After David becomes king over Israel according to the promise of God, and establishes his rule against pretenders to the throne, he remembers his beloved friend Jonathan. Jonathan, you may remember, was Saul’s son, and thus should have been David’s enemy. But Jonathan loved David and believed God’s promises to him. Jonathan died at the hands of the Philistines the same day as his father, Saul. Having received such kindness from Jonathan in his lifetime, David wants to show kindness to Jonathan’s family, and asks if anyone from his line remains. He learns Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth still lives, although he is now lame in both feet, having been injured as a child while fleeing an attack.
When David meets Mephibosheth, he promises to show him “kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan” (2 Samuel 9:7). Notice that Mephibosheth did absolutely nothing to deserve David’s kindness. And yet David treated him kindly—for Jonathan’s sake. Because David loved Jonathan, and wants to honor him still, he shows that same love to a member of Jonathan’s family. This is a beautiful picture of the gospel. We have not done anything to deserve God’s kindness (quite the opposite, even!), and yet God delights to treat us kindly for Christ’s sake. He loves us in Christ, and honors us because we now belong to his family in Christ.
But more than reminding us of the gospel, this story pictures how and why we love others too, especially those who belong to Christ by faith. We have many brothers and sisters across the globe—or perhaps even across the street—who have done nothing to deserve our kindness. Indeed, some might have even treated us poorly in the past, so that they “deserve” our insults, retribution, or shunning. Nevertheless, we delight to show them kindness for Christ’s sake, because they belong to the spiritual house Christ is building. We bestow honor, meet physical and emotional needs, speak words of life and encouragement, support financially, use our gifts to serve, and love them sacrificially as an extension of our love for Christ and gratitude for the love he showed us. Like David showing kindness to Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake, the gospel stimulates us to love others for Christ’s sake.
Who is your Mephibosheth today?