If you enjoy military history then this lesson is for you. Learn about the enemies that David conquered and what he did with the spoils of battle. Find out that his victories were not a result of his skill or bravery, but were God’s grace in action. See that David oversaw all aspects of Israel’s government and is a type of Christ. Discover how David showed grace to Saul’s survivor and see that all believers should share the blessings God gives them with others.
Click to view the Creation Studies videos that Dr. Dean mentioned at the beginning of this class.
Grace in Action: God’s Grace to David, Ch. 8
David’s Grace to Mephibosheth, Ch. 9
2 Samuel 8:1–9:13
Samuel Lesson #183
August 13, 2019
“Our Father, we are so thankful that we have a once-for-all payment made for our sin, the sin penalty has been paid for by Christ on the Cross and that sin is no longer the issue. We’re thankful that we have forgiveness of sin, both positionally and experientially, because each day we sin so much more than we even imagine… And that you continually forgive us and cleanse us of all our sin.
“Your grace is so magnificent and so boundless. It is beyond anything that we can imagine. We neither earn it nor deserve it, and it is all due to Your goodness.
“Father, we thank you for Your Word, again a manifestation of Your grace to us, to reveal who You are, to reveal to us Your plan, Your purpose, and to help us understand how You work in history and how You work in individual believers’ lives.
“And Father, we thank you for the examples that we have in Scripture, like the ones we will study this evening that deal with grace, so that we may understand Your grace, and we can exemplify it in our own lives as David did.
“Father we pray You help us to understand the things that we’re studying, see their implications for our own lives, and not be blind to their application.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are in 2 Samuel 8 tonight, and by God’s grace we’ll be in 2 Samuel 9 also. These are a couple of chapters that we can summarize and move through fairly quickly.
There’s a lot of detail, especially in the eighth chapter that is just reading a military conquest list, but we have to understand that the general framework for all of this is God’s grace in action. It is God’s grace to David that He gives them the victory.
As we’ll see as we go forward, a couple of times as you move through the text—for example, in 2 Samuel 8:6 and in 8:14, there are summary statements where you read: “So the LORD preserved David.” The word “preserved” is the translation of the Hebrew word yasha, which means “to save” or “to deliver.” [2 Samuel 8:6, 8:14] “So, the LORD delivered David wherever he went.” Twice that statement is made.
As we go through this, we are constantly reminded that David’s victories over the enemies of Israel were all due to the grace of God. It was not due to his military skill. It was not due to Israel’s advanced technology. It was not due to the fact that they had superior warriors in the Israelite army. It was all due to the grace of God.
David had learned that lesson when he was a young man fighting Goliath, that the battle was the Lord’s. It doesn’t matter if the conflict is not a military conflict in your life and in my life. It may be dealing with things that go on between our ears. That’s where spiritual warfare takes place.
Our battle may deal with our own emotions; it may deal with our sin natures in our lust patterns. Our battles may deal with a variety of different things, but just as God gave David victory over overwhelming opposition on all sides, He can do that for us.
As you look at these [upcoming] maps, you’ll see that Israel then, just as Israel now, was surrounded by enemies to the north, south, southwest, east, and always having to deal with this opposition. Yet God gave them the victory.
When they were walking in obedience to the Mosaic Law, then God gave them victory over the foreign armies. When they were walking in disobedience, then God would bring defeat. That was all laid out in the Mosaic Law, and so this is another aspect that we see in both 2 Samuel 8 and 9, is that God is faithful to His Covenant.
Especially in 2 Samuel 8, we run into that word we saw so much in our recent study of Psalm 89, chesed—God’s faithful, loyal, covenant love. Yet this time it is applied to David as David exemplifies that faithfulness to Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul.
So, that’s what we’re looking at here, is grace in action. God’s grace to David in chapter 8 and David’s grace to Mephibosheth and the survivors in the line of Saul. Now remember, that’s important because they could easily lead a revolution, an insurrection against David, and yet David is going to show exceptional generosity and kindness to Mephibosheth.
We learn here also that Mephibosheth was married. It doesn’t mention his wife, but it does mention his son, which implies that he has a wife. So, he has a son, Micha, who is a grandson of Jonathan and great-grandson of Saul. So there could have been an insurrection led against David, around the family of Saul.
Yet, David shows what it means to be good to your enemies. Although Mephibosheth demonstrated his love and his obedience and swore his fealty to David, and so that was not a threat. David was very, very good to him.
