2 Samuel 16-19
Song of Solomon 3
2 Samuel 16-19
As David is leaving Jerusalem he see Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, coming over the hill with a couple of donkeys and supplies. David asks him what he’s doing, probably trying to gauge where his loyalty lies, and Ziba says it’s for the king and his men. David then asks where his master is, and finds out he’s back in Jerusalem, and Ziba says he’s thinking that in the turmoil of David leaving the city he will get back the throne of his grandfather Saul.
This had to sting David deeply, because with his actual son rebelling against him and driving him out of the capital, now he finds out this man he’s treated as a son for years is licking his lips and hoping to capitalize of David’s troubles. Remember that Mephibosheth is the son of Jonathan, and since he was brought to Jerusalem he’s ate every meal at David’s table. This is just betrayal upon betrayal.
Hearing how’s he’s being stabbed in the back, he grants all the lands and property of Mephibosheth to Ziba for his loyalty.
In the previous chapter David, upon learning that his chief counselor Ahithophel was now on team Absalom, prayed that his advice would be foolishness and lead to the failure of this coup. Upon entering Jerusalem, Absalom asks his new counselor for advice and he tells him to pitch a tent on the roof of the palace and go lay with all of his father’s concubines. On the roof so it’s in plain view of everyone in the city. This was a public act to defile his father and his father’s house.
His other piece of advice was to send a band of 12,000 warriors after the king and kill only David, while returning all those with him as either subjects or slaves of Absalom, depending on how they react to David’s death. This advice is countered by the man David sent in as a spy and he tells Absalom to go out with his army and fight David personally. So Absalom likely takes this as a challenge and rides out in search of his father, who thanks to his spy and the priests, gets word to cross the Jordan before his son arrives.
The two armies meet in battle and David asks his three commanders to take it easy on his son if at all possible. When the battle turns against Absalom he tries to flee and his beautiful hair that he was renowned for was his downfall. His mane of hair gets caught in the low branches of a tree and his donkey rides on without him, leaving him hanging. A soldier spots him and reports it to Joab, who wasted no time and kills Absalom despite what David had asked.
When news of the victory reaches David his first question is “and what of my son” despite the fact that his son had stolen his throne and come to do battle and kill him. He still cared about his son, and when he found out he was dead he weeps and mourns for him. Remember that David is described as one after God’s own heart, and this scene shows it. When he had every right to be mad at Absalom, he was instead sorrowful at the death of his son.
Joab gives David some good advice here, I mean it’s very understandable that he’s upset at the death of his son, but his army and supporters have won a victory and beat the forces of a rebellion and he doesn’t even thank them. Joab tells David that if he doesn’t go out and thank his forces for the victory then there will be no supporters left for him. Joab was right, because David is a grieving father but he’s also a king and has execute his royal office even when mourning.
David sends word to the priests that he wants to be invited back into Jerusalem to resume ruling as king. There was more than a little support for Absalom so he wants to make sure the rebellion died with his son and isn’t going to be an ongoing struggle. He also sends word to the leaders of the tribe of Judah to send people to escort him back to Jerusalem, and this causes a little bit of strife between Judah and the other tribes. This is a foretaste of things to come for sure.
David meets several people on his trip back to Jerusalem but one of the most important here is Mephibosheth. Remember how Ziba said that he was relishing this uprising as an opportunity to reclaim the throne? David decides to ask him about this when he comes out to greet him. He hasn’t washed his clothes or cut his beard or even dressed the wounds on his feet that made him lame since David had fled the city. This doesn’t seem like the actions of someone who’s looking to capitalize on the situation, but appears like Mephibosheth was mourning the departure of David.
David point blank says “why’d you stay behind in Jerusalem” and his answer was pretty convincing. He said his servant Ziba left him and took all the stuff he was going to take to David and then pretended like it was his idea. David seems like he wants to believe this, but without evidence it’s his word against Ziba’s so he says he’ll take half of the land back off him and give it to Mephibosheth. But he replies that David coming home safe is all he wants and he doesn’t care about the land.
I think Mephibosheth was telling the truth.
2 Samuel 20-21
Song of Solomon 4