2Sa 9:1-13 NIV David
asked, "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show
kindness for Jonathan's sake?" (2) Now
there was a servant of Saul's household named Ziba. They called him to appear
before David, and the king said to him, "Are you Ziba?"
"Your servant," he replied. (3) The
king asked, "Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can
show God's kindness?"
Ziba answered the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled
in both feet." (4) "Where is
he?" the king asked.
Ziba answered, "He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo
Debar." (5) So King David had him
brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. (6) When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of
Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
David said, "Mephibosheth!"
"Your servant," he replied. (7) "Don't
be afraid," David said to him, "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." (8) Mephibosheth bowed down and said, "What is
your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?" (9) Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul's servant, and
said to him, "I have given your master's grandson everything that belonged
to Saul and his family. (10) You and your
sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so
that your master's grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of
your master, will always eat at my table." (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and
twenty servants.) (11) Then Ziba said to the
king, "Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant
to do." So Mephibosheth ate at David's 
table like one of the king's sons. (12)
Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica, and all the members of Ziba's
household were servants of Mephibosheth. (13)
And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king's table,
and he was crippled in both feet.
time in which David lived was rather “rough and ready.” The normal procedure
upon becoming a king at a change in dynasty was to slaughter all family and
friends of the previous regime. Indeed, the Bible has several such instanced
recorded in the various dynasties of the northern Israel. It was, in a sense,
political good sense to make sure there was no one around whom the rebels could
for a variety of reasons, does the opposite. It is an excellent political
strategy; Mephibosheth could hardly be viewed as a threat, but as an object of
God’s kindness it would be hard to find better. Doing good to those who have
reason to hate you is not only commanded, it often makes good political sense.
In this instance, it will help unify a nation recently torn by civil war
between David and Saul.
story gives us some of the motives for which David had compassion; we may note
This compassion is rooted in David’s close friendship with Jonathan,
Mephibosheth’s father. They were extremely close friends; in this way
David can deal kindly with Jonathan, even after death.
David and Jonathan made a covenant with each other.
Perhaps David felt he was fulfilling that covenant.
- Hospitality. As king, David would naturally have fed many
people at his table. It is the mark of a good king that he is hospitable,
for hospitality was viewed as a sign of a righteous man.
Most kings would have felt that they had a right to the throne; David knew
that God had selected him out of the shepherds to lead Israel. A pompous
king might ignore the problem; a humble king is gracious and kind – and
solves the problem.
David asks to whom he can show “the kindness of God.” It is the measure
of David’s kindness, but also a reflection of the God he serves.
- Grace of God. David’s rise from sheepfold to king was due to the
grace of God, and David did not forget that. If you need a reason for
compassion, there is none better than the grace of God – if he gave so
much to you, what then is your gift to others?
Noah Webster informs us, means “suffering with others.” He tells us that this
is a “mixed passion;” it is comprised of love and sorrow. Love has its
emotional aspect; sorrow is very much comprised of emotion. So this is rather
an emotional thing.
we must remember that the emotions of the Christian are to be trained to the
will of Christ. If you belong to Christ heart, soul, mind and strength, your
emotions are included. The Christian, therefore, must train his emotions to
the will of Christ. That includes compassion.
how does one properly train the emotion of compassion?
you must practice compassion at every opportunity. Some days you don’t
feel very compassionate. No matter; control the emotion. Practice
compassion at every opportunity, even when you “don’t feel like it.” We
often think that controlling our emotions means stifling them; it is just
as true that controlling the emotions means stimulating them.
pray. Start by praying for open eyes, so that your compassion might know
its opportunities. Then pray for the compassion and courage to act.
with others of like mind. Often enough you do not have the resources
acting alone to be compassionate; therefore God provides the church.
also helps to know what stands in the way – and needs to be cleared out.
own intense selfishness.”
It creeps up on us, doesn’t it. Examine yourself; that which you have,
you have as steward for God. He expects you to provide for yourself from
this, but he also expects you to use what he has given for his purposes.
it is just custom and habit. We go where we go; if the unfortunate aren’t
there, too bad. Perhaps our going isn’t going far enough.
ignorance of need (with no desire to find out). Out of sight, out of
mind. Sometimes this is just a case of opening your eyes – and heart.
fear of deception. God does expect you to behave prudently, winnowing out
the chaff. But having taken all reasonable precaution against fraud, our
compassion should still flow.
changes you – as a human being. The best way to discover this is by
experience. Permit me an example. Over the years my wife and I had reason to
visit a prisoner several times. You cannot do that and remain unmoved. Prison
is a nasty place (and he was guilty, and deserved it). A visit by someone who
cares is highly valued, and highly emotional. If your church has a prison
ministry, try it.
than that, compassion touches the other person. Many in prison have not seen
the love of God in person; a hospital visit can be a similar blessing.
Hospital beds are nothing but medical prisons. When you have compassion on
such people, there is a bond that grows between you – and changes both of you.
am told that the Egyptian hieroglyph for charity consists of a naked child
offering a bowl of honey to a bee which has lost its wings. See what this
is given by a child – hence it is given in humility.
is given by a naked child – thus it is given in innocence.
child feeds a bee – an insect which is the model of hard work.
child feeds a bee that cannot provide for itself.
a picture for us – to be compassionate in humility and innocence, caring for
those who are not professional beggars but those who simply can’t provide for
themselves. Such provision may be material; it may be forgiveness; it may be
simply a voice of cheer in a dreary world.
puts it best:
Jas 2:15-16 NIV
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. (16) If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you
well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs,
what good is it?
feelings don’t go well with cold charity.
should note also that you may not be able to “solve the problem.” Compassion
does not require a solution to the problem; it implies helping as you are
able. Do what you can and pray God for the rest.
had his mind made up; Mephibosheth was going to be cared for. Compassion has
no strings attached. In the story of the Prodigal Son, we find the motive of
the father who ran to his child:\
Luk 15:20 NIV
So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled
with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and
the boy has a chance to recite his confession, the father has compassion. Do
not let your compassion become conditional; rather, imitate God in that he has
compassion upon us before we repent.
cannot forbear this little story. In researching this lesson, I came across a
sermon by C. H. Spurgeon.[i]
He was preaching on the topic of “Christian Sympathy,” which might well have
been labeled “compassion.” A particular part of his appeal that Sunday in 1862
was for contributions for relief of the workers of Lancashire. The normal
supply of cotton which supplied the mills had been cut off; thousands were
thrown out of work into cruel poverty.
would have been a simple matter for the British government to solve this
problem. Britannia ruled the waves then; the Royal Navy could have easily
broken the blockade imposed by the Union on the Confederacy. The aristocracy
favored such actions.
public opinion would not permit it. It had been only twenty years since the
abolition of slavery in the British Empire; that was a treasured victory. So
strong was the sentiment that the Workingmen’s Association sent a petition to
President Lincoln (!) beseeching him not to waver on abolition, even though they
themselves were suffering because of it.
men, their wives and children were starving out of their compassion for the
slaves in America. The church today has none like them.