And he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, who asked him, "Mephibosheth, why did you not go with me?"
He hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king (ver. 27). The lame son of Jonathan comes upon the scene once more before his final disappearance. During the rebellion he seems to have continued at Jerusalem; and a strange spectacle he must have presented there, with his neglected person and mournful countenance. On hearing that the king was returning, he set out from
Jerusalem (Hebrew, to
; or "Jerusalem came," Keil) to meet him. But he had been preceded by Ziba, who was present, when, in answer to the inquiry, "Wherefore," etc., he said, "My lord, O king, my servant deceived me," etc. (2 Samuel 16:1-4
1. The unfortunate and helpless are commonly made the victims of a slanderous tongue. Others may not escape its venom; but these become its ready prey. Ziba knew that he could not be pursued and punished; and destroyed the reputation of his master with the king for the sake of his own profit.
2. The voice of slander is put to silence in the presence of honesty and truth. Already, before Mephibosheth spoke, his appearance must have borne witness to his innocence. His explanation of his conduct, the tone of his defence, and the silence of his accuser, would hardly fail to convince the king that, whatever may have been the designs of others concerning the house of Saul (2 Samuel 16:5), the son of his friend Jonathan was not implicated therein. Slander may remain long unchallenged; but it is sure to be ultimately put to shame.
3. No vindication from slander is able to do away with all its mischievous effects. The property of which Mephibosheth had been deprived might be restored in whole or in part; but the feelings and actions induced in others could not be obliterated. "Reluctant to think that he had been too hasty; having a royal aversion to admit that he could err and had been duped; and being, in his present humour of overlooking and pardoning everything, indisposed to the task of calling to account a man of such influence as Ziba, who had been forward in his cause when many tried friends forsook him, the king's answer was something less than generous and much less than kind to the son of Jonathan" (Kitto).
4. Notwithstanding the wrong which he suffers, a man of humble and grateful heart still possesses abundant satisfaction. Seeking no revenge, acknowledging his dependence even for life, thankful for the kindness formerly shown toward him, and foregoing every claim (vers. 27, 28), he is little concerned about worldly possessions in comparison with the honour and welfare of his lord, and finds his chief delight in "the king's favour." "True to his noble saintly nature, all that he desires is to love and to be loved again" (Plumptre). "Let him also take all," etc. (ver. 30).
"Fret not thyself because of the evil doers,
Be not envious against the workers of iniquity,...
The meek shall inherit the land,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace," etc.
(Psalm 37:1-11.) D.
Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king.
And Mephibosheth, also, the son of Saul, came down to meet the king. Our too otiose English is unjust to Mephibosheth; or else it has taken Mephibosheth's infirmity in his feet much too seriously. Mephibosheth was not so crippled in his intellect, at any rate, as to stay in Jerusalem till the king came home. He was too eager for that to congratulate the king on his victory. We all know how the mind overmasters the body, and makes us forget all about its lameness on occasions. And Mephibosheth was at the Jordan all the way from Jerusalem almost as soon as Shimei himself. Four hundred years before, just at the same place, when the inhabitants of Gideon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles old and rent and bound up, and old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them, and all the bread of their provisions was dry and mouldy. And Joshua said, Who are ye, and whence come ye? And they said, From a very far country thy servants are come, because of the name of the Lord thy God. And Joshua made a league with them, to let them live; and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. And all that about Joshua and the Gibeonites came back to David's mind when he saw Mephibosheth lifted down off his ass. For Mephibosheth had not dressed his wooden feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes for grief, so he said, from the day that the king departed. Nor had he taken time to-day to make himself decent for such a journey, such was his joy that the king was coming back again to Jerusalem, Yes, but what came of thee that morning, Mephibosheth? asked David. I looked for thee. I was afraid that in the overthrow some evil had befallen thee. Thou art not able to bear arms for me; but thy father so strengthened my hands in God that to have seen the face of his son that morning, and to have heard thy voice would have done for me and for my cause what thy father did. My lord, said Mephibosheth — but "the tale was as lame as the tale-bearer." Ziba had stolen his ass just as he was mounting him to come with the king — and so on. David did not stoop to ask whose ass this was that Mephibosheth had got saddled so soon this morning. Say no more, Mephibosheth, said David, as he saw Jonathan's son crawling so abjectly before him. Dr. Kitto complains of David's "tart answer" to Mephibosheth. But if David was too tart, then with what extraordinary and saintly sweetness Mephibosheth received the over-tartness of the king. "Let Ziba take all my estates to-day forasmuch as nay lord the king is come again in peace to his own house." No, there was nothing cripple in Mephibosheth's intellects. "Mephibosheth was a philosopher," says Dr. Parker. "I find no defect of his wits in Mephibosheth," says honest Joseph Hall. And the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the Lord's oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan, the son of Saul.
In poor Mephibosheth's case, it would seem as if his early and lifelong infirmity, taken along with the hopeless loss of his brilliant prospects, had all eaten into his heart till he became the false, scheming creature that David found him out to be. Hephaeston loved Alexander, while Craterus loved the king. And Jonathan was like Hephaeston in this, that he loved David at all times, whereas his son Mephibosheth resembled Craterus in this, that he preferred David on the throne to David off the throne. Jonathan strengthened David's hand in God in the wood of Ziph; but Mephibosheth, like another classical character, fled the empty cask. How Mephibosheth's heart had overflowed with gratitude to David when the royal command came that he. was to leave Machir's house:in Lo-debar, and was henceforth to take up his quarters in the king's house in Jerusalem! All Mephibosheth's morosity and misanthropy melted off his heart that day. But such was Mephibosheth at the bottom of his heart that, as he continued to eat at David's table, Satan entered into Mephibosheth and said to him in his heart that all this was by original and Divine right his own. All this wealth, and power, and honour, and glory. But for the bad fortune of his father's royal house on Mount Gilboa, all this would to-day have been his own. "Ingratitude," says Mozley, "is not only a species of injustice, it is the highest species of injustice." And the ingratitude of Mephibosheth grew at David's table to this high injustice, that he waited for both David and Absalom to be chased out of Jerusalem, that, he might take their place. There is no baser heart than an ungrateful heart. And it was Mephibosheth's ungrateful heart that prepared him for the baseness that he was found out in both at the flight of David and at his victorious return.
