Beware of the Opportunist!

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 16:1 (NIV)
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 Samuel 16:1 (MSG)
Shortly after David passed the crest of the hill, Mephibosheth’s steward Ziba met him with a string of pack animals, saddled and loaded with a hundred loaves of bread, a hundred raisin cakes, a hundred baskets of fresh fruit, and a skin of wine.
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“When David was a little past the summit [of the Mount of Olives], behold, Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, met him with a team of saddled donkeys, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred summer fruits, and a jug of wine. -AMPLIFIED

We find David being met once again by someone whom he is familiar with, Ziba. Ziba at one time had been king Saul’s servant. When both Saul and Jonathan had died Ziba and his family became Mephibosheth’s servants; for Mephibosheth was Saul’s grandson, Jonathan’s son.

We will find in our studies today that Ziba was a false servant. He was in fact, an opportunist; always looking for every opportunity to profit himself and his family. He had no qualms about lying in order to make himself appear to be a loyal subject worthy of David’s benevolence.

So, we find David traveling away from the royal city of Jerusalem and being met by Ziba a little bit over the top of the Mount of Olives. Ziba met him with a pack of donkeys loaded down with 100 loaves of bread, 100 cakes of raisins, 100 baskets of fresh fruit and a skin of wine. (NO small gift.)

David was quite surprised to see Ziba standing there waiting for him; minus Mephiboseth. Ziba was a very crafty and scheming man. He was anticipating Absalom‘s failure and was taking certain steps to prepare for his future advancement on the return of king David. All of this was no small task and it took much planning. To accomplish this Ziba had to be very sly and sneaky; for he had to be careful that no one knew of what he was up to.

David asks Ziba, “Why have you brought these things?” -2 Samuel 16:2a (VOICE)

Ziba’s response is so smooth. It appears to be so caring. “The donkeys are for members of the king’s family to ride. The bread and summer fruit are for your young men, and the wine is for those who grow weak in the wilderness.” -2 Samuel 16:2b (VOICE)

David’s immediate reaction to Ziba was, “Where is your master’s descendant?” -2 Samuel 16:3a (VOICE)

Ziba deceitfully replies, “He is still in Jerusalem. He says, “Now the people of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom.”-Samuel 16:3b (VOICE)

In the midst of all that was going on, the stress of it all; we find David making a snap decision. (Something that he usually would not do.) He takes Ziba’s answer at face value and does not question him further. We can pick up on David’s frustration in his response to Ziba, “Behold, everything that belonged to Mephibosheth is [now] yours.” -2 Samuel 16:4a (AMP)

Ziba’s shrewdly and smoothly replies, “How can I ever thank you? I’ll be forever in your debt, my master and king; may you always look on me with such kindness!”-2 Samuel 16:4b (MSG)

The footnote in the Amplified Version tells us this little tidbit of information. “Because the rebellion was in progress it was easy for Ziba to trick David with the gifts and his lie.” -AMPLIFIED

David made a rash decision without hearing both sides to the story; which was a misstep on his part. He only heard Ziba’s version and failed to hear Mephibosheth’s side. This was a failure on David’s part and a warning to others not to make important decisions in moments of stress without gaining all pertinent information. In the heat of the moment David failed Mephibosheth. He made a rash decision and condemned a good man.

All of this is a reminder to each of us that we need to be careful in making decisions. We need to be sure we are hearing both sides of a story. Beware of the opportunists.

Even Jesus warned that we need to be careful. He warned, “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.” -Matthew 10:16-20(MSG)

The Thomas Coke Commentary makes note of six things that we can learn from this passage:
1.) Many, like Ziba, affect to be very generous of what is not their own.
2.) A servant’s lying tongue is the frequent cause of sad discord in families. 3.) The presents of a knave are to be regarded as snares.
4.) An ill-intended design God can over-rule, to answer a good purpose.
5.) Rash judgment opens a door for after-shame and repentance.
6.) To turn a deaf ear to slander is always wise, and to hear at least both parties before we condemn.

Beware of the flatter and the opportunist!

My Prayer:
Lord, give me wisdom in dealing with others. Help me to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove. Help me not to make rash decisions without having all the pertinent information that is needed. I want to be a light that shines brightly for you and to do so I know that I need to have my heart in tune with you at all times. Please help me to do this, dear Lord.

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