: Ziba used David’s flight as an opportunity to make some financial gain but he was at least placing himself in David’s hands.
2 Samuel 16:1-4
16 When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba, the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine.
2 The king asked Ziba, ‘Why have you brought these?’
Ziba answered, ‘The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the wilderness.’
3 The king then asked, ‘Where is your master’s grandson?’
Ziba said to him, ‘He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, “Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.”’
4 Then the king said to Ziba, ‘All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.’
‘I humbly bow,’ Ziba said. ‘May I find favour in your eyes, my lord the king.’
King David is fleeing from Jerusalem as Absalom enters to depose him and become King. The nation is divided. There are people loyal to David and against Absalom and others were loyal to Absalom. During all this Ziba came to David with food, drink and transport in the form of donkeys. Ziba was the servant of Mephibosheth the crippled grandson of the previous king, Saul. When David asked about Mephibosheth, Ziba replied that he was in Jerusalem anticipating that the kingdom would now fall to him. David immediately decreed that all the property of Mephibosheth’s household should fall to Ziba. It all seems straight forward enough but after David’s victory and return to Jerusalem Mephibosheth conveys an entirely different story. He claims that Ziba had craftily prevented him going out to join David in his flight. Was Ziba angling for Mephibosheth’s property all along?
Consider the broad picture here. The true king is rejected by his people and flees under the threat of death. He then is restored rather miraculously to the throne. In that sense it provides us with a picture of David’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was rejected and actually killed at the cross before taking up his throne through the miracle of the resurrection.
From this context we see that Ziba’s pledge of loyalty to David was not insignificant. He was throwing his devotion toward God’s anointed King. He was blessed by the king. Later the blessing was modified so that he received half of Mephibosheth’s property. Clearly, David was impressed with his pledges of loyalty, but the further information required that Mephibosheth be cared for.
We could and probably should question Ziba’s motivation because there were elements of deception and self-serving in his actions. Nonetheless, we must see that he was entrusting his fate with David and not with Absalom. If David failed, Ziba failed with him. If David prevailed, Ziba shared in his victory.
The significance of this for us is that our king, the Lord Jesus Christ, has called us to follow him. We bring to him our pledges of loyalty and entrust our lives to him. Like Ziba we may have a whole range of inappropriate motivations in what we do. The vital matter is that our trust is in Jesus and not another.
The further implications of this are firstly, that the call is to come now to Christ and trust in him and not to sort everything out in your life and purify motivations first. He will straighten us out later, as he probably did with Ziba! Secondly, there is comfort for us when we doubt the reality or quality of our faith. We can go through torturous efforts to be sure of pristine faith in Jesus and be filled with unnecessary doubts. What matters is that our faith is in Jesus. I once visited a Christian man in hospital. He was quite ill and as a result felt distant from God and said he was doubting if he truly believed. I asked him what else he was trusting in for his eternal salvation. Is it yourself? Somebody else? Or is it Jesus? He laughed and said, “Jesus, of course!” His doubts, created from overcomplicating the matter, were gone.
Head: Try to simplify your faith in Christ so that you don’t overthink the matter and become uncertain.
Heart: Let the astounding mercy of our Lord grip you so that you love the one who accepts inadequate, confused people like us.
Hands: Out of gratitude to our merciful God try to overcome all the bad motives and deceptive practices that may cause you to behave like Ziba appears to have behaved
Prayer: Father, I confess to you that I can often be rather mixed up. I praise you that you accept me because of Jesus and what he has done and that as I rest in him alone I can be sure that I have peace with you. Help me to show true gratitude to you for such amazing grace. In Jesus name. Amen
A song to listen to: What love my god