As we come to this section in 2 Samuel 8–10, this will wrap up chapters 8 and 9, wrap up the opening section of 2 Samuel … Where we have seen that the writer speaks of the rise of David, and he speaks of all the good things about David. (There is no mention of David’s flaws, David’s sins in these opening chapters. That will specifically come into play once we get into 2 Samuel 11, and in the latter half of the Book, we see David’s failures.)
But the reason the writer puts this together is first of all, to show God’s promises to David and David’s loyalty to the Lord. It’s an illustration that David, despite his sins, despite his failures, that he is a man after God’s own heart.
God is going to bless David richly. He’s also going to discipline David quite strongly, because of his disobedience.
We get into this particular chapter and in 2 Samuel 8 is an overview of David’s wars. Now if you remember when we started into 2 Samuel 7, it brought to our attention the Covenant with David. But the very beginning of 2 Samuel 7:1 says, “Now it came to pass, when the king was dwelling in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around.”
This is chronologically out of order as I taught when we went through this, because as soon as you get to chapter 8, you start seeing all of these wars. They’re given in an overview fashion, especially the introduction to the wars with the Ammonites and the Aramaeans (or as it’s usually translated in modern translations, the Syrians). So, we’re going to see that there is still war.
Chapter 7, God’s giving the Covenant to David, follows bringing the ark to Jerusalem and setting up a tabernacle for the ark in Jerusalem. This is the culmination of the process that began with David coming to the throne at the beginning of 2 Samuel (in 2 Samuel 1), first in Judah, and then later with all of the tribes. So, there’s a positive progression there that takes us to that point of the Covenant.
Then in 2 Samuel 8 we’re told how God blessed David with these various conquests. Then we get into 2 Samuel 9, and we see how David demonstrates his grace to Mephibosheth who represents a potential threat. David is extremely kind and generous to Mephibosheth.
Then in 2 Samuel 10, there’s going to be a more detailed account of this war with the Ammonites and the Syrians, that’s also described in 1 Chronicles 19. And we see it going over into 1 Chronicles 20.
There are many similarities—a 98% similarity— between what is stated in 1 Chronicles 18 and 19, and what we have here in 2 Samuel 8.
We’re going to start, and on most of the slides, I’m going to have the Samuel passage on top and the Chronicles passage on the bottom, so we can see the similarity here as we work through the passage.
It begins with a description of David bringing sort of a conclusion, not an absolute conclusion, but sort of a conclusion to the war with the Philistines in the south.
We read in 2 Samuel 8:1, just a one verse summary of that war and then we shift to another one, “After this it came to pass that David attacked the Philistines and subdued them.” This is language that is typical through here, David attacking and subduing the enemies of God. This is what a messiah is supposed to do as the anointed leader.
The Messiah is supposed to protect His people, defeat their enemies, provide for economic stability for His people and provide an environment where they are secure and can grow in freedom and independence. That is what David portrays as a type of the Messiah.
So, he is exercising his military skill and defeating the enemies of Israel. Now the only difference between 2 Samuel 8:1 and 1 Chronicles 18:1 is in 8:1, it says that “David took Metheg Ammah from the hand of the Philistines.” It’s not really clear to what that refers. There are some different opinions on that, and I’ll show you that in just a minute.
In the Chronicles account, it says he “took Gath and its towns.” It is assumed that Metheg Ammah is probably another name for Gath and its villages, (or literally “its daughters”) and so this would be the Philistine city of Gath, and then the outlying villages that were supported by Gath.
As we go through this account of David’s victories, we’re reminded first in 2 Samuel 8:6 and then 1 Chronicles 18:6, “Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus [and literally, every time you see Syria, the text in the Hebrew says Aram, which was the name of ancient Assyria, and it’s not Damascus in the Hebrew it’s Darmesheq] and the Syrians became David’s servants, and brought tribute.”
But the key phrase is at the end. “So the LORD preserved David wherever he went.” And that is stated in both 2 Samuel 8:6 and 1 Chronicles 18:6.
It is repeated again in 2 Samuel 8:14 and 1 Chronicles 18:13, “And the LORD preserved David wherever he went.”
As we look at this chapter, just to give it an overview, you’ve got two divisions: The first fourteen verses are a catalog of David’s military victories as he expands the territory, as he is seeking to take control of the land that God had originally promised to Abraham.
