“In the course of time,” David established himself as a monarch to be reckoned with. As the map shows, and as the text indicates, David delivered Israel from her enemies on all sides. He defeated huge and advanced armies and utterly subjugated their people. David was, in a word, unstoppable.
And yet, a man of his accomplishments had a soft heart for the disadvantaged and hurting. You will see it in chapter ten with the story of Hunan, but nowhere is this truth better illustrated than with Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth.
The custom, of course, was that when one King conquered another, the house of the conquered was obliterated so there would be no legitimate native heirs to the throne. David didn’t do that with the house of Saul but instead, desires to show good will to anyone he can find.
Ziba, a obscenely wealthy servant in the house of Saul (wonder how he got wealthy) tells David about Mephibosheth. When Saul and Jonathan were killed, Mephibosheth’s nurse, fearing for the child’s life, had tried to flee with him to safety. In doing so, she dropped him, and the boy became a cripple (2 Samuel 4:4).
David restored everything that belonged to Saul and Jonathan to Mephibosheth, but you will want to wonder who had possession of those assets up until then? The logical candidate is Ziba, who becomes, at David’s command, the servant of a cripple who really doesn’t need the assets. Why? Because Mephibosheth has everything he needs provided by the King.
The story of Mephibosheth is one of Grace. He had nothing to commend him. He was helpless (“crippled in both feet” frames the story). He needed lots of help – help that required thirty-six attendants (Ziba’s household). He could have been a possible enemy, an heir to Saul’s throne and the father of another. But David sets him at his own table.
It all reminds me of Paul’s comment in Romans 5: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God is a secure. He sits his enemies at His table and makes them family. What a tremendous example for us!