2 Samuel 9:1-13 is a chapter about loyalty. In 1 Samuel, David made a promise to his friend Jonathan that he would care for Jonathan’s descendants if he became king. (Jonathan was the son of Saul-David’s former enemy and king.) We learn in 2 Samuel 9 how David (now king) actively fulfills this promise. David asks a staff member from Saul’s household where he might find a descendant of Saul in order that he “may show the kindness of God.” Here, the theme of loyalty is twofold. Not only does David show loyalty to his friend, but he also emphasizes this loyalty as representative of God’s own “hesed” or kindness. “Hesed” in the Hebrew Bible is used frequently to describe both God’s covenant loyalty with God’s people and the lovingkindness found in loyal relationships, such as that of David to Jonathan. Once David locates Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, he cares for him through the offer of land (of which he appoints Ziba manager) as well as an invitation to dine at the king’s table. The text also notes that Mephibosheth was “lame in both his feet” likely suggesting that while David has indeed shown loyalty to Jonathan by caring for his descendants, he too may benefit politically in choosing one who could not likely overtake him.
2 Samuel 9:1-13 (NRSV)
1David asked, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and he was summoned to David. The king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “At your service!” 3The king said, “Is there anyone remaining of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?” Ziba said to the king, “There remains a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” 4The king said to him, “Where is he?” Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” 5Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. 6Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, and fell on his face and did obeisance. David said, “Mephibosheth!” He answered, “I am your servant.” 7David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” 8He did obeisance and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I?”
9Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. 10You and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him, and shall bring in the produce, so that your master’s grandson may have food to eat; but your master’s grandson Mephibosheth shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. 11Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so your servant will do.” Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. 12Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. 13Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he always ate at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.
The story of David and Mephibosheth is a moving story of kindness, compassion, love, and, I believe, most of all friendship. David, a man after God’s own heart, goes well out of his way to honor his dearest friend, Jonathan, who is already deceased. Mephibosheth is disabled and will most likely need extra care and attention as time goes on … and David doesn’t bat an eye … ’sit at my table with me’, David unabashedly says.
For our family, our son’s names are Jonathan and David. They were given their names because of the example that Jonathan and David set in the Biblical account … a friendship that even outlasted the grave. That was the hope for our sons-a bond of friendship closer than blood could bring. It certainly didn’t always (sometimes ever!) seem that was going to be how things turned out while they were younger. Now, though, as they are young men beginning their own wonderful, colorful lives, it seems that hope is being fulfilled.
However, back to our Biblical story…as I indicated, Mephibosheth was disabled. In David’s day, being disabled could be as good as a death sentence or at the very least, a life of begging at the city gates … just ask Jesus-he encountered these individuals throughout his ministry.
I have been fortunate and blessed-and, yes, there is a distinction-to have spent the entirety of my work career in human services. Often working with and on behalf of individuals with severe disabilities. I was also fortunate to grow up in a family with genuine compassion for those in need-and like David, knew how to step up and make a difference. Beth and I have also been blessed to see this compassion for others, especially those in need, grow and develop in our Jonathan and David…and it’s a blessing we are fortunate to see whenever we’re all together at our own version of a Family Reunion.
— John Tote
Cut several strips of construction paper and put them somewhere that everyone in your family can find them, like the living room or the kitchen table. This week, challenge your family members to try to “catch” each other being kind. Anytime you see people in your family being kind, write down what they did on a slip of paper. Examples of kindness might include helping with a chore without being asked, asking someone else about his or her day, or giving a hug. You can also come up with some ways to show kindness together. At the end of the week, put all the strips of paper together to make a paper chain. Talk about what a big impact a few small acts of kindness can make. Pray and ask God to help you have compassion and show kindness to others.
When your family gathers for mealtime, consider using this blessing: Compassionate creator, thank you for all of those around us, our family, friends, fellow travelers on our journey. Enable us to look with care on each person we encounter as a child of God-one to be honored and respected. As you have compassion and love for us, may we do the same with and for those we encounter, and may they be blessed even as we are as we gather for this meal. In the name of our Holy Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Pull out a candle, gather around it if there are others with you and light it. Think about those that have shown you compassion during your life. Offer a prayer for them and ask God to show you who in your life needs compassion this week. Make sure to extinguish the candle.
Prayer Prompts for the week:
- Pray for the Guatemala Mission Team that will be serving August 17-24.
- Give God thanks for our HBBC family and our time of reunion this summer.
- Pray for the start of our new church year.
Consider the lessons that you’ve learned this summer and seek ways to join your HBBC family in spreading God’s love this fall.