Mephibosheth

2 Samuel 19:24-30
24 Now Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. And he had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he returned in peace.
25 So it was, when he had come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?”
26 And he answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go to the king,’ because your servant is lame.
27 “And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is like the angel of God. Therefore do what is good in your eyes.
28 “For all my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?”
29 So the king said to him, “Why do you speak anymore of your matters? I have said, ‘You and Ziba divide the land.'”
30 Then Mephibosheth said to the king, “Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house.”

I truly believe that all Christians ought to learn the story of Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul and son of David’s dear friend Jonathan. Mephibosheth was the last of Saul’s household, just five years old when Saul died and David finally became king. (2 Samuel 4:4) When Mephibosheth’s nurse heard that Saul and Jonathan were dead, she tried to flee with the young prince, but he had fallen and permanently damaged both his feet, and he was thereafter lame. They fled then to Lo Debar, and while David consolidated his rule over Israel and subdued the Philistines who had defeated Saul, Mephibosheth grew up and had his own family. Finally, David called for Saul’s last descendant and showed favor to the young man and invited him to sit at his own table (2 Samuel 9:11-13), never holding his grandfather Saul’s sins against him but only showing love toward the family of God’s first anointed king over Israel. When David fled from Absalom’s rebellion, Mephibosheth tried to follow but he was dealt with treacherously by his servant Ziba (2 Samuel 16:3), so that King David thought that Mephibosheth had joined in the rebellion. Until the day David returned, he did not know that Mephibosheth mourned the rebellion and desired the return of Israel’s true king.

And so we come to the scene in today’s verses, when Mephibosheth comes to Jerusalem to meet David when he returns to Israel. As he has done before, Mephibosheth throws himself on David’s mercy, knowing that the king will deal with him as God sees fit. Although Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba had come before David and accused his own master of treachery, David now sees Mephibosheth’s repentance and the true tenor of his heart, and so David forgives him and restores to him the lands that he had first promised. (2 Samuel 9-10)

It seems a simple story, and some older commentaries have remarked upon Mephibosheth’s apparent frailty and his sensitive heart. But I see something different here. Let’s look at some key points:

• Mephibosheth comes to meet King David even in his unwashed and mourning state.
• Mephibosheth laments his inability to have come with David in the first place, and also his inability to counter the original accusation made against him by his own servant Ziba.
• Ziba is revealed as a treacherous servant, one who stood before the king and accused a virtuous man of rebellion against God’s anointed king.
• Mephibosheth knows that David “is like the angel of God”–i.e. that David speaks the Word of God and acts as the Lord’s messenger and servant here on earth. Mephibosheth knows that David’s justice shall be true to God’s will.
• David believes Mephibosheth’s confession and forgives him. While David had been fooled by Ziba’s false testimony, he is fooled no more and so he restores Mephibosheth to his old estate.
• Mephibosheth is content with no greater reward than peace with and for his king.


Zechariah 3:1-4
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.
2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
4 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”

We can learn from Mephibosheth. First of all, we must remember that despite Satan’s accusations against us, if we believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord, then we shall be saved. (John 3:16) God will know the truth of our hearts, especially if we come before Him repentant and faithful, and He will judge us accordingly. God does not judge as Satan wishes Him, he judges in righteousness and mercy. We must also remember that even if Satan plots against us, it is still our own responsibility to approach the throne of grace. Mephibosheth might have waited wherever he was and taken time to clean himself up. But how would that have looked to the returning king, and how does that show his repentance and faith? We must make our own journey to Jesus Christ, not wait for Him to come calling.

We must also trust that if we believe on Jesus, then He, our Judge, will make the right decision regarding our fate. God knows our inmost being, and He judges every thought and deed, even the secret things we think He may not know. (Ecclesiastes 12:14) We must also trust, then, that He knows how much we love Him, and that His grace is sufficient to enable us to repent and overcome the sins we have committed in the past. Mephibosheth might have taken advantage of David’s absence and indeed set himself up as king, but instead he mourned the absence of God’s anointed.

Look at Mephibosheth–the man accused of wrongdoing, the man dependent on the mercy of others, the man who remained true to his king, the man who lamented the absence of his true king, the man who knew that the king brought God’s righteous judgment.


Matthew 5:3-10
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Is this not Mephibosheth? Poor in spirit after the loss of his father and grandfather, mourning for his absent king, meek in his fallen estate, hungering for the righteousness of God’s anointed, merciful to his accuser even as he seeks mercy, pure in his devotion to his king, seeking peace for David and with David, and yet persecuted for things he has not done. This man remembers how the king restored him, how the king showed mercy, how the king fulfilled the righteousness of God. And this man now comes before the king to simply clear his name and express his joy that the king has returned to judge Israel. He does not seek any more restoration, does not seek to ingratiate himself to King David. No, he is content that “my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house.”

We who stand today in God’s mercy, we who live and breathe in Jesus Christ, saved by His sacrifice–are we not Mephibosheth? Are we not lamed by others’ fear, fallen because of the sins of our fathers, broken and needing more grace, accused by Satan of sins we have not committed, enticed by our friends and Satan himself to go astray? And should we not rejoice in the coming restoration of our rightful King? Should we not mourn that the people have thrown Him off as their King and instead whored themselves out to the king of the moment, the idols of greed and pride, the ruler of this world–Satan himself? Should we not keep ourselves pure from that rebellion, seeking instead to hold fast to God’s Word and the sure return of God’s Anointed One, the Christ? And should we not go down to Jerusalem to meet our King? What are we waiting for? Are we hoping we will have time to clean ourselves up and look pretty before He comes? Are we hoping He will overlook the fact that we never fought back against our accuser but accepted the lies fed to us by Satan? Are we hoping that He will be merciful even if we do not seek His mercy?

Mephibosheth had the right idea: come as you are before the throne of grace, seek mercy and give mercy, and be content with peace with God and the restoration of God’s kingdom.


Matthew 6:33
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Mephibosheth stood before the rightful king and asked mercy, and he found not only peace with his king but also had his lands restored to him. Jesus is that same kind of King, only more so, and so we ought to approach His throne the same way: humble, repentant, content with His mercy, expecting His grace, rejoicing in His return. Let us therefore be more like lame Mephibosheth, who did not think it wrong to come before his king just as he was–wrongfully accused, still in mourning, unkempt and disarrayed by the absence of the king–and seeking mercy and peace. When we so come before the Lord our God, arrayed just as we are but repentant and seeking His righteousness, then we, too, shall know peace with our King and find ourselves given the greatest gift we might ever possess: the salvation of our souls and eternal life with our God.

Precious Lord, my King of kings, I come before You today humbled by Your grace and mercy. When I was still in my sin, You died for me. When I was still in rebellion, You sought peace with me. When I was unrepentant, You showed me the way to repentance and faith. And when I was lost in this world, You came and guided me home. I mourn that this land has left its true King, that the people have forced Him beyond the Jordan, forgotten the peace and love He once brought to them. I pray now, Lord Jesus, that You should return to this place, that You are restored to Your throne in people’s hearts, so that all may know and love their rightful King. Revive this land and show them that You alone are God and King. Amen.

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About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and husband to a beautiful wife and the father of four lovely kids. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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