Biblical People

Biblical People: Mephibosheth

You may remember David’s best friend, Jonathan, King Saul’s son. Though Saul and all his sons, including Jonathan, die in battle, this doesn’t mean his line is wiped out. Saul’s grandson, Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, is still alive.

The one physical characteristic we know about him is he is lame in both legs due to an accident when he was young.

As a sovereign king, David has the power to kill all members of the former king’s family. This would ensure that no heir of the former king remained to try to reclaim the kingdom and overthrow the new ruler.

But King David doesn’t follow this practice. In fact, he does the opposite. He seeks out members of Saul’s family, not to end their life, but to demonstrate kindness. When he learns of Mephibosheth, he sends for the man.

It’s easy to imagine Mephibosheth receiving this summons, no doubt expecting to be executed. He comes before David and bows down in honor.

Though this would be the response of anyone called to appear before the king, I suspect Mephibosheth prostrates himself lower, longer, and more reverently than most. He must have assumed this was his last chance at survival and his final act in life.

Instead of ordering Mephibosheth’s death, however, David elevates his best friend’s son, granting him all his grandfather Saul’s land and possessions. David also gives Mephibosheth a place of honor by giving him a permanent seat at the king’s table.

David does all this without knowing much about Mephibosheth. The fact that he is Jonathan’s son is all David needs to know.

In response to David’s generosity, Mephibosheth remains appreciative and loyal to David throughout his life. Mephibosheth continues his commitment to the king even when his servant Ziba lies about him, slanders his reputation, and betrays him.

In all this we see Mephibosheth as an upright man.

What accepted practices should we stop doing to offer a God-honoring alternative? Is there a person we can show kindness to?

[Read Mephibosheth’s story in 2 Samuel 4:4; 9:3–13; and 19:24–30.]

Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at