I wonder how many promises I have made which I have never fulfilled, and long forgotten. Plenty, I’m sure.
Some time after David became king of Israel, he remembered a promise he had made years earlier. The promise had been made in private to someone who had long since died. He could easily have set the memory aside. But he didn’t. Also, to keep this promise was likely to cost David a vast amount and could significantly benefit his political enemies. Nonetheless, he went out of his way to fulfil the obligation he had made.
The promise had been made to Jonathan, son of the then king of Israel. David had become locked in a deadly rivalry with Jonathan’s father as it became clear that David, not Jonathan, would be the next king of Israel. Facing the prospect of his own death in that process, Jonathan asked David to care for his family. David promised that he would.
However, when Jonathan and his father, Saul, died in battle, David’s political supporters were quick to assassinate all King Saul’s immediate heirs. The family was wiped out and the new king, David, took over all their land and property.
Some 15 years later, David remembered his promise to Jonathan. He could easily have dismissed the memory. Instead he searched for any remaining relative of Saul and Jonathan to whom he could show kindness for Jonathan’s sake. He discovered a crippled grandson of the former king, who had been rescued from the slaughter by his nurse, though permanently injured in the process.
David met the disabled young man and restored to him all the land and property that had belonged to King Saul. David kept his promise, not to an acceptable minimum, but to the maximum. That is the kind of man David was.
St Paul described David as a man after God’s heart. David was honourable, generous and forgiving. That’s what God is like.