The years have passed since Saul and Jonathan died on Mount Gilboa; the day that Jonathan’s five-year-old son was dropped by his nurse in a hasty retreat to safety, leaving him disabled in both feet (2 Samuel 4:4). The young boy is now a father himself, but living out of sight of Israel’s king, east of the Jordan, in the home of a kindly, wealthy man, called Makir, (see also 2 Samuel 17:27–29).
It was customary in ancient times for a new king to dispose of the previous royal family, to protect himself from any potential attempts to usurp his throne. So Mephibosheth’s nightmare became a reality when he was summoned to Jerusalem – summoned, so he and everyone else must have thought, to be executed.
The reality, however, was quite unexpected.
“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’” (2 Samuel 9:1)
FIVE POINTS TO PONDER
There is much we can learn from David’s example here. Consider each statement and take a moment to pray about your response.
+ Keeping promises
Many years before, Jonathan had initiated a covenant between himself and David, in which David had promised to be kind to Jonathan’s family. Jonathan had since died, but David did not excuse himself from his commitment, even though the blood of Saul, his persecutor, ran on through Jonathan’s son (1 Samuel 20:15,42).
- What about us – have we made any commitments and promises that are yet to be fulfilled? It may be to pray for someone, to get in touch, or to do something practical …
- Is someone missing out on the kindness of God being shown to them because we have forgotten our promise, have given up, or grown wary of them?
+ Giving time
David was busy leading a nation, protecting its borders, establishing his army and officers, raising up royal advisors, and maintaining his own training for his successful onslaughts in battle. But the power and demands of his role did not blind him to his personal commitments or to individual need, and he took the initiative in finding out if there was someone of Saul’s line to whom he could show his promised kindness.
- What about us – is busyness stealing our awareness of individuals God has placed in our path?
- Are we willing to keep an ‘open door’ for ‘God’s’ interruptions to our schedules? Perhaps we could start a regular habit of praying, “Lord, who do you want me to show your loving kindness to this week?”
+ Making provision
David did not appease his conscience with a mere invitation to Mephibosheth, nor did he make a demand that would have been costly for disabled Mephibosheth to obey, but he put in place practical arrangements to transport him to Jerusalem (v5).
- What about us – how much do we expect of others to bend to our will?
- Do we wait for opportunities to show God’s kindness, or do we make it happen?
- Is the kindness of God prompting us to give extra help and support to someone who is already obliged to do as we’ve asked, (an employee, for example)?
+ Being inclusive
Mephibosheth had been disabled since he was five, which in those days meant social exclusion – considered unfit for anything but begging. He was in the charge of a nurse, then a benefactor east of the Jordan, suggesting his mother may have died when he was very young. He even went so far as to call himself “a dead dog”; a tragic expression from someone lacking self-worth (v8).
- What about us? Though we might not like to admit it, we can find ourselves subtly ignoring certain people because we feel helpless to know what to do; frightened by their background, habits or lifestyle, or worried that they will demand too much of us. But God’s grace and kindness are for all people. Will we open our hearts to his kindness, and ask him to open our eyes to opportunities to convey it to his broken world?
- Is the kindness of God prompting us to do more to help those we know whose health severely limits their daily routines and inclusion in social circles, who have lost one or both parents, who rely on the kindness of others to support them or who we might not usually connect with because of our pride, fears, or insecurities?
+ Taking risks
Mephibosheth was in no position to repay David for returning his inherited home and lands, and for arranging others to work the land for him. Furthermore, he may have been nursing a secret grudge against David for ‘stealing’ the throne from his own family line; he could have been looking for a way for his son, Mica, to take it back once he was of age (note 2 Samuel 9:12; and 2 Samuel 16:1–4 where it ‘appeared’ Mephibosheth had turned against him).
- What about us, are we reluctant to give help without any benefit to ourselves?
- Are we willing to take a risk, in order that someone might experience God’s loving kindness, even if they abuse it?
David honoured Mephibosheth – a potential outcast and enemy – by inviting him to dine at his table, thus giving him access to discussions about royal affairs. Through God’s grace – God’s undeserved kindness – the man who had been ‘nothing’ became a public and intimate friend of the king.
Consider the people who have come to mind as we’ve been reading. How can we honour them and build up their self-esteem and self-worth by revealing God’s loving kindness to them?
2 Samuel 9 is a beautiful, heart-warming story, rooted in the loving-kindness of God, revealed and worked out through the man after his own heart. I pray this story will continue through women after God’s heart too.
Are you a woman after God’s kind heart?
“‘… I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24)
Does the Spirit of God live in you?
The kindness of God in you is always looking for ways to express itself to others. Be inspired to bring him delight!
“The fruit of the Spirit is … kindness …” (Galatians 5:22)
God’s fruit is worked in and through us as we keep in step with his prompts and commands (v25). Who or what challenges the growth of this fruit in your life, and why? Thank God for them, and let them be your help to let God exercise and grow his fruit in and through you.
Who else is sitting on the side-lines of your work and social circles, in need of a supportive friend?
“Love is … kind …” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Kindness is expressing the quality of being kind: A friendly or generous nature. Tender-hearted. Sympathetic. Merciful. Compassionate. Gracious. Tolerant. Helpful to others. Obliging. Accommodating. Courteous. Considerate. Benevolent. Humane. Which of these descriptions do you feel convicted or challenged by?
How could you resolve to let these descriptions define your life too?
“… blessed is [s]he who is kind to the needy” (Proverbs 14:21)
Your kindness may never be returned, it may even be rejected, but there are greater spiritual blessings to be received; of inner joy in delighting God, peace for having done the right thing, and immense fulfilment in conveying God’s love and provision to someone else. What opportunities do you have to give in this way?
“…whoever is kind to the needy honours God” (Proverbs 14:31)
You may not feel equipped as an apologist or gifted evangelist, but as you root your heart deeper into God’s love, and his perspective of other people, your kind response will influence others with the truth of who God is. Pray and look out for opportunities to make God known in this way.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’” (Matthew 18:32–33)
Reflect on how much your life was like that of Mephibosheth before God revealed his love to you in Jesus.
Remind yourself what it meant for Jesus to leave heaven to come and rescue you.
Consider the ultimate cost he endured to give you your spiritual inheritance.
Remind yourself that he already knows you will let him down, and takes the risk you might even turn your back on him.
Receive his love that honours and esteems you, that calls you his daughter, and friend; his love that delights in your company, and gives you a role to fulfil in his kingdom purpose.
Give prayerful thought to your response of thanks and worship.
Gracious God, thank you for the many ways that you have shown your kindness to me, in Jesus himself, and through your people. Grow in me your image and character, that others might be touched by your kindness through my life too. Amen.