The drama in David’s life continues when his son Absalom decides to overthrow him. (Perhaps some counseling in conflict resolution might have prevented this mess). At any rate, David and his followers are headin’ out of town to escape Absalom and his henchmen. It was an emotional time – 2 Samuel 15:30 says the king and his followers have covered their heads and bared their feet to signify mourning, and they’re weeping as they climb the Mount of Olives. They reach the summit, physically exhausted and emotionally spent. And in the darkness of that moment comes a kiss from heaven…
“David was just past the top of the hill when Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, caught up with him. He was leading two donkeys loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred clusters of raisins, one hundred bunches of summer fruit, and a skin of wine. ‘What are these for?’ the king asked Ziba. And Ziba replied, ‘The donkeys are for your people to ride on, and the bread and summer fruit are for the young men to eat. The wine is to be taken with you into the wilderness for those who become faint'” (2 Sam. 16:1,2).
Ziba – what a model of encouragement! He’s obviously tuned in to people’s needs and how to meet them in practical ways. The donkeys are for those who grow too tired to walk. The bread and summer fruit are for the young men, probably because they need strength for battle. The wine is to revive those who grow faint in the wilderness. And the raisins…well, those seem to be up for grabs. His thoughtful gesture likely brings huge encouragement to David and his followers, a reminder that they haven’t been forgotten. Someone cares about them in the midst of their despair.
As believers, we’re called to follow Ziba’s example. We’re surrounded by situations that provide opportunities to practice encouragement. Here are a few examples:
- A neighbor, friend, or family member loses his job and financial resources run tight. We can help by buying groceries or gas.
- Someone we know loses a loved one. We can encourage through practical acts of kindness such as a simple phone call to express condolences, providing housecleaning, supplying food, sending a card.
- Someone we know has to move and needs help packing. We can encourage by providing that help.
The list of needs is endless…
- A single mom needs help with yard work or with fixing her car.
- A senior sits alone in the nursing home, staring out the window day after day.
- Someone from your church family is hospitalized.
- A woman would love to attend her church’s ladies’ retreat and would greatly benefit from it, but she simply can’t afford it.
No matter where we live or what our lot in life is, we can be encouragers. Let’s ask God to open our eyes to the needs of those around us and to give us willing hearts to bless them in practical ways as Ziba did with David and his followers.