KINDNESS will ALWAYS pay off in the END: Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, "The men of Jabesh Gilead were the ones who buried Saul." So David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead, and said to them, "You are blessed of the Lord, for you have shown this kindness to your lord, to Saul, and have buried him. And now may the Lord show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing. Now therefore, let your hands be strengthened, and be valiant; for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah has anointed me king over them." (2 Sam. 2:4-7)
The second book of Samuel starts off with a strange twist of events. It was a well-known fact in Israel and in the surrounding nations that King Saul was a bitter enemy of David, and Saul was seeking to kill David for many years. So, when King Saul was killed on Mount Gilboa during the battle with the Philistines, it was naturally assumed that whoever would inform David of this ‘good’ news would be immensely rewarded.
The expectation of such a handsome reward must have spurred an unnamed Amalekite survivor to travel all the way to Ziklag with news of Saul’s death (2 Sam. 1:1–13). We should note that Mount Gilboa, where the battle had been fought, was in the north of Palestine, whereas Ziklag was about 90 miles to the south in the Negev, or southern Judah, near the boundary with Edom. He must have been naturally worn out, not only from battle with the Philistines but also from his long journey. However, his expectation for a reward was in vain for the only ‘reward’ that he received from David was a sudden death by the sword of one of his young men for having killed Saul, who was the Lord’s anointed (vv. 14-16). So much so…for the lack of kindness from this young Amalekite!
On the other hand, the brave men of Jabesh Gilead risked their lives in order to retrieve the bodies of the slain king Saul and the bodies of his sons (incl. Jonathan) in order to give them a decent burial fit for the kingly clan (1 Sam. 31:11-12). After that, these men of Jabesh Gilead took the bones of the slain king and his sons and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted for seven days in an extended state of mourning (v. 13). The reason they did this brave act of valor was to show their kindness to King Saul since Jabesh Gilead was the city that Saul saved from the Ammonites in his first military action after being anointed king (1 Sam. 11:1-13). The last thing that these men of Jabesh Gilead expected was to receive any form of commendation from David, who was an arch rival of King Saul.
However, when David became the king of Judah in Hebron, he heard from the men of Judah the acts of valor done by the men of Jabesh Gilead (2 Sam. 2:4). Instead of showing any kind of animosity, King David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead and commended their brave acts. He blessed them for showing kindness to Saul and for giving him a decent burial that was fit for a king. Further, David promised to repay them for their kindness and act on their behalf, because he was now the anointed king of the tribe of Judah. David’s compliment to Jabesh Gilead was also a request for them to accept him as their king in place of their deceased master Saul (v. 7).
David’s commendation of the men of Jabesh Gilead for their kindness to Saul accomplished three things: first, it showed he had no malice towards the now deceased king Saul, and second, it set the stage for his own bid for leadership over the land of Gilead that was located east of the Jordan River. The third and most important thing was that this incident proved that kindness would always pay off in the end!
God's word is clear when it declares: "what is desired in a man is kindness" (Prov. 19:22). We should "be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). We should be kind to people who treat us wrongly and "see that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all" (1 Thess. 5:15). We should choose to be kind rather than to argue as "a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient" (2 Tim. 2:24). To be kind takes a lot of effort, and we should try our best to be kind. "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love" (2 Peter 1:5-7).