One day David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul’s servants. “Are you Ziba?” the king asked. “Yes sir, I am,” Ziba replied.
The king then asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.” Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.”
“Where is he?” the king asked. “In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.”
So David sent for him and brought him from Makir’s home. His name was Mephibosheth; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.” Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.”
“Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!”
Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?”
(2 Samuel 9:1-8)
Mephibosheth was afraid to visit the king, little knowing that David wanted to treat him like a prince. Although Mephibosheth feared for his life and may have felt unworthy, that didn’t mean he should refuse David’s gifts. After all, David was the king and commanded Mephibosheth’s presence in his court.
In an era in which many kings put rivals to death to avoid the threat of usurpation, David’s treatment of Mephibosheth showed him to be the kind of leader who accepted his obligation to show love and mercy. David was kind, partly because of his loyalty to God’s previously anointed king (Saul); partly for political reasons—to unite Judah and Israel; and mainly because of his vow to show kindness to all of Jonathan’s descendants (1 Samuel 20:14-17). His generous provision for Jonathan’s son goes beyond any political benefit he might have received.
Each time we show compassion, our character is strengthened. Are you able to forgive those who have wronged you? Can you be generous with those less deserving?