Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
2 Kings (2 Samuel)
David inquires after the family of Jonathan, and is informed of Mephibosheth his son, Sa2 9:1-4. He sends for him and gives him all the land of Saul, Sa2 9:5-8; and appoints Ziba the servant of Saul, and his family, to till the ground for Mephibosheth, Sa2 9:9-13.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 9:1
Is there yet any that is left - David recollecting the covenant made with his friend Jonathan, now inquires after his family. It is supposed that political considerations prevented him from doing this sooner. Reasons of state often destroy all the charities of life.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 9:3
That I may show the kindness of God unto him? - That is, the utmost, the highest degrees of kindness; as the hail of God, is very great hail, the mountains of God, exceeding high mountains: besides, this kindness was according to the covenant of God made between him and the family of Jonathan.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 9:4
Lo-debar - Supposed to have been situated beyond Jordan; but there is nothing certain known concerning it.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 9:7
Will restore thee all the land - I believe this means the mere family estate of the house of Kish, which David as king might have retained, but which most certainly belonged, according to the Israelitish law, to the descendants of the family.
And thou shalt eat bread at my table - This was kindness, (the giving up the land was justice), and it was the highest honor that any subject could enjoy, as we may see from the reference made to it by our Lord, Luk 22:30 (note): That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. For such a person David could do no more. His lameness rendered him unfit for any public employment.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 9:9
I have given unto thy master's son - Unless Ziba had been servant of Jonathan, this seems to refer to Micha, son of Mephibosheth, and so some understand it; but it is more likely that Mephibosheth is meant, who is called son of Saul instead of grandson. Yet it is evident enough that the produce of the land went to the support of Micha, (see Sa2 9:10), for the father was provided for at the table of David; but all the patrimony belonged to Mephibosheth.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 9:10
Thou therefore, and thy sons - shall till the land - It seems that Ziba and his family had the care of the whole estate, and cultivated it at their own expense, yielding the half of the produce to the family of Mephibosheth. Ziba was properly the hind, whose duty and interest it was to take proper care of the ground, for the better it was cultivated the more it produced; and his half would consequently be the greater.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 9:11
So shall thy servant do - The promises of Ziba were fair and specious, but he was a traitor in his heart, as we shall see in the rebellion of Absalom, and David's indulgence to this man is a blot in his character; at this time however he suspected no evil; circumstances alone can develope the human character. The internal villain can be known only when circumstances occur which can call his propensities into action; till then he may be reputed an honest man.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 9:13
Did eat continually at the king's table - He was fit for no public office, but was treated by the king with the utmost respect and affection.