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The Fugitive Heir

Key References: 1 Samuel 20:12-15; 2 Samuel 9; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 70, p. 713; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 4, pp. 89-92; Our Beliefs, nos. 3, 22, 11.

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“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

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We reflect God’s love when we treat everyone kindly.

When did you experience someone extending to you kindness though you did not deserve it? In the following Bible story someone extends grace to a person who thought he did not deserve it. This account helps us understand what it takes to build positive relationships with people.

One day King David was thinking. He was remembering his very best friend, Jonathan, who had died in battle. So the king started to inquire, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1).

But why would King David want to do something kind for the grandson of King Saul? In King David’s day, if one king acceded to the royal throne after another king, it was the custom to kill all the members of the fi rst king’s family so that the second king wouldn’t have to worry about his new position.

Yet David’s servants obeyed the royal command and went searching for a man named Ziba [ZY-buh], who had been one of King Saul’s servants. Ziba arrived at the palace, and David asked him, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” (verse 3)

Ziba told David that one of Jonathan’s sons was still alive. His name was Mephibo sheth [me-FIB-o-sheth], and he had a disability. Now a young man, he had been living quietly in hiding in the home of a wealthy man who had been protecting him.

After David heard the report, he sent for Mephibosheth. Just imagine how Mephibosheth must have felt when he heard that King David wanted to see him! He must have heard the stories about what great friends his father, Jonathan, and King David had been. He had been 5 years old when his father died. Since then he had been receiving false reports from David’s enemies. Over time Mephibosheth had built prejudice against King David. So he reported to the palace with fear in his heart.

When Mephibosheth arrived at the palace, he bowed down low before David. The king’s words astonished him.

“ ‘Don’t be afraid,’ David said to him, ‘for 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’ “ (verse 7).

Think about it. One minute Mephibosheth had nothing. The next minute he was rich. In an instant he became the owner of a lot of land and a very special guest at the king’s table! David restored to him King Saul’s personal properties. Moreover, King David ordered Ziba and his 15 sons and 20 servants to farm the land and take care of it for Mephibosheth and his family.

David’s gift to Mephibosheth was completely unexpected. The Bible tells us that when Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table, he was treated just like one of the king’s sons.

The king’s hospitality, generosity, and kindness won the confi dence and trust of the young Mephibosheth, melting the prejudice that he had harbored against the king.

What a great illustration of unconditional love and mercy! A story that helps us better understand God’s amazing love for us that by far exceeds the love we can extend to our dearest friends.

Love is an attribute of God, our heavenly Father. His love is so great that we cannot comprehend it with our finite human minds. For example, loving our enemies is contrary to human nature. We can extend love to the unloving only when we allow God to fill us with His love. Some of God’s attributes that we can practice by the power of His Spirit include: love, kindness, goodness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, and holiness. The acts of kindness and generosity that are rooted in God’s love have a profound influence on others. That’s why the Bible encourages us to extend God’s love to those around us: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). Let us allow God’s character of love to be reflected in our character!