In Psalm 15, David wrote that God approved of the person “who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind” (v. 4). It can be difficult to keep a promise if it could cause you harm. Yet, in today’s reading David does just that.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.Proverbs 17:17
David had made a covenant or solemn promise to his friend, Jonathan. Believing David would be king, Jonathan asked him to show kindness to his descendants. He said, “The LORD is witness between you and me” (1 Sam. 20:42). Now that David was at peace, he intended to keep his promise. The word “kindness” in verse 1 is more than just emotion. The word is a specific one that means “faithfulness to the covenant.” In other words, David asked if there was someone left in Saul’s house to whom he could demonstrate covenant faithfulness (v. 1).
Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth was briefly mentioned in chapter 4. After Saul’s death, his nurse fled with him on horseback. As a five-year-old, he could not ride himself. During the flight, he fell and became disabled in both feet (2 Sam. 4:4). His disability is highlighted twice in today’s reading (vv. 3, 13). It serves as a reminder to treat all people with dignity and provide them a place at the table.
Mephibosheth has been living off the grid in a place called Lo Debar for good reason. When a new dynasty came to power in the ancient world, it was standard practice to kill all males in the royal line. As long as one of them survived, they were a threat. Certainly, Mephibosheth should have been terrified. But David kept his word, showing grace and kindness and treating him like a son (v. 11).
Today’s reading is a reminder for us to be people who are faithful to keep our word, even when it might harm us. Just as God keeps His promises to us, we should honor our commitments to others.