Lesson 13: David, a heart of mercy and grace

You may recall that David and Jonathan entered into a covenant together and that part of that covenant was David’s promise to not “cut off your lovingkindness from my house forever, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” (1Samuel 20.15). Significantly, David also promised Saul that he would not cut off the king’s descendants or “destroy my name from my father’s household.” (1Samuel 24.21). In short, what Jonathan and Saul were requesting of David was that he would be merciful, to act kindly toward Saul’s house even though such kindness was not deserved by Saul. What we read was that David not only acted merciful toward Saul’s house, but gracious as well.

Mephibosheth provided David with his opportunity to extend mercy and grace to Saul’s house. He was the son of Jonathan, only 5 years old when his father died and tragically crippled at that young age (see 2Samuel 4.4). Several years later, once he had secured the throne over all the tribes of Israel, David inquired if there was anyone left in the house of Saul. It was then that Mephibosheth was brought to David’s attention (see 2Samuel 9.1-5). 

Mephibosheth recognizes his unworthiness

In spite of his noble lineage, Mephibosheth recognized his low stature before David. He may have known of his father’s close friendship with David, but he was probably also aware of how his grandfather had mercilessly pursued David for years even though he was guilty of no crime. Thus, when Mephibosheth appeared before David he “fell on his face and prostrated himself,” saying “here is your servant!” (2Samuel 9.6). And when David promised him kindness, Mephibosheth could only respond, “what is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?” (vs. 8). Even after many years elapsed, Mephibosheth never forgot how unworthy he was of David’s kindness (see 19.28). 

“The kindness of God”

Mephibosheth probably came before David hoping for mercy, i.e. being allowed to live. In his wildest dreams he might have hoped that the king would allow him to keep a portion of his family’s land. He received much more than he could have hoped! Not only did David grant to Mephibosheth all of Saul’s inheritance (9.9-10), the king also commanded that Mephibosheth would eat at his own table (vss. 10,13). Not only was David merciful to Mephibosheth, he was gracious by granting him an elevated status in his kingdom.

As we’ve already noted, David had promised both Jonathan and Saul that he would act kindly toward their family. But significantly, when David inquired if Saul had any descendants left alive, he stated that he wished to “show the kindness of God” (9.3). David had experienced the grace of God, and now he wished to show His kindness to others. Here we have further confirmation that David was indeed a man after God’s own heart!

David’s mercy and grace promoted loyalty in Mephibosheth

David’s actions had a lasting effect on Mephibosheth. Years later, David’s son Absalom would lead a rebellion against his father. Things became so dire that David was forced to flee his capital. At one point Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba met the king, bringing provisions but also slandering his master (see 2Samuel 16.1-4). Once the rebellion was put down and David returned to Jerusalem, Mephibosheth met the king. He had been in a state of mourning ever since the king fled (2Samuel 19.24) and had no concern for his own well-being or property, only joy that “my lord the king has come safely to his own house.” David had been merciful and gracious to Mephibosheth, and he responded with loyalty. 


  1. Mephibosheth recognized his unworthiness, and we should always remember just how undeserving we are of our Lord’s mercy and grace. (Romans 3.23-24)  
  2. Our Lord is not only merciful to us, but gracious. He not only forgives us, He exalts us! (Ephesians 2.4-6) 
  3. If we have experienced the kindness of God, we should demonstrate His kindness to others. (Matthew 5.7; 6.12) 
  4. Reflect on the Lord’s mercy and grace and you’ll remain loyal to Him! (1Peter 2.1-3) 

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