2 Samuel 9:1 David asked, Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?
Jonathan was the son of King Saul, and David’s dear friend. When David was in danger, he received Jonathan’s help, and vowed kindness to his family (1 Samuel 20:15). Since Jonathan had died (1 Samuel 31:2), David looked for a way to keep his promise.
Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son, and was five years old when his father died in battle. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled (2 Samuel 4:4). With better medical help the injury might have healed correctly, but without it, he became lame in both feet (2 Samuel 9:3).
This was a turning point in the young man’s life from which he would never recover. He was born a prince, but lost his position and mobility in a single day. He could not play sports with his friends, and would have few choices for employment. Not a day passed that he did not feel the loss.
But this was just the kind of person David was looking for. He brought him into his house and said, Mephibosheth! . . . I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table (2 Samuel 9:6-7).
This too was a turning point in Mephibosheth’s life—a positive one. In a single day he was adopted into the king’s family and given great wealth. He bowed down and said, What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me? (2 Samuel 9:8). Mephibosheth knew that he had little to offer David, but David took care of him, for the sake of Jonathan.
This reminds us of what God has done for us because of Jesus Christ. He received us in our misery, adopted us into his family, and gave us unexpected wealth. God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms [to] show the incomparable riches of his grace (Ephesians 2:6-7), wrote Paul. What David did for Mephibosheth, because of Jonathan, is a very faint reflection of what God will do for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.
2 Samuel 10:1 In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king.
The Ammonite king had been kind to David, perhaps while he was running from Saul. So when the Ammonite king died, David wanted to show kindness to his son, who was reigning in his father’s place. This was gracious of David since, at one time, the Ammonites had been Israel’s enemies (Judges 11:4, 1 Samuel 11:15).
But when David sent a delegation to express his sympathy, the new king doubted David’s motives, and treated the delegation like spies. [He] shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away (2 Samuel 10:4).
This was an extreme provocation that revealed the new king’s foolishness. By exposing the private parts of David’s men, and shaving half their beards, he guaranteed retaliation. Few things are more precious than dignity, and its violation can lead to fury.
This also reminds us of Jesus Christ. As David sent a delegation to the Ammonites, God sent his Son into the world. As the Ammonites shaved off half their beards, Jesus’ beard was plucked from his face (Isaiah 50:6). As the Ammonites shamefully exposed the delegation, Jesus was hung on a cross fully exposed. As the Ammonites’ behavior incited the wrath of David, so the wrath of God is incited against all who oppose Jesus Christ (John 3:36). These are the very Scriptures that testify about me (John 5:39), said Jesus.
2 Samuel 10:6 When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.
The cost of mercenary troops to fight the Israelites was thirty-eight tons of silver (1 Chronicles 19:6). This was a massive amount that likely depleted the nation’s wealth. If the Ammonite king had given this money to David, in order to make amends, the conflict could have been resolved. War could have been avoided, and lives could have been spared.
Jesus used this line of thinking to encourage surrender to him. [S]uppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace (Luke 14:31-32).
Like the foolish Ammonite king, we have all provoked the King of kings, and have made him very angry (John 3:36). He is coming with the armies of heaven (Revelation 19:14-15) to take his revenge, but disaster can still be avoided, if we are willing to pay the price: those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples (Luke 14:33), said Jesus. Jesus requires full surrender of everything we have, and everything we are. In return, we are given eternal life in his glorious kingdom. We surrender our rags to receive his riches.
2 Samuel 10:8 The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation.
With the help of hired armies, they believed their chances were good. The battle was intense, but Israel prevailed, and David put to death over forty thousand troops (1 Samuel 10:18). This was a catastrophic loss for the Ammonites which could have been avoided.
Like the foolish Ammonites, many will oppose Jesus Christ to the very end. Even when he returns, many will refuse to lay down their arms. They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings (Revelation 17:14), wrote John. Opposition to Christ is certain defeat, but surrender leads to victory. Our only wisdom is to change sides before it is too late.
2 Samuel 12:30 David took the crown from their king’s head, and it was placed on his own head.
The king’s crown was made of gold, set with precious stones, and weighed about seventy-five pounds. David showed his sovereignty over the Ammonites by taking the crown for himself. If he did this whenever he conquered, he had many crowns. Likewise, it says of Jesus Christ, on his head are many crowns (Revelation 19:12). There is only one king of the universe, and every crown will be his.
Reflection and Review
How does David’s kindness to Mephibosheth remind us of God’s kindness to us?
Why does Jesus compare conversion to a battle between kings?
Why won’t the world surrender to Jesus Christ when he returns?