He said, “My Lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, ‘I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so I can go with the king.’ But Ziba my servant betrayed me. And he has slandered your servant to my Lord the king. My Lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever you wish. – 2Sam. 19:26-27 NIV
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Although David felt he owed the family of king Saul generally and Jonathan in particular, some gratitude for the role they played in the man he grew up to become, the feeling was definitely not mutual as the Benjamites were never happy with him throughout his reign and the immediate beneficiaries of King David’s attempt to show gratitude were in no way different.
Immediately King David had settled into the position of King over all Israel, he sought out someone from the family of King Saul to whom he could express his appreciation and kindness for the sake of Jonathan and this search revealed Mephibosheth who was introduced by Ziba, a former servant in the household of Saul. The manner of introduction left a few observers in doubt as to his sincerity as he was quick to remind King David that Mephibosheth was crippled in both feet – 2Sam. 9:1-3. Having identified his location and with instructions from King David, Mephibosheth was brought back from Lo Debar, where he was living with Makir, son of Ammiel – 2Sam. 9:4-5. Probably sensing fear in Mephibosheth, he assured him of his safety promising him in the process that;
- He, David, will surely show him kindness for the sake of his father Jonathan – 2Sam. 9:7a.
- He will restore all the land that belongs to his father to him – 2Sam. 9:7b.
- He, Mephibosheth, will always eat at King David’s table.
David immediately gave orders for all these to be implemented and Mephibosheth was instantly restored – 2Sam. 9:9-13.
The scare and possible humility of Mephibosheth before his restoration was revealed in his response when he admitted being a servant to David and described himself as a dead dog (2Sam. 9:8), two adjectives that a prince should not use to describe himself but that is the level of psychological bastardisation he has gone through and one will expect that he will remain grateful to the one who brought him back from the land of no pasture (which is what Lo Debar means), restored him and reinstated his self confidence but events over time proved otherwise.
David was to experience an internal revolt, courtesy of his son Absalom and had to flee for his life. At the time of this his experience, he would have expected some form of solidarity support from people, especially those whom he had helped in one way or the other when things were good with him. This however was not the case as he must have been equally left very disappointed with the several reactions he got, but then, it probably should not really be much of a shock, after all the root of his problem was the rebellion of his own biological son, so any other person’s follow-up action should not be that shocking.
Whereas, Ziba whom King David had made to serve Mephibosheth, arranged supplies for David to support him on his journey into exile, there was nothing to indicate that Mephibosheth, to whom David had shown so much kindness was that grateful. If the response of Ziba to the enquiry of David about the whereabouts of his master is anything to go by, Mephibosheth actually felt it was an opportunity for him to take back the kingship which he believes was his right to have – 2Sam. 16:1-3. King David, even though he was no longer king at that moment ordered the return of all that belonged to Mephibosheth to Ziba.
Mephibosheth must have thought that the pronouncements of David no longer mattered but the return of David to relevance eventually happened and suddenly, everyone had explanations to make concerning the role they played during the period David spent in exile and the events leading to it, and Mephibosheth was not excluded. Among those who met David on his return from exile were thousands of Benjamites including Ziba and Mephibosheth although separately (2Sam. 19:15-18; 24-30). Mephibosheth tried to explain the reason his absence during the trial times of David, in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s devotion, but his excuse was not tenable to David. According to him, he was betrayed by Ziba, who seeing that he was crippled, refused to saddle his horse when he chose to follow David during his trials and journey to exile.
He could go and tell that same story to the marines as David was not buying it. He was simply an ingrate and a dangerous person to have close by. Not only was he ungrateful, he was all the while unhappy with the position of David as king since he believed he was the right person to be in that position. Here was someone who but for his rehabilitation by this same David had been forgotten in the land of no communication, lost everything that can be called hope of a good future but suddenly believing that the one that gave him hope is usurping his position.
There are several people today, Christians inclusive who think like Mephibosheth. No matter how bad the situation they were in before being rescued by God using man, they do not hesitate to display the act of ingratitude and sometimes create a feeling that being brought close by the person that saved them from the brink of destruction was a mistake. At the first excuse, they are quick to reel out negatives about their human saviour, whether true or false. There is the need to be clear that whether like David, the human saviour who is now facing personal challenges, recovers or not, such acts of ingratitude can only make such lose whatever comfort he/she thinks he has. Mephibosheth lost half of that comfort, although he volunteered to give all (2Sam. 19:29-30), and he can be considered lucky, because for some people, they may lose more or even lose life but more importantly will be the loss of a good relationship with the Almighty God. God Himself dislikes an ungrateful person which is why he expects appreciation and loyalty from men, especially Christians at all times. Life is not only about the evil that people may have done to you but also the good that you have received from them. To attempt to excuse that negative action towards your helper on a supposed evil that he/she may have done, is an attempt to excuse ingratitude. Remain grateful at all times as that is one of the ways you can continue to prove to God that you deserve more of His favour. May God grant us all the spirit of gratitude in Jesus name. Amen.