He doesn’t bring all of it totally into Israel’s control. Much of the area in Syria and what is today Jordan comes under tribute, but it is not totally absorbed into the nation. So, he never fully controls all the land that God promised Abraham. That will not occur until the Lord Jesus Christ returns at the Second Coming.
The nations that are mentioned here: First of all, the conquest of the Philistines, second, the conquest of Moab, then third, the conquest of Hadadezer and the Aramaeans, and then in 2 Samuel 8:9–10, Toi of Hamath brings tribute.
He has seen enough of David’s victories at this point where he says, I’m not going to fight David, I’m just going to bring tribute. And he brings gold and silver and a lot of valuables.
David takes all of the plunder, the spoils of these wars, and he dedicates them all to Yahweh, unlike other ancient Near Eastern kings where they just take it all for themselves or spread it out among the army. He dedicates all of it to Yahweh and it is from those spoils that they will have the gold and the silver and the bronze to build the temple under Solomon.
Last, we see his defeat of Edom.
Dr. Eugene Merrill, who taught for many, many years at the Old Testament department of Dallas Theological Seminary and was among one of the most conservative of the faculty at Dallas, I would say … I always enjoyed Dr. Merrill very, very much … He said in his book, Kingdom of Priests (which is a good one if you want to get a good survey book of the Old Testament) “With greater or lesser success, David either incorporated these kingdoms directly into his empire, or made them client states.”
See the point is, Covenant Theology tries to say that this expansion fulfills the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember there’s no future, literal Kingdom in amillennialism, and so they will argue that. But as Dr. Merrill points out, many of them are just client states. That does not fulfill the Abraham Covenant. He goes on to say, “In any event, a significant amount of time was required.”
We summarized this very quickly, but it took many years for these battles and these victories to take place, in fact, most of David’s reign, or probably at least the first half of his reign.
“In any event, a significant amount time was required and it was not until these kingdoms were subdued that David turned wholeheartedly to religious pursuits.” [Dr. Eugene Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 2721]
Until he got the nation secure, David couldn’t focus on developing his dream to build a temple or house for God.
As we look at a map here … Now I realize that you may not see that well but this is the best that I could do to get it all on the map … This is a map of Israel.
In the north, you have the Sea of Galilee. In the south, you have the Dead Sea. The river that runs from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea is the Jordan River. The area to the west is called Cisjordan, that is, “on this side of the Jordan.” (All these directions are from the perspective of Jerusalem.) So, this is referred to as Cisjordan, and the area across the Jordan is referred to as Transjordan.
After World War I, that area was given to the Hashemites as a reward for their alliance to the Brits in World War I, and it was called the Kingdom of Transjordan. But when Israel declared their independence in 1948, and the five different Arab armies, including the armies of Transjordan, invaded across the Jordan River and took what is now called the West Bank, then it became just the Kingdom of Jordan.
If you go to Jordan, you get a little guide and a security officer that rides in the bus with you, and he always says that he’s from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
So, the West Bank is called the West Bank because it’s on the west side of the Jordan. And that term only has meaning if it belongs to Jordan.
See today there’s just this iffy situation, because the West Bank is considered so-called Palestine. So the Palestinians want to claim … want to make that an independent state. So, whenever you see the term “West Bank”, you’re assuming that the Jordanians have some sort of sovereignty over the West Bank.
The interesting thing is the Palestinians travel on a Jordanian passport even though they are not under the authority or the government of Jordan.
So you have on the Transjordan area, the northern part—north of the Dead Sea—is where you have three different territories that are part of Israel. To the far south, you have Edom, then Moab, and then Ammon.
The capital city of Jordan is Amman, which is a cognate of Ammon. Moab and Ammon were descendants of Lot through his daughters, and Edom, of course, includes the descendants of Esau, who was the father of the Edomites.
Over here on the coast, this is where today you have the Gaza Strip, and in the ancient world, this was the land of the Philistines.
What we’re going to see at the beginning is David has a conquest among the Philistines. That’s the first verse. Then he’s going to have a conquest over the Moabites, and then the Ammonites and the Aramaeans are going to be allied together, and he’s going to defeat them. Then at the very end, he will defeat the Edomites in the south.
Slides 9 and 10
In 2 Samuel 8:1, he talks about the capture of Metheg Ammah, which is Gath and her daughters—literally Gath and her villages.
