Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan , King David’s best friend. After Jonathan died, David took care of Mephibosheth for the sake of his friend.
Mephibosheth was the grandson of Saul, Israel’s first king. Saul turned away from God, so God chose David to be the next king. Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father and Saul’s eldest son, became friends with David and supported him.
Even though he knew that David was going to be the next king, and not him, Jonathan defended David and protected him from Saul’s envy. David and Jonathan were such close friends that they established a friendship covenant ( 1 Samuel 20: 16-17 ).
See here: 3 positive influences on David’s life.
The story of Mephibosheth
Later, in a battle, Jonathan died with his father Saul. When the news reached Jonathan’s house, Mephibosheth’s nurse took him and fled to save his life from enemies. But she was careless and let the boy fall. So he was crippled for the rest of his life. Mephibosheth was five years old when this happened ( 2 Samuel 4: 4 ).
After a long time, when David was already established as king of all Israel, he remembered Jonathan and wanted to continue to honor his friendship. An old servant of Saul told him about Mephibosheth and David sent for him. When Mephibosheth arrived, David gave him back all of his grandfather Saul’s land and invited him to live with him . He also put a man named Ziba to look after Mephibosheth’s property ( 2 Samuel 9: 6-7 ).
David’s friendship with Jonathan was far greater than his enmity with Saul! David could have seen Mephibosheth as a rival to the throne but he only saw him as the son of his best friend.
Find out here: what does the Bible say about friendship?
Mephibosheth and Ziba
Years later, when one of David’s sons tried to steal the throne, David had to flee Jerusalem. During the flight, Ziba, Mephibosheth’s servant arrived with provisions to help David. When David asked where Mephibosheth was, Ziba replied that he had stayed home because he wanted to retake the throne . Angry at Mephibosheth’s ingratitude, David gave Ziba his entire property ( 2 Samuel 16: 2-4 ).
Some time later, when David defeated the traitors and returned home, Mephibosheth came to meet him. He hadn’t gotten dressed since David left, as a sign of sadness! David asked why Mephibosheth had not gone with him and Mephibosheth explained that Ziba had betrayed him. Being lame of the feet, Mephibosheth needed his donkey to go to David to support him, but Ziba ignored his order and left without him ( 2 Samuel 19: 26-28 ).
Having heard two different stories, David decided that Mephibosheth and Ziba should share the property with each other. But Mephibosheth said that Ziba could have it all! He was only concerned for David’s good ( 2 Samuel 19: 29-30 ).