2 Samuel 16:1-14
And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled…
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.
(C. Bosanquet, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.
WEB: When David was a little past the top [of the ascent], behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, and on them two hundred loaves of bread, and one hundred clusters of raisins, and one hundred summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.