Mephibosheth: Understanding your inheritance (2 Samuel 19:24-30)

Read 2 Samuel 19:24-30 on BibleGateway

My last post Mephibosheth: Living as a son of the king looked at the story of Mephibosheth and some of the things we can learn from the way he was treated by King David. This crippled nobody, lame in both feet, was welcomed into the household of the king, treated as a son and had his shame covered by the tablecloth as he sat at the king’s table[1]. However, I felt that there was another episode to the story of Mephibosheth that was worth taking a look at.

Sometime later there is trouble when Absalom, David’s son, tries to launch a coup to take control of the throne (see 2 Samuel 15-18). David flees from Jerusalem taking with him those who are loyal to him. When the situation is resolved, through the death of Absalom and the rebellion being quelled, David returns to Jerusalem. Upon his return we read that Mephibosheth came to meet him (v24) and it becomes clear that he had not left the city with the king’s entourage. The king asks him, ‘Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?’ (v25). The most obvious reason would have been a betrayal of the king and a pledging of his loyalties to the usurper, Absalom. This screams out in stark contrast to the kindness and mercy that David had lavished on him.

However, Mephibosheth explains what had happened: His servant, Ziba, had deceived him and, when Mephibosheth had asked for his donkey to be made ready so he could travel with the king, the servant had abandoned him. As a man lame in both feet Mephibosheth lacked the ability to follow the king and had to remain behind (vv25,26). Not only that, but Ziba had slandered Mephibosheth to the king in lying about the reasons as to why he was not accompanying them (see 2 Samuel 16:1-4).

Upon David’s return it was quickly apparent from his appearance that Mephibosheth had not looked after himself during the king’s absence from the city. ‘He had neither cared for his feet, nor trimmed his moustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed to the day he came home in peace’ (v24).

Did you see that?

Mephibosheth so yearned for being in the presence of the king that he refused to even wash until he was back with the king! That is his response to the mercy he was shown. That is the response of a true son – a yearning for the presence of the father, a pining to be with him once again. Other things pale into insignificance when they are compared to being in the presence of the father.

Mephibosheth then reminds the king of the depth of gratitude he has towards him and that he was like a dead man before the king welcomed him in. He again offers himself to the mercy of the king and refuses to make any further appeal (see NIV wording of v28). The king realises the truth of the situation and decides to share out the land that belongs to Mephibosheth between him and Ziba (v29). This is presumably in order that Ziba could no longer have reason to try to disgrace Mephibosheth and also to right the incorrect decision he had made in 16:4. But Mephibosheth says, ‘Let him take it all, since my lord has come safely to his own house’ (v30)

Again, did you see that?

Mephibosheth gives up his physical inheritance to an untrustworthy servant. Why? Because he is absolutely content with being back in the presence and rule of the king. The son is solely concerned with the welfare of the father. He is not concerned with his own affairs, his own possessions or his own future security because these things are all tied up in the return of the father.

He simply wants to see his father return that he might continue to live in his presence.


[1] Thanks to my dad for this insight!

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