Ziba is the servant of Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth. David, in mercy, had appointed Ziba to serve his dear friend’s lame son (cf. 2 Sam 9). When David was forced to flee Jerusalem before Absalom, Ziba gave provisions to David and relayed his master’s treachery. Ziba reported that the lame prince thought that he might perhaps become king in David’s place: “Today the house of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me” (2 Sam 16:3). David promised to reward Ziba’s fidelity by giving him Mephibosheth’s property (v. 4). When David is returned, however, Mephibosheth gives a conflicting account and claims that Ziba has, in fact, slandered him (see 19:24-30). David, unable to touch bottom on the matter, divides the property equally among them (19:9), anticipating the wisdom of his son Solomon (cf. 1 Kings 3:16-28). So, what really happened? Did Mephibosheth really betray David or was he betrayed by a crafty Ziba? Did Ziba tell the truth or did he slander his master for his own selfish gain? Scripture is content to leave the matter in the haze. Confusion is often a byproduct of conflict.
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