David always did things differently. To fight Goliath, Saul tried to get him to wear his armor and take his sword. David took a sling and stones. To get the Kingdom, David was told to kill Saul, but twice spared his life. He always liked to do things a little different.
So it is fitting that when David is seated on the throne, the ark is resting in Jerusalem, and the country is firmly in his hands, that he would do things differently.
Second Samuel 9 begins with a question: “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
It has been some time since David’s ascent to the throne. The “war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time” (3.1) and has since ceased. Things are going pretty good in the life of David. Ish-Bosheth, the last of Saul’s line that was of age to usurp, had been killed some time back (4.6) and the throne was firmly in David’s hands. Time for David to finally rule.
Still there was this unfinished business. Like a pebble in a boot or a burr in the saddle, David had yet to accomplish this one thing. He had yet to keep his word with Jonathan.
The covenant made with Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20 still stood. A covenant relationship, by definition is eternal, but this one was also stipulated as “forever.” There was no getting out of it. A lot has happened since the two men made their pact of kindness (1 Samuel 20.14-16). There had been nights sleeping in the darkness of caves, days spent on the run, times of hiding in enemy fortresses and times of madness. Death, injury, hurt, and pain has plagued David since this covenant was made. So is it that big of a deal? Think of the pain that Jonathan’s family has caused David. Now Jonathan is gone. He is dead. Deal off? Not for a Man after God’s heart because he gave his word.
David wrote in Psalm 19:
“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken.
So much of this Psalm about a Godly man speaks of his words. David knows the equation that Jesus voices in Matthew 12.34: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Jesus spoke it as a rebuke of the Pharisees, but it’s true of all of us right? Our words and heart are connected. The man after God’s heart will be a man who keeps his word.
Exaggeration, deceit, lying, down-playing, and secrecy are the symptoms; pride, arrogance, image-control, and selfishness is the disease. The reason David kept his word was because the cause wasn’t there. David didn’t feel the need to manage his image like I do. David didn’t crave approval like I do. David didn’t watch the feed, check the ‘likes’, or bow at the altar of public opinion like I have been known to do. David kept his word because the only one that it mattered too, God, mattered everything to him.
So David searched for a man of the house of Saul in order to keep his promise (2 Samuel 9.2-5) Finally, Mephibosheth was found.
David’s officials couldn’t have been happy. His own family probably was none to thrilled. Leaving alive someone who had claim to the throne was not something that Kings did. But as we have seen elsewhere, David was anything but a typical King. No matter how long it took or how far he had to go, David was going to find a way to keep his word.
David showed kindness, mercy, and honor to Mephibosheth. He restored to him all the land and a position at the Kings table (7). He made him like one of the King’s sons (11) and he stayed in Jerusalem with the Royal family. All of this happened because one man kept his word.
David wrote in Psalm 15 that a man “keeps his word even when it hurts.” (Ps. 15.4) How often have I chosen a lie to avoid pain? a falsehood to avoid embarrassment? deceit to stave off shame?
I commit to things I cant accomplish because I am afraid of how I will be perceived if I say no? My word is shot. I lie because my worth needs to be shown in the stories I tell or the people I say I have met. My word is shot. Image is what drives words.
David didn’t have an image to protect, which is why keeping his word came so natural to him. He didn’t have to make up accomplishments, didn’t have to exaggerate victories or skills. He simply devoted himself to become God’s man for the job. In doing so, the vulnerability that comes with keeping your word, was something he was comfortable with. He knew who gave him his identity (2 Samuel 7.8) and in whom he found his strength (1 Samuel 30.6). When the disease is taken care off the symptoms disappear.