David, returning to Jerusalem, is met by Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson. Remember, according to Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba, Mephibosheth had stayed in Jerusalem because he had sided with Absalom. But when David asked, “‘Why didn’t you come with me, Mephibosheth?’… Mephibosheth replied, ‘My lord the king, my servant Ziba deceived me. I told him, ‘Saddle my donkey so I can go with the king.’ For as you know I am crippled. Ziba has slandered me by saying that I refused to come” (II Samuel 19:25-27a, NLT).
In other words, Mephibosheth said that Ziba had lied. Mephibosheth had ordered him to saddle his donkey so he could join David, but Ziba had gone off without him. Notice carefully how David replied to him: “You’ve said enough… I’ve decided that you and Ziba will divide your land equally between you’” (II Samuel 19:29).
Had Ziba really lied? I think he had, but that’s only my opinion. Mephibosheth had met David looking like a person in mourning: “He had not cared for his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes since the day the king left Jerusalem” (II Samuel 19:24b). Mephibosheth wouldn’t have been going around looking like that had he sided with Absalom during the conflict; and that would be a pretty tough look to fake.
But David wasn’t completely sure. So he doesn’t tell Mephibosheth that he believes him. He simply says: “You’ve said enough.” Rather than removing Mephibosheth’s entire estate from Ziba, he returned half of it to Mephibosheth and let Ziba keep the other half. I think this was a way of letting both men know that he wasn’t sure who to believe.
Mephibosheth, probably thrilled to simply still be alive, blurts out, “Give him all of it… I am content just to have you safely back again, my lord the king!” (II Samuel 19:30).
Now let’s face it: if David had agreed to this, Mephibosheth would probably have been mortified. But his relief at David’s response when he came out to meet him caused him to blurt out a more than generous statement.
And remember Shimei who cursed David and threw rocks? David had told him, “Your life will be spared” (II Samuel 19:23b). Note the wording there: “spared.” Temporary. Shimei wasn’t off the hook completely. But the rest of his story takes place much later.
Meanwhile, “Barzillai of Gilead had come down from Rogelim to escort the king across the Jordan. He was very old, about eighty, and very wealthy. He was the one who had provided food for the king during his stay in Mahanaim. ‘Come across with me and live in Jerusalem,’ the king said to Barzillai. ‘I will take care of you there’” (II Samuel 19:31-33).
“‘No,’ he replied, ‘I am far too old to go with the king to Jerusalem. I am eighty years old today… Just to go across the Jordan River with the king is all the honor I need! Then let me return again to die in my own town, where my father and mother are buried. But here is your servant, my son Kimham. Let him go with my lord the king and receive whatever you want to give him” (II Samuel 19:34-35a, 36-37).
“The king agreed. After David had blessed Barzillai and kissed him, Barzillai returned to his own home. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel escorted the king on his way” (II Samuel 19:38a, 39b, 40b).
David would never forget Barzillai’s kindness and would treat his son Kimham with the respect and honor due his father. As people grow older and become less active in our communities and churches – even in our families – we, unlike other cultures, tend to set them aside and forget them. We forget that if the Lord allows us to live long enough, each of us will one day be elderly.
Treat not only the elderly but every person the way you yourself would want to be treated. “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Jesus speaking, Luke 6:31, NASB).
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates