Hello there! Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I want to start by sharing what my hope is for you by the end of this article—I hope you love Jesus more. I hope you see God more clearly through this passage as I did when I sat down to write about the life of David in 2 Samuel 9. As I read and studied this text, my heart began to feel increasingly warm as I saw how beautifully this story points us to Jesus. In fact, this is precisely what we should feel anytime we look at passages in the Old Testament that point us to Jesus.
In Luke 24:13-35, we see that after Jesus’ resurrection, He begins to walk alongside two of His disciples on a long road. While they walk, Jesus teaches them what the Old Testament is about, “and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27 ESV).
In 2 Samuel 9, we see King David at the peak of his reign. His kingdom is established, Israel is prospering, and instead of enjoying life for himself, David blesses Mephibosheth—the crippled son of his deceased best friend Johnathan and the grandson of Saul, Israel’s previous king who relentlessly tried to kill David. It is a beautiful story where we see a famous, rich, and powerful king comfort and bless a lowly and disabled father. It is the kind of story we would love to see happen in the news today.
But if we leave 2 Samuel 9 only with the idea of how great of a person and King David was we will miss that the point of the passage is to point us to Jesus—the true and better king.
Take a couple of minutes to read 2 Samuel 9. Below are some key observations about King David and how they point to an even better version of Jesus Christ.
The Context of Blessing
The first thing to notice about David’s blessing of Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9 is the context in David’s reign that it occurs. In 2 Samuel 7, God makes His covenant with David, which signifies God’s commitment to David and his reign over Israel. And then in 2 Samuel 8, we see a sweeping summary of David’s military accomplishments.
The context leading up to 2 Samuel 9 teaches us two things.
1. God’s better story includes the lives of specific people.
Chapter eight is only an 18-verse summary so it may be easy for us to think that the timing of events happened quickly. However, in reality many years have passed. In 2 Samuel 4:4, we learn that Mephibosheth was only five years old when his father Johnathan was killed. And now in 2 Samuel 9:12, we see that he has grown up and even has a son of his own.
We should not overlook the significance of the difference between the sweeping summary of chapter eight and the detailed narrative of chapter nine. Both the human author (presumably David) and the divine author (the Holy Spirit) could have spent pages recording David’s military triumphs as he established his reign over Israel. But they don’t. Instead, they intentionally wrote a short summarizing chapter in order to set the stage for a detailed story of the blessing of a dishonored and disabled man.
I love this! It shows us that God, good kings like David, and an even better King Jesus (who is also God) care deeply about the stories of the individual lives they impact. God is concerned about the lives of His people more than just their mighty accomplishments. This truth leads to the second way the difference between chapter eight and nine—it allows us to see how much better of a king Jesus is.
2. The context helps us see Jesus in the story.
In order for David to bless individual people, he must first establish his kingdom. David cannot faithfully fulfill his promises as the king of Israel if there is not a kingdom to reign over. This is why chapter eight serves as a bridge between the covenant made in chapter seven and the beautiful story we see here in chapter nine. What this shows us is that, even though David eventually got around to blessing Johnathan’s family through Mephibosheth, it took a long time to establish the kingdom needed in order to do it.
Now look at Jesus Christ—the better King of blessing.
Whereas David’s blessing came after the kingdom, Jesus Christ’s came with it. Jesus blessed, healed, and cared for individual people while He pursued His kingdom. The kingdom of God and blessing God’s people were not sequential events in Jesus’ reign—they happened simultaneously without delay. We see this clearly in the opening moments of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospel of Matthew: “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17 ESV) and “he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matthew 4:23 ESV).
David needs a kingdom to be recognized before he could bless the people. But Jesus comes right on the scene as the objective King of the universe, even though nobody recognizes Him as that, and begins to faithfully bless individual people in need. David established his kingdom in order to bless broken people. But Jesus established and is still establishing His kingdom by blessing broken people.
The Recipient of Blessing
The second powerful comparison between David and Jesus is seen in Mephibosheth—the recipient of blessing. Notice how the story in 2 Samuel 9 begins with David as the initiator of the situation. Mephibosheth did not ask for anything, nor do we have any indication that he was expecting anything from David. He was summoned by David, to the throne of the king, and simply received David’s blessing.
Amazingly, David does not withhold the blessing on account of Mephibosheth’s disability. David does not seem to care that he is crippled. Furthermore, the fact that David comforts him by telling him not to fear means that Mephibosheth came to David in fear. Since his grandfather Saul actively tried to kill David, Mephibosheth most likely thought that he was David's enemy. And as a crippled man, he had no way to defend himself from whatever was going to happen.
But instead of punishing him, David blesses Mephibosheth’s household and gives him a royal seat at his dining table. This is such a beautiful and dignifying recognition of humanity. Yes Mephibosheth is disabled, but that in no way prevents him from receiving his king’s kind blessing—he now has a seat.
Now look at Jesus Christ—the better King of blessing.
Whereas David had to specifically summon Mephibosheth, anyone can come to Jesus Christ with confidence and receive His blessing. Prostitutes, lepers, tax-collectors, the sick, the disabled, the rich, the poor, the grieving, and the religious could all come to Him just as they are. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 ESV).
Whereas Mephibosheth’s disabilities meant he had to be carried to David’s throne in order to receive blessing, Jesus Christ left His throne and brought the blessings of His kingdom to us. Furthermore, right now, Jesus is seated back on His throne and is still blessing His people daily and granting us access to Him anytime we want to or need to!
Whereas David couldn’t heal Mephibosheth but only comfort and bless him with the resources of the kingdom, Jesus Christ comforts us, gives us the entire kingdom itself, and will completely heal us.
“‘Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’” (Luke 12:32 ESV)
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Revelation 21:4–5 ESV)
Whereas David invited Mephibosheth to eat at his table “like a son” (verse 11) for all the days of his life, Jesus Christ provides daily bread to His people right now and invites each of them to eat at His table as actual sons and daughters of God for all of eternity.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God …” (John 1:12 ESV)
“And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:29 ESV)
Jesus Christ—The Better King of Blessing
All of the Old Testament points us to Jesus. Picking back up on the story of the disciples who walked with Jesus, notice what happens to the disciples when they learn this. “They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’” (Luke 24:32 ESV). This was my experience as the Spirit opened this Scripture to me and I want the same for you. Our response is simply to worship God for how big, beautiful, powerful, creative, and kind He is as the better King of blessing in each of our own stories.