1 & 2 Samuel: Day 25

David’s Kindness

by

Today's Text: 2 Samuel 8:1-18, 2 Samuel 9:1-13, 2 Samuel 10:1-19, Acts 4:24-28

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 8:1-18, 2 Samuel 9:1-13, 2 Samuel 10:1-19, Acts 4:24-28

When I was 20 years old, I spent a semester by myself in Chile. I was an intern there—not part of a full study abroad program with tons of other college students. I lived with a host family and worked with other Americans, but there was no one else there in the same position. I found myself pretty much alone.

One day, my Spanish teacher invited me to an “asado” at her house. A Chilean asado is a backyard barbecue on steroids: hours and hours of food, drink, laughter, stories, and family. It’s a feast for the stomach and the heart. I didn’t have much going on during the weekends, so I went. I’ll never forget the feeling of overwhelming acceptance washing over me that day. I felt known and welcomed there. For one afternoon, I was completely enveloped into their family.

I’ve never been in David’s shoes—a newly-crowned king looking to gain and maintain power. But I have been in Mephibosheth’s, feeling like the lonely outcast. Mephibosheth was the crippled grandson of the fallen king; all tradition and expectation would have been for David to ignore him at best, and kill him at worst.

But the victorious and powerful King David, remembering his promise to Jonathan and Saul, instead seeks Mephibosheth out and honors him. He restores the family land to Mephibosheth, and invites him to feast at his table. Even Mephibosheth can’t believe it. “What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?” (2 Samuel 9:8).

David’s kindness is not spur of the moment, either. He seeks out Mephibosheth to offer him “hesed,” the Hebrew word for lovingkindness. This word is found all over the Old Testament, used to describe God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to His people. In Exodus 34, God Himself uses hesed to describe His own character: The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth” (v.6).

What we see David give to Mephibosheth is the same lovingkindness that God offers us through His Son. David invited Mephibosheth to be “like one of the king’s sons.”

It’s impossible to read this story and not see myself—crippled in spirit, with nothing to give, and yet completely welcomed into Christ’s family because of God’s lovingkindness to me. I am Mephibosheth, Joseph’s brothers, Job, and the prodigal son all rolled into one. And God seeks me out, the way David seeks out Mephibosheth.

Jesus invites us to a feast far greater than King David’s, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). May we answer His invitation with thankful hearts, filled with the unsurpassed joy that comes from knowing our Father loves us with perfect, steadfast love.  

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Melanie Rainer is the director of content for JellyTelly, where she writes and edits family spiritual formation resources. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, a passionate home baker, and makes her always-messy home with her husband, Price, and their delightful daughter, Ellie, near historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee.

  • Kristen Clegs

    The hesed in this chapter is a “searching-out love.” I think it’s this aspect of God’s love that most awes me – that He searched me out, yes, even when I was crippled and unprofitable, and He found me and claimed me.
    Hesed: God hunting me down with His love. That’s how much God wanted me, wanted to use me to demonstrate the quality of His love to the world.

  • I love the SRT perspectices that help me pick up on new themes and ideas in the passages… But as I’m reading this (and knowing Bathshebas story is to come) I’m wondering if anyone has good ideas/resources to understand the brutal, violent parts of this story (2 Sam. 8:2, for instance). It doesn’t seem to make sense in the context of a ‘good’ man of God or fair and kind God. Thanks!

    • Valerie

      I had a similar question as I read this…why take the lives of so many people? My answer is incomplete, but I believe that in part, it was the process of establishing David’s kingdom and further setting Israel apart as God’s “chosen people.”

  • Thank you for this precious reminder of our Father’s hesed towards me. It is His loving kindness that leads to repentance.

  • What an amazing comparison Melanie! Something I would have never seen. Thank you so much for this!!

    • Melanie

      So this is silly, but I see your comments often and when it’s a response to Melanie the guest writer, I feel like it’s a comment to me from my sister who is also a Kari (same spelling!) and it makes me smile and miss her. Sorry if that’s weird to share :P

  • Karen From Virginia

    Reading the responses makes me so thankful to be apart of SRT. I’ve enjoyed today’s devotional. It reminded me that no matter how “lame” I am, I’ve been given the place of honor and grace. Welcomed because of Jesus and that will never change. Being accepted and wanted has been a lifelong fear or sensitivity. I’ve been afraid too often of being unwanted that it’s hindered me. I’m learning to live in the truth of accepted in the Beloved and trust God to protect and care for me in life’s adventures.

