Keeping Promises: Integrity with Compassion (2 Samuel 9)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 9

Resting from his victories on the battlefield, and enjoying the blessings of the LORD on his household, David’s heart became reflective. We are not told what stirred the king to remember his friend (9:1), but a vow he had made to Jonathan, the late son of King Saul, moved him to ask: “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (9:1)

If you have followed www.HeartofAShepherd.com, you may remember the occasion of David’s vow to his friend. Jonathan had found in David a kindred spirit, and the prince admired the young shepherd who had slain the Philistine giant, Goliath. However, as David’s popularity grew in Israel, his presence in the palace increasingly provoked Saul’s jealousy, and the king had sought to slay him. In spite of his father’s malice, Jonathan not only accepted David as his peer, but demonstrated his unselfish love for him, and acknowledged he would succeed to the throne of Israel.

1 Samuel 20 records David’s final meeting with Jonathan before his death. David was a fugitive from the palace, and after barely escaping with his life, had sought refuge in the wilderness. Knowing his father meant to slay David, Jonathan sought from him a covenant that when he would be king, David would “not cut off [his] kindness from [Jonathan’s] house for ever” (20:15, 42).

David’s Kindness (9:1-3)

When I read, “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (9:1), I am reminded of the manner of man David was.  The house of Saul had been his enemy, but his friendship with Jonathan stirred in his heart a desire to show mercy and compassion to any that might be alive from Saul’s lineage.

Ziba, a servant of Saul, was summoned to appear before David, and he brought news that there was a son of Jonathan who still lived, but he was “lame on his feet” (9:3). (Mephibosheth had been dropped by his nurse when she fled the palace after receiving news that King Saul, and his sons had been slain in battle, 2 Samuel 4:4).

All oriental kings of ancient times would have slain their rivals to the throne, but not David. He desired to “shew the kindness of God unto him” (9:3). What manner of man was the king? He was one whom God had described as “after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

David’s Compassion for Mephibosheth (9:4-8)

Receiving the king’s summons to appear in his court must have frightened the man who had spent his life as a cripple. Limping his way into the presence of the king, Mephibosheth, most likely around twenty-one years old, “fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!” (9:6)

David sensed Mephibosheth’s fear, and spoke words of comfort to him, saying, “Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually” (9:7).

What an incredible gesture! Mephibosheth went from a man dependent on the charity of others, to an heir of his grandfather’s royal lands, and a place of prominence at the king’s table! In humiliation (9:8), Mephibosheth wondered aloud why David would treat a man that was no more worthy than a “dead dog” (9:8).

With his father and grandfather’s lands restored to him, Mephibosheth needed servants to care for his estate. David, therefore, commanded Ziba, his sons, and servants to look after Mephibosheth’s interest in the estate (9:9-11).

Closing thoughts – Unlike our day, when those with physical challenges often flourish in their pursuits, men like Mephibosheth were shunned in ancient times. The thought of a lame man sitting at the king’s table would have been preposterous in any other kingdom, but not that of David. The king remembered his covenant with Jonathon, and his integrity demanded he fulfill his vow, even to a crippled man.

Herein is grace, for Mephibosheth was honored “as one of the king’s sons,” and he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (9:7, 11, 13).

What manner of man was David? He was loyal, compassionate, caring, faithful, and true!

Can the same be said of you?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith