There’s this story in Scripture of David, while enjoying the peace and security of a king who is faithfully following God, sitting around and he wonders aloud if he can show kindness to one of the family members of a fallen friend.
Before that, some back story.
David grew up ignored and slighted by his seven older brothers. He was forgotten at the family feast when Samuel came to visit. (The prophet Samuel was the #2 most important guy in the country. It’s like the VP coming to dinner and your dad forget to call you in from slopping the pigs.) Anointed there as the next king, he gets called into employment by the man he is to replace, Saul. Then his to-be ex-boss tries to kill him. A lot.
David finds a friend in the king’s son, Jonathan, who aids and abets him as he runs from hideout to hideout trying to avoid Saul and his not-so-merry men.
Now, along with his time slopping pigs–tending sheep, actually–David has plenty of time to pray. And pray. And clarify some things with God. He has a lot of things to be upset about. Betrayal, family rivalry, being the last one picked for kickball, all that stuff.
But David is different. Instead of spending his time worrying about how to get back at people, he spends his time in worship. In prayer. In adoration of God.
And God does something amazing.
As David is praying and worshiping and adoring, God is changing his emotional chemistry. God, through Samuel in the beginning, calls David a man after His own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). He heard God in that secret time affirming and encouraging him.
And David believed God.
David, after messing up big time and almost dying in a mutiny, tells everyone who will listen, “He delivered me because He delighted in me” (Ps. 18:19).
Did you hear that? God rescued David because He liked him. And David even thought that was ok to say out loud. To other people.
And then God does something even more amazing.
The way David knew God felt about him, and the way he was beginning to think about himself, God transferred those feelings to other people. “They are the excellent ones, in whom my heart delights” (Ps. 16:3).
David’s heart delighted in others? In the way God’s heart delighted in him? (That sort of sounds like Matthew 22 where Jesus says the first and greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love others as you love yourself).
So back to the original story, where David is wondering aloud (you can find it in 2 Sam. 9). Because Jonathan was such a good friend, David is wanting to bless someone from his family. Not because there’s a law that says he has to. Not because his wife(s) talked him into it. And not because someone said it would be a good idea.
He does it out of the overflow of love he has been given from God. He reaches into his own creative goodness that’s been placed there from God’s Spirit and comes out with a blessing.
And so a man named Mephibosheth was chosen to be the recipient of David’s kindness. He was one of Jonathan’s surviving sons who had been injured as a boy, and still couldn’t walk completely. And on that day it was declared that, for the rest of his life, he would eat with the king at his table and never been in need of anything ever again.
David is a great of someone receiving the love of God and it moving them so much that they can’t help but show that love to others. In tangible ways, and in ways that cost them something.
Love God. Love others. It’s the love that we all want to know. The love that heals the brokenhearted, especially when the brokenhearted is us.