After the philistines killed king Saul and his son Jonathan at the battle of Mt. Gilboa (2 Samuel 1:4, 17), David remembered his covenant with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3), and desired to show kindness to anyone that might have survived from the house of Saul (2 Samuel 9:1). David knew that as long as any of the offspring of Saul continued to live, his own throne might be at risk. But his kind nature coupled with his promise to Jonathan his friend, motivated him to show compassion.
King David found that there was only one son left for Jonathan and his name was Mephibosheth. After Jonathan’s death, the nurse of Mephibosheth, feared for his life and ran away with him. And while she ran with haste, she accidentally dropped him on the ground causing his both feet to be crippled (2 Samuel 4:4).
The young boy was taken into hiding to the house of Machir, son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar in the land of Gilead. Machir was a wealthy man and a prominent figure in his country. And He was still secretly loyal to the house of Saul.
When David called in for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth felt that his life was at the mercy of the king. If David wanted, he could give orders for his execution in order that the seed of Saul might be completely wiped out and there would be no competitor for the throne of Israel.
But instead, Mephibosheth was amazed when “David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually” (2 Samuel 8:7). This land legally now belonged to the king of Israel but now he would give it to Mephibosheth. This was truly a merciful act from the king.
David later reaped the fruits of his kindness to the descendants of Saul, for, when he fled from Absalom, Machir the son of Ammiel who protected Mephibosheth earlier, also acted with generosity in supplying king David and his army with the necessities of life (2 Samuel 17:27–29).
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