kindness to thy friend?" We premise here two things.(1) That it is not to be supposed that you can fully discharge the obligations you are under to this Friend, in this weak state of flesh and blood. But then you ought to be sensible of them, and show that you are willing to make suitable returns, though you cannot make adequate returns; and to be always asking, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Therefore,(2) we observe that God expects us to make suitable returns, and is disappointed if we do not.Oh, what instances of ingratitude and unkindness compel Him to say, "Is this thy kindness to thy friend?" He does expect gratitude and a sense of obligation in His beneficiaries.(1) It is reasonable and righteous for your friend to expect that you should obey him. "He that hath My commandments and keepeth them," saith the Saviour, "he it is that loveth Me." And none of His commandments are "grievous."(2) It is reasonable and righteous in your friend to expect that you should own Him and honour him before men.(3) It is reasonable and righteous in your friend to expect that you should readily believe him and confide in him.(4) It is reasonable and righteous in your friend to expect that you should be fair and open and unreserved with him.(5) It is reasonable and righteous that your friend should expect that,, if any of his friends and relations be near you, you should behave kindly towards them. David inquired on a particular occasion, "Is there any here of the house of Saul, that I may deal kindly towards them for Jonathan's sake?" The Saviour has brethren and sisters.(6) It is reasonable and righteous in your friend to expect that if he left any emblem or memorial of his, you should highly prize it. Such a memorial you have with regard to Him in the Lord's supper. It is the only representation of Him He has left in His church. Conclusion: There are such who have not this Saviour for their Friend: and is not this the case with some of you? — yea, with many of you. What! has He "no form, nor comeliness, nor any beauty, that you should desire Him?" who yet is "fairer than the children of men"; yea, who is "altogether lovely." We speak this to your shame. Lord Brooks was a nobleman of our own country, but so charmed was he with that wise and accomplished person, Sir Philip Sidney, that, when he died, he would have no other inscription upon his tomb than this — "Here lies the friend of Sir Philip Sidney." Oh, may my tomb but tell a tale that truly states here lies a friend of Jesus!
(W. Jay, M. A.)
Christian Weekly.Trusting a friend so long as there is no room for doubt or distrust, is very well so far as it goes. A decent man can hardly do any less than this. It is always easy to trust a friend as far as one sees. But the real test of fidelity in friendship is when others doubt or question, and when there is room or occasion for two opinions as to a friend's conduct and appearance. True friendship evidences itself when one has to walk by faith, and not by sight. If one rests his trust on the friend because of what others think of that friend, that is one thing — there is no special friendship in that. But real friendship does not depend on outside testimony or opinions. —
(J. Stalker, M. A.)
PeopleAbishai, Absalom, Ahithophel, Arkite, David, Gera, Hushai, Mephibosheth, Saul, Shimei, Zeruiah, Ziba
TopicsAbides, Abideth, Abiding, Behold, Grandfather's, Grandson, Jerusalem, Kingdom, Master's, Remains, Restore, Staying, Thinks, To-day, Ziba
Outline1. Ziba, by presents and false suggestions, obtains his master's inheritance
5. At Bahurim, Shimei curses David
9. David with patience abstains, and restrains others, from revenge
15. Hushai insinuates himself into Absalom's counsel
20. Ahithophel's counsel
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 16:3
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
David and Jonathan's Son
The Godly are in Some Sense Already Blessed
Appendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
Importance in Luke's History of the Story of the Birth of Christ
Meditations for one that is Like to Die.
No Sorrow Like Messiah's Sorrow
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