2 Samuel 9:1–8 (ESV)
And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
David’s actions here are absurd. This is not how monarchies are supposed to work. When the new king is unrelated to the old king, he’s supposed to kill off everyone left from the old dynasty. It’s the only way to guarantee peace. A civil war over royal succession is the last thing anyone needs. The people have enough to worry about with external enemies.
So, everyone expects David to exterminate all potential rivals. Ziba expects it. Mephibosheth expects it. Machir and everyone in his house expect it. Even the name, “Lo-debar” (which means no-speak) hints that Mephibosheth is in hiding. Everything in this passage should be seen in this light.
That’s why David reveals his motives up front by saying, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”
Even so, it’s a bit surprising that Ziba shows no signs of doubting David’s sincerity. He may have wondered but obeyed anyway. At this point, David is so loved and admired that Ziba just went along.
So, Mephibosheth is fetched, but when he arrives, he acts like his life is in danger. Thus, David starts by saying, “Do not fear,” and goes on to explain what he’s doing and why.
Not surprisingly, this confuses the daylights out of Mephibosheth and he asks how this is possible.
David has become comfortable in his own skin. The LORD has blessed him so many times and in so many ways that his faith is an absolute brick.
Thus, his sense of probability and danger is different. He’s not afraid that a rival to the throne will emerge because he knows those things don’t just happen randomly. He is trusting that the LORD really is God of the universe.
David has found shalom.