|PASS IT FORWARD
2 SAMUEL 9:1-13
Series: Kingdom & Exile - Part Six
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
September 17, 2017
This is a picture of Cecelia Chican - which was taken back in 1987.
Just a tad over 30 years ago last month - 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. At the time Flight 255 was the second deadliest aviation accident in the US and remains the deadliest sole-survivor plane crash in US history. The one solitary survivor was Cecelia Chican who at the time was 4 years old.
John Theide - the firefighter who rescued her - said that he heard a faint cry - looked to his right and saw an arm, kind of bent, coming out of a chair.
At first - when they found Cecelia - they couldn’t believe that she’d been on the plane. They thought she’d been on the ground - maybe in a car. But, she was identified by her grandfather and her name was on the passenger list.
This is a recent picture of Cecelia. She is now in her 30’s - married - and flies quite often. John Theide - the firefighter that rescued her actually attended her wedding. Pretty chill.
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 is an amazing act of sacrificial love. Yes? What is an inspiring act of 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.
Today we are looking at David - 2 Samuel 9 - and outrageous love - what is undeserved and inspiring - challenging - for us.
2 Samuel 9 - verse 1: And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose 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.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”
What we’re seeing here is David’s Heart.
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. What motivated David to think about building a Temple for God.
Last Sunday we saw God make astounding promises to David about how God was going to work through David - through David’s line - Solomon building the Temple - promises that ultimately point to Jesus our Savior.
Someplace in all of David’s reflection apparently David thought specifically about his friend Jonathan and Jonathan’s father Saul - the impact they’d had in his life - where God was in all of that. Someplace in there David begins to think about a promise that he’d made both to Jonathan and to Saul.
Which is the account of Jonathan heading out to the field with his servant - shooting arrows - sending his servant farther and farther out to get the arrows - sending secret signals to David about what his father - Saul - intended to do to David - mainly killing him.
Just before all that arrow shooting - in 1 Samuel 20 - starting at verse 13 - Jonathan says to David: But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as He has been with my father.
“If I don’t warn you that my father is trying to kill you may God strike me dead as well.” Which is why all the arrow shooting happened. Jonathan warning David.
Jonathan goes on - verse 14: If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die;
Who’s steadfast love? The Lord’s. “David, show me the kind of steadfast love that God has shown His people.”
Verse 15: and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, 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 became the new king he exterminated the family of the old king - even if it was his own siblings. 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 - God has chosen you to be the next king. I get that. May God’s will be done. When you get to be king will you show my family steadfast love? 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 would question - which is perfectly acceptable by man’s way of doing things - instead will you do what is totally undeserved - promise me you’ll show steadfast love to my family so that my family line will go on?”
Verse 16: And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord take vengeance on David's enemies.” And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul. (1 Samuel 20:13-17)
A covenant is a solemn binding agreement. Jonathan - who should have sided with his father to eliminate David who’s his competition for the throne - Jonathan - before God - covenants with David against David’s enemies - even his father Saul.
And David, before God - binds himself to the promise of caring for Jonathan’s family as he would care for his own family - with the same steadfast love David would show his own children.
The promise David made to Saul is recorded in 1 Samuel 24.
Saul is relieving himself in a cave. David was deeper in the cave and could have very easily taken out Saul. But he doesn’t. And later lets Saul know that he didn’t. Remember this?
1 Samuel 24 - starting at verse 20 - Saul says to David: “I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.”
“God’s gonna make you king. But, promise me you won’t follow custom and exterminate my family.”
Verse 22: “And David swore this to Saul.” (1 Samuel 24:20-22)
It’s the same promise David made to Jonathan. In 2 Samuel 9 David is thinking about that promise.
In verse 1 - the word “kindness.” “That I may show him kindness…” Is the same word in Hebrew as what Jonathan asked David to swear to - that David affirmed in his promise to Saul - “steadfast love” or some versions translate it “lovingkindness” or “unfailing kindness.”
The Hebrew word is “khesed.” Sadly the English really isn’t able to do justice to the depth of what David is promising to do.
“Khesed” 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? It’s simply because God chooses to establish His covenant relationship with them.
“Khesed” 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.
“Khesed” 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 - towards us.
“Khesed” is the Hebrew word that describes the outrageous unfailing relentless love of God Who is working through history - in and through the lives of real people in real time - to redeem us as His people. The kind of love that moves a mother to surround her child with her own body - even in death - never letting go.
