Scripture Reference: 2 Samuel 9
As I continue in my journey of learning why David is called a man after God’s own heart, I will now look at how David showed God’s kindness to Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, and the grandson of his enemy, King Saul.
David is finally crowned king over all of Israel and is enjoying the life of a king, a successful and loved ruler as well as a military champion. He acknowledges that the Lord has been with him in all that he accomplished.
Sometimes, when a person is promoted from a low position to ruler over many –in David’s case the ruler over God’s people –one would often find the person being carried away on the waves of success. They soon forget the people who helped to get them there. In some cases, those who climb the ladder of success would even deny knowing their own family members, parents even, as they fear being associated with the lowly people from their past will tarnish their newly found popularity and their high esteem in society.
But incredibly, none of these things went to David’s head and he remembered those who walked this long journey with him. For one, he remembered his close friend Jonathan. They made a covenant as friends, and although Jonathan’s father was the reason for David’s difficult years, he and Jonathan remained connected as friends and they were loyal to each other. As we see in the following story, this loyalty extended beyond the grave.
Jonathan is now dead, having been killed in the same battle in which his father died. But being a man after God’s own heart, David didn’t forget his covenant with Jonathan. He didn’t consider Jonathan’s death as a way to get out of his covenant with his friend. No, David remained faithful to his promise to Jonathan.
David, remembering this promise, started wondering if any of Saul’s relatives were still alive so that he could show them kindness for the sake of Jonathan. In his household there was a servant called Ziba who had also been the servant of Saul. David summons him to inquire about any surviving members in Saul’s family.
Lo and behold, there is a member who survived. He was not only related to Saul, but is Jonathan’s own son who survived because his nanny at the time grabbed him when she heard of the king’s and Jonathan’s death and ran for safety. In the process she saved the life of Jonathan’s son, but in her rush to get away she dropped the boy. He was injured and since then was crippled in both legs. Forgotten, Mephibosheth lived in a place called Lo-debar in the house of a man named Makir.
David sent for him and Mephibosheth was overwhelmed by this show of kindness. With deep respect he bowed down before David. And characteristic of the God he serves, the first words David speaks to the boy is: “Don’t be afraid…” There are many instances recorded in the Bible where God would first address the fear in the one He approaches. Jesus did the same (being the visible image of the invisible God) when His disciples mistook Him for being a ghost as He approached them walking on the water.
David then explains to Mephibosheth that he doesn’t need to fear because he intends only to show him kindness because of his father Jonathan. David promises to restore to him all the property that belonged to his grandfather Saul and also provided him with servants and labourers who will take care of the land for him. More than that, David declares that from that day on, Mephibosheth will dine at the table of the king.
In response Mephibosheth respectfully bowed down before David, perplexed by this undeserved kindness. He saw himself as nothing more than a dead dog. But David restored this man’s dignity whether he deserved it or not.
- There are so many spiritual lessons locked up in this action of David. For one, just like Jesus, David showed mercy where it was not deserved. Jesus did it in so many ways and in so many incidences recorded in the Gospel accounts. And since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, He is still in the business of showing undeserved kindness.
- The word Lo-debar, where Mephibosheth found himself before the king invited him, means “no pasture,” “no word” and “no communciation.” That is precisely where we found ourselves before the King graciously invited us into His family. We were without food for our souls, with no connection to God, being separated from Him by the abyss of sin. But through His mercy shown to us in Christ Jesus, we are now forever led in green pastures, being given life by His powerful word and in constant communication with Him through His Spirit. And no one can pluck us out of His hand.
- This story also reminds us of how we have been crippled by sin, but how God summoned us to His table because of His promise to Jesus –“I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” And even though we didn’t deserve any kindness, the Lord allows us to dine at His table as if we were one of His own children, just like the way in which David treated Mephibosheth. “And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David’s table, like one of the king’s own sons.”
- David showed God’s kindness to Mephibosheth because many years earlier he made a promise to his friend Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father. Since Jonathan died, David was no longer under any obligation to fulfil his promise, but since his yes is “yes” and his no, “no”, he didn’t forget his promise and honoured his covenant with his friend. Likewise, God also continued to remain faithful to His promise to David, His servant. Centuries after God made a promise to David to establish his kingdom forever, God saved the inhabitants in Jerusalem from the hand of the king of Assyria because of his servant David (see Isaiah 37:35). God is faithful to all His promises and every one of them will be fulfilled, just like every one of His past promises had been fulfilled.
Seen in this context, this is a very encouraging story. It is not just some historical account. It is not only another reflection on why David was called a man after God’s own heart, but also serves to encourage us. We serve a merciful God who loves to extend mercy and whose love never fails. He remains faithful to us, regardless of our imperfections, because He is righteous and He made a promise to Jesus Christ, our Lord.
- Giving Credit where Credit is Due (jesuscarriesme.com)
- Christ Jesus, the One Mediator between God and Man (briancoatney.com)
- Foundation of David Discipleship Part Two (mudpreacher.org)
- Prayer of a Depressed Person (thoughtsonscripture.com)
- Crippled in Both Feet (brokenbelievers.com)
- David’s Response when His Enemy Fell (thoughtsonscripture.com)
- David’s Choice: Vengeance belongs to God (thoughtsonscripture.com)
- How God chooses a Leader: A reflection on David (thoughtsonscripture.com)