Metheg Ammah is a rather difficult term to figure out. There have been a lot of guesses, but the one that is close is called “the bride of the forearm.” (Nobody knows what that means, so don’t try to figure it out.) It’s probably some sort of nickname or ancient name for Gath.
The Philistines are captured there and that’s represented on the map. [Slide reference] This is to the southeast, and this is the area of Philistia. Here is the city of Gath.
Remember, Goliath was from Gath, and his brothers, so this is finishing off Gath and their hostility to Israel.
Then we come to 2 Samuel 8:2, which talks about his defeat of Moab: “Then he defeated Moab. Forcing them down to the ground, he measured them off with a line. With two lines, he measured off those to be put to death, and with one full line those to be kept alive. So the Moabites became David’s servants and brought tribute.”
That means they become a vassal state. He had two-thirds of them killed, and one-third survived. The Chronicles passage [1 Chronicles 18:2] doesn’t mention any of the casualties.
Here is the map showing the location of Moab. [Slide reference] The reason I put this circle on both Moab and Edom is, there’s an alliance between them through a lot of this time period.
Then we come to this next section in 2 Samuel 8:3–8, and the fight here is against Hadadezer the son of Rehob, the king of Zobah. He is an Aramaean, and Zobah is located up in the area of Syria.
We’re told in 2 Samuel 8:4, “David took from him one thousand chariots, seven hundred horsemen ...” 1 Chronicles 18:4 has 7,000 horsemen.
The textual error probably has to do with the Samuel account. Samuel is notorious for having difficult textual issues, but it makes more sense for it to be 7,000 charioteers, and he has 20,000 infantry.
So, after David captures and defeats them, he hamstrings all but 100 of the horses. The reason he does that is because of the passage in Deuteronomy 17:16, which is in the section “The Law for the King” [Deuteronomy 17:14–20]. There are various stipulations for the king of Israel, e.g., that he is supposed to hand copy the Torah [Deuteronomy17:18], not multiply wives for himself [Deuteronomy 17:17], and various other things.
But, in the middle of that it says in Deuteronomy 17:16: “But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ ”
What this is all about has to do with the fact that they are not to put their faith and trust in their military technology and skill, but their faith and trust is in the Lord who is the Lord of the armies and the One who has promised to keep them secure.
This is the area that we’re talking about here. [Slide reference] Damascus is up here, but Zobah is not located on this map, but it is up in this general area—here we go “to Zobah.” It is just to the north, off the map.
So you have this alliance up here with Hadadezer, the king of Zobah.
It says down in verse 2 Samuel 8:5–6, “When the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David killed twenty-two thousand of the Syrians. Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus …”
So, what happens is that first of all, he has captured and killed two-thirds of the Moabites, and they’re put under tribute. They become a vassal state to Israel.
Then in 2 Samuel 8:6–7, we’re told that he now controls Syria of Damascus and makes them his vassals. “They became David’s servants, and brought tribute.” Again, we read that God “preserved David wherever he went”.
Throughout here, we recognize it’s God—not David, not the Israelites’ skill, not their military might … But it is God’s grace that gives them victory over their enemies.
As they are fighting in terms of chariotry, David hamstrings these horses so that they cannot be used again in a military way. They can’t be recaptured and used to drive chariots.
Chariots were the light armor of the ancient world, and what would happen is you would have these very skilled drivers of the chariots … The chariot was a roving, firing platform for the enemy. The chariots would pierce the lines of the foot soldiers—and all that Israel had was infantry.
As they pierced those lines, the second person in the chariot was an archer—So he had his arrows, he also had a spear and a sword—and he would be shooting from this rapidly moving, mobile firing platform as they went through their enemy. So, if they were fighting on a flat plain, it was extremely effective.
But God gave the victory to Israel because it didn’t depend on technology, it didn’t depend on the superior chariot corps of the enemy, it depended upon God and His grace to David and to Israel.
So, we read that at the end of 2 Samuel 8:7, “And David took the shields of gold that had belonged to the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.” That gold is going to be eventually melted down and used in the construction of the temple.
Then we come to 2 Samuel 8:8, which also deals with cities of Hadadezer up in the north in Syria: “Also from Betah and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, King David took a large amount of bronze.” Now there’s an expansion on that in 1 Chronicles 18:8, and it may confuse you because the names are Tibhath instead of Betah and that’s probably a spelling error—B T H is turned to T B H—remember there are no vowels in the original. So there’s a transposition there, maybe a spelling error, or something of that nature that occurred—“and from Chun,—which was also a city of Hadadezer, so there are probably three places spoken of here: Betah, Berothai, and Chun.
