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Strength Under Pressure

Give it time.

2 Samuel 9:9–13

And the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master’s son may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread at my table always.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.

Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king has commanded his servant, so will your servant do.”

“As for Mephibosheth,” said the king, “he shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.” Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants of Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet.

David does much more than just spare Mephibosheth’s life; David follows through on his promise to honor him. Mephibosheth may technically be some kind of rival, but David treats him like a son.

David is also incredibly generous to Ziba. Notice that this passage again refers to Ziba as Saul’s servant. This is to emphasize that David has plenty of grounds for not doing anything for Ziba.

Instead, David honors Ziba’s relationship with Saul and sets him up to manage Saul’s entire estate, which surely is huge.

Ziba and his fifteen sons and twenty servants are set.

So, in doing this, does David show weakness or strength? Arguments can be made for both.

Ultimately though, it shows strength. David was under absolutely no pressure to do any of this. Thus, it can’t be him caving in to pressure.

This is the heart of grace.

So, we encounter a curious lesson. When you’re under pressure to forgive someone or otherwise grant grace, granting it may be perceived as weakness instead of grace. In fact, it may be weakness and not grace. It’s complicated.

Granting grace is one of the most glorious, most Christian things you can do, but it only works when done from a position of strength. If you’re in that position, great. Your choices are unencumbered.

But if not, things aren’t so simple. One obvious takeaway is to try to avoid being in that situation. Failing that, don’t ignore the element of time. You not only control what you do; you control when.

Don’t misinterpret pressure as time pressure.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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