Friday, March 25, 2011

2 Samuel 8,9: Pivotal Points in King David's Life: Part 1

"David and Jonathan," by Rembrandt. ...Image via Wikipedia
King David did what all of Israel probably expected the king to do; he claimed and won the territories promised to Israel in God’s covenant with Abraham.  In claiming God’s promises, King David aligned himself with God and exalted God with his life.

And then scripture gives us a few vignettes into the heart of this beloved and almost legendary king.  Though David was wronged by Saul, he never sought revenge. Later, after many years passed since David was anointed  monarch over Israel, he began to wonder if anyone from the house of Saul was still alive.  Having grown closer to God, David wanted to extend God’s mercy and kindness, Hebrew חֶסֶד (hesed), to the family of King Saul who led Israel before him. 

2 Samuel 9:3 And the King said “Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness (חֶסֶד) of God unto him?”

One would think that after all of the grief and difficulty that David suffered at the hand of Saul, that he would want to eliminate any man from Saul’s line so that no-one could contest his right to the throne.    But, David wanted to seek out  Saul’s survivors so that he could show God’s kindness thus honoring the covenant he made with Saul’s son, Jonathan. 

Hesed implies faithfulness to a covenant and mercy when referring to those who experience misfortune. Hesed is not a reflection of the worthiness of its beneficiary. Rather hesed is a godly attribute dependant entirely on God’s desire to be merciful, kind, and to honor His end of the covenant.

When David wanted to show covenant honoring love to the Saul’s house, he was in fact illustrating to Israel how God honored His covenant with Abraham.   While David conquered land that was promised to Abraham, the people of Israel were in no way deserving of God’s mercy or kindness.   Idolatry and pagan worship were acceptable to many in Israel.  Many in Israel tolerated numerous gods and their worship without really seeing or understanding how deeply God was grieved by their sin.  Israel failed to see just how much their sin separated them from their God who only wanted to embrace them with His mercy and covenant honoring love. 

Here, through David’s life, God illustrated that He keeps His promises; that He honors the covenants which He initiated.  When the people of Israel saw that David restored all of Saul’s property to Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, and that he permanently invited him to eat at his table in Jerusalem, they no doubt understood that David never meant any harm to Saul, God’s anointed King.  They also understood that David did not forget his promise to be merciful to the descendants of Jonathan, Saul’s son. 

Through David, God again demonstrated that He would never abandon or reject Israel, the people with whom He made an everlasting covenant.

Genesis 17:19  “And God  said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed: and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”

As an object lesson of a sort, Mephibosheth, Saul’s deposed and impoverished grandson, lived with another family for a few decades before David restored his land and status to him.  David honored the covenant he made with Mephibosheth’s father Jonathan.  Why it wasn’t done sooner, can only bring speculative answers.

 However, I can see a parallel between Mephibosheth and  Israel.  For a time Israel was scattered throughout the world, but God remembered His covenant with Abraham and brought His people back into their land (1948).  I am confident that God will accomplish all that He promised, all that He covenanted with Israel.  One day, Israel will sit at God’s table and enjoy His unique favor. God’s covenant is eternal.

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for checed (Strong's 2617)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 25 Mar 2011. < http://
Strongs=H2617&t=KJV >
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