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KINDNESS TO THE LIVING FOR THE SAKE OF THE DEAD
‘Kindness for Jonathan’s sake.’
2 Samuel 9:1
I. We should never forget those who have been kind to us.—Even if the persons have gone beyond our reach, we should still remember the kindness. Such memories keep our hearts warm in this world’s cold winter. David’s inquiry here shows something very beautiful in his heart. He had not forgotten the friend of his youth. He was now king of all Israel, firmly established on his throne, loved and honoured, and very prosperous. The house of Saul had been completely overthrown and was now in dishonour. These facts make David’s acts all the more beautiful. Elevation too often causes men to forget the kindness of their lowly days, the very kindness, ofttimes, to which they owe their promotion. We should never forget a kindness.
II. Friendship’s deeds are not lost.—It may only be after many days that the bread cast on the waters returns to feed him who cast it there. Jonathan himself never received much return for his beautiful devotion to David. Indeed it was very costly friendship to him. But years after Jonathan was dead one of his children received the benefit and blessing of his father’s faithful friendship for David. Young people do not know how many favours and kindnesses come to them for the sake of their parents or other ancestors. We should never lose the chance to do a kind deed to any one. Besides being a duty of love which we ought to pay, a kind act is also the dropping of seed which will grow into a plant of beauty and good. Some day, years hence, it may come back in a blessing to one of ours.
III. David’s treatment of Mephibosheth was very gracious and beautiful.—Mephibosheth was not an attractive person. He was sadly deformed. He was unable to take his place with those who were active in life. There is evidence that he was also a weak character. He was cringing and cowardly. It was not a pleasure to David to have him about his court and at his table. But ‘for Jonathan’s sake’ all this was overlooked and covered up. This showed David’s generosity as well as his gratitude. The incident may be used to illustrate God’s treatment of us. We are unworthy and unattractive to Him—sinners, our life marred. But we are received into His favour, taken into His family, given an inheritance—all for Jesus’ sake.
IV. In the after-story of David we have another illustration of the return to kindness.—When David was driven away from his home by Absalom, and compelled to flee for his life, he was received by Machir, Mephibosheth’s friend, across the Jordan. In his home he found refuge, shelter, and entertainment. Thus David’s generous kindness to Jonathan’s son prepares kindness for David himself. It is often so. We do not know what we are doing when we are showing love’s sympathy and helpfulness to some friend or neighbour. Some day it may come back to us many fold.
(1) ‘It is necessary to read 1 Samuel 18:3; 1 Samuel 20:14-Ezra :; 1 Samuel 20:42, in order to understand the strong inducement which prompted David to make the inquiry with which this chapter opens. Friendship is a very sacred thing; next to God it is the most sacred and precious thing on earth or in life. It is the mark of a craven and miserable soul to be careless of, or indifferent to, the claims of human love. At any cost we must be true to the end, not only to the living but the dead.’
(2) ‘Mephibosheth ate at the royal table, and in this is a beautiful example of what God does still for His lame children who cannot establish their right to aught, but who daily feed on His gracious bounty. Because of the eternal covenant, “the lame take the prey.” Our very weakness and helplessness are our strongest argument with God. What He has done, He will do. All your days may be as this, and much more abundant, because of God’s infinite resources. O my soul, it is indeed well with thee. Thou hast as much as thou needest, and more also. Thou art as one of the King’s sons. Thou canst see the King’s face, and eat with Him daily!’
(3) ‘The wars of David occupy but a small space in the history of his reign. An act of kindness toward the son of his early friend Jonathan, is told at greater length than the battles and triumphs of these numerous wars. Of his own accord, and in remembrance of his vows of friendship, he caused inquiries to be made for any of the house of Saul to whom he could show kindness.’
(4) ‘Who has such a claim on our love as the orphan? David’s kindness to Mephibosheth is in harmony with the spirit of the whole Jewish law in its treatment of the fatherless. And wherever the Gospel of Christ has gone forth, its first care has been to build the orphanage not less than the hospital, and to act as a parent to orphaned children. In this it works in the spirit of the great Father of all, Whose love depends not on our merits, but is equal to all our needs. Let the orphans be our first care. And let us try to share with them the many and great privileges of our Christian homes.’
(5) ‘A good many of us show tardiness in performing our kindnesses. Some of us never get the kindness done at all. We wait till the friend is dead, and then we send flowers for his coffin. But it would be better to send the flowers beforehand, while he lives to enjoy them. Is there any one waiting now somewhere in the shadow for us to come to show to him the kindness of God? Is there a child of some one now dead who befriended us, now needing a friend? Should we not repay to the living the debt we owe to the dead?’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 9". Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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