Jonathan and David were the best of friends. If we look at their relative ages, which we can determine from when they both first appear in 1 Samuel, it is likely that Jonathan was up to twenty years older than David. Yet they had a healthy respect and love for each other, to the point that Jonathan was convinced that David would be the next king and not himself as next in line to the throne (you can read about this in 1 Samuel 23).
Before David lived as an outcast from Saul for several years, he and Jonathan made an oath that whichever of them survived, the other would take care of their children (1 Samuel 20). After David had reigned a number of years, he remembered Jonathan and his promise. He asked, “Is anyone still left from the family of Saul, so that I may extend kindness to him for the sake of Jonathan?” (2 Samuel 9:1 NET).
A servant named Ziba who had served Saul’s house was found and he told David that Jonathan had a son who had been crippled. The details of how this happened are recorded earlier: “Now Saul’s son Jonathan had a son who was crippled in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan arrived from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but in her haste to get away, he fell and was injured. Mephibosheth was his name” (2 Samuel 4:4).
Mephibosheth was brought to see the king. He was now a grown man (we find in 2 Samuel 9:12 that he has a young son), but he seems to have been impoverished – he was not even in his own home (2 Samuel 9:4).
“David said to him, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I will certainly extend kindness to you for the sake of Jonathan your father. I will give back to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will be a regular guest at my table.’ Then Mephibosheth bowed and said, ‘Of what importance am I, your servant, that you show regard for a dead dog like me?’” (2 Samuel 9:7-8).
Mephibosheth realized that David owed him nothing. He was the conqueror, the new king, the beginning of a new dynasty in Israel. Yet David had sought him out to make sure he was taken care of – he restored Saul’s lands to him and made Ziba his servant, to run the estate for him. And to top it all off, Mephibosheth was given a seat at David’s table – in essence, he became a part of the royal family.
Although it took around 20 years for David to be able to fulfill his promise, he did what he could do for Jonathan’s son.
We can learn from David in this incident. Even if we made a promise or commitment to someone years ago, and even if they have died, we need to keep our word. David did and it changed this young man’s life for the good.
We can see ourself in Mephibosheth, as well. God has given us so much. He gives us “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ” (Ephesians 5:3ff). And not only that, he blesses us with all the physical blessings we enjoy each day, including our life, health, families, and the list could go on. But most of all we have forgiveness through his son (Ephesians 3:7). David didn’t really owe Mephibosheth and God definitely does not owe us. But he gives us everything we enjoy.
We must never cease to give thanks to God for “the riches of his grace that he lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:7-8).
Readings for next week:
8 October – 1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 26-27
9 October – 2 Samuel 9; Psalm 28-29
10 October – 2 Samuel 10; Psalm 30
11 October – 1 Chronicles 19; Psalm 60
12 October – 2 Samuel 11; Psalm 32