From there, we’re told, “David brought a large amount of bronze—here we’re told specifically, he used the bronze—with which to make the bronze Sea, the pillars and the articles of bronze” in the temple. That takes us down through verse 8.
Then in 2 Samuel 8:9–10, Toi of Hamath comes, and he brings tribute to David. He has seen David’s military victories. He’s not going to be wiped out.
So after witnessing them, he comes down … King “Toi sent Joran his son—or Hadoram as is listed in 1 Chronicles 18:10—to King David to greet him and bless him.”
Literally in the Hebrew it means “to come and to talk peace.” That’s the idea there. He is coming to enter into a peace covenant. It literally means to ask for “peace,” for shalom.
So, it doesn’t say to bless him, but to “grant shalom” [2 Samuel 8:10] “because he [David] fought against Hadadezer and defeated him.” So, Hadadezer sees that victory and gives up “and Joram brought with him articles of silver, articles of gold, and articles of bronze.”
So David is amassing quite a bit of wealth, but he doesn’t take any of it for himself. He dedicates all of it to the Lord, and it will all be used in the construction of the temple.
Now what has happened is he has conquered and put down any threat from a military threat from the Philistines. They are still there, but they are not a threat anymore. Then the Moabites are paying tribute to him. They’re a vassal state. The Ammonites, the Aramaeans have become vassal states and they are paying tribute to David.
So this shows that he is taking care of all of the surrounding enemies.
Slides 23 and 24
Then in 2 Samuel 8:11–12, we’re told exactly what David did with all of these spoils, that he took the silver and the gold that he had taken from all of these nations, and he gave that to the Lord. These were all dedicated to Yahweh and for the use with the temple. The nations that are listed here … Edom is mentioned in this passage, Moab is mentioned in this passage, Amalek is not mentioned in this passage, the Philistines are mentioned in the passage, and of course, Hadadezer is mentioned in that passage.
Slides 25 and 26
Then, in 2 Samuel 8:14, he talks about the defeat of Edom. [Slide reference] Edom is down here to the south along the valley that is the Valley of the Arabah, which is just south of the Dead Sea, between there and the Red Sea.
At this point, we’re told about the tremendous battle that takes place, and when we get into 2 Samuel 10 and 11, we’re dealing with the war with Ammon. This is happening at the same time as the war with Edom. You have Joab, who is the general in charge of the siege of Ammon, and you have Abishai, his brother, who is fighting the Edomites down in the south.
In 2 Samuel 8:13 we’re told: “David made himself a name when he returned from killing eighteen thousand Syrians in the Valley of Salt.” (There’s a lack of certainty as to exactly where that was located.)
There are some that say that it’s located over here [Slide reference]. Here is Beersheba and here’s Arad that is located in this area to the west of the Dead Sea. And others that say that it’s down here just to the south in the Arabah, just to the south of the Dead Sea.
But there’s a difference between the Samuel passage and the Chronicles passage. The Chronicles passage is attributed to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, that he killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He’s the general in charge, but he is under the command, of course, of David, who is the king.
So they’re both true. David gets the credit because he’s the king in Samuel. (Samuel is all about David.) And in Chronicles, it is Abishai that is spoken about because he is the commanding general in the battle itself.
Then we come to a summary in 2 Samuel 8:15–18, where we get into a description of David’s administration, where David is said to reign. [2 Samuel 8:15] “So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people.”
When it says that David reigned over all of Israel, I want to stop a minute and just think about this.
What does that mean that he reigned?
It means more than that he simply was sitting on the throne. It’s a very pregnant concept here, that emphasizes all that he is doing to govern the nation. This is what is developed after that, because it talks about the key people in his cabinet or his administration: There’s Joab who is the commander over all of the army. There’s Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud as a recorder. He would be the one who keeps the official records of the administration.
Then you have two priests: Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and they are priests. The scribe is Seraiah, and then Benaiah son of Jehoiada, is over both Cherethites and Pelethites. These were mercenary forces that were fighting for Israel’s army.
Then we’re told David’s sons were chief ministers, so they are also involved in the administration.
But what we see is that reigning is more than simply just being the king. It implies an active involvement in the oversight of the administration. [2 Samuel 8:15] “David administered judgment and justice to all his people.”
Now that doesn’t mean that David personally was involved in adjudicating all of every issue, but that he’s overseeing it to make sure that justice is accomplished.