  • Allison Joy

    It’s interesting to me that David first asks if there’s anyone left in Saul’s household, so that he can honor Jonathan, his friend. Yet when he actually asks the person who would know, he leaves Jonathan’s name out, and simply asks about Saul’s family. And it “just happens” to be Jonathan’s son that is mentioned. It’s almost like David is rewarded for focusing on Saul, who he did not get along with, instead of Jonathan, by letting him meet and serve his best friend’s son. Just an interesting thing I noticed.d

  • It’s interesting how God can use opposition for our greater good. It doesn’t matter what stacks itself against us. Something GOOD will come out of it. That’s the power and character of God. Believing in this is faith. There is always a redemption after the death of something if you believe.

    • PronetoWander

      Thank you for this. I needed this encouragement! Go doesn’t let bad things stay bad! He forms good from it

    • Karen From Virginia

      Yes. This is a great place to focus: no matter what GOOD will come out of it. I will trust and not be afraid

  • There’s this line from Laura Story’s song, Grace. It goes: “and You whispered ‘My child, I love you. And as long as you’re seeking My face, you walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace”

    Hesed. I am loved completely and unconditionally by a God who has no limits to His goodness! Even more, He calls me His child and welcomes me home with kindness and joy. So just as David’s kindness reflects the kindness of God, I pray that the people i encounter will see God’s light in me.

  • I love how Mephibosheth has a seat at the King’s table and that scripture mentions specifically that he still has lame feet. In a world where we often read the gospels and see Jesus healing people like Mephibosheth, I think it’s a neat reminder to see that even in our sin and imperfections, Christ invites us to his table. We don’t need to have it all together or be perfect to sit and dine with the King.

    How marvelous to know that one day he WILL restore our bodies to be good and perfect!

  • Diane Huntsman

    If there is one thing I hate, it’s the feeling of being the outcast.. the forgotten one.. but I know it’s through those despised moments of utter rejection that I’ve experienced that have made me so compassionate and AWARE of those around me being “left out” or unnoticed.. you see God strategically allows us to experience a plethora of negative experiences to hopefully teach us to help others with their “forgotten about” moments.. as my sister above so beautifully stated, David endures hardships and heartaches which have him the ability to “feel” for this less fortunate fellow.. it was through his own adversities that he sought to help the forgotten one… so may we look at our sufferings as a school of sorts teaching us how we can help others who similarly suffer.. every trial we encounter will birth ministry if we allow it to. ❤️

    • Juliet

      So beautifully said! ❤️Every trial will birth ministry…so true!

    • Karen From Virginia

      Agreed. I feel called to the lonely and brokenness hearted. Those who have no voice. This is bore out of my suffering and the healing God has done in my heart and life.

  • I think Mephibosheth approaches the throne of David the way I’m sometimes tempted to approach the throne of God: full of fear and doubting His love and faithfulness. But David could actually relate to Mephibosheth. He, also, had feared for his life in the presence of a king. But he was saved by a promise, a covenant from God. Now, Mephibosheth, fearing for his life, would be saved as the result of another promise between David and Jonathan. And so, we see David as a sign of what was to come. Just as David welcomed Mephibosheth with hesed and told him not to fear, God shows us hesed through Jesus: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16). I still can’t get over the fact that we can approach the King of Kings in confidence and receive His grace every time!

  • I am so thankful for how you ladies at SRT always point back to Jesus! I know that’s what the whole Bible is about and what we should always do, but my tendency is to look for the practical application, like be kind to others. Thank you for challenging me to read the Bible to see God, not to add another thing to my religious to-do list.

    • Emily B.

      Yes! We need to see more of the Lord, not more of how every story or verse applies to our own lives. I need to be reminded of this, as well. :)

  • This spoke to my soul this morning! Thank you for sharing your heart and guiding sisters in Christ to Him! I needed to be reminded of how I have nothing to offer but OUR Gracious God pursues me!

  • Another song that means so much to me and makes these words come to life is “Carried to the Table” by Leland
    https://youtu.be/pum11nM5MrU
    When my daughter got pregnant in college before she was married, her husband had to spend time in jail while she was pregnant due to a charge from his freshman year in college. It seemed our world had spun out of control and wasn’t anything we had thot life should look like. Our small group helped with a beautiful wedding shower and small wedding that was beautiful and then gave her a fabulous baby shower just a few months after the wedding. Everyone was so loving and kind and accepting. It was overwhelming to all of us but especially to her. This song meant so much to her and also to me. There is nothing like experiencing Gods love thru of other people loving you even in your brokenness and undeserved state of being.
    Oh how I want to show love to people around me like God loves.
    Occasionally I go back and listen to this song and experience the memories of the love we all received thru that time.
    Thankfully, my daughter and her husband are still married and have 3 little boys. My daughter has become a leader in her moms group and has the genuine love for people.

