Text: 2 Samuel 9It was late, and Peter and Paul had been in bed for at least an hour. Mum and Dad had just returned from an evening out, and Dad popped into the boys’ room to say good night. “Dad, can I have some ice cream?” “No, Peter, it’s late, it’s way past bedtime.” “But Dad, you promised.” He was right. Peter had asked for ice cream earlier in the day, but they didn’t have any. And Dad had said, “I’ll get some for you later, I promise.” Dinner came and went. Mum and Dad cleaned up the kitchen; the boys picked up their toys. The sitter arrived. And Mum and Dad left for their evening out. Dad had forgotten all about the ice cream. But Peter hadn’t. So, even though it was after 10 o’clock, Dad hopped in the car, drove to the convenience store, got a tub, and hurried home. Dad and Peter enjoyed that chocolate-vanilla swirl together. After all, Dad had a promise to keep.
Here’s another story – a true story from the Bible – about keeping a promise. For two years after David became king, civil war had raged between his supporters and those of the previous king, Saul. David’s supporters had been victorious in the end, and David was anointed king over the 12 tribes of Israel. David was now wondering if anyone from Saul’s family was left alive.
David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
Although Saul had made himself David’s sworn enemy, Saul’s son Jonathan had been a life-long friend of David. Many years earlier, David had promised that he would never stop showing kindness to Jonathan’s family. Now David remembers his promise, and makes up his mind to keep it.
Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They called him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
“Your servant,” he replied.
The king asked, “Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.”
“Where is he?” the king asked.
Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.
When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
Here is a young man man with two problems: first, he is crippled in both feet, and so he has to rely on others to help him. Second, he has been in hiding from David, fearing, probably, that because he was Saul’s grandson his life was in danger. No doubt he was very anxious about what might happen to him as he was brought before King David.
David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“Your servant,” he replied.
“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.”
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
Mephibosheth can hardly believe that David wants to show kindness to him. But David has not forgotten his love for Mephibosheth’s father, Jonathan; nor has he forgotten his promise to Jonathan, that he would never stop showing kindness to his family.
Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
So David ensured that Mephibosheth was well looked after. All the property that had belonged to his grandfather Saul was given back to him, and he was given Saul’s servants to manage the estate for him. What is more, he was given a place of honour at David’s table.
Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table, and he was crippled in both feet.
The Bible describes David as a man who ‘served God’s purpose in his own generation.’ What can we do to serve God’s purpose in our generation?
First, we can follow David, and be promise keepers, just as he did. No-body was there to remind David of the promise he had made long ago – Jonathan, the person he made the promise to, was dead. No-body forced David to keep his promise. He was the king – he could do what he liked. But because he was a man of his word, and because he honoured God, he kept his promise.
In a world of broken promises God wants people like David today – people who do what is right whether other people see it or not; people who are true to their word; people who can be trusted in things both great and small; people who keep their promises.
Second, we can follow David’s God, and trust in his promises. The pages of Scripture are littered with the promises of God to his people: I will bless, I will not fail you, I will heal you, I will guide you, I will instruct you, I will deliver you, I will help you, I will strengthen you, I will not forget you, I will comfort you, I will forgive you, I will restore you, I will love you, I will never fail you nor forsake you.
And Scripture informs us that all these promises find their ‘yes’ in Jesus Christ.
In a troubled world we need to know that the heart of God is kind towards us for Jesus’ sake; that God has promised good to those who love him, and his word can never be broken. Our God is bigger even than the horrific events of the past week. God’s promises are more sure than all the threats and counter-threats of the men of war. ‘Your word, O Lord, is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens.’
I read a story of a man who had to cross a wide river that was frozen over. Afraid it might be too thin, he started to crawl across on his hands and knees. Before he had got very far, another man sped past him on a sledge loaded with heavy wooden logs. How like many of us! Headed for heaven, we tremble at every step lest the divine promises break under our feet.
2 Peter 1:3f [God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.