Within 2 Samuel 9:1-8 lies a metaphor of God’s love for us in Christ; the fact that we are loved for the sake of another. King David considers who he might shower grace upon; not from among his friends, but from the very household of his old enemy Saul. The man who had rebelled against God, terrorized him while in his service, and ultimately tried to hunt him down and kill him. It was upon this household he was seeking to show mercy.
However, it was to be mercy displayed to a certain member of that household, … “that I may show him kindness for the sake of Jonathan.” It was Saul’s deceased son Jonathan, whom David loved. And so, Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth (lit. from the mouth of shame) was located by the FBI and brought to David.
We are told several things about Mephibosheth: he was Jonathan’s youngest, about 5 yrs. old when Saul and Jonathan had been killed by the Philistines (2 Samuel 4:4); he had been dropped by his nurse as she was fleeing with him out of fear of a possible assassination attempt, and he was crippled by the fall; he was living far away from Jerusalem in relative anonymity, in a place with the interesting name of Lo-debar (lit. land of nothing) on the other side of the Jordan River; he could not provide for himself and was being cared for by a generous man who was a descendent of the half-tribe of Manasseh, which had claimed the land on the east side of the Jordan; he was most likely terror-stricken to have been “found” and called to appear before the King, the one who had been his grandfather’s rival.
It must have been quite a scene: they meet and David calls him by name and Mephibosheth falls on his face, like someone who has had his crutches kicked out from under him! David then tells him not to be afraid, and goes on to say that he wants to show him kindness for the sake of his father Jonathan. This kindness would consist of having his land returned and eating from the rich resources of the kings table. He would also be allotted servants who would care for him and farm the land given to him.
And what was Mephibosheth’s response? “What is your servant, that you show kindness to a dead dog like me?”
What a picture of God’s grace and mercy shown to us who were in the household of that rebel Adam and were nothing but enemies of God. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead [dogs] in our sins, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… [so that] he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:4-7)
Charles Blanchard, the second president of Wheaton College, tells this story in his book on prayer, Getting Things from God(p. 101-2):
It was during the Civil War and a gentleman from Indianapolis had an only son who had listed in the Union Army. The father was a banker and though he consented to his son going off to war, it seemed as if it would take his very life to have him go. He was ceaselessly interested in soldiers. Whenever he saw a uniform his heart went out to it. He thought of his boy. He spent his time, he neglected his business, he gave his money to help supplying regiments and companies, and of caring for the wounded at home. At last he was convinced by his friends to moderate his activity because he was neglecting his own life and business. So he resolved to tend to his own business and let the government take care of the boys in blue.
One day, there stepped into his bank a soldier in a faded and tattered blue uniform who was recovering from wounds he had received in battle. The soldier came up to his desk and fumbled for something in the pocket of his uniform. The man immediately told him that he was extremely busy and could be of no assistance, and that he would have to go to HQ to get the help he needed. The soldier produced a note which he gave to the banker. It read: “Dear Father, this is one of my dear comrades. He was wounded in our last fight and has been in the hospital. Please receive him as myself. Charlie.”
In a moment all the resolutions of indifference which this man had made flew away. He took the boy to his palatial home, put him in Charlie’s room, gave him Charlie’s place at the table, kept him till food and rest and love brought him back to life, and sent him back to peril his life for his flag.
… all for the sake of his beloved son, Charlie.
David bestowed kindness and mercy on Mephibosheth … all for the sake of his beloved Jonathan.
God has showered mercy and grace upon us and has taken us into his very own family … all for the sake of his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
Let us never forget, that we are loved (and should love) all for the sake of ANOTHER! And let us never fail to fall down and worship the One who has shown so much grace and mercy!
“Chosen not for good in me, wakened up from wrath to flee. Hidden in my Savior’s side, by Thy Spirit sanctified. Help me Lord on earth to show, by my love how much I owe.” Robert Murray M’Cheyne.