Summary: LOVE AND KINDNESS (2 SAMUEL 19:24-30)
LOVE AND KINDNESS (2 SAMUEL 19:24-30)
Here is one of the most beloved brotherhood stories, also recounted in The Book of Virtues by William Bennett:
Horror gripped the heart of the World War I soldier as he saw his lifelong friend fall in battle. Caught in a trench with continuous gunfire whizzing over his head, the soldier asked his lieutenant if he might go out into the “no man’s land” between the trenches to bring his fallen comrade back.
“You can go,” said the lieutenant, “but i don’t think it will be worth it. Your friend is probably dead and you may throw your life away.” The lieutenant’s advice didn’t matter, and the soldier went anyway. Miraculously he managed to reach his friend, hoist him onto his shoulder and bring him back to their company’s trench. As the two of them tumbled in together to the bottom of the trench, the officer checked the wounded soldier, and then looked kindly at his friend.
“I told you it wouldn’t be worth it,” he said. “Your friend is dead and you are mortally wounded.”
“It was worth it, though, sir,” said the soldier.
“What do you mean; worth it?” responded the Lieutenant. “Your friend is dead.”
“Yes, Sir” the private answered. “But it was worth it because when I got to him, he was still alive and I had the satisfaction of hearing him saying, “Jim…, I knew you’d come.”
One of the greatest stories of brotherhood is that of David and Jonathan. Three times the Bible recorded that Jonathan loved David as his own soul (1 Sam 18:1, 3, 20:17). Jonathan was not the only child of Saul to love David; Michal the daughter of Saul and the wife of David, loved David (1 Sam 18:20) as well, so David owed Saul’s children a lot, especially Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan. Out of kindness for Jonathan, David restored all the family land to Mephibosheth and invited him to eat at his table continually (2 Sam 9:7) and charged Ziba, Saul's servant, to till the land for him (2 Sam 9:10). At David’s second exile at old age, however, Ziba deceived the disoriented David into giving him all that belonged to Mephibosheth by saying that Mephibosheth was glad the kingdom of his father Saul was restored (2 Sam 16:3-4).
Have you been depicted and portrayed as heartless and hostile like Mephibosheth was? Have you been deceived, denied and deprived of what you rightly owned? How do you remove a barrier, return a favor, reduce a tension, rebuild a trust and restore a relationship?
Rebuild the Future
24 Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely. (2 Sam 19:24)
President Eisenhower once admitted to the National Press Club audience that he was not a great speaker. He once said: It reminds me of my boyhood days on a Kansas farm. An old farmer had a cow that we wanted to buy. We went over to visit the farmer and asked him about the cow’s pedigree.
The old farmer didn’t know what pedigree meant, so we asked him about the cow’s butterfat production, He told us he didn’t have any idea what it was. Finally we asked him if he knew how many pounds of milk the cow produced each year.
The farmer said,’ I don’t know. But she’s an honest cow, and she’ll give you all the milk she has.’”
Eisenhower said, “I’m like the cow, I’ll give you everything I have.”
Mephibosheth did not “do/make” (in Hebrew) his feet, beard and clothes, nor washed since the day David departed from Jerusalem when the king was humiliated, hounded and hunted by his beloved, boastful and beastly son Absalom. Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth came to meet David not for retribution, revenge or redemption or redress, nor because his servant Ziba and household of fifteen sons and twenty servants (2 Sam 19:17) left him with all that belonged to him. He greeted the king out of compassion, concern and conscience for the safety of David, whom his father Jonathan loved as his own soul (1 Sam 18:1). Previously Mephibosheth was cheated out of his family heritage by his servant Ziba (2 Sam 16:4). Can you imagine the king meeting a person like Mephibosheth, whose feet beard and clothes were so unkempt, unsightly, untidy, unattractive and uncivilized? His servants had left him, but he was undaunted, unflagging and unbounded.
Nobody thought Mephibosheth could make the demanding, dire and difficult trip because he was lame, not just his right or left feet, but on both his feet (2 Sam 9:13). What a loving and loyal person was Mephibosheth, a trait so demonstrated by his father Jonathan to his friend David. His servant Ziba had painted him into a corner, left him high and dry and portrayed him as a traitor, but the failure was never Mephibosheth’s, but David’s to blame and bear. David was the one who was desperate, deceived and distressed. The aging and anxious king could not distinguish between foe Absalom, fiend Ziba and friend Mephibosheth; Absalom the adversary, Ziba the actor and Mephibosheth the ally; the menacing son, the manipulative servant and the misunderstood successor. It did not make sense for Mephibosheth to say that David’s exile meant the kingdom of his father would be restored (2 Sam 16:3) since David’s son Absalom was a cruel, clever and calculative man bent on killing his father David. He who did not spare his father was unlikely to spare his father’s rival family.