A Perfect Picture of Grace
In King David’s day when a new king took the throne, the first order of business was usually to exterminate the old king’s whole family to insure none of them would lay claim to the throne.
But, David was no ordinary king. His best friend growing up was Jonathan, the son of King Saul, the king David replaced. During Saul’s reign David learned that Saul wanted to kill him. So David appealed to his best friend to help him.
Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father.
But show me unfailing kindness like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself. 1 Samuel 20:12-17.
When Saul and Jonathan were both killed in battle, the heir to the throne became Maphibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled and lame son. Another king might have sought out the crippled heir and killed him. But David was determined to honor his covenant with his friend Jonathan. David asked a servant girl in the house of Saul, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” 1 Samuel 9:3.
David’s servants brought Maphibosheth to David’s house. The sole survivor of Saul’s household probably expected the worst. Or, at best, to become a busboy or a pot scrubber in the royal kitchen. Instead, David told Maphibosheth,
“Don’t be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father, Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” 2 Samuel 9:9.
David could have shown Maphibosheth any number of things. He could have shown him justice and killed him. He could have shown him mercy and made him serve the king in some way. He could have shown him the door.
But David chose to show grace to this lame and crippled son of David’s best friend.