Time and again, Saul tried to hunt down David and kill him, but he was ultimately unsuccessful. Eventually, Saul took his own life after losing a battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa, a battle that also claimed the life of Jonathan, his son and the friend of David (1 Sam. 31). What followed was a civil war in the nation of Israel, with those who were loyal to Saul’s kingly line fighting against David and his allies (2 Sam. 1–4). According to God’s promise to make David the king (1 Sam. 16), the son of Jesse finally prevailed and ascended the throne of Israel (2 Sam. 5:1–15). Having received his throne, one of the first things that David did was to look for a way to be faithful to the covenant with Jonathan that he had made so many years before (1 Sam. 20:12–17). Godly people keep their promises, and so David began looking for someone from Jonathan’s house, that he might follow through on his pledge not to cut off his steadfast love from the line of Jonathan (vv. 14–15). Today’s passage records what the king did to fulfill his promise.
After a search of his kingdom, David found Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth and brought him into his house. This Mephibosheth was “crippled in his feet,” but David exalted him to his own table (2 Sam. 9:1–8). This was an extraordinary act of kindness and generosity on the part of David, especially since he made sure Mephibosheth “ate always at the king’s table” (vv. 9–13), a place of profound importance and intimacy in the royal court.
Lest we are tempted to look down on David’s generosity to Mephibosheth, we should realize that the story can serve as an illustration of what happens to us in our salvation. From birth we are crippled in heart and mind, unable to love or serve the Lord (Rom. 3:11). But God does not leave His people in that poor estate; rather, He lifts us up to His kingdom and allows us to sit at His table and commune with Him (Ps. 23; 1 Peter 2:10).
David lifted up Mephibosheth out of a great love for Jonathan, while our Father lifts us up on account of His great love for His one and only Son. Our Creator has given us to Christ Jesus as a gift (John 17), as a sure proof that His labors on the cross were not in vain, having purchased a people that are His forever (Isa. 53:11).