- The Explore the Bible lesson for July 1 focuses on 2 Samuel 9:1-13.
Victory and triumph span the space between David’s reign being established in 2 Samuel 7 and the unique narrative we come to in chapter 9. There is no doubt being a victorious king is a good indicator of David’s future success. Yet, is victory the most significant trait we should look to for a successful leader?
The narrator digs deeper by telling us, “David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people” (2 Samuel 8:15). How does this shed a positive light on David’s leadership? Clearly, it points to the significance of character.
Ask: Who is a leader you respect, and why do you respect him or her? While a successful track record brings respect, success while maintaining character is even more admirable. And such character should reveal what is honorable.
Searched (2 Samuel 9:1-5)
We are reminded of the intimate, close friendship of Jonathan and David. While Saul’s house needed to be uprooted to ensure David’s political success, his memory of a significant friendship made the way for an opportunity to show kindness. In a sense, kindness drove David to search for the opportunity to be kind.
Consider: What drives me to show kindness? For David it was a past relationship. It also may be that Mephibosheth’s physical condition created compassion. Either way, we see all people have value, and all people are more than deserving of kindness.
An interesting word worth paying attention to is what the NIV translates as “kindness.” The word hesed is also translated as “lovingkindess,” which is a covenant love that is binding (Robert B. Chisholm Jr., 1 & 2 Samuel, 228). How does this help us realize the depth of kindness?
Extended (2 Samuel 9:6-8)
This is the most humbling and satisfying piece of the story: David humbles himself to kindness, and Mephibosheth humbles himself as the recipient. The mutuality of these two characters is exemplary to us as readers today. Their mutual humbling shows why this story is so significant.
If there is a phrase we need to concentrate on, it is verse 7: “Don’t be afraid.” Perhaps Mephibosheth’s bow was in the uncertainty of how he would be dealt with. When we read this phrase, it usually is because the audience has reason to fear, but in grace-like provision, the young man is offered a reason to be at peace.
Clearly, Mephibosheth did not have a high value of himself (see verse 8). Yet, David gives value to him because of God’s goodness and Jonathan’s friendship. Value never should be based on physical condition. How do we deal with self-value today? How should we deal with the value of others?
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Planned (2 Samuel 9:9-13)
One word comes to mind here—adoption. Mephibosheth was fatherless at this point, but David essentially adopts him in terms of providing care, provision and love. The extravagant generosity of David alludes to God the Father’s generosity when he adopts people into his kingdom.
The kindness of David lived up to the covenant language that was meant to be life-long. Just as a marriage is a covenant, and just as God’s covenant with Israel is eternal, this also was binding and intentional. The logistics were a necessary part of living out this covenant language.
Additionally worth noting, the narrator in verse 13 reminds us of Mephibosheth’s physical condition. Why would this be noted again? Perhaps it was to point out the way those with such blemishes were cast away from society. What David did in his kindness went against the grain of culture. What should this mean for us today?
The summary of today’s lesson is simple: “God is honored when we extend kindness to others.” As a group, be sure to flesh out the significance of this. What we do should bring honor to God and give value to others. Lives of kindness lived before the world and on behalf of God speak to God’s everlasting kindness.
What are some ways we could better show value and kindness to those around us? How could we apply this story in the context of helping those with physical conditions that are “not normal”?
Personally, I feel that this story put a smile on God’s face as it unfolded in real time. I believe the Father smiles when believers show such kindness to others, inviting them to know God’s goodness through our goodness. What needs to change in us so that we will be God’s ambassadors of kindness?
Heath A. Kirkwood is lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Lorena.