An unintended consequence of showing mercy

Our actions always have unintended consequences that we couldn’t possibly have foreseen.  King David discovered that after he showed mercy to someone whom most people would have considered his enemy.

Because King Saul failed to obey God’s commands God chose David to be his successor.  When Saul learned of this he tried to kill David but Saul’s son Jonathan supported David because he recognized that he had been chosen by God.  David promised Jonathan that when he became king he would repay him for the kindness he had shown.

Both Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle with the Philistines and as a result David became king of Israel.  A king who started a new dynasty would often kill all the relatives of the previous king because they were potential threats to his rule.  The Israelites probably thought that David would  follow this practice but instead he looked for a way to keep his promise to Jonathan.

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.”

The king said to him, “Where is he?”

And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”
2 Samuel 9:1-4

It is likely that Machir thought he was risking his life by providing a place of refuge for Mephibosheth.  The fact that he was willing to do this shows a high degree of loyalty to Saul and he probably considered David a usurper who had no right to rule Israel.

When David learned where Mephibosheth was he had him brought to Jerusalem.

Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!”

And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.”

And David 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.”
2 Samuel 9:5-7

David kept his promise to Jonathan and his decision to do so had an effect on what would happen to him in the future.

David’s son Absalom rebelled and David was forced to flee from Jerusalem.  At least one of Saul’s supporters was happy to see this happen.

When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.

And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”
2 Samuel 16:5-8

Since Machir had been loyal to Saul it would seem likely that he would feel the same way Shimei did, but that turned out not to be the case.

When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”
2 Samuel 17:27-29

Machir had gone from being an enemy of David to someone who was willing to help him even when it was dangerous to do so.  The obvious reason for this was David’s treatment of Mephibosheth.  David’s loyalty to one friend resulted in his making a new friend who was able to help him in a time of need.

We can’t foresee every result that our actions will have but God can.  If we are careful to obey him we can be sure the the final outcome of what we do will be good and may even help us in ways we could never have foreseen.

Posted on September 14, 2012, in practical lessons and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on An unintended consequence of showing mercy.

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