Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Servant's Choice

Today's passage: II Samuel 9
     David's kindnesses to Mephibosheth is a familiar story.  I've taught it in Sunday school on many occasions.  It is a beautiful application of God's love for us.  In case, anyone reading this is not that familiar with this narrative, I will give a quick overview.  Years before, David and Jonathan (Saul's son) had made a pact that they would take care of each other's families should something happen to either of them.  I guess you could say it was their last will and testament.  Jonathan and his father were killed in battle, which ushered in the time for David's reign.  He has been on the throne for a little while now, but is just now able to fulfill his promise.  He has Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth brought to the palace and assures him that he will be treated as one of his own sons.  Mephibosheth became lame when a nursemaid dropped him as a boy, trying to secure his life when Saul and Jonathan were killed.  It really is a nice story.  But I'm more interested in the part of the story that rarely gets told.  I'm thinking about the man who reported to David that Jonathan's son was still alive.
     The name of the servant who gives David this pertinent information is Ziba.  I'm really glad God chose to give us his name because referring to him as Mephibosheth's servant each time is a lot of typing and a mouthful. We don't know a lot about Ziba.  But I think his part of the story tells much about him and even more about David.
David Shows Kindness to Jonathan's Son, Mephibosheth--Taken from Standard Bible Story Readers, Book Three
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
The Standard Publishing Company, 1926
      It was the custom at that time for kings to destroy any future threats to the throne.  Usually, the first order of business when a king put a crown on his head was to make sure there was nobody else who could do so as well.  We've already seen this happen at the very beginning of David's reign when Ish-bosheth, that other son of Saul, was established over the rest of Israel.  Everyone was expecting David to destroy this usurper.  But he didn't .  And if he had, I think he may have never been able to keep his promise to Jonathan.  David summons Ziba to the court because he is one of the few men remaining from Saul's household.  The king asks him a very direct question with little wiggle room.  "Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him?"  Ziba can now make a choice.  He can choose to tell the king he doesn't know, he can choose to tell him that there is nobody remaining, or he can choose to tell him the truth.  Ziba chooses the last option.  I think he chooses it because of David's character.  Ziba could have believed that this was a false facade David was putting on to ferret out his enemy and have him destroyed.  David had used deceit in the past (although I'm not sure Ziba would have been privy to that).  But David's desire is to show God's love to this unknown person.  And I think anyone who has met David knows his love for God is real and he would never use God as an excuse for a masquerade.  So Ziba believes his request to be genuine and is able to give him this important information.
     After David meets with Mephibosheth, he calls for Ziba again.  David realizes that Ziba could have lied to him.  He fully understands that this was a great risk for Ziba to reveal this information.  It was dangerous for him and it was dangerous for the man he was trying to protect.  So when David chooses to give Mephibosheth back all the land that had belonged to his father and grandfather, and knows that someone will need to take care of this land (since Mephibosheth will now be living comfortably in the palace) he chooses the man who risked the most to make this reunion possible.  He chooses Ziba.  And here is the kicker, Ziba had fifteen sons.  It also says he had twenty servants.  Now, I'm not sure if that means he was in charge of twenty servants, still in hiding from Saul's demise, or if they were servants in his own household, but that's a lot of people living in one house.  Ziba was being rewarded for making the right choice.  Maybe he wasn't sure at the time if it was right, but given David's history, he had to trust that the king would spare another successor.  And since he did, his family would have a lot of land to roam.
     Sometimes, I am presented with decisions where it doesn't seem like there is a right choice or wrong choice.  I am kind of in that predicament right now. Sometimes there is no past history to observe to be able to know whether to trust someone.  Sometimes there is no past precedent to be able to base my decision on.  When this happens, I have to study God's Word, pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to give me peace about what I choose.  God has given us a past history to observe, and that history is that I can always trust Him.  He has given precedents, landmarks, that show He will always be faithful and that His Word never fails us.  I can make a servant's choice anytime I choose Him.


  1. Good thoughts Steph. I know the post was really about Ziba (and lol why you were glad his name was included in the Bible) - but have you heard the song titled Mephibosheth?

  2. Really? No, I have never heard that one. I guess it would be as much of a mouthful as "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego"


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