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This sermon is offered by the CRCNA as part of our Reading Sermons series.

Scripture: 2 Samuel 9:1-13
Text: 2 Samuel 9:7

Dear People of God,

The scene pictured for us in the chapter we just read requires that we go back a bit in time and familiarize ourselves with some background information. Without this information this scene is not as clear as it can be. We need to go back for a minute to an event that happened some twenty years before. At that time David made a covenant or a pact with his close friend, prince Jonathan. You can read the full and very interesting story in 1 Samuel 20.

Jonathan was the oldest son of King Saul who was the first king of the people of Israel. Jonathan was therefore the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Israel. But something had occurred in the life of his father that would prevent Jonathan’s succession to the throne. King Saul had abused his power, disobeyed the Lord, and forfeited the privilege of having his son be his successor. The prophet Samuel had told him on behalf of the Lord that the kingdom would be taken away from him and that it would be given to someone else, a better man than he. This better man turned out to be David.

David, as you may recall, was called by King Saul to come to the court and play for him at first to sooth his troubled mind.  Later David served his king as one of his generals and distinguished himself in battle again and again. In fact, he did so well that even the people were shouting "Saul has conquered his thousands, but David has conquered his ten thousands!" This was of course not lost on Saul. And in his jealousy he soon began to suspect that David was the man who would be the better man Samuel had been talking about earlier. In a word, he suspected that David would succeed him instead of his son Jonathan. David would be the next king. And that did not sit well with Saul at all. He hated him for it and he tried very hard to have him killed in battle. But when he did not succeed in having him killed that way, he tried to kill him himself on a number of occasions. He pursued him wherever he could, but without success.

God protected His servant, David wherever he went and in whatever he did. And prince Jonathan respected and loved David. He even went so far as to divulge his father’s plans to David and warned him whenever he knew of such plans. And he did that despite the fact that somehow he knew for sure that David would take the place on his father’s throne and become the next king instead of him.

When thinking about what all of this really meant for Jonathan, we have to keep in mind that he could well lose his life if David became king.  Because in those days it was not uncommon at all for the next king to make his position secure by killing all the descendants of the previous king. In fact, even in Israel’s own history we read of a number of instances when kings practiced such family murders.

Jonathan knew that also of course, and yet he apparently trusted that David would be a different kind of a king. Instead of siding with his father and securing his own position to the throne, he accepted that David would be king and made a covenant with him. He had David promise him to show him and his family after him the unfailing kindness of the Lord, as long as they lived.

Some years after that agreement with David, both King Saul and Prince Jonathan were killed in battle and after some time David does indeed become king after Saul. He establishes himself in the following years through a string of amazing victories over his enemies. And he finally has the ark of the covenant of the Lord moved to Jerusalem in a big celebration.

Then there is apparently a bit of a lull in the affairs of the king. His thoughts seem to have drifted to his dear friend Jonathan. He recalls his loyal friendship and the pact he made with him so many years ago. What can he do to repay such loyalty and friendship?  He knows that Jonathan died in battle. He cannot do anything for him in person anymore. But what about his children or other descendants of his? Are there still any around?

So he asks one day in the hearing of his court, "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?" (2 Samuel 9:1) Perhaps they can do some inquiries about this. As his people are thinking about this, the name of a servant of Saul comes to their attention. The name of this person is Ziba a former servant of the household of King Saul. Perhaps he knows whether there are still descendants of Saul alive and where they are.

They search him out and call him to appear before the king. And the king now asks him, "Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?" Note that he is not just asking about descendants of Jonathan, but about descendants of the house of Saul. We know that he wants to show someone kindness to them for the sake of Jonathan. So he is most likely thinking in terms of descendants of Jonathan. It is apparently also in that sense that Ziba understands the king’s question. For even though David is asking about descendants of the house of Saul, Ziba only talks about a son of Jonathan.

He answers the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet." He could have also mentioned the seven sons of Saul of whom we read later on in chapter 21, but he doesn’t. Quite likely the servants of David, in contacting Ziba, had repeated the words of David to him that the king wants to show kindness to someone for the sake of Jonathan.