So, when you have a nation, part of the responsibility of the rulers of the nation is to provide for security, both domestic and foreign. They are to provide security against any foreign enemies to make sure that the nation is secure in terms of its military, that it can’t be defeated. And internally that security not only involves threats of criminality, but it also implies security in terms of the finances, the economics, of the nation—security for doing business, security for expanding the economy of the nation.
So, all of that is involved here, and that’s what these administrators are doing. This is a very pregnant concept and it’s just summarized here in terms of David’s overall administration.
We get an idea of what it means to administer judgment and justice when we look at the Mosaic Law. Just a couple of verses that talk about this in Exodus 23:3, “You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.”
So, just because somebody is a victim, just because somebody is impoverished, just because somebody is in a weakened state doesn’t mean you show favor to them and neither does it mean to show favor to the wealthy. There’s no partiality.
In Exodus 23:6, “You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute.” So, on one side you don’t show partiality to the poor, and the other side you don’t show partiality to the wealthy.
In Exodus 30:15, you have what we would call today a flat tax. “The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel ...”
This is for the temple tax. The rich are not going to pay more because they have more money, and the poor are not going to pay less because they have less money. It’s a flat rate tax, the same for everybody. So that shows justice.
Then in Leviticus 14:21, “But if he is poor cannot afford it, then he shall take one male lamb as a trespass offering to be waved, to make atonement for him.”
So, there were options for those who couldn’t afford to bring a bull, or couldn’t afford to bring a lamb. They could bring a turtledove or a pigeon for a sacrifice. This is part of the way the Scripture indicates that a government governs with impartiality.
Now that finishes up 2 Samuel 8. Chapter 8 is an illustration of God’s grace to David as he expands the kingdom. God gives David the victory, not because David is more worthy than anybody else, but because this is God’s plan and because David is walking in obedience.
David is going to hit some rough spots in the second half of the Book because of his sin. He is going to face an internal rebellion from his son Absalom, and he’s going to have to flee from Jerusalem. He is going to have to flee across the Jordan, and he is going to be pursued.
But God will eventually restore him to his throne. So, it’s not that everything was perfect for David, but when David was walking with the Lord, then God was providing for him, fulfilling the Covenant with Abraham and giving David victory over his enemies.
As we studied in our study of Psalm 89, being a man after God’s own heart meant that David was passionately pursuing God even though at times, he very willfully disobeyed God and sinned, which isn’t any different from anybody else in this room.
We all desire to know God, to be stronger believers, but at times we just give way to our sin nature, whether it’s in mental attitude sins, or whether it’s in anger or whether it’s in holding a grudge or some other way.
We also have those same problems, and God is gracious to us just as He was gracious to David.
Now we see David’s example of grace. He has been the recipient of God’s grace, and so he in turn demonstrates God’s grace to the last survivors of the house of Saul. So, we come to 2 Samuel 9:1, “Now David said, ‘Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ ”
There’s a certain amount of debate going on over the syntax of the way this is phrased, based on similar syntactical constructions in Genesis. But I’m not going to go through all of that because it’s going to leave most of you pretty glassy-eyed.
The bottom line is, the argument is, that the second part of the question “that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake”, sounds in most translations as if David is seeking to show grace and kindness to whoever’s left in Saul’s house …
Whereas based on parallel constructions in Genesis, in two or three different examples, it might be better to understand it as a rhetorical question along the lines of, “Should I or must I show covenant loyalty with a descendent of Jonathan, for Jonathan’s sake?”
And the issue, still in the background, is the question of whether or not any survivors of the house of Saul are loyal to Saul or loyal to David. And so that raises a question.
David is wondering rhetorically whether he should honor his covenant with Jonathan to Jonathan’s survivor.
So, he raises this question, and it’s based on the covenant that David had made with Jonathan. Notice, the key word here is the word translated “kindness”. We’ve seen it translated “mercy” in Psalm 89. We’ve seen it translated God’s “loyal love,” His “faithful love,” His “covenant love,” His “steadfast love.”
All of these are various ways in which this noun chesed is translated. It usually refers to a loyalty to a covenant, to be obedient to that covenant, and this covenant goes back to an event that occurred in 1 Samuel 20.
If you want to turn in your Bible back to 1 Samuel 20, and we’ll just briefly review the situation in 1 Samuel 20. This is in that time period when Saul was seeking to murder David.
