|THE GRACIOUS HEART
2 SAMUEL 9:1-13
Series: David: Heart Matters - Part Eight
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
February 20, 2011
Please turn with me to 2 Samuel 9 and we’ll be starting at verse 1.
This is a picture of Cecelia Chican - which was taken back in 1987.
On Sunday, August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines flight 225 took off from the Detroit’s Metro Wayne County airport heading for John Wayne airport down in Orange County. Shortly after takeoff at a height of about 50 feet and a speed of 195 mph the aircraft started to roll from side to side - went into a stall - -the left wing was severed by light pole - igniting fuel stored in the wing - the right wing tore through the roof of an Avis car rental building.
The plane - out of control - crashed inverted onto a major road - hitting vehicles on the road. As the plane burst into flames it hit a railroad overpass and the overpass of eastbound I 94.
156 people were killed - including 2 people on the ground. It’s a miracle that more people on the ground weren’t killed. Flight 255 is the deadliest sole-survivor plane crash in US history. The one solitary survivor was Cecelia Chican who at the time was 4 years old.
When rescuers first found Cecelia they didn’t believe she’d been on the plane. At first they assumed that Cecelia had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway. But when the passenger register for the flight was checked - there was Cecelia’s name.
Cecelia survived because, as the plane was falling, Cecelia’s mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go.
That amazing act of sacrificial love is huge demonstration of grace in action - outrageously giving what could not be earned - what is not deserved - can never be repaid - and yet is freely given and often at great cost to the giver.
Coming to our study of David - this morning we’re going to look at David outrageously demonstrating grace.
2 Samuel 9 - verse 1: Then David said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
Verse 1 focuses on David’s Promise. Let’s say that together, “David’s promise.”
Last Sunday we saw that God had given David rest on every side from his enemies - what was an unusual interlude of peace and quietness in David’s life. During that time David - maybe feet propped up and leaning back in his barcalounger - maybe reading through a good scroll by the fire - David seems to have given time to thinking about his life - what he’s come through - the ways in which God has blessed him.
Someplace in there David thought specifically about his friend Jonathan and Jonathan’s father Saul - the impact they’d had in his life. Someplace in there David begins to think about a promise that he’d made to both Jonathan and to Saul.
That promise is recorded for us back in 1 Samuel 20. Do you remember the episode with Jonathan shooting arrows and sending his servant to look for them - sending secret signals to David - remember that?
Just before all that arrow shooting - in 1 Samuel 20 - starting at verse 13 - Jonathan says to David: “If it please my father to do you harm - if my father Saul is going to kill you - may the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also, if I do not make it known to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. And may the Lord be with you as He has been with my father.
“If I don’t warn you may God strike me dead as well.” Which is why all the arrow shooting happened. Jonathan warning David.
Jonathan goes on: If I am still alive, will you not show me the lovingkindness of the Lord, that I may not die?
Who’s lovingkindness? The Lord’s. Show me the kind of lovingkindness that God shows His people.
You shall not cut off your lovingkindness from my house forever, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”
The custom in those days was that when a new king took over - the new king exterminated all the family members of the previous dynasty. Politics can be rough sometimes. Exterminating the competition took away the possibility of a political comeback - a revolt. Secure your reign by killing off potential opposition.
What Jonathan is saying here is: “David - when you get to be king will you show my family lovingkindness? Even if I’m dead - even if all your enemies are dead - when God is giving you a time of peace - regardless of what’s customary - instead of wiping out my family - which no one question - which’s perfectly acceptable by man’s way of doing things - instead will you do what is totally undeserved - promise me you’ll show lovingkindness to my family so that my family line will go on?”
1 Samuel 20:16: So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord require it at the hands of David’s enemies.” Jonathan made David vow - promise - again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life. (1 Samuel 20:13-17)
Later on - remember when Saul was relieving himself in the cave and David spared his life? In 1 Samuel 24 - starting at verse 20 - Saul says to David - “Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand.
“I’m gonna die and God’s gonna make you king.”
So now swear to me by the Lord - promise me - that you will not cut off my descendants after me and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s household.” - when I’m dead don’t follow custom - show my family lovingkindness - David swore to Saul - promised Saul - And Saul went up to his home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. (1 Samuel 24:20-22)
Same promise. Here in 2 Samuel 9 - we see David thinking about that promise.
