Verses 1–4

We read before how kind David was to Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, how he prudently entrusted his servant Ziba with the management of his estate, while he generously entertained him at his own table, 2 Sam. 9:10. This matter was well settled; but, it seems, Ziba is not content to be manager, he longs to be master, of Mephibosheth’s estate. Now, he thinks, is his time to make himself so; if he can procure a grant of it from the crown, whether David or Absalom get the better it is all one to him, he hopes he shall secure his prey, which he promises himself by fishing in troubled waters. In order hereunto, 1. He made David a handsome present of provisions, which was the more welcome because it came seasonably (2 Sam. 16:1), and with this he designed to incline him to himself; for a man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men, Ps. 18:16. Nay, Whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth, Prov. 17:8. David inferred from this that Ziba was a very discreet and generous man, and well affected to him, when, in all, he designed nothing but to make his own market and to get Mephibosheth’s estate settled upon himself. Shall the prospect of advantage in this world make men generous to the rich? and shall not the belief of an abundant recompence in the resurrection of the just make us charitable to the poor? Luke 14:14. Ziba was very considerate in the present he brought to David; it was what would do him some good in his present distress, 2 Sam. 16:2. Observe, The wine was intended for those that were faint, not for the king’s own drinking, or the courtiers; it seems, they did not commonly use it, but it was for cordials for those that were ready to perish, Prov. 31:6. Blessed art thou, O land! when thy princes use wine for strength, as David did, and not for drunkenness, as Absalom did, 2 Sam. 18:28. See Eccl. 10:17. Whatever Ziba intended in this present, God’s providence sent it to David for his support very graciously. God makes use of bad men for good purposes to his people, and sends them meat by ravens. Having by his present insinuated himself into David’s affection, and gained credit with him, the next thing he has to do for the compassing of his end is to incense him against Mephibosheth, which he does by a false accusation, representing him as ungratefully designing to raise himself by the present broils, and to recover the crown to his own head, now that David and his son were contending for it. David enquires for him as one of his family, which gives Ziba occasion to tell this false story of him, 2 Sam. 16:3. What immense damages do masters often sustain by the lying tongues of their servants! David knew Mephibosheth not to be an ambitious man, but easy in his place, and well-affected to him and his government; nor could he be so weak as to expect with his lame legs to climb the ladder of preferment; yet David gives credit to the calumny, and, without further enquiry or consideration, convicts Mephibosheth of treason, seizes his lands as forfeited, and grants them to Ziba: Behold, thine are all that pertained to Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 16:4), a rash judgment, and which afterwards he was ashamed of, when the truth came to light, 2 Sam. 19:29. Princes cannot help it, but they will be sometimes (as our law speaks) deceived in their grants; but they ought to use all means possible to discover the truth and to guard against malicious designing men, who would impose upon them, as Ziba did upon David. Having by his wiles gained his point, Ziba secretly laughed at the king’s credulity, congratulated himself on his success, and departed, with a great compliment upon the king, that he valued his favour more than Mephibosheth’s estate: “Let me find grace in thy sight, O king! and I have enough.” Great men ought always to be jealous of flatterers, and remember that nature has given them two ears, that they may hear both sides.