In his covenant with Jonathan, David had promised to show loyalty to Jonathan’s family (1 Samuel 18:1-4; 20:14-17). In this story, Second king of Israel, David united the northern and southern kingdoms. More shows kindness to Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth.
David had promised Son of King Saul and friend of David More that he would protect his family (1 Samuel 20:15-16). Consequently, David asks how he might help any surviving members of Saul/Jonathan’s family (v. 1), which he does (vv. 11b-12). Within this framework of help for the only surviving member of the house of The first king of Israel More are placed three dialogues: two with Ziba (vv. 2-4, 9-11a) that frame a central conversation with Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son (vv. 6-8).
A David asks if he might help Jonathan’s family (v. 1)
B Dialogue: David and Ziba (vv. 2-4)
C Dialogue: David and Mephibosheth (vv. 6-8)
B′ Dialogue: David and Ziba (vv. 9-11a)
A′ David takes care of Jonathan’s family (vv. 11b-12)
David’s loyalty to Jonathan seems to be the essential message of this text. Three times he offers to demonstrate his loyalty (hesed) to any surviving member of the house of Saul (vv. 1, 3, 7), and, when he learns of Mephibosheth, he carries out his obligations. The repeated attempts by interpreters to find ulterior motives in David’s care of Saul’s grandson are without foundation in the text.