Colossians 3:11-13 (KJV)
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Philippians 2:4 (KJV)
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
To understand kindness, one must also understand its relationship to being tenderhearted and forgiving. When applied properly, it carries great benefits and qualities that are contagious in a good way. Real kindness extends itself far beyond the one who initiates the act first. These concepts can clearly be seen in the story surrounding the relationship of three men in the Old Testament.
“The Triumph of David” by Ottavio Vannini
David, the Shepherd boy who killed Goliath and servant of Saul, first King of Israel. He was anointed by the prophet Samuel to succeed Saul as King. For this Saul plotted to kill him, and David knew it. Was David motivated to kill Saul… before he himself was killed first? He, by all likelihood, should have been. However, David acted with kindness in his dealings with Saul. When on the run for his life, David still turned to forgiveness and kindness as his choice of action.
1 Samuel 24:4-7 (KJV)
And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.
So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.
David was faced with a situation that was threatening his life. He didn’t stand to gain anything from sparing Saul’s life… other than putting his life at further risk. What reason could there have been behind his action? To better understand, lets look at the second figure in the story.
Ken Tunell – David and Jonathan
Jonathan was King Saul’s son and according to birthrights, next in line as King. As a warrior and leader, he often made tough decisions, and was accustomed to hard choices. Jonathan, however, was also David’s friend. Knowing his father’s intentions… his actions didn’t follow one of his position. Instead of siding with his father to securing his succession to as the Kingship; Jonathan assisted David.
1 Samuel 20:4 (KJV)
Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.
The bond of their friendship was unshakable. They formed a covenant between them that held up even beyond death itself. Theirs was a bond so strong that it included benefits for others besides as well.
1 Samuel 20:12-16 (KJV)
And Jonathan said unto David, O Lord God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee;
The Lord do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father.
And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not:
But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the Lord even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.
David was fully aware of the cost and burden of which Jonathan was taking on. His acts would create friction with his father. King Saul would probably view it as rebellion and dishonor. In a real sense it approaches treason. Not only was Jonathan acknowledging David’s access to the Kingship, but also treading on acts of treason. There is not much more that a person could do to illustrate what tenderheartedness looks like. Notice his language in these verses.
1 Samuel 23:16-17 (KJV)
And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.
We could debate forever David’s reasoning or state of mind. It might have been the agreement made between him and Jonathan. Perhaps he just realized that Saul had been anointed and chosen as the first King by God and to harm him was wrong. Whatever his reason, he acted with kindness. That much is a certain fact. David’s kindness was not short lived. It continued when it came to Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan.
La Vista Church of Christ – Mephibosheth Before David
Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, had been made lame at the age of five when his nurse fell and dropped him while fleeing. She, having heard the news of Saul and Jonathan’s death, was no doubt in a state of panic. The common practice was to kill the household of the fallen King, servants were no exception. This action would remedy all claims and witnesses to the throne. It also eliminated any efforts of revenge. Her panic was understandable under the circumstances. As David became King, one would think that he would follow the common protocol. It was probably expected… instead, however, David’s actions went in a totally different direction. His manner of course was totally unexpected. When Mephibosheth was brought before him, he not only spared his life but restored his lands and made him a member of his household. All this was done because of a single act of kindness, occasioned years before; and as a result of that kindness, so much more kindness became the result.
2 Samuel 9:7 (KJV)
And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.
Our God, the God we serve… is an ever merciful God. Encompassed within His nature of mercy is a quality known as kindness. It is a divine substance. Heralded as virtue; it holds a place second only in nature to love, and it is a condition that has the power to offset the deadly sin of envy. Certainly it’s easy to see why it is something worth developing, and why probably because of it, David was known as a man after God’s own heart. Many of opportunities where the choice to be kind… or not… will present itself over the course of life. I pray and hope that the virtues of kindness will not cease to resonate in your understanding. Within those moments where kindness can be employed, there exists the opportunity for a lifetime of benefit to be birthed… perhaps for generations to come.