Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house.” 22 And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
There was also a covenant between Jonathan and David. 1 Samuel 20:42a reads,
Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’”
In 2 Samuel 9 David remembered his pledges and made sure he was being faithful to the Lord in keeping them. Verses 1-8 read,
And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?” 2 Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” 3 And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” 4 The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” 5 Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. 6 And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” 7 And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” 8 And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
Can you imagine the trepidation that filled Mephibosheth as he was called to stand before the king? His mind must have swirled with what his grandfather had done to David. He couldn’t know if David intended to kill him for Saul’s evil. The king had a right to do so. But David was a man after God’s own heart and he was merciful. He had made vows and he stood faithfully by his word. He made Mephibosheth a member of his household, as if he were one of his own sons. David gave Jonathan’s son all of Saul’s lands and ensured that Ziba and his servants would care for the land and increase Mephibosheth’s wealth even though he would always eat at the king’s table.
David echoed God’s heart in his treatment of Mephibosheth. We did nothing to deserve God’s mercy. We submitted to Him and He brought us into his household, made us coheirs with Christ, and let us eat at His table (His altar) as His sons and daughters (Ephesians 2:19, Romans 8:17, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17). God ensures our provision. He made many promises to us and He keeps every one. Being a person after God’s own heart means we will be merciful as God is merciful.
But not everyone is willing to accept our faithfulness or mercy. Some people will view us or view God in light of their own evil desires and they will assume you are like them. They cannot be merciful, so they will not comprehend or receive our mercy. 2 Samuel 10 tells such a story about David and King Hanun of Ammon. Verses 1-2 read,
After this the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. 2 And David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father. And David's servants came into the land of the Ammonites.
David had not made any pledge to Nahash regarding his children. David had a great reputation as a mighty warrior. Israel had become great under his reign and some people assumed things about David which were not true. They made those assumptions based on their unrighteousness not God’s righteousness. Verses 3-5 continue the story.
But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Has not David sent his servants to you to search the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it?” 4 So Hanun took David's servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away. 5 When it was told David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return.”
David had offered his condolences and gave Hanun the chance to continue the peace between them. Hanun had repaid David’s mercy by shaming the men sent to him. David gave the men great mercy and did not let their shame follow them home. Until their beards grew back they would stay in Jericho. Moreover, David still did not repay Ammon for the evil. But Ammon made more assumptions and gathered an army against Isreal. They hired Syria to help them and together created a force to fight David’s army. David then showed Ammon the treatment they requested from him.
When David heard about the preparations for war, he sent Joab and his army to fight them. Joab and his brother Abishai led the army to fight Syria and Ammon. Do you remember Joab and Abishai? They had murdered Abner against David’s wishes. They had deserved death, but David gave them mercy and cursed Joab but still let the men be chiefs of his army (2 Samuel 3). David’s mercy had resulted in increased faith and loyalty. In verse 12 Joab said, “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.”
Ammon and Syria ran from the battle but Syria regrouped to fight again. So David led the army this time. Verses 15-19 read,
But when the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered themselves together. 16 And Hadadezer sent and brought out the Syrians who were beyond the Euphrates.[b] They came to Helam, with Shobach the commander of the army of Hadadezer at their head. 17 And when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together and crossed the Jordan and came to Helam. The Syrians arrayed themselves against David and fought with him.18 And the Syrians fled before Israel, and David killed of the Syrians the men of 700 chariots, and 40,000 horsemen, and wounded Shobach the commander of their army, so that he died there. 19 And when all the kings who were servants of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and became subject to them. So the Syrians were afraid to save the Ammonites anymore.
Hanun could have chosen to believe David and accept his merciful kindness. Instead he chose to believe his men who assumed that David sent spies and chose the wrath of God over His mercy.
We are sometimes the only interaction anyone will have with God. We have His Holy Spirit and should manifest His fruit. This is how people will see who Jesus really is. We are His love manifested to people. We should be loving, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23). We should be demonstrating God’s love to the world. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 a tells us what love looks like.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends
God is never-endingly merciful. David was merciful. We are called to be merciful too so the world can come to know Jesus. In Luke 6:32-36 Jesus said,
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.