  • Church mouse, I agree. I’ve been Mephibosheth myself and it only takes “1 David” to make you feel welcomed and accepted. ♡ being a kid is hard, and I pray for unity and joy this year in classrooms.

  • Kathy, thanks for sharing that video. Somehow, I haven’t heard this song and I really like it!

  • churchmouse

    The new school year starts up here today. Praying that the “Mephibosheths” who enter their classrooms would be welcomed with “hesed” by their teachers and fellow classmates. May the atmosphere be a warm, friendly and safe one. So much can be intimidating and even frightening. But one “David” can make a tremendous difference. Praying for all today. And may I be on the lookout for the “Mephibosheths” along my path and may I be as welcoming and sensitive as David.

  • Kelly R Smith

    I am an occupational therapist by trade. For the past two decades, I have provided service to the sick and injured to help them find restoration. When I read this story, I usually put myself in David’s shoes. I see the beauty of extending mercy to people with disabilities. David’s kindness to a neglected man with disabilities makes this one of my favorites.

    But today, God used Melanie’s words to put me in my proper place. I am the broken one. I am the one in need of mercy. I am so humbled, so grateful for my place at the table.

  • Kristine L

    If Mephibosheth had not been crippled, he very well could have been out fighting with Saul and Jonathan and been killed. Or he might have tried to avenge his father or take back the throne, and been killed. But because he was crippled, in the end he was spared and sitting at the king’s table. I imagine there were many moments he despaired of his feet, but God had a plan to use that affliction ultimately to lead him straight to the king’s table. We can’t always see the big picture, but how wonderful to know Someone has a plan for us!

    • Anna

      I love this so much! Thank you for sharing!

    • Ash

      The Lord sees the big picture on every situation & fulfills promises!
      If I’m reading the Bible correctly, Mephibosheth was 5 years old when his father, Jonathan, died (2 Sam 4:4). I don’t think he could’ve been fighting in the battle with them. But I loved your insight about God & His perfect plan!! It’s so true!

    • Dawn

      Amen! Beauty from ashes.

    • Ann

      My mom said life is like a huge panoramic picture but we are so close up that all we can see is the few inches in front of us- we can’t see how God is going to work all these things for our good and His glory.

    • Lana

      I thought the same thing! It is likely he would have avenged Saul. The crippling not only gave him a seat at the King’s table but also aided in the bigger picture of David’s kingship. Plus it would allow David to keep his covenant with Jonathan without putting the kingdom at peril.

    • Beth L.

      Actually the Bible says that Mephibosheth was five years old when his father Jonathan and his grandfather Saul were killed. It would be many years later before David showed “hesed” to Mephibosheth. Not until he was a grown man with a son himself, 2 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 9:12.

    • Chelsea

      Love this!! Thank you for sharing, it’s now written in my bible as a wonderful nugget of wisdom!

  • The story of Mephibosheth reminds me of Matthew West’s new song “Broken Things”. The chorus says, “Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King. I wish I could bring You so much more. But if it’s true You use broken things, then here I am Lord, I am all Yours.” But my favorite part is at the end. He sings, “Grace is a kingdom with gates opened wide. There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you so come on inside.” God is so good!
    Here’s the link to the video. Enjoy!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwKuz8a8Jnk

    • Kim

      This song is currently one of my favorites. Thank you so much for sharing the video!

  • aprilinsydney

    There is a parallel between how David sees himself before God — 2 Sam 7:18, “Who am I Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me this far?” — and how Mephibosheth sees himself before David — 2 Sam 9:8, “What is your servant that you take an interest in a dog like me?”

    King David, once a young and overlooked shepherd boy, bestows the love and generosity and blessings he himself has received from God onto Jonathan’s son, the youngest, who is crippled and overlooked.

    David honours his covenant with Jonathan as God honoured his covenant with David.

    Beautiful.

  • Marianne

    It struck me that of all things the weakest member of Saul´s family was spared. He who couldn´t defend himself was unharmed and got honored in the end. Isn´t this God´s principle? Not the strong and selfconscious will conquer but the humble and weak …

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