Mephibosheth and God’s Covenant of Grace


Introduction and Overview*

The story of Mephibosheth is another Biblical example of God’s Grace and Mercy that is bestowed upon the undeserving believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Mephibosheth was a Benjamite, and a grandson of Israel’s first king, King Saul, and the son of David’s beloved friend, Jonathan. The Biblical account of Mephibosheth is used by God as a typological/allegorical representation of all believers, who, by nature, should die (eternally in Hell) for their sins (as exemplified by Mephibosheth being “lame”).  However, by the Grace and mercy of God, alone, through the Covenant of Grace wrought through the Person and Work of the LORD Jesus Christ, all such as Mephibosheth can have eternal peace and security in Heaven with Jesus Christ. The story is also an interesting one, because it requires a bit of searching to unfold, and to see, a more complete picture. (Note: Mephibosheth is also called “Meribbaal” in 1 Chronicles 8:34  and 1 Chronicles 9:40, which means “Contender with Baal”, and his descendants are also listed to the end of the 1 Chronicles, Chapters 8 & 9).

* This commentary draws heavily from that of this author’s late friend and mentor, Pastor Henry T. Mahan: pp. 107-109. And Audio of his sermon on Mephibosheth can be heard here:


PART 1: The Covenant Came First: David’s Covenant with Jonathan (Mephibosheth’s Father)

PART 2: The Recipient of the Covenant: Mephibosheth (“Dispeller of Shame”) 

PART 3: David Comes to Power, and He Remembers and Fulfills the Covenant to Jonathan by Showing Mercy to Mephibosheth

God Remembers His Everlasting Covenant/Oath

A Closer Look at 2 Samuel 9:1-13 (Some Significant Points to Ponder)

PART 4: Ziba (“Plant”), Mephibosheth’s Deceitful Servant 

PART 5: Mephibosheth Was Spared and Did Eat Continually at the King’s Table, as One of the King’s Sons

The Concluding Message: God’s Covenant of Grace With and Through Jesus Christ Continues Forever!                 The Believers Will Eat at Jesus’s Table in Heaven for Eternity as Sons of God!

PART 1: The Covenant Came First: David’s Covenant with Jonathan (Mephibosheth’s Father)

In 1 Samuel 20:11-17 we read, “And Jonathan said unto David, Come, and let us go out into the field. And they went out both of them into the field.  And Jonathan said unto David, O Lord God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee;  The Lord do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father.  And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not:  But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth. 16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the Lord even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.  And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.”

(NOTE to the reader, it should also be noted that King Saul later begged David to make a similar promise to King Saul that was also kept by David as we read in 1 Samuel 24:20-22, : And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand. Swear now therefore unto me by the Lord, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s houseAnd David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.“). That oath was also kept by David when David sought out and saved Mephibosheth.

PART 2: The Recipient of the Covenant: Mephibosheth (“Dispeller of Shame”) is a son of Jonathan, the son of King Saul, the Son of Kish, to whom that “forever” covenant applies, but he is “Lame in His Feet”

King Saul was “the people’s king” and he had been rejected by God for his disobedience and rebellion (1 Samuel 15:26); and David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:13 &14), subsequently reigned over all Israel when King Saul died in a battle with the Phillistines (along with three of Saul’s sons, including David’s dear friend, Jonathan 1 Samuel 31:2). Following the death of Saul, another son of Saul (Ishbosheth) was installed by the Captain of King Saul’s army to replace Saul as king in rebellion against David (2 Sa 2:8-10). During this power struggle anyone of the house of Saul was potentially vulnerable to being killed by either David or his supporters (as happened to Ishbosheth’s captain, Abner, who was killed by David’s captain, Joab 2 Samuel 3:26-30).  As a result, “all the Israelites were troubled.” 2 Samuel 4:1.  We also learn in 2 Samuel 4:4, “And Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.” Mephibosheth in Hebrew means “Dispeller of Shame.” (While it is not entirely clear of the meaning behind that name, we do know that Saul was not a man who God loved, and because Miphibosheth was the only one of Saul’s lineage who found grace, Mephibosheth would thereby have to be viewed as having dispelled that shame.)