Something else - here in verse 1 - the word “kindness.” “That I may show him kindness…” Same word in Hebrew as what Jonathan asked for - “lovingkindness.” The English translation “kindness” doesn’t really do the Hebrew word justice. The English misses the depth of what’s being said here.
Khehsed describes the love of God that moves God to establish His covenant relationship with His people. “You shall be My people. I choose you.” Why? Because they deserve it? Because they’ve earned it? Because they’re really wonderful people. Why God’s covenant relationship with Israel? Its simply because God chooses to establish His covenant relationship with them.
Khehsed is the love of God that moves Him to redeem His people from Egypt and then to treat them with unfailing love when they wander off into sin - even when they blatantly reject Him.
“Khehsed” in the New Testament is demonstrated in Jesus - God - going to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin by taking our place in death. Khehsed love is God’s love that is undeserved - merciful - gracious.
In verse 1 - David asks, “Is there anyone?” Notice - not “Is there anyone deserving?” “Is there anyone qualified?” Simply, “Is there anyone I can show undeserved love - grace - to?”
David’s promise to Jonathan - and Saul.
“khehsed” love - kindness that goes counter-culture -
that is undeserved and simply outrageous - not based
Verses 2 to 4 focus on David’s Attitude.
Let’s say that together, “David’s attitude.”
Verse 2: Now there was a servant of the house of Saul who name was Ziba, and they called him to David; and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” The king said, “Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet.”
The answer to the question, “Is there anyone?” is “Yes there is.” The answer comes from Ziba - who was a former servant of Saul.
We really don’t know all of what Ziba is thinking here. Probably Ziba is looking out for Ziba rather than having a whole lot of “khehsed” towards Jonathan’s son. Ziba’s response, “I’m your servant” gives the impression that Ziba is thinking his own neck may be on the line here. Its possible that when Saul was killed Ziba may have “acquired” some of Saul’s possessions by some not so legitimate means. If David starts showing kindness to Jonathan’s son it may not go well with Ziba.
Somewhere - coming from that self-serving attitude - Ziba makes sure that David understands that this son is crippled in both feet.
a culture where deformity could be seen as a testimony
of sin there’s an implication here behind Ziba’s
response: “Think twice before you show kindness to
the son of Jonathan.”
“David, think about your image as king. Your court and the kind of people that you want to have seen at your court. (S4E1) These kinds of people. Perfect. Flawless. The kind of people who enhance your reputation. Think about the kind of people you want hanging around your cedar paneled palace. The kinds of people that you want associated with your family.”
“Jonathan’s son should be dead. People expect you to have him killed. He’s crippled. He comes with all kinds of issues. David - he’s a liability.”
Verse 4: So the king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.”
Isn’t that a great response? David’s question is what? Verse 5. “Where is he?” He doesn’t even ask, “How badly crippled is he?” Or, “How did he get that way?”
A Chuck Swindoll quote - Chuck Swindoll writing about this passage: “That’s the way grace is. Grace isn’t picky. Grace doesn’t look for things that have been done that deserve love. Grace operates apart from the response or ability of the individual. Grace is one-sided. ...Grace is God giving Himself in full acceptance to someone who does not deserve it and can never earn it and will never be able to repay… A strong and famous king - David - stoops down and reaches out to one who represents everything David is not.” (1)
It’s a simple question that demonstrates David’s attitude: “Where is he?”
Jonathan’s son is where? Verse 4: he’s “in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.”
“lo” in Hebrew means “no” and “debar” is from a word that means “pasture” or “pastureland.” Lo-debar literally means… “no pasture.” Which is this place located just south of the Sea of Galilee and east of the Jordan River. This is the garden spot of No Pasture. Pretty desolate.
2 Samuel 4:4 fills us in on how he got to Lo-debar.
Now Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the report of - the death of - Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel - which is where the battle was they were killed in - and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened that in her hurry to flee, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth. (2 Samuel 4:4)
News comes that King Saul is dead. Jonathan is dead. The nurse picks up the soon to be exterminated child that’s in her care and starts running. Probably she tripped - the child falls - breaks both feet - is crippled for life.
So Mephibosheth spends the rest of his life - crippled and hiding - in the resort town of Lo-debar - fearful for his life. Sad. Yes? Pretty pathetic.