"The virtues were invited once
To banquet with the Lord of All:
They came — the great ones rather grim,
And not so pleasant as the small.
They talked and chatted o'er the meal,
They even laughed with temp'rate glee;
And each one knew the other well,
And all were good as good could be.
Benevolence and Gratitude
Alone of all seemed strangers yet;
They stared when they were introduced
On earth they never once had met."Dean Milman says that the writings both of Tacitus and Dante are full of remorse. And it is, as I believe, in our own remorse that we shall find the true key to Mephibosheth's heart. When a government goes out of power, when a church is under a cloud, when religion has lost her silver slippers, and when she walks in the shadow of the street, and when any friend has lost his silver slippers — then we discover Mephibosheth in ourselves, and hate both him and ourselves like hell. And commentators have taken sides over the case of Mephibosheth very much as they have found that contemptible creature skulking in themselves, and have had bitter remorse on account of him. "I am full of self-love, fear to confess Thee, or to hazard myself, or my estate, or my peace... My perplexity continues as to whether I shall move now or not, stay or return, hold by Lauderdale, or make use of the Bishop. I went to Sir George Mushet's funeral, where I was looked at, as I thought, like a speckled bird... Die Dom. — I find great averseness in myself to suffering. I am afraid to lose life or estate. Shall I forbear to hear that honest minister, James Urquhart, for a time, seeing the stone is like to fall on me if I do so?" And then our modern Mephibosheth has the grace to add in his diary, like the book of judgment: "A grain of sound faith would easily answer all these questions: — I have before me Mr. Rutherford's letter desiring me to deny myself." And though you will not easily believe it; the author of that letter himself has enough of Jonathan's crippled and disinherited son still in himself to give a tang, and more than a tang, of remorse to some of his best letters. "Oh, if I were free of myself! Myself is another devil, and as evil as the prince of devils. Myself! Myself! Every man blames the devil for his sins, but the house and heart devil of every man is himself. I think I shall die still but minting and aiming to be a Christian man!" This, then, is the prize for finding out that enigma of motive, Mephobosheth's hidden heart. This is the first prize, to receive of God the inward eye to discover Mephibosheth in our ourselves.
Mephibosheth... hadThere is a very suggestive story told of Napoleon when his army was in dire need, retreating from Moscow in 1813. The soldiers were ragged, dirty, starved, and unkempt, and it seemed to be impossible to present the smart and orderly appearance which usually characterises troops on the march. But in the very heart of their necessity one of the generals came before Napoleon one morning as nearly attired as if for parade. The Emperor's commendation was instant: "My General," he said, "you are a brave man!" Napoleon was a man of the keenest and clearest insight, and he could read a character through a trifle. He knew perfectly well that a man who put care and energy and precision into a courtesy would not be lacking upon the field. Is not the story suggestive of the finer characteristics of the Christian life? Real Christian heroism manifests itself in trifles. How do we finish our speech? Into what kind of dress do we put our courtesies? In what form and manner does our service express itself? Are we as scrupulous and painstaking when little demand is made upon us, as we are amid the crises and heavier battles of life? Christian heroism is not only an affair of great conflicts, it also manifests itself on those smaller occasions when so many people relax both effort and desire.
PeopleAbiathar, Abishai, Absalom, Amasa, Barzillai, Benjamin, Benjamites, Chimham, David, Gera, Israelites, Joab, Joseph, Mephibosheth, Saul, Shimei, Zadok, Zeruiah, Ziba
PlacesBahurim, Gilgal, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Mahanaim, Rogelim
TopicsDidn't, Jerusalem, Meet, Mephibosheth, Mephib'osheth, Pass, Wentest, Wherefore
Outline1. Joab causes the king to cease his mourning
9. The Israelites are earnest to bring the king back
11. David sends to the priest to incite them of Judah
18. Shimei is pardoned
24. Mephibosheth excused
32. Barzillai dismissed, and Chimham his son taken into the king's family
41. The Israelites expostulate with Judah for bringing home the king without them
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 19:18-29
5088 David, character
2 Samuel 19:24-29
5524 servants, bad
LibraryNational Sorrows and National Lessons
On the illness or the Prince of Wales. Chapel Royal, St James's, December 17th, 1871. 2 Sam. xix. 14. "He bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man." No circumstances can be more different, thank God, than those under which the heart of the men of Judah was bowed when their king commander appealed to them, and those which have, in the last few days, bowed the heart of this nation as the heart of one man. But the feeling called out in each case was the same--Loyalty, …
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons
BY REV. GEORGE MILLIGAN, M.A., D.D. "There is nothing," says Socrates to Cephalus in the Republic, "I like better than conversing with aged men. For I regard them as travellers who have gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom it is right to learn the character of the way, whether it is rugged or difficult, or smooth and easy" (p. 328 E.). It is to such an aged traveller that we are introduced in the person of Barzillai the Gileadite. And though he is one of the lesser-known characters …
George Milligan—Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known
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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