The Spiritual Context of Being Lame

We also now know that he was lame in his feet (both feet, as the Bible later explains in 2 Samuel, chapter 9). To be lame is NOT a good thing…it is used in the Bible as being a “blemish” and as an allegory for being in a state of sin sickness that requires healing and which separates us from God. We know this because it is specifically mentioned in God’s Law as a reason for which a man (descended from Aaron) cannot serve as a priest to approach God’s Holy Temple, or any similarly blemished animal cannot be used as a sacrifice to God for sin. Here are the key examples (please read the entire chapters to see the full context).

Leviticus 21:18, “For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,”

Deuteronomy 15:21, “And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the Lord thy God.”

Deuteronomy 23:14  “For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

2 Chronicles 23:19 And he set the porters at the gates of the house of the LORD, that none [which was] unclean in any thing should enter in.”

To be lame is treated in the Bible much like all such ailments /infirmities /blemishes /sicknesses that represent being “unclean” and spiritually signify our natural state of sin, e.g., deafness, dumbness, blindness, broken bones, leprosy, demon possession, and even physical death from which there is a need of a cleansing cure. And the Bible makes clear that Salvation through Jesus Christ is the only eternal cure for our sins. The reality is that we are all by nature, “spiritually lame.”  And spiritually speaking, we cannot remain “lame” to enter into the presence of God, as salvation through Jesus Christ’s intercession is the means whereby we are healed of all such infirmities. Hebrews 12:13, “And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

With specific regard to being lame, it is most interesting to note in 2 Samuel 5:6 & 8, “And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.” And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, [that are] hated of David’s soul, [he shall be chief and captain]. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.”

These points are important for two reasons:

  • 1) While the above two verses make it clear that David’s “soul” hates the lame and the blind, and, moreover, that the blind and the lameshall not come into the house”, it is not inconsistent with the fact that God HATES our sinful nature (typified by all such physical defects/blemishes) and that God will not allow any unclean thing (sin or sinners) to enter into HIS house (Heaven).
  • 2) Nonetheless, because of the loving bond and covenant established between David and Jonathan, we later see that despite being lame (mentioned repeatedly), Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, is not only allowed into David’s house, but also to continually eat bread at King David’s table,as one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11).

The “Lame” Are Healed in the New Testament

We can see other accounts in the New Testament where someone is lame and is subsequently miraculously cured by Jesus and his disciples. See for example, Matthew 15:30&31, “And great multitudes came unto him (Jesus), having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. Also, Matthew 21:14And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. This is reiterated in Jesus testimony to be passed to John the Baptist, “Luke 7:22, “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” and later in Acts 3:1-26, we read where Peter healed the lame man seeking alms to whom Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God:” Again in Acts 8:7 we read the account of the disciples healing infirmities that include lameness, “For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.”

PART 3: David Comes to Power, and He Remembers and Fulfills the Covenant to Jonathan by Showing Mercy to Mephibosheth

When David was anointed king of Israel, in theory, any living male heir of King Saul could have tried to challenge David’s throne (just as Ishbosheth did), and would, in general, be quite fearful of being killed by the King David for that sole reason (we later read that the male heirs considered themselves “dead men2 Samuel 19:28). In fact, one way or another, all but one of King Saul’s male heirs were eventually slain (including Ishbosheth, 2 Samuel 4:5-12)…only Mephibosheth was spared as we will see. We read in 1 Samuel 31:2, “And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul’s sons.” But two other of Saul’s sons and five other grandsons did live on (for a time), in addition to Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul.

 In 2 Samuel 9:1-13) we read the account where David remembers his covenant with Jonathan (that covenant was established in 1 Samuel 20:12-17), “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? 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. 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. And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar. Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant! And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I [am]?  Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master’s son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.  Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in [the fruits], that thy master’s son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master’s son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.  Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons.  And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth.  So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.

God Remembers His Everlasting Covenant/Oath

Psalm 105:7-10, “He [is] the LORD our God: his judgments [are] in all the earth. He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word [which] he commanded to a thousand generations.Which [covenant] he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, [and] to Israel [for] an everlasting covenant:

The last words of King David before his death included what we read in 2 Samuel 23:5Although my house [be] not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all [things], and sure: for [this is] all my salvation, and all [my] desire, although he make [it] not to grow.