Although Ziba doesn’t mention the name of this son, the king must have been made aware of it. Because when Mephibosheth (Me-fi-bo-sheth) appears before him, he calls him immediately by his name. He is so excited and determined to show the kindness of God to this crippled son of his old friend Jonathan that he has him come right away before him. He gives him all the property that belonged to his grandfather Saul and family. And he orders Ziba and his sons and servants to farm the land for his master’s grandson. They have to bring in the crops and give the proceeds to Mephibosheth so that he can provide for himself.

In the meantime, with incredible generosity, David invites Mephibosheth to stay with him. He gives him a place in his house and a seat at his table among his own sons. He doesn’t just give him some money or property, but he takes him right into his family.

From Mephibosheth’s response to the king it becomes very obvious that he is rather frightened at first when he is summoned to appear before him. But now we may be sure he is dumbfounded by such unusual kindness from the king who took his grandfather’s place. This is totally unheard of!

But then, this king is not your usual king either. He is a man after God’s own heart. He is a true king, a king who is not just out for his own advantage. But he is a king who is intent on doing what God wants him to do as a king, serving on God’s behalf, and seeking the well being of his subjects. He is a king who keeps his word. A true ruler should treat his people the way God treats them, with care, kindness, compassion and justice. David shows kindness like that of God as he had covenanted with his friend Jonathan.

At first thought we may well wonder whether including a politically insignificant incident like this is really worthy of being part of the Word of God. In terms of the national scene and the highest court of the land this seems a very minor event indeed. Yet, as one commentator aptly puts it, "David showed seldom more of the true spirit of God than on this occasion."

Let’s just think about that for a while and see what is really happening here. And when we do that, let me emphasize right up front that we don’t do that at all so as to put David on a pedestal. For we know all to well from the next scenes of his life how easily and how low he could fall from such lofty heights of godly kindness and compassion.

The thing that really endears David to us in this story is that he shows such compassion and loyalty to an old friend. Even though that friend is no longer alive, and the pact between him and that friend was intimately private, he is still faithful to him and keeps his word to him. There is no one who can hold him accountable to this pact, except God of course. David does what he does because he truly loves God and Jonathan, and because he is a man of integrity. And it is this love and faithfulness that makes him remember and act this way. By this loyal and unselfish act David secures the undying gratitude and respect of Mephibosheth and many others, including us.

It’s a wonderful and a moving example of the sort of kindness and integrity that God wants us to practice as his followers. It’s the kind of thing that thrills His heart and that honors His Name.

It’s an example for all of us to follow, especially when we have been blessed with prosperity, and the children of our old friends have fallen on hard times. We demonstrate true character and kindness when we don’t forget such old friendships, and are eager to use our wealth and influence to reach out to such children and families of old friends in need. But if that were all we could learn it would only be a nice moral lesson.

This story can also remind us of something else, though. It does not only apply to those from whose friendship we may have benefited in our social life. We can expand the application and think of another parallel, when we think of the sons and daughters of the people from whom we have benefited so much spiritually. I’m thinking of the people of Israel, of course. In line with that the apostle Paul says that we need to do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Think of the spiritual blessings we have received and continue to receive from the people to which David belonged, the people of Israel. It’s that people, which gave us such great prophets as Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, to name just a few. It’s the people from whom came men like Peter, James, John, and Paul, and of course the greatest of them all, Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God and Savior of mankind. It’s the people known today as the Jews.

Perhaps we don’t think of them in these terms very often, but think of what we would have in the way of spiritual blessings if it hadn’t been for them. If we owe the children of old friends, and of those from whom we have benefited materially and socially, how much more do we not owe the children of those from whom we benefited so much spiritually!

They have given us the Bible, the record of God’s dealings with this world and its peoples from ancient times. They gave us the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Epistles and so much more! They have given us the wisdom of the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. From them we have the models of great faith and godliness, models like Abraham, Joseph, Joshua, Ruth, Deborah, David and Daniel, and many more.

We, Christians are now the privileged New Testament Israel of God, the spiritual heirs of the Old Testament Israel of God, and the people from whom our Savior was born.

