Sunday, July 9, 2023

David cares for Mephibosheth the Son of Jonathan

Have you ever lost a dear friend, and then thought back to the fond memories you had of them over the years? You think back to the good times. The times you spent fishing, the family get togethers, the times out on the town, and you miss them. And you think to yourself, how could I do something special for that person today? Many of us have lost friends over the years.

King David also lost a dear friend many years ago. His name was Jonathan, he was one of the sons of his adversary Saul. And in 2nd Samuel 9 we see David thinking about Jonathan, and all he meant to him.

In 2nd Samuel 8, King David had gone on a sweeping military campaign in which he conquered and subdued five enemy nations that surround Israel, to the point that these nations are for the time being no longer a threat to Israel at all.

In fact it had been a rather brutal campaign, in which enemies were crushed and nations toppled.

But now the energy of those battles dies down, things go quiet in the kingdom for a moment, and David begins thinking about Jonathan his old friend.

I remember I had a friend a long time ago that I loved very dearly. His name was Greg. We used to talk all the time on AOL instant messenger. This was back in the glory days of the internet. His username was TheSecession, and my username was Revolutioninabox.

Today he actually makes electronic music for movie trailers in California. And I’m a pastor in Michigan.

We would hang out a great deal when we were in our twenties. I think he was just using me for my car, but I still cared about him a great deal. We used to make music together. We would go on adventure around town. We’d look for beauty around the city and find those places and sit and talk and enjoy nature.

But over the years we lost touch and moved on and you wonder what ever happened to that person anyway.

But David had lost Jonathan, he had died.

In 2 Samuel 9:1 it says, “David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?””

Point number one today is, find ways to show kindness to people around you.

Most people struggle through life. They live lives of quiet desperation. They live lives of fear. So find ways to show kindness to people around you. Just like David, who looks for opportunity to show kindness to one of Jonathan’s descendants.

Someone who worked for Jonathan in the past is still around in David’s court. So they find him.

It says in verses 2-3: Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

“At your service,” he replied.

3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

Point number two, notice what David says in verse 3, notice that David says he wants to show “God’s kindness.” Because it’s not really just David who is showing kindness here. It’s more deeply, God who is using David to show kindness to this person.

God will use you from time to time to show kindness to someone who is having a bad day. Be sure to be open to what God is doing. Slow down your day and realize someone might need your encouragement in the room you’re standing in.

In verses 3-5: Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

4 “Where is he?” the king asked.

Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.”

The name of this son of Jonathan was Mephibosheth. Add that one to your baby name list.

But in any case he was briefly mentioned in 2nd Samuel 4:4 “(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)”

Mephibosheth had bad feet ever since this incident when he was five years. He’s been sort of an outcast in hiding. The nurse wanted to protect him from David after Saul and Jonathan had died in battle, but instead she dropped him and caused this disability.

For years now Mephibosheth has been cared for in a small town far north of Jerusalem in the city of Lo Debar.

Now King David calls for him and brings him into the center of the kingdom, Jerusalem, the capital, in the courtroom of the king himself.

Mephibosheth is brought into the king’s courtroom and bows down. It says in verse 6-7:

6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

Point number three, I think we get a picture of Christ-like love in this portion of scripture.

We get a picture of the gospel right here.

We each as human beings were born as part of the line of Adam, the first man, who rebelled against his maker when he was deceived by the serpent. And so we all have been born as rebels against God.

Similarly, Mephibosheth is part of a house, a family that was an enemy of the true king, king David and his family.

Yet Mephibosheth is brought into the king’s court and invited to sit at the king’s table.

Similarly each of us, when we received Jesus Christ as our savior, we were brought back into the family of God, though we were enemies, and our sins were forgiven, and we were invited to sit at the king Jesus’s table with him, and we even received an inheritance in the new kingdom to come, the New Jerusalem. Similarly, Mephibosheth receives all the land that used to belong to his descendant Saul.

Think of yourself as Mephibosheth. Broken. Disabled. In hiding. Part of a defeated family. Left alone with little. But, David invites him in, to sit at his table and eat with him, and to be cared for by him. Similarly, that is what God does through Christ Jesus our savior.

Our sins deserved punishment. I mean serious punishment. Sin is the scrouge of our planet. It destroys everything.

It reminds me of an episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. There were multiple star trek series, next generation, voyager, but Deep Space Nine was pretty raw and intense.

There was this powerful empire called the Dominion in deep space nine. And I recall an episode where one of the soldiers of the dominion had done something bad, started a fight with someone again, and he goes to his boss soldier and says, “I disobeyed you, I deserve punishment.” And His boss says, “and you shall have it” and he kills him right there.

Many of us have disobeyed God so completely, in every possible way, that God would be well within his rights to take us out right now. And yet, grace.

God finds us and we know we deserve punishment. But God forgives us through Jesus Christ.

For Mephibosheth, here is how he responds to David’s welcome:

8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”

Mephibosheth is so lowly, so meek, so humble, he regards himself as nothing more than a dead dog. He saw himself as essentially already dead and lost. But David gives him a second chance at a life of meaning. A life of being in the court of the king.

Next in verses 9-11: Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.”

David also provides Mephibosheth with workers for the fields and servants to care for him. He has land, and title, and servants under him to provide for his needs and to care for his land.

Point number four, God will provide for your needs. God always does.

Then in verses 12-13: Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.”

Lastly, point number five, Mephibosheth becomes an important man, seated at the kings table, like a son of the king himself, much like God does for us to adopt us as His children, he becomes our father.

And Mephibosheth even has a son himself, and in that way he continues on the name of the house of Saul and Jonathan. Despite the fact that he was lame in both feet, his story continued. Let that be a reminder to anyone with a disability and health issue, your story isn’t over with God, it’s only just begun. He takes in the broken and cares for their needs.

That’s who our God is.

In Review, the main points today are as follows:
  1. Find ways to show compassion to the hurting
  2. God's compassion will flow through you to others
  3. The gospel is found in David's mercy to Mephibosheth
  4. God will provide for your needs (even in dire circumstances)
  5. God adopts us into his family and we call Him 'Father'