God never forgets His covenant with Israel for we read in Leviticus 26:42, “Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.”  This is also repeated in the last four verses in Isaiah 16:1-63, beginning with “Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.”

Luk 1:67-75, The fulfillment of Zacharias’s prophesy (John the Baptist’s father) speaking of Jesus), “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed [be] the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his peopleAnd hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy [promised] to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenantThe oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. To perform the mercy [promised] to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;”

God remembered and performed His covenant to Israel with a new and everlasting covenant in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ (with the spiritual eternal Israel, the true believing Christians, out of all the world saved by grace, and not by the works of the law, through the fulfillment of God’s law by Jesus Christ His Beloved Son).

A Closer Look at 2 Samuel 9:1-13 (Some Significant Points to Ponder)

1. And the king said…’ (v. 3)

Where the word of the king is, there is power, authority, and total sovereignty. There is no council, no conference, and no bargaining here. The king speaks from his sovereign throne, and what he decrees shall be done.

  • Our God is infinitely Sovereign Over All of His Creation.  God reigns in total authority in Heaven and Earth (Psalm 115:1-3; Daniel 4:34-35).    NOTE: It is also interesting that immediately following in Psalm 115:48 we are given a description of the idols of the heathen as including: “eyes have they, but they see not:” (they are blind) and “feet have they, but they walk not:” (they are lame).  Moreover, it is also interesting that Jesus’s only healings in Jerusalem were of a blind man (John 9:1-41) and a lame man (John 5:1-17).
  • Our God is Sovereign in Providence (1 Samuel 2:6-8; Isaiah 45:5-7; Isaiah 46:9-11). There may be second and third causes, but God is the first cause of all things (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:1-11).
  • Our God is Sovereign in Salvation (Exodus 33:18&19;Romans 9:15-18; Jonah 2:9).

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2. ‘That I might show the kindness of God to him.’ (v. 3)

The Hebrew word that is translated as “kindness” (חֶסֶד (ḥeseḏ H2617) is also translated 149x in the King James Bible as “mercy“.  David, the king, was a man of mercy. The house of Saul was David’s enemy and deserved no mercy nor pity, but David found it in his heart to show mercy to some.

Our God Is Holy, Righteous, and Just; but He Is also Merciful. He delights to show mercy (Psalm 130:3-7). Adam’s race is a fallen, rebellious race and deserves no mercy. God is not indebted to sinners, but he has determined to show mercy to some (Exodus 33:18&19). The language of religion is merit, rewards, and service; but the language of true redemption is mercy. Just as Paul was inspired to write “I obtained mercy” (1Ti 1:13-16), and as the Publican who cried, “Lord, be merciful to me, the sinner” (Luk 18:13)… so too is it true for all believers saved from their sins by God’s mercy alone (Ephesians 2:4-9).

3. ‘Which is lame on his feet.’ (v. 3,4)

Ziba, the servant of the house of Saul, reported to David that Jonathan had a son called Mephibosheth, “…Beholdhe is in the house of Machir (“Sold” מָכִיר (māḵîr) H4353 ), the son of Ammiel (“Of the family of God” עַמִּיאֵל (ʿammî’ēl)H5988), in Lodebar (“Without Pasture” לֹא דְבָר (lō’ ḏᵊḇār)H3810).” and who was now a poor cripple because of a tragic fall when he was five years old (2 Samuel 4:4).

The word lame through a “fall” not only describes Mephibosheth, but it is our spiritual condition since the Fall of our father, Adam (Romans 5:12, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; Ephesians 2:1-3). All of our faculties were affected by this Fall into sin, and in our flesh dwelleth no good (Romans 3:9-19).

We should also take note of the state that Mephibosheth was in when David asks of his condition. We learn that Mephibosheth is with those who are “Sold” (as into bondage?) and is considered to be among the “Family of God” and is currently in a place “without pasture” (like a lost sheep needing a shepherd).  Jesus gathers His lost sheep (foreordained by God the Father as the kinfolk of Jesus), who Jesus saves from the house of bondage (death and Hell), and Jesus provides His sheep (the believers) with green pasture (Psalm 23:1-6)…eternal life in Heaven (Hebrews 13:20-21).

