Read – 2 Samuel 9
Focus on verse 1
True honor is becoming a rare commodity in our culture. The honor we often see today is typically not offered unless there is some value in doing so to the one doing the offering. It seems almost comedic to me at times when certain politicians and elected officials are introduced with the prefix “the honorable”. There is a saying “there is little honor among thieves” and it would seem to me that the manner in which many elected officials speak of, and act toward those who sit across the isle from them, reflects that perhaps our congress and senate have become collections of such individuals. That being said, it is refreshing to occasionally hear a member of one of these groups act in an honorable fashion. I also suspect that it may be the way in which political activities are reported that we tend to see dishonorable activity over reported, and honorable activity ignored. The unfortunate result of our news outlets being motivated by ratings rather than honor.
In today’s reading King David seeks to honor the memory of his friend Jonathan by showing kindness to Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth.
David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (v. 1)
For Mephibosheth, this might be akin to winning the lottery in our current culture. It meant he went from living in quasi hiding because of his relationship to the former king Saul — to celebrity status as a member of the current king’s family. It’s a classic rags to riches story…well, perhaps more accurately it would be a riches to rags and back to riches story since Mephibosheth may well have remembered living as a member of the royal family when his grandfather was still king.
At any rate, the point of the this little anecdote seems to be David breaking the traditional pattern of entirely wiping out the family line of the previous king, which tended to be the expectation in that era of history. The question one might ask is what David’s motivation for this might be. The text tells us it was in honor of his friendship with Jonathan, however, I believe there is more to it.
David’s relationship with God, gave him a confidence in God’s sovereignty in regard to his position. This is evident in David’s consistent respect and honor of Saul while he was alive (even though Saul was trying to kill David). It continues to be evident in his treatment of Saul’s family after David becomes king. David has no fear of losing power, because he understands that it is God who holds the power, not David. We will see this confidence further tested when David’s son Absalom attempts to steal the kingdom from his father. In each case David trusts God to protect his throne, rather than taking matters into his own hands. This is such a sharp contrast to Saul, who lacked the ability to show honor, and in the later days of his reign was paralyzed by the fear of losing his throne.
It is never easy to show honor to an opponent or an enemy, particularly then the acceptable rules of culture would seem to encourage a different course of action. In the cut throat world of big business and politics a person who passes up a chance to gain the advantage over an opponent just because it would not be honorable, is rare. The men and women who dare to do so, often pay a hefty political and/or financial price, however, they gain something that few politicians and businessmen can claim…the respect of honorable people and perhaps more importantly, a clear conscience.