David and Mephibosheth 2 Samuel 9:1-13

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

This lovely story of David and Mephibosheth was much loved and often preached on by ministers of a century ago. They often looked at the Old Testament through the eyes of the New Testament. They loved to find ways in which the Old Testament foreshadows the New Testament. They called it the principle of Typology. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is One and the same as the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses and David. So they saw patterns (which they called “types”) in Old Testament events and characters which are fulfilled in New Testament events and characters (which they called the “anti-types”).

So preachers a century ago told their congregations that David is a “type” for Christ. And in this story David’s grace to Mephibosheth gives us a wonderful picture of God’s grace to us. David represents Christ and we are Mephibosheth.

• We are hiding, poor, weak, lame, and fearful before our King comes to us
• We are separated from our King because of our wicked ancestors
• We are separated from our King because of our deliberate actions
• We separated ourselves from the King because we didn’t know him or His love for us
• Our King sought us out before we sought Him
• The King’s kindness is extended to us for the sake of another
• The King’s kindness is based on covenant
• We must receive the King’s kindness in humility
• The King returns to us what we lost in hiding from Him
• The King returns to us more than what we lost in hiding from Him
• We have the privilege of dining at the King’s table
• We are received as sons at the King’s table, with access to the King and fellowship with Him
• We receive servants from the King
• The King’s honor does not immediately take away all our weakness and lameness, but it gives us a favor and standing that overcomes its sting and changes the way we think about ourselves

David represents Christ and we are Mephibosheth. Many preachers will preach it! This is all very well. If that is a blessing to you, great! But if that is what it is all about what does this passage really have to say to us? I prefer those preachers who tried to make the passage practical relevant and practical to their hearers. Those few preachers who saw that David’s grace to Mephibosheth is much more a pattern for us in serving and ministering to others. For me in this story, David gives us an example to follow - we are meant to be like David!

TWO REASONS WHY DAVID LOVED MEPHIBOSHETH
FRIENDSHIP

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

David remembered his friendship with Jonathan. We thought before the summer about David and Jonathan and friendship. We thought about the importance of true friendships and caring for our friends, about hospitality and about sharing our faith with our friends. Here we see that true friendship will be forgiving, will be generous, will reach out and bless not only our friends but their families and their friends too.

Jonathan sent David a message which saved his life. David owed Jonathan a debt of friendship and he wanted to repay it. There is an example for us here not to take our friends for granted, but to reach out in love to them even across the generations. Here was Jonathan’s last surviving son Mephibosheth. To honour and remember his dearest friend Jonathan, David could show kindness to his son.

“A faithful friend is an image of God.” Christians should be known as people who know how to be good friends!

PROMISES

David kept his promise to Saul. We looked before the summer at the occasion when David spared Saul’s life when he could have murdered him in a cave.

1 Samuel 24:18 You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD gave me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.
21 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.” 22 So David gave his oath to Saul.

David had given Saul his word. So I believe at the back of David’s wish to find Saul’s descendents, as well as his friendship with Jonathan, David was motivated by his integrity. His wish to keep his promise to Saul. As well as being good friends, Christians should be known as people who keep their promises. As people who can be relied upon to do as they say they will.

Of course we always keep our promises – you will say. But let me share with you one painful lesson from my visits to Uganda. Sometimes in our English way of speaking if somebody asks us to do something, we will put off making a decision one way or the other. “We’ll see.” We reply. “I’ll let you know.”

In Uganda that kind of talk is taken as a “yes”. Unless you say bluntly “no”, the African mindset takes anything else as a “yes.” Sometimes we are afraid to say no. Afraid of hurting somebody’s feelings. Afraid sometimes of making difficult decisions.

Christians should be known as people who keep their promises – and part of that is never to commit ourselves to something we are not certain we can do. Politicians are very good at hedging their bets – giving noncommittal answers. Jesus said, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” We Christians should be very careful always to do what we promise!