4. ‘Then David sent and fetched him.’ (v. 5)

King David purposed to show mercy to someone of Saul’s house. When he heard that Jonathan had a crippled son in Lodebar, David sent his servant to where Mephibosheth was and “fetched” him (the Hebrew word for fetched is translated 747x in the King James Bible as “take” לָקַח (lāqaḥ)H3947); that is, the servant called and brought him to David.  It should be noted that the word was first used in the Bible in Genesis 2:15And the LORD God tookH3947 the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”  It is also the very word used in Genesis 5:24 when God “took” Enoch to Heaven!  “And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God tookH3947 him.” God Is The One Who initiates the action to take and to save, not the man being saved, for Jesus said in John 6:44 (and John 6:65), “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

The Lord of Glory is Love, and love must be expressed. The Lord of Glory in His sovereign mercy determined to show mercy to a fallen race. He set His love and affection on lame sinners and sent His only begotten Son into the world to be our Saviour (John 3:16-17; Galatians 4:4-5; Romans 5:6– 10). Christ came where we were, became what we are, and by His obedience and death honored the law, satisfied justice, and enabled God to be just and justifier of all who believe (Romans 3:19-26; 1 Peter 3:18). He then sent His Holy Spirit to take us, call us, and make us willing to come to Him (Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 1:13-14; Psalm 110:3).

5. ‘Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant! (v. 6).

We all must “revere” our LORD, Jesus Christ (Who sits on the eternal throne of David), for whom all believers are “servants”.

6. ‘And David said fear not. (v. 7)

Mephibosheth was afraid in the presence of the king because Mephibosheth was born of the house of the King David’s enemy (King Saul); therefore, he fell on his face before the king and did reverence. However David said in effect, ‘You have no cause to be afraid; 1 will show you kindness.’

Men and women who know something of God’s holiness, their own nature and sin, and what the law and justice of the King demand have every reason to be afraid in His presence (Luke 18:13). God will punish sin, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die’ (Ezekiel 18:20), ‘The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.’ (Proverbs 9:10 and Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 19:23, Proverbs 16:6). Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

7. ‘I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan’s thy father’s sake. (v. 7)

David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.” David was in effect saying to Mephibosheth, “I have not fetched you to destroy you; so you need not be afraid. I will surely (certainly) show you mercy for the sake of Jonathan, your father, whom I love.” Before Mephibosheth was born, David made a covenant with Jonathan, promising to show mercy to Jonathan’s sons because of his love for him (1 Samuel 20:11-17).

Before the foundation of the world, God the Father entered into an everlasting covenant of mercy with the Lord Jesus Christ, giving him a people out of Adam’s race and making Christ the surety and redeemer of those people (John 6:37-45; John 10:24-30; John 17:1-3, 9; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 13:20-21). The mercy and kindness God shows to sinners is because of his love for Christ (Romans 8:33-39). It is for Christ’s sake (Colossians 1:14-18).

8. ‘And he bowed himself, and said, What [is] thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I [am]?(v. 8)

Apart from God’s Grace, all of mankind is nothing but a “dead dog”.

9. ‘thou shalt eat bread at my table continually’, ‘As for Mephibosheth, [said the king}, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons.’, ‘For he did eat continually at the king’s table.’ (v. 7, 11, 13)

David fulfilled every promise that he had made to Jonathan to Mephibosheth, as God will fulfill every promise to His Son, Jesus Christ regarding the elect; for none shall ever perish, but shall all be made like Christ and enjoy his presence forever (Romans 8:26-39). And all the believers are considered to be “sons of God” (John 1:12 and 1John 3:1&2) and “heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).

Finally, please, dear reader, think about this…What did Jesus say to His disciples at the Last Supper?

In Luke 22:29&30 we read that Jesus (The “King of kings, and Lord of lords“! see:1Timothy 6:15&Revelation 19:16) said, “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

This will be true for all believers in Heaven! Hallelujah!