In verse 1 - David asks, “Is there still anyone left?” Notice - not “Is there anyone deserving?” “Is there anyone qualified?” Simply, “Is there anyone still left that I can show undeserved love to?”
We’re starting to see the heart of David. David’s desire to fulfill his promise to Jonathan - who loved him as a brother - and Saul - who treated him as an enemy. David’s desire to show “kindness” - “khehsed” love - that goes counter-culture - that is undeserved and simply outrageous - not based on qualification.
The answer to the question, “Is there still anyone?” is “Yes there is.”
The answer comes from Ziba - who was a former servant of Saul.
Ultimately what we know from Scripture is that Ziba is a self-serving slimeball who is always looking out for Ziba rather than showing any “khesed” love towards anyone. It’s possible that when Saul was killed Ziba may have “acquired” some of Saul’s possessions by some not so legitimate means.
So Ziba’s response “I’m your servant” and Ziba’s making sure that David knows that Jonathan’s son is crippled is about self-preservation. Ziba protecting Ziba from what may happen if David shows kindness to Jonathan’s son.
“Jonathan’s son should be dead. People expect you to have him killed. He’s crippled. He comes with all kinds of issues. David, think about your image as king. Your court and the kind of people that you want to have seen at your court. David - he’s a liability. No one will blame you for not showing kindness to the son of Jonathan.”
Verse 4: The king said to him, “Where is he?”
Isn’t that a great response? Not “How badly crippled is he?” Or, “How did he get that way?”
“Khesed” love isn’t picky. It certainly isn’t PC. It doesn’t look for things that deserve love. It operates apart from the response or ability of the individual.
God - because He is “khesed” love - God chose David - an undeserving shepherd boy - to be king - to use to establish a dynasty that leads to the Savior of mankind. Which is David - heart in sync with God’s heart - David the famous king stooping down and reaching out to someone who represents everything David is not.
It’s a simple question that demonstrates David’s heart attitude: “Where is he?”
Jonathan’s son is where? Verse 4: “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at 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 gives us the back story:
“Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan - their death - came from Jezreel - which was where the battle was where they were killed - and his nurse took him up and fled - because custom had it that he was probably in line to get exterminated - and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.”
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 Mephibosheth 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.”
Probably he’s thinking to himself, “I am so dead.”
Verse 5 brings us to David’s Actions.
David’s attitude was what? “Where is he?” In sync with God’s heart undeserved kindness. 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, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
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.
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?”
What 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 Mephibosheth. You heard it right. I’m going to show kindness - grace - undeserved favor - to you.” David restores all the land that should have been his. 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.
Mephibosheth - prostrate - asks, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” Ever get knocked off your feet by something God does?
We need to be reminded of how Mephibosheth’s question sounds so much like David’s question from last Sunday. When David came face-to-face with God’s undeserved loving kindness towards David and his family - all of what God had done for David and was promising to do.
2 Samuel 7:18 - David asking: “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”
David - thinking about what God has done in his life - undeserved - heart in sync with God - David is passing that kindness on to Mephibosheth.
Verse 9: Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.
With one royal edict all of Mephibosheth’s needs are taken care of. David even throws in the self-serving slimeball Ziba and his 15 sons and 20 servants to make sure it happens.
Verse 11: Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.
Picture the scene. Dinner in the palace. The royal dinning room with all the trappings of opulence.
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. Family.
And the guests: perhaps Joab - the general. And Nathan - the prophet and historian - David’s counselor.
King David seated at the head of this assemblage of the upper echelon of the kingdom. 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.
Verses 12 and 13 summarize what David did - making sure we don’t miss what’s been done.
Verse 12 tells us that Mephibosheth had a young son who’s name was Mica. Point being that David’s fulfillment of his promise extends to Mephibosheth’s posterity - future generations of Saul’s line.
Verse 12 reminds us that Ziba’s household became Mephibosheth’s servants. David restoring what rightfully would have been Mephibosheth’s plus guaranteeing him and income.
Verse 13 reminds us that Mephibosheth is no longer living in the backwater of Lo-debar - but in Jerusalem - eating at the king’s table - he’s part of the royal family. And - Mephibosheth is lame in both his feet.