Remember we went through this and saw that there were at least eight or nine times when Saul sought to murder David and to take his life. So, at one time, he has been welcomed back into the palace, and he is brought in and has a conversation earlier in the chapter with Jonathan.
Jonathan is not quite ready to believe that his father really wants to assassinate David and get rid of him, and so they’re going to set up a little test to see if Saul really wants to take David’s life.
In that context, Jonathan doesn’t want to lose his friendship with David. He is on the good side. He wants the right thing to happen. So he says to David, no matter what happens I want you to swear a covenant with me to protect my son and my descendants.
In 1 Samuel 20:11, we read: “And Jonathan said to David, ‘Come, let us go out into the field.’— so, they go out where they can have some privacy. Nobody’s going to be listening in on them, and—Jonathan said to David: [1 Samuel 20:12] ‘The LORD God of Israel is witness!’ ”
This is a very formal type of contract that is about to be witnessed between them, and Jonathan is making it before God. So, he’s going to have David swear an oath before God.
Now you remember in the Ten Commandments, there is a commandment that prohibits taking the Lord’s name in vain. A lot of times—you’ve heard me say this before—people take that in a superficial way … That you don’t use the Lord’s name as some sort of a curse word or in combination with profanity.
That’s not the point of that command. The point of that command is not to tell you not to say, “God —” or call out and just say “Jesus Christ” when you get angry or something like that.
It is swearing an oath in the name of God, and not meaning it.
It is taking God’s name in an empty, meaningless manner, and so this is when you are not taking God’s name in vain, you are seriously swearing before God to, in an oath, to fulfill a contract.
[1 Samuel 20:12–13] “The LORD God of Israel is witness! When I have sounded out my father sometime tomorrow, or the third day, and indeed, there is good toward David, and I do not send to you and tell you, may the LORD do so and much more to Jonathan.—In other words, if I find out that you’re okay, and I don’t tell you, then may God punish me.—But if it pleases my father to do you evil,—if I find out that Saul wants to kill you—then I will report it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. And the LORD be with you as He is been with my father.’ ”
What Jonathan is saying here shows a great deal of maturity, as he’s the crown prince. He is saying, “If I discover that my father wants to murder you, then I will warn you and then may God bless you as He has blessed my father in the past.”
He shows that if that’s true, he is going to shift his loyalty to David.
But the other thing that we see going on here is that he is binding himself to his conditions, and his conditions are to find out what his father’s intentions are, and to inform David one way or the other what those intentions are.
Then David’s side of the covenant is in 1 Samuel 20:14–15, “ ‘And you shall not only show me the kindness—see they’ve translated chesed with kindness here, just as they do in 2 Samuel 9—you shall not only show me the kindness—or the steadfast, loyal love—of the LORD while I still live, that I may not die;’ ”
“ ‘But you shall not cut off your kindness—your chesed, your lovingkindness, your covenant loyalty—from my house forever, no, not when the LORD has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.’ ” That if God cuts off everybody else, you will always stay true and protect my family. 1 Samuel 20:16, “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David saying, ‘Let the LORD require it at the hand of David’s enemies.’ ”
So, if David breaks the covenant, then David’s life would be forfeited. So, David takes this very seriously.
Let’s go back now to 2 Samuel 9. David is looking for someone and they discover that there’s “a servant—a former servant—of the house of Saul’s whose name was Ziba.” He is introduced in 2 Samuel 9:2. “So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, ‘Are you Ziba?’ He said, ‘At your service!’ ”
So let me tell you, we get introduced to Ziba here, and he seems to be an okay guy, but we’re going to see him again in 2 Samuel 16 and a couple of chapters later, where he betrays his master, Mephibosheth, and he tries to work things against David.
Ziba is really a wild card here. He’s not a good guy.
So, he comes and he says I’m “at your service”.
Then David said to him in 2 Samuel 9:3, “ ‘Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?’ ”—the chesed of God. So, he understands that part of his role as the messianic king, the anointed king, is to reveal the character of God. … I need to show the kindness of God.
“And Ziba said to the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.’ ”
Now, what’s interesting here is when he says this, he also makes a point of bringing out the fact that Jonathan’s son is lame.
Jonathan’s son being lame means that Jonathan’s son is not going to be a threat to David, because when you are a cripple, you’re not going to be able to lead a revolt against David.