But are the Jews, the racial descendants of Israel, completely out of God’s picture? "No, not at all!" says Paul. Listen to what he says in Romans 11:25 - "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved,…"

It’s now up to us to ask a variant of David’s question: "Are there still left of the house of Israel to whom we can show kindness for Jesus’ sake?" the kindness of the gospel. How true are we to our word when we gave it at the time of our covenant with God when we made profession of our faith?

David seems to have reflected on God’s goodness in his life. He may have thought of how God raised him from behind the sheep of his father to the throne of the kingdom of Israel; how God elevated him from being a shepherd of sheep to being the shepherd of His people. And he wonders how he can share something of the riches God has given him, and in what way he can now demonstrate God’s generosity.

How often do we reflect on the riches bestowed on us in Jesus Christ? And how ready and eager are we to go out of our way to share those riches with those in need?  How eager are we to do that especially those whose forefathers have given us so much, the ancient people of Israel? Think about that!

There is yet another thought that comes to mind when thinking about this seemingly insignificant incident. By this intentional act of kindness to Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, David demonstrated something of the great love of God has for us undeserving lost sinners. These lost sinners are Adam and Eve and their children. In His declaration of war against their tempter, the father of lies, Satan, God folded a promise. He said to this enemy: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:15) The promise is contained in the words "he will crush your head", referring to a Savior who is Christ the Lord. God made that promise way back in the Garden of Eden at the dawn history, centuries ago, to the first sinners and in them to people like you and me. It was the mother of all promises in which God promised to send a Savior who would destroy the works of the devil and save the children of man.

King David went out of his way to track down this wretched man, Mephibosheth. He restored his lost inheritance to him. Moreover he had him join the king’s family in the king’s court and at the king’s table. In all this David gives us but a tiny glimpse of what God has done for humanity, for us, the lost children of God’s friends in the Garden of Eden. This story in a way foreshadows God’s wonderful love and compassion for us, poor cripples, who lost our inheritance to the paradise kingdom. We lost it when we rebelled and sinned in our parents against God, and when in our ignorance we made an alliance with God’s and our enemy, the Devil.

But God remembered His covenant and He remembered to be merciful, just as Mary sang before the birth of her son Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 1:52). God went all out and way out of His way to track us, poor wretched sinners, down. He sent His one and only Son.

Jesus came into our world to seek the lost and crippled children of His friends and to restore their lost inheritance to them at the cost of His own life. He overcame the strong man, the Devil (Matthew 12:29), who held us hostage. He set us free. He came to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8b), his power over us, the evil and injustice in people, the inhumanity of man to man, and the hostility of one race against another. He came to call us back to His Father and to give us back our lost paradise. He hunts us down and adopts us to be His sons and daughters. And He brings us to His palace and makes us sit with Him at His table, the table of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

What an awesome story, but even more, what a wonderful and gracious reality in Jesus Christ for all who put their trust in Him as their Savior and Lord! If you have not yet come to faith in Him, this is another challenge to you to recognize and admit your totally lost condition, and a call to accept what God has done for you in Jesus Christ. He calls and even urges you to heed His tremendously gracious invitation to come to Him and take your place among the sons and daughters of the King in His palace and at His banquet table.

Praise be to Him for His wonderful goodness and mercy! AMEN!



Order of worship

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship

*Prayer for God’s Presence: "As we gather at your call favour us with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

*Mutual Greeting

*Songs of Praise: "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty" PsH #247,
"Come, Thou Almighty King" PsH #246

The Good News of God’s Grace: Ephesians 1: 3-6

Confession: "Just as I Am Without One Plea" PsH #263

Words of Assurance: Ephesians 1: 7 & 8

Guide to Christian Living: Ephesians 4: 1-6 & 4: 22 – 5: 2

Dedication: "May the Mind of Christ, My Savior" PsH #291

Prayer for insight and understanding

Scripture: 2 Samuel 9 (especially verse 7)


Prayer of Application: "Our Father in heaven, we thank you for the awesome good news of Your compassionate grace in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend. Open our ears and hearts to this news more and more. Give us to live each day increasingly in the vivid awareness of this news. And helps us pass it on in word and deed to those around us wherever you place us in life. In Jesus name we pray, Amen."

*"Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" PsH #545


Congregational Prayer

*God's Blessing

*Closing: 1 & 3 "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" PsH #556

* Stand if able

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