Meaning so what! Khehsed love is given because we deserve it but because God is gracious to us - pouring out His love on us - outrageously - relentlessly - simply because He chooses to do so.
What Paul writes in Ephesians 2:4-6 parallels what we’re seeing here between God and David and Mephibosheth and us. How God has demonstrated His love towards us in Jesus.
Paul writes: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us - because God is Himself the source and definition of love - lovingkindness - undeserved steadfast love - “khesed” - even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace - God’s undeserved - unearnable love - you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
We’re dead in our trespasses.
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 with no expectation of life.
What hope does Mephibosheth have? The grandson of Saul - the former king. Mephibosheth is hiding out in Lo-debar - in fear - trying to hang on to his life. Knowing there’s a death sentence hanging over him.
Because of Adam’s sin each of us is born spiritually dead. We’re born totally and hopelessly separated from God facing eternal punishment - eternal death - with no expectation for anything else.
We can try to run from that. We’re just stubborn and prideful enough to think that somehow we can do life on our own terms. In our self-focused - self-sufficient - little worlds we sometimes think that we have what it takes - some modicum of control over our lives. That we can do God and a relationship with Him on our own terms.
But like Mephibosheth we’re crippled. Crippled by our sin.
We can walk around like zombies - deluding ourselves into thinking we’re alive - but we’re dead. Damaged goods.
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.
Have you noticed that
every reset in Scripture ends up with us in the same
place of sin, failure, and brokenness - undeserving of
God is a realist. God is honest. We’re dead in sin. By ourselves there is no hope.
But God made us alive together with Christ.
Mephibosheth 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 Mephibosheth - God seeks after us.
Some here were living in in pure crud - addictions - emptiness - despair - some pretty harsh stuff. Some of us have been really good at running from God. Even knowing about God is no insulation from all that. Wherever we’ve been - in whatever sins were 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 to believe or for what to believe if it wasn’t for God.
Our being here is because the Sovereign Holy Creator of everything God - being rich in mercy - because of His great love with which He has chosen to love us - God being purposeful and unrelenting in His working in and through the lives of real people throughout history - God by His grace - His choosing to undeservedly favor us - God has 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 - God the Holy Spirit enters into us - makes us to be spiritually alive towards God. So that as we go through life - God who dwells within us - God desires to enable and empower and guide and gift and bless us with everything we need to live life now and forever with God.
Mephibosheth gets to live in Jerusalem.
The Holy Spirit within encourages us that, we’re not dead and our destination is not death but life.
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 death and decay of this world - raises us up to a whole new life where we don’t need to be bound by - or guilted by - or return to any of whatever is back there.
And God has seated us with Him.
Mephibosheth gets to sit at the kings table. He is raised 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 God’s Kingdom a place of authority - of power - of privilege.
Here in Ephesians 2 - Paul reminds us that we’re dead - lost - disobedient - separated from God. If it wasn’t for God seeking after us we’d be toast forever. Every ability. Our identity. Our hope. Life itself. Everything that’s worth having and that God has blessed us with comes from God. It’s His initiative. His grace. His kindness. His love poured out.
That’s huge. When we find ourselves feeling crippled - or like we’re damaged goods - or like we’re living in Lo-debar - or rejected - or fearful - when Satan is doing a number on us with doubt and guilt and whatever crud he’d like us think about yourself - remember God loves you - “khesed.”
One takeaway for us - which is Pass It Forward.
“I’d like to open and account.” “Who Cares.” Interest Free Checking
In the places where we do life people are pretty focused on themselves and people are hurting. Sometimes even in the church.
Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Jesus told us the second most important command is: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He tied loving others into loving God with all we are. (Mark 12:30,31)
Jesus expanded the circle: “Love your enemies - pray for them - do good to those who hate you.” (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27)
John put it this way: “If God has so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11)
Genesis to Revelation - our showing love and mercy and grace and forgiveness and compassion and on and on and on passing it forward… “it” is all because we get “it” - we get how undeservedly God has been merciful - gracious - forgiving - compassionate - and on and on and on - how undeservedly God has been kind - “khesed” loved us.
Thinking that through, who do you know who’s feeling like damaged goods - or rejected or fearful or hopeless - like they’re living in Lo-debar - alone and hiding out? This week, who do you know who needs you to pass “it” forward to them?
1. Karl Menninger, Martin Mayman, and Paul Pruyser, The Vital Balance
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.