The Cripple at the King's Table
II Samuel viii: 1,
to ix: 13.
as the kings of the nations around Israel saw that a
strong man was ruling over the tribes, they began to
make war upon David, for they feared to see Israel
gaining in power. So it came to pass that David had
many wars. The Moabites, who lived on the east of
the Dead Sea, went to war with David, but David
conquered them, and made Moab submit to Israel. Far
in the north, the Syrians came against David; but he
won great victories over them, and took Damascus,
their chief city, and held it as a part of his
kingdom. In the south, he made war upon the Edomites,
and brought them under his rule.
For a number of years David was constantly at war,
but at last he was at peace, the ruler of all the
lands from the great river Euphrates on the north,
down to the wilderness on the south, where the
Israelites had wandered; and from the great desert
on the east to the Great Sea on the west. All these
lands were under the rule of King David, except the
people of Tyre and Sidon, who lived beside the Great
Sea on the north of Israel. These people, the
Tyrians, never made war on Israel, and their king,
Hiram, was one of David's best friends. The men of
Tyre cut down cedar-trees on Mount Lebanon for
David, and brought them to Jerusalem, and built for
David the palace which became his home.
When David's wars were over, and he was at rest, he
thought of the promise that he had made to his
friend Jonathan, the brave son of Saul, that he
would care for his children. David asked of his
nobles and the men at his court, "Are there any of
Saul's family living, to whom I can show kindness
for the sake of Jonathan?"
They told David of Saul's servant, Ziba, who had the
charge of Saul's farm in the country; and David sent
for him. Ziba had become a rich man from his care of
the lands that had belonged to Saul.
David said to Ziba, "Are there any of Saul's family
living, to whom I can show some of the kindness
which God has shown toward me?"
And Ziba said, "Saul's son Jonathan left a little
boy, named Mephibosheth, who is now grown to be a
man. He is living at Lo-debar, on the east of
This child of Jonathan was in the arms of his nurse
when the news came of the battle at Mount Gilboa,
where Jonathan was slain. The nurse fled with him,
to hide from the Philistines, and in running fell;
and the child's feet were so injured that ever after
he was lame.
Perhaps he was kept hidden in the distant place on
the east of Jordan, from fear lest David, now that
he was king, might try to kill all those who were of
Saul's family; for such deeds were common in those
times, when one king took the power away from
another king's children.
David sent for Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son; and he
was brought into David's presence, and fell down on
his face before the king, for he was in great fear.
And David said to him, "Mephibosheth, you need have
no fear. I will be kind to you, because I loved
Jonathan, your father, and he loved me. You shall
have all the lands that ever belonged to Saul and
his family; and you shall always sit at my table in
the royal palace."
Then the king called Ziba, who had been the servant
of Saul, and said to him, "All the lands and houses
that once belonged to Saul I have given to
Mephibosheth. You shall care for them, and bring the
harvests and the fruits of the fields to him. But
Mephibosheth shall live here with me, and shall sit
down at the king's table among the princes of the
So Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan, was taken
into David's palace, and sat at the king's table,
among the highest in the land. And Ziba, with his
fifteen sons and his twenty servants, waited on him,
and stood at his command.
This kindness of David to Mephibosheth might have
brought trouble to David; for Mephibosheth the son
of Jonathan, and the grandson of Saul, might have
been the king if David had not won the crown. By
giving to Saul's grandson a place at his table, and
showing him honor, David might have helped him to
take the kingdom away from himself, if Mephibosheth
had been a stronger man, with a purpose to win the
throne of Israel. But David was generous, and
Mephibosheth was grateful, and was contented with
his place in the palace.