Weekly Thought: Encouragement from Every Book 2 Samuel: After God’s Own Heart
King David is one of the most interesting and exciting people in all of Scripture. His story is filled with intrigue, betrayal, great conquests, bitter sorrow, intense joy, and deep faith in God. He was a shepherd boy, a musician, a brother, a friend, a servant, a warrior, and a king. More space is given to David than to nearly every other character in the Old Testament (at least by my unofficial estimation). And what is the lasting legacy of this towering figure in Israel’s history? In my mind, it’s his designation as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). Every other accolade or accomplishment or victory or description pales in comparison with this identification with the very heart of the God of the universe. It is difficult to think of a greater aspiration than to be known as a person after God’s own heart. What makes David worthy of such a designation? His failures that we read about in Scripture are numerous and disastrous. Adultery, deception, unjustified violence, and arrogance are just a few of the items on David’s laundry list of shortcomings at different points in his life. So why does God set David over Israel as King? Why does he look into the heart of this man and see someone after his own heart? There is much to be said about David’s character and many stories that could illustrate why David is given such a title. There is one story that illustrates it well in my mind.
Consider the account of 2 Samuel 9. By this time, David has risen to the throne of Israel after the death of King Saul and the king’s son Jonathan. Following many years on the run and great pushback from those still loyal to the dynasty of Saul, David finally takes his place of the chosen king of the people of God. In those days, it was not uncommon for a new ruler to eliminate rivals to the throne, especially those from the previous ruling family. Yet, David had a profound friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan. In 1 Samuel 20, David made a promise to Jonathan that even when he became king, he would show kindness to the family of Jonathan and
not cut them off forever. When he ascends to power, he does not forget or neglect this covenant. Notice what David does in 2 Samuel 9:1-3:
And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.”
It was on the heart of David to keep his promise and to show faithful love to one who would have been considered by some to be an enemy. This son of Jonathan was named Mephibosheth, and he was unable to walk. Once an heir in the royal family, Mephibosheth would have likely been considered an outcast and an enemy following the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. 2 Samuel 9 tells us that David restores to Mephibosheth all the land and produce of his father, and he invites him to eat at the king’s table, “like one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11). David takes the weak Mephibosheth, who thinks of himself as a “dead dog” (2 Samuel 9:8), and crowns him with all the honor due to a prince. All the days of his life, he dines at the table of the king.
Years later, when Zephaniah prophesies to a dejected Israel, he offers a beautiful picture of hope for the future Messianic kingdom of God’s people:
“Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together, for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord” (Zephaniah 3:19-20).
Just as David did, God has a heart for the weak, the vulnerable, and the outcast. He delights to turn weakness and shame into praise and honor, and he invites all to his royal table to enjoy his feast of blessing.
In Luke 14:13-14, Jesus gives a radical teaching concerning banquets:
“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
He then follows up this teaching with a parable about a great banquet, in which the master invites the outcasts, the lame, and the poor to dine with him at his feast. In the kingdom of God, there is always a seat at the table. At God’s table, even the lowly and weak are invited and are treated with the honor due to a child of the King.
In the life and ministry of Jesus, the king of the world reached out to the lowly, the sinners, the sick, and the vulnerable. He dined with the outcasts and invited them into his kingdom. The way of the Son of David was one that loved his enemies and lifted up the weak. He died on a cross while asking forgiveness for his enemies so that everyone could be invited to
the great feast of the lamb one day. That’s the heart of God on display. May each of us strive to have such a heart.