My thoughts (Steve Adams):
The love story of David and Jonathan continues here, even though Jonathan has died. David had sworn to Jonathan, “The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever.” It didn’t matter that years had passed since the promise had been made, or that Jonathan was no longer alive to appreciate David’s fulfillment of it. David was determined to extend this kindness to Jonathan’s son even though he had the massive responsibility of being king and fighting all the enemies of Israel. Despite that, he took the time to find Mephibosheth (also called Merib-baal), restore his inheritance from his grandfather Saul, and welcome him into his household much like his own son.
Amazingly, there was an even bigger obstacle for David to overcome in order to bless Mephibosheth. For political reasons (explained in II Samuel 21:1-9), David had to arrange for seven of Saul’s sons and grandsons to be executed. However, even when fulfilling his duty as king to have Saul’s descendants killed, David spared Mephibosheth because of his oath to Jonathan. David fulfilled his sacred oath even when his duty as king should have caused him to break it.
Mephibosheth’s disability obviously plays a big part in the story. According to The New Oxford Annotated Bible, it disqualified him from military service and from ever being king. It seems this would be shameful for him, and is perhaps the reason he refers to himself as a “dead dog”, a derogatory term.
I admire David for keeping his pledge, no matter how easy it would have been to rationalize it away. I also admire him for the reason he made his commitment to Jonathan: love. And, isn’t honesty an essential part of love? Honesty must be a deeply internalized value before we have the ability to make a major, long-term pledge such as a spousal commitment. With honesty as a core value, we are equipped to follow through on our long-term pledges, even if at times we are tempted to forsake them.
Thought For the Day: Lord, help me make wise pledges based on love, and to follow through on them.
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