David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” – II Samuel 9:1
David and Jonathan were dear friends. Jonathan’s father, Saul, was the king under which both young men served. Their story includes a difficult and required parting due to circumstances beyond their control. It was a messy situation with wrongs enacted by Saul and power struggles that drove decision making. Before David and Jonathan parted, a promise was made. Jonathan helps save David’s life and David promises Jonathan he will always show kindness to the house of Saul. This includes the whole lineage from Saul. Both men knew that one day David would be king, and also that a lot of difficult things were likely to happen before that day was established, things they could not know or control. The promise made between the two friends was lasting though they were never able to be together again. The covenant between the two never wavered. Read the details of their story here: https://bit.ly/3lpT1PF
At this point in David’s life, there is a break from the difficulties. He is able to take a breath and ask the question – about whether or not anyone is still left in the house of Saul to whom he can show kindness. He has not forgotten his promise to Jonathan. Time and circumstances have passed, but the heart of the friendship remains. The story follows that Mephibosheth is found as the living relative of the house of Saul. He is Jonathan’s son. When Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle, Mephibosheth was 5 years old.
When David learns that Mephibosheth is living isolated and away from his own family’s resources, he takes immediate action. Mephibosheth became crippled through a fall that happened during the same crisis when his father and grandfather died. It is not uncommon that he would have been shifted out of sight and away from the access of the family’s heritage. David recognizes this as the kindness he needs to offer to the house of Saul. He immediately restores all of Saul’s assets to Mephibosheth, so he shares in the inheritance of his family. And then with a radical and clear act of love, David sets a permanent place for Mephibosheth at his table. Hospitality was one of the most important virtues in ancient times. Having a place at the table and a safe place to sleep at night were immeasurable gifts of grace.
Life can go down a lot of roads we didn’t plan to travel. Things happen. We get redirected. Sometimes the journey or actions of another person impacts ours in permanent ways. We make choices but we also learn to embrace situations that unfold in life. We don’t always get to choose how that happens.
Mephibosheth is in that situation. A lot has been removed from his control. Living isolated and without the resources of his family, he is clearly not where Jonathan would be if Jonathan was alive. David could easily have left his promise to Jonathan unfulfilled. Saul and Jonathan are both dead, no one would know the difference. But he doesn’t because he can’t forget his friend, or his promise. He asks the courageous question and he learns of Jonathan’s son.
David has the power to restore order and honor; he does so right away. His actions also restore all of those who are connected with Mephibosheth. Once physical assets and places are reestablished, David restores what money can never buy. He sets a place at his own table, offering friendship and hospitality, the same as he would have done for Jonathan.
Jesus, many years later, reminds his disciples of the same teaching: “Love one another has I have loved you.” – John 15:12
And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always at the king’s table, and he was crippled in both feet. – II Samuel 9:13
God thank you for finding ways to remind us of the most important things in life. If there are unfulfilled kindnesses we need to offer today, please bring them to our minds. Give us courage to ask the questions and always to act with humility and love. Amen.