(KJV) Samuel 16:3-4

3 And the king said, And where is thy master's son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father. 4 Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.

Then David hears the other side of the story

(KJV) 2 Samuel 19:24-29

24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace. 25 And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth? 26 And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame. 27 And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes. 28 For all of my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king? 29 And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.

After hearing both sides of the story, still David allows Ziba to inherit some of Saul's Possessions.

Could it be because Ziba had met the king with some provisions (2 Samuel 16:1-2).

  • 1
    Apparently the king believed Ziba more than Mephibosheth, but there wasn't any evidence to support him, so he divided the land among them. In the Talmud indeed David is criticized for believing Ziba's gossip.
    – bach
    Oct 20, 2017 at 19:18
  • 2
    Here is an interesting take... tedmontgomery.com/remarks/11.1-6/thematic/index.html
    – Brian
    Jul 28, 2019 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


It is impossible to know all the circumstances to the story, so we can only speculate based on the information in the story and what we know of the history of David’s relationship with Mephibosheth. Jonathan was dearly loved which was why David showed kindness to his son. David could have killed him as a potential threat, but instead he showed him great kindness, giving him all of Saul’s properties and inviting him to be a regular guest at his table.

One possible clue about Ziba’s character is that when David asked him about the whereabouts of Mephibosheth, he readily divulged his location which could have been fatal to the man whose house he once served if David had wanted to eliminate all possible competition. Also Ziba’s reason for denouncing his master to David seems suspect. Would a crippled beneficiary of David expect Absalom to turn the kingdom over to him? Even if Absalom failed, David had many other sons who would have taken his place.

We do not know exactly how Ziba betrayed Mephibosheth. It is possible that he deceived him and convinced him to stay and not burden the king while he (Ziba) went to take provisions to David. It is hard to believe that Mephibosheth could not have found a donkey to follow the king if he really wanted to and that might have led to David’s doubt. Also David had just been betrayed by his own son giving more credence to that possibility by a potential rival.

Furthermore, who knows what the potentially conniving Ziba did to further ingratiate himself to the king. Maybe the king felt he owed Ziba too much to look more closely into whether he had lied to benefit himself at the expense of his master. In any case, David decided to give Mephibosheth back half of his property, which means that he at least partially changed his mind about the matter. Mephibosheth declining to take the property could be viewed as further evidence that he truly did have a loyal and grateful heart toward David.

In conclusion, it was rash for David to believe Ziba and give all of Mephibosheth’s property to him. Obviously he was under a lot of stress at the time, but he could have waited to verify the truth of the report, coming from someone who stood to benefit so much from defaming someone David had come to trust. So David was human and he made another mistake. Hopefully we can learn a valuable lesson from it, collecting all relevant information and hearing all sides before judging or making decisions.

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