THE CRIPPLE AT THE KING'S TABLE
II Samuel viii: 1, to ix: 13.
S soon as the kings of the nations around Israel saw that
a strong man was ruling over the tribes, they began to
make war upon David, for they feared to see Israel
gaining in power. So it came to pass that David had
many wars. The Moabites, who lived on the east of the
Dead Sea, went to war with David, but David conquered
them, and made Moab submit to Israel. Far in the north,
the Syrians came against David; but he won great
victories over them, and took Damascus, their chief
city, and held it as a part of his kingdom. In the
south, he made war upon the Edomites, and brought them
under his rule.
For a number of years David was constantly at war, but
at last he was at peace, the ruler of all the lands
from the great river Euphrates on the north, down to
the wilderness on the south, where the Israelites had
wandered; and from the great desert on the east to the
Great Sea on the west. All these lands were under the
rule of King David, except the people of Tyre and
Sidon, who lived beside the Great Sea on the north of
Israel. These people, the Tyrians, never made war on
Israel, and their king, Hiram, was one of David's best
friends. The men of Tyre cut down cedar-trees on Mount
Lebanon for David, and brought them to Jerusalem, and
built for David the palace which became his home.
When David's wars were over, and he was at rest, he
thought of the promise that he had made to his friend
Jonathan, the brave son of Saul (see Story 59), that he would care for his children. David asked
of his nobles and the men at his court, "Are there any
of Saul's family living, to whom I can show kindness
for the sake of Jonathan?"
They told David of Saul's servant, Ziba, who had the
charge of Saul's farm in the country; and David sent
for him. Ziba had
become a rich man from his care of the lands that had
belonged to Saul.
David said to Ziba, "Are there any of Saul's family
living, to whom I can show some of the kindness which
God has shown toward me?"
And Ziba said, "Saul's son Jonathan left a little boy,
named Mephibosheth, who is now grown to be a man. He is
living at Lo-debar, on the east of Jordan."
This child of Jonathan was in the arms of his nurse
when the news came of the battle at Mount Gilboa, where
Jonathan was slain. The nurse fled with him, to hide
from the Philistines, and in running fell; and the
child's feet were so injured that ever after he was
Perhaps he was kept hidden in the distant place on the
east of Jordan, from fear lest David, now that he was
king, might try to kill all those who were of Saul's
family; for such deeds were common in those times, when
one king took the power away from another king's
David sent for Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son; and he was
brought into David's presence, and fell down on his
face before the king, for he was in great fear. And
David said to him, "Mephibosheth, you need have no
fear. I will be kind to you, because I loved Jonathan,
your father, and he loved me. You shall have all the
lands that ever belonged to Saul and his family; and
you shall always sit at my table in the royal palace."
MEPHIBOSHETH, JONATHAN'S SON, BEFORE DAVID
Then the king called Ziba, who had been the servant of
Saul, and said to him, "All the lands and houses that
once belonged to Saul I have given to Mephibosheth. You
shall care for them, and bring the harvests and the
fruits of the fields to him. But Mephibosheth shall
live here with me, and shall sit down at the king's
table among the princes of the kingdom."
So Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan, was taken
into David's palace, and sat at the king's table, among
the highest in the land. And Ziba, with his fifteen
sons and his twenty servants, waited on him, and stood
at his command.
This kindness of David to Mephibosheth might have
brought trouble to David; for Mephibosheth the son of
Jonathan, and the grandson of Saul, might have been the
king if David had not won the crown. By giving to
Saul's grandson a place at his table, and showing him
honor, David might have helped him to take the kingdom
away from himself, if Mephibosheth had been a stronger
man, with a purpose to win the throne of Israel. But
David was generous, and Mephibosheth was grateful, and
was contented with his place in the palace.