Be Nice to Mephibosheth
The Big Idea
There will always be people around who it is of no earthly advantage to us to associate with. We should make a point of including such people and expressing particular kindness to them.
2 Samuel 9
In ancient times, when a new king came to power it was usual for them to have all the relatives of the previous king killed. Any surviving family members would pose a threat to the legitimacy of the new dynasty and would be a rallying point for those opposed to the king.
David first found out that he was king when he received a message that Saul and Jonathan had died in battle. The messenger was expecting David to be jubilant, but instead he grieved the loss of his friend and the king who God had anointed. He was not a typical power-hungry monarch but a genuine man who cared about others.
Opposition rose up against David, and Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth was installed as a rival king. David’s forces ultimately prevailed, but when David heard that Ish-Bosheth had been assassinated he was furious and brought those responsible to justice. Despite him being a political rival, David saw Ish-Bosheth as righteous and did not want him dead.
This left Saul’s lineage almost wiped out, and David commissioned one of his servants to investigate whether there were any more descendants remaining. For most kings issuing such an order, the motive would be murder. But David’s motive was very different (‘that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake’).
The search found just one remaining descendant, a son of Jonathan’s named Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet. He was about as unuseful to David as a person can be. His heritage meant that he was politically inconvenient. His physical disability prevented him fighting in battle for David. He would be a drain on resources and a costly person to have around. There would be every reason for David to have him killed (or at the very least to ignore him). But David chose otherwise.
David called Mehpibosheth to him and made a point of restoring to him all of the land of Saul’s house. He gave this inconvenient individual a place of wealth and power, and moreover David invited him to eat at his own table and treated him as his own son. Mephibosheth then had a son of his own and the family line lived on, just as David had promised Saul.
There will always be people around who it may seem most convenient to disassociate with, yet the heart of God is to show kindness to those who others would reject. Be kind to Mephibosheth.
Taking It to Jesus
So much of Jesus’ ministry was focussed on those who others rejected and ignored. He reached out to touch the man with leprosy. He was called a friend of sinners and tax collectors and was often told off for choosing to associate with and show kindness to the wrong people. He also taught that when we host a meal not just to invite friends but the poor and the needy who cannot repay the favour. There were plenty like Mephibosheth in first century Galilee. Jesus was kind to them all.
- Think about who are the people in your life who it is hard work or costly to associate with. How can you show kindness to them?
- What type of people do you regularly spend time with? How can you open up more of your social time for those who others would reject?