His story starts in 1 Samuel 20:12-17 where we read that David and Jonathon (son of King Saul) entered into a covenant with each other so that whoever survived would preserve the other and his family. This covenant was not a simple agreement and a shaking of hands, but as was the custom, would have been ratified before God with a blood sacrifice, as we see between Abraham and God in Genesis 15:9-10 & 17-18. It was also most likely that they would have mingled their own blood with each other in the form of the ‘blood brother’ ritual so that they understood the ‘my blood is your blood’ bond. So we see that David was compelled by the covenant entered into between himself and Jonathon – sealed and witnessed by the blood of the sacrifice – to fulfill his promise.
Note – The kindness referred to in 1 Sam 20:15 and 2 Sam 9:1 & 3, is in the Hebraic ‘hesed’ or ‘chesed’, which is translated throughout the Old Testament as; favour, good deed, goodliness, goodness, kindness, mercy, pity, kindly, and merciful. And in the New Testament as agape’; love, dear, loving kindness, charity.
The story unfolds in 2 Samuel 9 –
After David, the good king, had replaced the disgraced King Saul and his armies, he sought to fulfill the covenant he had made with Jonathon. The only living descendant he could find is Mephibosheth, but what do we know of him?
First, his name means ‘utterance of Baal’; that is, ‘lies, falsehoods, idolatry etc’. And in 1 Chron 8:34 he is called ‘Merib-Baal’ which translates as ‘shame’.
Our second point, he lives in Lo-debar, which is a place of ‘No Pasture’, ‘barren land’, ‘worthless’, ‘dry wilderness’: a place ‘out of blessing’, a cursed place.
Point 3 – He is lame after falling from one who was entrusted with his care (2 Sam 4:4 – he fell from grace?). He cannot work to support his family, or himself, and would probably be a beggar. Indeed, being crippled would put him outside the blessings of God so that he would be excluded from Temple worship (Lev 21:17-23).
Fourth – He is the grandson of King Saul, therefore legally entitled to make a claim against David for the kingdom, and is therefore a potential threat/enemy to David.
Fifth – He has lost all of the family wealth, or at least it has been taken from him, not due to any fault of his.
Sixth – He has been raised by a foster family that had been allied to King Saul, who no doubt fed him stories to fear the new king.
So, there he is, sitting in the dust, when a troop of David’s soldiers rock up. Imagine his fear when he thinks his enemies are confronting him. Is he to be executed like the rest of his family had been? This dread would not have abated when being taken from his home and delivered into the presence of the king, and so he prostrated himself and grovelled as much as possible to await his fate. He acknowledged David’s rule as Lord and debased himself and his heritage, presenting an image of a worthless cur. And isn’t this how many proclaim we should act before the LORD?
But that is not how King David treated him. The lands of his grandfather Saul were restored to his family, a number of servants were appointed to minister to those lands and to bring in the wealth they produced. And so too, Jesus has appointed servants to minister to our needs. As Ps 91:11-12 states, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”… This is a foreshadowing that we have God’s protection, understanding that the angels are looking after us in all ways. In the NT where we read in 1 Peter 3:22 (KJV): “Who has gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” … Jesus is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept his authority. John 14:20 says, “on that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you”, therefore, “Christ in us” has restored our God given authority, including over angels.
And David sat him at the King’s table in a position of great honour, as one of his family. Again as Jesus has seated us at the table to enjoy the feast of the wedding.
So how does this relate to us now? Our Heavenly Father so loved (hesed / agape`) us that He sacrificed His own son, so that His blood would be the signature and seal on the covenant that He has with us. (John 3:16, 1 Cor 11:25). We have been seated at His table and are counted as His children in the House of God. (Heb 9:11-22). We have been taken out of our lo-debars (our miseries, our barren places) to enjoy the richness of our Lord’s mercy. (Ps 37:5-7, Isa 30:15).
What can we do to achieve this? – Nothing! (John 5:19 & 30).
We abide in the Lord’s house: that is, we are to cease our travelling, wandering, roaming, working, in our own efforts for the fulfillment of our worth. For in Mark 8:24 we are seen as trees walking, but in order to be fruitful we must rest at the banks of the river of life (Rev 22:1-2).
In fact, unless we acknowledge that we cannot be of any worth in our own efforts, we cannot appreciate the goodness (hesed) of the Lord. So when we rest in the Lord – enter into His Sabbath – then we can minister to our brothers and sisters and show them how good it is to enjoy His Grace (hesed) at His table.