PART 4: Ziba (“Plant”), Mephibosheth’s Deceitful Servant 

However, the account of Mephibosheth does not stop there…In 2 Samuel 15:13, we read of the flight of David from Jerusalem arising from the insurrection by David’s son, Absalom against David, and David’s fearing that Absalom was going to slaughter David and his household, “make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.”  Mephibosheth (as we later read in Chapter 19) evidently intended to go with David out of Jerusalem, or at least support him in his flight, because Mephibosheth’s servant, Ziba, loaded up pack animals with provisions and chased after David.  Ziba left Mephibosheth behind caught up with David. Then in 2 Samuel 16:1-4, we read where Mephibosheth is falsely accused of treason/rebellion and his possessions are taken from him and given to his accuser, Mephibosheth’s servant, Ziba, 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. And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king’s household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.  And the king said, And where is thy master’s son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father. Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.” Ziba, originally the servant of Saul (and hence also Jonathan), falsely accused Mephibosheth to King David, for Mephibosheth never said what was accused of him, and therefore Ziba must have evidently coveted Mephibosheth’s inheritance from king Saul.

However, later, in 2 Samuel 19:24-30, we read the following where Mephibosheth, upon meeting King David coming back across the River Jordan after Absalom was dead, has the opportunity to explain himself to King David: “And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace. And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth? And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame. And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes.  For all of my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king?  And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.  And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house.

Here we (and King David) can plainly see that Mephibosheth remained a faithful servant who loves David, had an unfaithful servant (Ziba), who lied about him, and that Mephibosheth placed his relationship with David above all his worldly material possessions.  Mephibosheth humbled himself before his King and was happy only to again be in the King’s presence and He left his fate in the hand of the King. David again spared Mephibosheth, and the king said that the earthly possessions granted to Ziba earlier would be divided between Mephibosheth and Ziba. However, Mephibosheth said that Ziba could take it all!

Mephibosheth was clearly a child of God, 1 John 2:15, “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Remember also that Jesus’s disciples, Peter, James, and John, when Jesus called them to be fishers of men, according to Luke 5:11, “And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.”  James 2:5, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?  We can only wonder about the ultimate fate of Ziba, but we do know from Mark 8:36,For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” 

PART 5:  Mephibosheth Was Spared and Did Eat Continually at the King’s Table, as One of the King’s Sons

King David continued to show grace to Mephibosheth, as we later read in 2 Samuel 21. In 2 Samuel 21:1, we read this, “Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites*. And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them (see Joshua 9:3-27): and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.) Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the LordAnd they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel, Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, whom the Lord did choose. And the king said, I will give them.” Then we are given the account in 2 Samuel 21:8&9, where two of Saul’s sons (of his concubine Rizpah) and five grandsons (of his daughter Michal) were turned over by king David to Gibeonites to appease them and were hanged, “And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell [all] seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first [days], in the beginning of barley harvest.” The Gibeonites killed (actually “hanged”**) those seven men (including an uncle of Mephibosheth, who was also named Mephibosheth, one of two sons of Saul via his concubine, Rizpah, 2 Samuel 21:8). However, most notably, we read in 2 Samuel 21:7 , “But 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.Mephibosheth was spared because of the LORD’s oath (covenant)!  Amazing!   And even more amazing is the fact that the eternal Covenant of Grace established before Creation by God the Father with His Son, Jesus Christ, spares wicked sinners from spending an eternity in Hell and God’s Covenant of Grace is eternal.

*There is no unequivocal account in the Bible of Saul’s having “slew the Gibeonites“.  However, we do know that the Gibeonites were living in the area that was allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 21:17), and Saul, being a Benjamite, would have been familiar with them, and at some point could have taken offense by their presence among his tribe and Israel. We also know that King Saul ordered the slaughter of 85 priests in Nob (a priestly city in Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem) for having helped fleeing David (providing him with food and Goliath’s sword).  Many others in that town were killed as well, which could have included Gibeonites who inhabited the surrounding area. In 1Samuel 22:17-19, we read the following: “And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also [is] with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD. And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.

NOTE: It is not insignificant that both Esther and her elder cousin, Mordechai, whom we read about in the the book of Esther are also Benjamites, as we read in Esther 2:5, “Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;” The details of the familial relationship between Mordecai (and hence Esther) and King Saul/Jonathan/Mephibosheth are unclear, but at the least we can see that they are all part of the tribe of Benjamin, and that they are all descended from someone having the name Kish (“bow” “snare” (like the river Kishon) or “power”).  And the Kish who was the father of King Saul was described as a “mighty man of power” (or substance) according to 1 Samuel 9:1&2.

