Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Speaking of deceit...

David's son Absalom had taken over the palace, and David fled with a few hundred men. As he went, Ziba (a servant of the former king Saul) met him with donkeys loaded with provisions for the king's company.

The king then asked, "Where is your master's grandson?"

Ziba said to him, "He is staying in Jerusalem, becaue he thinks, 'Today the house of Israel will give me back my grandfather's kingdom.'"

Then the king said to Ziba, "All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours."

2 Sam 16.3-4

Ziba was the steward for the estate of Saul, the former king. When Saul and most of his male descendants were killed in battle, the estate was apparently in some sort of legal limbo, which essentially left Ziba as the sole authority. Back in chapter 9, David gave the estate to Mephibosheth, the son of his friend Jonathan.

Reading between the lines, I think Ziba resented this development. He had been in charge of the whole place and probably acted more as regent than servant. Perhaps he thought of Mephibosheth as his master's bratty grandson - I don't know.

It's now at least five years after Mephibosheth took over ownership of the estate, and now Ziba has his chance. He meets David with a pile of provisions - bread, fruit, wine - and donkeys. But that's not all! He also feeds David a story about Mephibosheth.

Since you and I are not running for our lives, we can take a minute to look at what Mephibosheth is supposed to have said. The chronicler doesn't even offer to debunk the story, as he considers it patently absurd.

Why is David fleeing, after all? Is it because people are screaming to bring back the family of Saul? No; it's because Absalom wants to rule. And if he's willing to kill his own father, what's the chance he'd be interested in sharing the throne with someone not even related to him?

Ziba apparently did not get understanding from the Lord's precepts; he did not hate every false way.

What's the false way facing you or me today? What resentment or envy might lead us down the wrong path? In a few days we'll see a much better example.

posted 5/31, based on 5/30's reading

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