Whether David’s principle motivation was friendship for Jonathan or keeping his promise, this is still an inspiring and challenging story. There are at least
FOUR WAYS IN WHICH DAVID’S LOVE WAS REMARKABLE

1. REMARKABLE BECAUSE MEPHIBOSHETH WAS LAME

3 The king asked, “Is there no-one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
3 Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.”
13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table, and he was crippled in both feet

In those days there was great prejudice against the disabled, the impoverished, the disadvantaged, the widows and orphans and blind and lame. Just as there is in many parts of society today, against AIDS victims and refugees and single parent families as well as those of different races and colours and religions and sexual orientations.

It is striking that three times when Mephibosheth is mentioned in 2 Samuel, his disability is also mentioned. It was significant that David should help somebody who was lame. Like David, we should look out for the poor, weak, lame, and hidden, and work at ways of blessing them. Christians should be known as those who welcome and care for other people who are different from us in some way.

2. REMARKABLE because MEPHIBOSHETH WAS DAVID’S RIVAL

Mephibosheth was Saul’s grandson. He was the last survivor of Saul’s house. This means that according to the prior dynasty of Saul, Mephibosheth had the right to the throne. He was a son of the first-born son of the king Jonathan, and other potential heirs were all dead. In a political sense David could have seen Mephibosheth as a rival or a threat. Mephibosheth was clearly in hiding or David wouldn’t have had to ask if any of Jonathan’s family were still alive. I am sure Mephibosheth was terrified when he appeared before David. Was this talk of “showing kindness for Jonathan’s sake” all just a trick by David to capture him and eliminate his last rival? The fact was, this was no trick, but genuine grace.

We thought about loving our enemies when read how David spared Saul’s life. We saw how David resisted the temptations to make all his problems go away by murdering Saul, to take revenge or take a short cut to God’s blessings. And here again we see David blessing his one remaining rival instead of taking revenge on him for all the hurt Saul had brought to David. David loving his enemies yet again.

Who are your rivals? In work? In family life? Among your neighbours? In the church? In this competitive age of yuppies and guppies there is so much rivalry for success and popularity and power. The pressure is on all of us from a very early age. Time and again the Bible warns us of the dangers of envy! 10th Commandment warns us, do not covet! “A person is truly great when he is not envious of his rival’s success.”

History tells of a statue that was erected to celebrate a famous victory in the ancient Olympic games.. It so aroused the envious hatred of the rivals that one of them sneaked out at night to topple the statue. He found it so heavy he had to put quite an effort into rocking it back and forth. When he finally got it to topple it fell the wrong way and crush him to death. That is what bitterness and envy and rivalry can lead to.

Whoever your competitors or your rivals or even your enemies may be, the Bible teaches us not only that it is wrong to envy. This story reminds us that God also calls us to bless our rivals, to reach out in love towards them and to care for them!!

3. REMARKABLE BECAUSE OF EXCEPTIONAL GENEROSITY

Note how David gave Mephibosheth so much more than he could possibly have hoped for!

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.”
9 ¶ Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, 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.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

What an outstanding example of generosity! Like David, we should seek out our enemies and seek to bless them. And we should be sure to bless them much much more than they deserve, because that is how much God blesses us!

4. REMARKABLE BECAUSE DAVID TOOK THE INITIATIVE

David didn’t have to do anything for Mephibosheth. Most people had forgotten that he ever existed. David’s friends were glad that Saul and his descendents were off the scene forever. But David took the initiative.
2 Sam 9:1 ¶ David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
3 The king asked, “Is there no-one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

HERE is the heart of the story. To whom can I show GOD’S KINDNESS??

Human love doesn’t stretch to the lame and disabled and disadvantaged – God’s kindness does!
Human love doesn’t seek to bless and help our enemies and our rivals – God’s kindness does!
Human love stops at meeting the needs of others – God’s kindness goes beyond that to give much, much more than we need or deserve!
Human love helps family and friends – God’s kindness takes the initiative to reach out and seek and save even the lost and forgotten and hidden.

Here is the message of the story of David and Mephibosheth for us today. Is there anybody I could bless today? Is there anyone to whom I can show God’s kindness?

REFLECTION – Who does God want me to bless??

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