In 2 Samuel 9, David has been installed as king. This has come after yeas of waiting after have been anointed by God yet hunted down by the murderous, sinful King Saul. Saul has now been struck down by the Lord and Saul’s son, Jonathan has also fallen in battle. Despite Saul’s hatred of David, Jonathan loved him and was loyal to him as God’s anointed. And so as David is finally settled as King, he asks, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
One of Saul’s old servants, Ziba, tells David that the only living descendent from the house of Saul was Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. He had been dropped when he was a young boy and was crippled in both his legs. As far as society was concerned, he was an outcast. He was a nobody. And as the victorious King, all the other nations would have expected David to slay any of Saul’s descendants who might try to take the throne from him.
But David left the palace and found him in the middle of nowhere and said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” And Mephibosheth paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” Then [king David] called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson [Mephibosheth]. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth . . . shall always eat at my table.” . . . Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons.
Here is the grandson of the man who betrayed God and sought to hunt down and kill David like a dog. Here is that grandson, Mephibosheth, living in the desert with no dignity or respect. And David doesn’t just look out for him. He brings him into his own house and treats him as one of his own sons.
It’s a glorious picture of what God has done for us. In Galatians 4, Paul says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
And it’s important that we understand that this isn’t necessary for our salvation. It’s one thing for God to provide atonement for our sins through the cross and for him to provide us with the righteousness of Christ so that we can be reconciled to him, and not perish in our sins – that’s all that’s required for us to be saved. But God does more than that. God goes a step further and brings us into relationship with as children. In every way, he becomes our heavenly Father. And so J. I. Packer can say that though justification is “primary and fundamental blessing of the gospel” it’s our adoption as God’s sons that is the “highest blessing” God provides in the gospel.
God has taken us – sinful, rebellious traitors against him own righteous law, and not only sent his own Son to die in our place so that we can be forgiven of our sins, but he has adopted us as his own Son. With love and joy and thankfulness, we should live as God’s children. Obeying him and honoring his name which he has given to us in Christ.