What do you do with a grandson (and great-grandson) of the fallen king? You s-l-a-u-g-h-t…you welcome them to your table. Wait, what? But what if he tries to take the crown? Don’t you know this isn’t the right way to clean house of your predecessor? David isn’t operating out of vengeance but out of steadfast love (חֶסֶד or ḥesed). “And David said, ‘Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness (חֶסֶד or ḥesed) for Jonathan’s sake?’” (2 Sam. 9:1). חֶסֶד (or ḥesed) is translated many different ways in the ESV including: steadfast love, kindness, and mercy. It is covenant loyalty, or devoted love that is promised in a covenant. Most often it is spoken of God in relationship to us. Take Exodus 34:6-7 as one example, “Yahweh passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (חֶסֶד or ḥesed) and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love (חֶסֶד or ḥesed) for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Yahweh abounds in steadfast love and keeps it for thousands of generations!
Jonathan, Saul’s son, loved David as his own soul (1 Sam. 18:1) and even made a covenant with him because of his love for David (1 Sam. 18:3). Fast-forward a couple of chapters and Jonathan learns his father’s true intentions for David, death, and ultimately warns David, which launches David into the wilderness (see 1 Sam. 20). During an earlier conversation, Jonathan says to David, “‘If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love (חֶסֶד or ḥesed) of Yahweh, that I may not die;and do not cut off your steadfast love (חֶסֶד or ḥesed) from my house forever, when Yahweh cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.’ And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May Yahweh take vengeance on David’s enemies. And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul’” (1 Sam. 20:14-17). In our chapter today, David is seeking to remain faithful to the covenant that he and Jonathan made together.
A servant of Saul, Ziba, is brought before David and he is likely fearful since he served “the other guy.” He immediately says, “I am your servant” (2 Sam. 9:2b). It is similar to when Joseph’s brothers come cringing before their brother, since they sold him as a slave, after Jacob dies saying “Behold, we are your servants” (Gen. 50:18b). David finds out that there is a son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth comes before David and falling on his face, remember he is a lame man (see 2 Sam. 4:4), he says to David, “Behold, I am your servant” (2 Sam. 9:6). David says to Mephibosheth “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness (חֶסֶד or ḥesed) 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” (v. 7). Ziba, and his household, will remain a servant to the household of Saul, but Mephibosheth is elevated because of David’s steadfast love for Jonathan.
Mephibosheth comes to David from the house of Machir at Lo-debar. Unpacking this we find out that that Mephibosheth, like Ish-bosheth, includes the Hebrew word for “shame.” Lo-debar is the place of “no-word,” a place of nothing, of no reputation. Therefore “David brought the man of shame from nowhere to the king’s palace” (Peter Leithart, A Son to Men: An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel, 209) and that included a seat at the king’s table.
Here is the beautiful picture we see in this chapter. David takes the grandson of the fallen king and gives him a seat at his table, like one of his own sons. Jesus has done the very same thing with us! We belonged to the household of a fallen king, Adam, and Jesus feeds us at His table now as God’s sons and daughters. We feast at His table every time we partake of communion together (1 Cor. 11) and will enjoy the great wedding feast with our Bridegroom one glorious day!