We don’t know how old Mephiboseth was. Later on we find out he had a son name Mica. So he could have been married. Sadly, he could have been a widower. There’s no mention of a wife. Years have gone by.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse - they are. One day there’s a knock on the door and the last thing Mephibosheth wants to see - messengers from King David - are standing there on his welcome mat with an offer he can’t refuse. “The king wants to see you.”
Can you imagine this? One day there’s a knock and he’s staring at the faces of David’s men. Probably he’s thinking to himself, “I am so dead.”
Verses 5 to 7 focus on David’s Actions. Let’s say that together, “David’s actions.”
David’s attitude was what? “Where is he?” Total grace. David’s actions towards Mephibosheth demonstrate that attitude.
Verse 5: Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar. Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself.
Can you picture this? Mephibosheth brought before David. Mephibosheth hobbles in - drops the crutches - falls prostrate - flat on the floor - before the king - David who has every sovereign right to take Mephibosheth’s life - and his son’s life - Mica. Mephibosheth has no idea what’s coming. No expectation of anything - except death - perhaps horribly.
Verse 7: And David said, “Mephibosheth,” And he said, “Here is your servant!” David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly.”
Dr. Karl Menninger tells the story of Thomas Jefferson, riding horseback cross-country when he and his group came to a swollen river. A traveler waited until several of the party had crossed and then hailed President Jefferson and asked if he would carry him across on his horse. Jefferson pulled him up onto the back of his horse and carried him to the opposite bank. “Tell me,” asked one of the men, “why did you select the president to ask this favor of?”
“The president?” the man answered. “I didn't know he was the president. All I know is that on some of the faces is written the answer ‘no’ and on some faces is written the answer ‘yes.’ His was a ‘yes’ face.” (2)
would that have been like? Mephibosheth
hears what David say - can’t believe his ears - raises
his head from where he’s lying prostrate - and sees on
David’s face a “Yes.”
“Yes Mephiboseth. You heard it right. I’m going to show kindness - grace - to you.” David restores all the land that should have been his. And we’ll see in a second - David even throws in Ziba and his 15 sons and 20 servants.
Mephibosheth is given a place of honor - regularly eating at the David’s table. Not a table someplace in the palace. But at David’s own table. He’s family.
Look with me at verse 8. Verses 8 to 13 are Mephibosheth’s Blessing. Let’s say that together, “Mephibosheth’s blessing.” Look how David’s actions resulted in Mephibosheth being outrageously graciously blessed.
Verse 8: Again he - Mephibosheth - prostrated himself and said, “What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?” Ever get knocked off your feet by something God does. This is the prostration of someone who realizes he’s just been blessed big time.
Verse 9: Then the king called Saul’s servant Ziba and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. You and your sons and your servants shall cultivate the land for him, and you shall bring in the produce so that your master’s grandson may have food - with one royal edict all of Mephibosheth’s needs are taken care of.
nevertheless Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall eat at my table regularly.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant so your servant will do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table as one of the king’s sons.
Imagine - dinner - the royal family comes in - 18 sons take their places - Amnon - Absolom - Adonijah - Solomon. Tamar - David’s daughter by his wife Maachah. Maybe even David’s wives - maybe all 8 of them. All at their places. And the guests: perhaps Joab - the general. And Nathan - the prophet and historian - David’s counselor. David seated at the head. It’s a Barbie moment. Good looking people seated at a well laid out table.
And then clump - drag - clump - drag - clump - drag - Mephibosheth the cripple hobbles in. Smiles. Takes his seat at the table. The empty chair has been filled. Mephibosheth is as one of the king’s sons - accepted - respected - honored - restored.
Verse 12: Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica - point being that David’s fulfillment of his promise - Mephibosheth’s blessing - extends to his posterity - future generations of Saul’s line - And all who lived in the house of Ziba were servants to Mephibosheth - restoration of what rightfully would have been his plus an income - So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem - he’s no longer living in the backwater of Lo-dabar - for he ate at the king’s table regularly - he’s part of the royal family - Now he was lame in both feet - meaning so what! Grace isn’t given because we deserve it..
Ephesians 2 is one of the great passages in Scripture about God’s grace. Familiar words that parallel what we’re seeing here with David that would be good for us to be reminded of this morning. Look with me at just a few of the verses here of what Paul writes about God’s grace. Look with me at verses 4 to 6.
