And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God to him? …
– 2 Samuel 9:3
David was a nobody, a tender of sheep, the youngest of eight children. But God raised him up to become the king of Israel. God showered grace and mercy on David throughout his life. With God’s help he defeated a lion and a bear. He gave him victory over Goliath and the Philistines. He protected him from the evil intentions of king Saul (and later his own son, Absalom). God’s presence was with David from the beginning.
David was most thankful to be a recipent of God’s mercy, and he wanted to show his appreciation to his Benefactor. David was uncomfortable living in a house of cedar while God’s dwelling was just an old tent. David decided to build a more permanent dwelling for God and he told Nathan the prophet his plan. But God wasn’t finished showing mercy to his servant. Shortly thereafter, God spoke to David through Nathan…
“… I took you from the sheep pen, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people, over Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you. I will make you a great name, like the name of the great ones who are in the earth…. I will cause you to rest from all your enemies. Moreover Yahweh tells you that Yahweh will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall proceed out of your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men; but my loving kindness shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”
– 2 Samuel 7:8-16
God promised even more blessings on David. He would make David’s name great and give him rest from all his enemies. And this blessing would continue on forever through his descendents that would sit on the throne after him. But God did not permit David to do the one thing he desired to show his appreciation. David would not get to build God a temple. Instead his son, Solomon, would build it, and God promised the loving kindness David had experienced would continue to be shown to his son.
How can you show your appreciation to God when He won’t permit you to show your appreciation the way you planned? David figured it out two chapters later.
When David took the throne, the house of his predecessor was no more. Saul had died in battle, and so had Jonathan his son. But remembering the favor God had shown to him, David desired to pass that undeserved favor on to a surviving member of Saul’s house.
… The king said, “Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “Jonathan has yet a son, who is lame of his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.” Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar.
Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, and fell on his face, and showed respect. David said, “Mephibosheth.” He answered, “Behold, your servant!” David said to him, “Don’t be afraid; for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your father. You shall eat bread at my table continually.”
– 2 Samuel 9:1-7
David had found an outlet for showing his gratefulness to God. He passed on God’s mercy, His loving-kindness, to the grandson of the one who tried his hardest to kill him. (The word checed in verses 3 and 7 is the same word in 2 Samuel 7:15). David paid it forward.
What about the mercy God has shown to us through Jesus Christ? Are we passing it on?