Please also see:

The Concluding Message: God’s Covenant of Grace With and Through Jesus Christ Continues Forever! The Believers Will Eat at Jesus’s Table in Heaven for Eternity as Sons of God!

The Mephibosheth account provides a number of insights for us regarding God’s Magnificent Plan of Salvation.  King Saul as the first king of Israel can at times be either an allegorical “Type” of Adam, or after the Fall, of the devil. King David, a man after God’s own heart, oftentimes represents the “second” Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ.  However, King David, in his relationship with Jonathan, is more of a picture of God the Father who loves Jesus, the beloved Savior with Whom the Covenant of Grace was established before all of creation.  When it was said that David’s love for Jonathan was greater than anywhere else we read in the Bible as we read in 1 Samuel 18:1 (and 1 Samuel 18:3 and 1 Samuel 20:17) that “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul,” which can only represent the perfect love between God The Father and God The Son.  Jonathan was never described as blemished, just as Jesus was without blemish.  So many of the Psalms have the historical conflict of David with Saul, but the language clearly points to and teaches us of that conflict with God/believers and the devil/his followers.  Mephibosheth represents the elect of God, all those who are believers throughout time.  Mephibosheth represents all those whom God seeks and saves, of the lineage of Adam (who, because of the Fall of Adam and their own sins, would otherwise be condemned to eternal death and Hell), but because of the sacrifice of Christ (“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the worldRevelation 13:8), become the partakers of new birth, and are viewed by God as the seed of Christ and “heirs according to the promise” Galatians 3:29.

Moreover, just like David, God remembers his Covenant…God’s Covenant of Grace and Mercy is sealed by the Precious Blood of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and will endure forever. In 2 Timothy 1:8-9, we read, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of GodWho hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” God remembers His covenant, and He will seek and save those who are His sheep…the sheep of His calling.  In 1 Peter 2:25 we read, “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” And this brings us to Hebrews 13:20, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.

Finally, this account of Mephibosheth points us to the loving bond between God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and God’s Covenant of Grace as established through Jesus (before the foundation of the world, 1Peter 1:18-21) to show us how despicable and loathsome sinners can nonetheless enter the kingdom of God through Grace because of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. God sees the covenant and bond that He has established with His Son! As a result, all those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord God and Savior, are viewed as co-heirs with Christ. God does not see the believer’s defects anymore, only Christ’s righteousness (they will be clothed in the robes of His righteousness Isaiah 61:10 and Revelation 7:9).  So the believers are invited into God’s Heavenly House to sit and eat with HIM for eternity “as one of the king’s sons”!  The account of Mephibosheth is therefore a beautiful picture of God’s Gospel of Grace through His Son, Jesus Christ, which we must preach to the world

May we all be blessed as Mephibosheth and learn from his example to be humble servants willing to forsake all to serve our Lord, King, and Savior, Jesus Christ.  May we all, like Mephibosheth, eat “Bread” continually (forever) at the King’s Table in the King’s House as “sons of God” (John 1:12 and 1John 3:1&2) and “heirs according to the promise“(Galatians 3:29).


(Please note how much this is reminiscent of the forgiveness shown by Joseph (another “Type” for Jesus Christ) to his brothers who threw him into a pit and left him for dead where, instead of punishing them, he gave them bread to eat in his house during the great seven year famine in Genesis 43-45). Remembering also, in particular, when, after Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt, we read in Genesis 47:12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families.

*1 Samuel 20:12-17, And Jonathan said unto David, O Lord God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee; The Lord do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father.  And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not: But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth. So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the Lord even require it at the hand of David’s enemies. And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

** The Bible teaches that anyone who is hanged is cursed by God. Galatians 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” The Old Testament specified that in Deuteronomy 21:23, “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God; ) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”  What this would seem to teach us is that all of Saul’s grandsons were cursed by God (except for Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, and not his uncle “Mephibosheth” born of the woman Rizpah as we read in 2 Samuel 21:8).  Hence, to at least some degree, as was mentioned earlier, the “Mephibosheth”, who was the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, “dispelled the shame” of his grandfather, King Saul.

Other relevant verses to ponder:

Psalms 51:5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Psalms 58:3  “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Jonah 2:9   “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.

John 10:27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Matthew 15:27 “And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

Mark 7:28And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.

Ecclesiastes  9:4For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Studies

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