So David realizes as a result of this, that Mephibosheth is not going to be a threat to him. And the fact that he’s lame in his feet takes us back to 2 Samuel 4:4, where we’re told as David is taking over the kingship, that when Mephibosheth was five years old, the news came that Saul and Jonathan had been killed there at Mount Gilboa and his nurse picked him up to flee the house.
As it happened, she was in such a hurry that she dropped him, and he became lame and so his name was changed to Mephibosheth. Originally, his name was Merib-Baal, which meant “Baal contends,” and then it was changed to Mephibosheth, which is “the mouth of shame-fullness.”
So, the emphasis here now is on this being kind or showing God’s grace and chesed love toward Mephibosheth. 2 Samuel 9:4, “So the king said to him, ‘Where is he?’ And Ziba said to the king, ‘Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.’ ”
Lo Debar is located right here. [Slide reference] You can barely read it, but it is the black dot just south of the Sea of Galilee. So this is in the north, almost as far northeast as you can get, almost as far as you can get from Jerusalem.
If you go back to reading what happened in the first part of 2 Samuel, Ishbosheth, who is a son of Saul, tries to lead a revolt. His center of power is up here in the northern part of the Transjordan.
So Mephibosheth is just trying to keep his head down and not be a cause of trouble, and hopefully he’ll be ignored and live a good life, so he’s as far away from Jerusalem as he can possibly be.
David sends for him and brings him to Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 9:7, “So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness—chesed—for Jonathan your father’s sake,—notice, again and again, that same word shows up—and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.’ ”
Now it was required, once this land had been taken from the family, if there was a living heir, it was required by law to restore that to the heir. But David goes beyond that. He is extremely generous to Mephibosheth.
He is going to restore all the land. He’s going to say, “You shall eat bread at my table continually. I’m going to provide for your sustenance, and you’re going to eat in the palace here.” David’s going to provide for all of his needs and all of his provisions.
In 2 Samuel 9:8, Mephibosheth shows true humility. He says that he is a servant of David and that he doesn’t deserve any of this kindness.
Then David “called to Ziba, Saul’s servant,—2 Samuel 9:9–10—and said to him, ‘I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, you and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him.’ ”
This was typical of absentee landlord type of arrangements in the ancient world, where the landlord wasn’t there, and there would be an administrator of the estate who would take care of everything.
We can imagine that since Mephibosheth can’t come out and oversee everything—we get this laid out later, but we’re not sure that Ziba has been honest in keeping the books for Mephibosheth … But he is told here by David that he’s given the responsibility to take care of the lands and the farming, and to take care of everything that belonged to Mephibosheth.
Ziba is to do this with his family. He’s got fifteen sons and twenty servants. So, this is a large operation. He has a large number of people who are going to be provided for—grace by association with Mephibosheth.
Then we’re told right at the end of the chapter [2 Samuel 9:12] that “Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha.” We don’t hear anything more about him other than in this passage, so it’s possible that this son could have led some kind of revolt.
The Northern Kingdom could have had some people who tried to revolt against David, but that doesn’t happen.
So, Mephibosheth and his son would be taken care of by David. “And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants of Mephibosheth.”
Then, in 2 Samuel 9:13, there is a summary statement that “Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet.”
So, David takes care of him completely in an extremely generous manner to be an example of the grace of God.
These two chapters together are sort of a transition until we get into the battle and the wars with the Ammonites and the Syrians in the next chapter, to cap off these first nine chapters, with illustrations of God’s grace to David, and the way David, in turn, as the anointed king, the Messiah King, demonstrates the grace of God to his people.
So, he is a type of Christ in that same way, in that Christ is going to provide for all of His people.
He is going to provide for security against external enemies by defeating Satan and the demons and casting all of those hostile to the Lord’s reign into the Lake of Fire. Then, He will preserve His people and protect them, and provide for their health, and their growth, and their prosperity.
This is what happens in the Millennial Kingdom to a large degree and then into the new heavens and the new earth.
“Father, we thank you for this opportunity to see these examples of grace. The examples of Your grace to David, that the war [victories] did not go to David because he was more technically savvy, that he was a more brilliant strategist, or that he had greater weapons or greater men. But it was because of Your strength …
“And for each of us that is true. Our battles are in Your hands. The battle is Yours.
”Father, we pray that we might understand this example from David, how he exemplified Your grace , that we as believers should be examples of Your love and Your grace to those who are around us, that the blessings that You give us should also benefit those around us, that they may be blessed by association. And we pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”