One of the things that makes it difficult to make sense of the Bible from a big picture perspective is that sometimes you have to fill in the blanks. By filling in the blanks, I don’t mean that you have to make stuff up, I mean that you have to connect the dots and let the story itself tell you what makes sense and what doesn’t.
“And David said, Is that yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathon’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1). David and Jonathon made a covenant to protect each others blood lines so that both of their descendants would see the Messiah and enter into his eternal kingdom (1 Samuel 20:15). When David discovered that one of Jonathon’s sons, Mephibosheth was still alive, “David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew you kindness for Jonathon thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually” (2 Samuel 9:7).
I believe what David meant by eating bread at his table was the celebration of Passover. I think David was trying to convey the message that he would keep the relationship between their households going until the arrival of the Messiah. When you look ahead to the arrival of the Messiah, there appears to be a blank regarding David’s promise to preserve Jonathon’s blood line unless you make a connection with Saul of Tarsus.
I don’t think it is coincidence that Saul of Tarsus shared his name with the first king of Israel. Saul of Tarsus was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, as was king Saul, and he had an impressive reputation with the religious leaders of his day. Paul, as he later became known, was a humble man that avoided boasting about his past, but he once admitted he was “circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5).
Paul’s reference to being of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and a Hebrew of Hebrews could have been an attempt to link himself to the covenant between David and Jonathon. Paul was a very religious man prior to becoming a follower of Christ. Although it is not known why he was so passionate about persecuting the church (Philippians 3:6), Paul was the primary reason the gospel spread so quickly in the first century. His testimony was a integral part of the establishment of the church after his conversion, so there seems to be a key role that Paul will fulfill in the Messiah’s kingdom even if he wasn’t Jonathon’s ancestor.