- What can we learn from the nurse in the story (see 2 Samuel 4:4)?
- Why did David seek out someone from Jonathan’s family to show kindness to? Do you think this was in line with the typical behavior of a new dynasty that had just recently assumed the throne? How do you think Mephibosheth felt in verse 6?
- What was special about Mephibosheth?
- How did his disability change the way David treated him?
- What specifically did David do for Mephibosheth? In what ways did David go above and beyond what might be expected of him?
- Did Mephibosheth know of David’s promise to Jonathan? Was there anyone alive who knew of it and could hold David accountable?
1 Samuel 20:13-17 – But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord take vengeance on David’s enemies.” And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
2 Samuel 4:4 – Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. The nurse – She did a poor job protecting her ward. She thought that she was taking him to safety, but in reality she was running from the blessings God had in story for Mephibosheth. Also, in her haste, she dropped him and crippled him. We should consider our own responsibility toward those in our care. Are we leading them to God’s blessings or away from His blessings? Are we harming them or nurturing them?
2. 2 Samuel 4:4 – During this stage of world history in that area when a new dynasty took over it was common to kill the previous king’s entire family. This happens many times later on in the recorded history of the Northern Kingdom. Remember too that Gideon’s son killed the rest of his brothers (except for one). It was a savage way to ensure that there were no legitimate rivals to the throne.
But we see in 2 Samuel 9 that David did not follow culture in this aspect. What he did was against the cultural norms. It was radical. It was significant enough that an entire chapter in the Bible is devoted to telling us the story. David could have had Saul’s surviving family members slain and made the excuse that, “all kings do that.” But he didn’t. He did not follow this typical cultural practice because it was evil.
Principle: Do not follow the culture around you to do evil. We should train ourselves to think before blindly following what others around us do. Here is a short list of things which are common, but are against the principles in God’s Word:
- Throwing trash on the ground instead of in the trash can
- Cutting in line
- White lies
- Living together before marriage
We must always think before taking action. What would Jesus do? What does the Bible say about this? Would I be happy to tell other brothers and sisters I have done this?
3. David kept his promise – David had made a promise to show kindness to Jonathan’s offspring. No one was present (except Jonathan) when he made this promise. Jonathan was dead. No one would have ever known that David had broken his word. He was free! But David had a conscience. And God knew the promise David had made. In 2 Samuel 7 we saw David praise God for His trustworthiness. God’s followers attempt to become more like the God we worship. David knew that God was trustworthy and God wanted David to keep the promise he had made even if no person knew about it.
God is a witness to every promise we make. He sees our promises and he knows if we break those promises. God is a God of truth.
Titus 1:2 – In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
Matthew 5:37 – Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
Is your word good? Can people count on you to do what you say? If you agree to meet someone at a certain time and place will you show up? If you commit to helping with an activity will you pull out at the last minute? If you tell a brother or sister you will pray for them, do you? If you agree to help someone, do you forget? See also Proverbs 22:1. Having a reputation as a trustworthy person is better than being a wealthy person.
David’s new position as king did not change his relationships with those around him. It did not change who he was as a person. He used his new position as an opportunity to fulfill the promises he had made, rather than an excuse to disregard them.
4. Mephibostheth did not flee – He was afraid, but he still came. If he fled in fear he may have missed out on the blessings in story for him. Instead he obeyed the king’s summons and humbled himself. The result was a blessings far greater than he could have predicted.
5. David did not show partiality because of Mephibosheth’s disability – Mephibosheth was crippled. A lot of people (especially at that time) considered that people with disabilities were less valuable, inferior. Jesus ran into this bias during his ministry when the poor, lowly, ill, and disabled were routinely spurned and ill-treated by the ruling authority.
But Jesus had compassion on them. He treated them as people. He gave them His time. He gave them His attention. He gave them His love and compassion. David did the same for Mephibosheth. When David met him, he didn’t quietly ask his servants to find a more worthy recipient of his grace. He wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed to have Mephibosheth sit at his own table with his own family. Because of the grace David showed him, this disabled man could now sit with the nobles of the land.
This is what grace is. Grace is not a respecter of persons. Mephibosheth had not earned David’s blessing. This was a free gift from David with no strings attached. God’s grace to us is like this. It is unmerited by us. David did not do this because of a hope of getting something in return from Mephibosheth. He could not offer very much to David. Neither does God show us mercy because of what He can get from the deal.
6. Kindness – This word is mentioned three times in this chapter. What do we learn about kindness? Kindness is one aspect of loving others and 1 Corinthians 13 mentions that love is the greatest of Christian virtues. Our Lord wants us to be kind to others. This is really not a complex principle. But unfortunately a lot of believers are not that kind. Sometimes we are judgmental. Sometimes we are prideful. Many times we lack mercy. Many times we hang out with our own friends and ignore others outside of our group.
Brothers and sisters, if I asked your family and friends would they tell me that you are kind? We can use our words to speak kind and considerately to others. We can smile to encourage them and show our gratitude. David took initiative to seek out Mephibosheth and extend kindness to him. Do you take initiative to show kindness to others? Do you seek out people and think up of special ways to bless them? It is my prayer and hope that all of us will be known for our kindness (our love) for others.
7. 1 John 2:2 –
1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Our sins are forgiven for his (Jesus’) name sake much like Mephibosheth is shown kindness for Jonathan’s name sake. The writer was probably not thinking of a parallel between these two stories when he wrote this chapter. But having the benefit of the entire Bible we can certainly see a parallel between David’s grace to Mephiboseth and God’s grace to us. Mephibosheth was raised up to sit at the king’s own table as one of his family. We too are raised up to sit at God’s table as one of His family. As we learn the story of Mephibosheth we can see David’s goodness to him and know that the correct response was one of thanksgiving and loyalty. God has shown even much greater mercy and grace to us so we too should respond to that with mercy and gratitude.