These are tragic chapters. King Saul has lost hope. The grief of loosing his three warrior sons, including Jonathon, and many, many soldiers shows the cost of his waywardness from the God he once served. Saul takes his own life with some help from his armor bearer. In the bigger arch of the unfolding story between God and Israel the nation stays divided. Israel, the northern kingdom follows Abner, a commander in Saul’s army and makes Ishbosheth their King. Joab, Abisha and other leaders/clans align themselves with David in Judah, the southern kingdom. They crown him as their King. The division continues. There is stalemate for bringing the Israel and Judah together as one Kingdom. God’s intent. Through a series of smaller battles between the two kingdoms the power eventually shifts to King David. King David stays focused on doing what is right in God’s eyes. King David showed disdain for betrayers or those who didn’t consider the impact of their actions, for example King Saul’s armor bearer decision to assist King Saul ends in death. In this backdrop of violence though there is a huge counterpoint in this section of Samual.
King David showed compassion with how he dealt with some of King Saul’s servants and relatives. I see this as a foreshadowing of Jesus atonement for all peoples when you look how King David treats Ziba and Mephibosheth and his small family. Mephibosheth is treated like royalty and cared for even though he has crippled feet. I think that is noteworthy when you look at the standards for Aaronic/Levitical priests. Clearly they could not have physical deformities or have any imperfections to serve in the sacrificial/temple system. To deal with Holy objects and rituals, King David shows kindness, acceptance, and generosity to an imperfect person. Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathon, the son of fallen King Saul, who used to serve God and then turned against God. I feel we are getting a glimpse of God’s mercy, love, acceptance and compassion for the imperfect against a terrible backdrop. It may not be apparent but think about it. Mephibosheth is at a banquet every day in the Holy City, Jerusalem!
“And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem and ate regularly at the king’s table.”