3

(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).

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    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 '17 at 19:18
  • Here is an interesting take... tedmontgomery.com/remarks/11.1-6/thematic/index.html
    – Brian
    Jul 28 '19 at 16:45
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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.

1

Martin showed a very sensible answer before I had finished writing mine. The following contains some overlapping ideas with Martin's.

Samuel 16:

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.

It makes no logical sense that Mephibosheth would say that. Absolom would not just hand the kingdom over to Mephibosheth without a fight and Mephibosheth wasn't in a position to fight.

4 Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth.

Despite the nonsense, David believed him. David likely had known something about Mephibosheth's character that we were not told. E.g., Mephibosheth had some tendency to utter nonsense at times without thinking.

And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.

Ziba was taking a risk here. Absalom could have taken over the kingdom. So, there was some good in what Ziba did in the eyes of David.

After Absalom was defeated, 2 Samuel 19:

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.

The above is likely to be true. Still, Mephibosheth could have shown up with Ziba in the first place if he had insisted. Mephibosheth might have worried about David being killed by Absolom.

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;

To some extent, the above is true. It wasn't the complete truth.

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.

David was a smart guy. He judged that both Ziba and Mephibosheth had told some truth and lies. He wasn't interested in exactly what portions. He had enough data to arrive at the judgment without further investigation.

Why did David allow Ziba to inherit Saul's possession after Ziba apparently had lied to him in 2 Samuel 16:3-4?

David ordered Saul's possession to be divided between Ziba and Mephibosheth because both of them had lied to David to some extent and Ziba had shown more loyalty to David but David had made a solemn promise to Jonathan, father of Mephibosheth. Taking all these factors into consideration, David had made a wise judgment.

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  • Hi Tony, I guess David did show some wisdom in the 50/50 arrangement if he wasn't sure who was telling the truth. But I think he was too impetuous in his initial decision. Oct 24 at 3:10
  • Yes, I agree :)
    – Tony Chan
    Oct 24 at 13:02

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