Ephesians 2:4: But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us - because God is Himself the source and definition of love - lovingkindness - even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace - by God’s undeserved - unearnable favor - by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Grab that: We’re dead. Say that with me, “We’re dead.”
A corpse is dead. In the real world we don’t hook up a lightening rod to the electrodes in our neck and flip a switch - things buzz and whirl - electricity flows and “Its alive.” Dead is dead. No expectation of life.
We’re dead in our sins - with no expectation of anything else.
What hope does Mephibosheth have? Like Mephibosheth we’re crippled by sin. We’re damaged goods. We walk around like zombies - seemingly alive but we live with a death sentence hanging over us - eternal death - eternal separation from God is coming.
Mephibosheth is hiding out in Lo-debar - in fear - trying to hang on to his life. Adam and Eve - when they sinned - first thing they did was hide out from God. Sin has us running from God.
Hard to admit. But we avoid God - consciously - unconsciously. We say we believe the Bible is God’s word but we struggle to find time to really read and study it. We believe in prayer but how much of our time is devoted to prayer. Worship is crucial to our relationship with God. But we treat it like an optional item on a list of things we can do. All that’s basic turning to God stuff.
We’re stubborn and prideful. Seemingly we’d rather wallow around in sin and our own self-sufficiency that accept God’s healing of our deepest needs. What have all of humanities efforts to humanize ourselves achieved?
If we could take all of humanity and transport ourselves off to some other planet - one that we hadn’t messed up yet - a beautiful pristine world - no trash - no smog - with the idea of starting over again from scratch. The sad reality is that we’d end up right back where we are now.
God is a realist. God is honest. We’re dead in sin. By ourselves there is no hope.
But grab this: God made us alive. Say that with me, “God made us alive.”
Mephiboseth had nothing - deserved nothing - could repay nothing. What do we have to offer God? Even that we exist is a gift of God. We have nothing. We deserve nothing. We can repay nothing. And yet God - like David seeking after Mephiboseth - God seeks after us.
For some of us that may be more vivid than for others. Some were living in addictions - drugs - alcohol - sex - in pure crud - emptiness - sin. And God sought you out. Some of us have been really good at running. Wherever we were in whatever sin that was crippling us - God had it in His heart to seek after us.
Our being here is not because of us. Our being here is because of God. We wouldn’t know what to believe or in Whom or for what - if God - by His grace - hadn’t sought after us.
God - at the core of who we are - the core of what makes us us - that core that was spiritually dead - at the core of who we are God - because God is loving - gracious - God has made us to be alive.
When we come to trust in Jesus as our Savior God places His Spirit within us. God Himself comes to take up residence inside us. God with us as close as the core of who we are. As we go through life with God we find that its God who desires to enable and empower and guide and gift and bless us with everything that we need to live life - now and forever with God.
God has raised us. Say that with me, “God has raised us.”
Mephiboseth gets to live in Jerusalem.
Jesus is raised from the dead. When we come to Christ as our Savior we’re joined to His resurrection. God raises us to real life. God raises us up out of the decay of this world - raises us up to a whole new life - free of all that - with no need to go back to any of that.
God has seated us. Try that with me, “God has seated us.”
Mephiboseth gets to sit at the kings table - from nothing to a place of honor. God chooses to bring us into His family.
The heavenly places aren’t some place way out there. What Paul is saying is that right here and right now we’re already part of God’s kingdom. Already - right here - right now - each of us - in Christ - has in that kingdom a place of authority - of power - of privilege.
Paul reminds us that we’re dead - lost - disobedient - separated from God. If it wasn’t for God reaching down to us we’d be toast. Every ability. Our identity. Our hope. Life itself. Everything that’s worth having and that God has blessed us with comes from God. Its His initiative. His grace. His love poured out.
That’s huge. When you find yourself feeling crippled - or like you’re damaged goods - or like your living in Lo-debar - or rejected - or fearful - when Satan is doing a number on you with doubt and guilt and whatever crud he’d like you think about yourself - remember God’s grace.
Look up. When you look at God - even though everything in you may be saying “no” - when you look at God what you’ll see His face saying “Yes.”
1. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
2. Karl Menninger, Martin Mayman, and Paul Pruyser, The Vital Balance
As a general reference for this sermon/series I have been used the book by Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny - I highly recommend this book as a tremendous study on the life of David.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.