One day a little 5 year old boy was playing in the sand making castles and digging tunnels. Life was good. He was happy and care-free. His grandpa was the president of the whole country and his daddy was the vice president! The little boy lived in abundance. It is a wonder he was not spoiled with personal nurses and maids to wait on him. His food was the finest money could buy. (Story in II Samuel 4:4)
But this tranquil scene did not last long. The news suddenly came that both his grandfather and dad had just been killed in a battle with the Philistines.
A new king would soon sit on his grandpa's throne and his family would probably be exterminated since this was the custom in those days.
Quickly his nurse, understanding the gravity of the emergency, picked him up and ran. They must flee for their lives and find a place far away to hide. But as she hurried to leave, she slipped and both legs of the little boy were broken and mangled. The little boy's whole life had changed in 5 minutes. You never know what the next phone call will bring.
The near unpronounceable name of this youngster is Mephibosheth. Now he was a fugitive. After many days of fear and hiding they finally found refuge in a forlorn place called Lo Debar. Here, life was hard. His daddy Jonathan and his grandfather Saul were both gone. His legs never healed properly and now he was a handicapped cripple living in poverty.
Let's go to II Samuel 9. The gist of this fascinating story is that David found the poor physically challenged boy and took him into his own house where he lived out his life in happiness.
II Samuel 9:1- "David asked, 'Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?'"
Twenty years after Saul's death David still missed Jonathan. David was a promise keeper. He remembered a pledge he made that when he became king and had peace from his enemies, he would treat Jonathan's family with kindness.
If you owe someone a favor, it is better to do it late than not at all. David was a man sitting there thinking what he could do to help people. Thinking of the needs of others. He lived to do good. Good men seek opportunities to benefit others. David did not just sit at his desk waiting until someone came up to make an application for help. He did not ask; is anyone qualified? Or worthy? David's love was unconditional of merit. He went out looking for good deeds to do-- Isaiah 32:8
David had forgiven Saul and now wanted to show kindness to Saul's family. This man after God's own heart overcame evil with good. David was compassionate. We should remember people who have needs that we could relieve. Is there a surviving relative of someone you have loved who needs your love and help?
Verse 3- "The king asked (Ziba) 'Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?' Ziba answered the king, 'There is still a son of Jonathan; but he is crippled in both feet.'"
Only one little lame lad was left. Saul's bloody house had been quickly diminished. The iniquity of the father was visited upon the children. What a motive for parents to live a good life. How often children have to reap the crop of wild oats sown by worldly parents. You parents need to surrender your life to Jesus. Pray. Be in church. Put Jesus first. Live the Christian life.
Ziba betrayed the lad's hiding place. Eventually our best kept secrets will surface. Mephibosheth was found. Ziba said - are you aware that the cripple is not going to benefit you or look good hanging around your palace. But David didn't care.
Verse 4,5- "'Where is he?' the king asked. Ziba answered, 'He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.' So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel."
You don't want to live in Lo Debar! Lo = no, Debar = pasture. The poor crippled person lived in a barren place of no pasture. Rocky and forlorn. Eight miles south of the Sea of Galilee on the other side of the Jordan river. There on the other side of the tracks in a secluded hovel was the hiding place of the last relative of Jonathan. Hiding for his life from King David.
Are you hiding from God? How long will you dodge Him? God is your friend. He seeks you that He may benefit you and pour out His love upon you.
verse 6- "When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, 'Mephibosheth!' 'Your servant,' he replied."
In his crippled painful condition he fell on his face. It was not easy. He expected to feel a sword severing his head.
Verse 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.'"
David's gift was more than a hand out. True friendship will be generous. David parted with a large valuable estate. Love is like that. Love is unselfish. Love is extravagant. When you love God's church you are generous with it. When you love God you give Him all you have.
I don't read that David said anything about the young man's disfigured legs. It was never mentioned. God forgets our sins. Hebrews 10:17 "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" David treated him like a prince. Mephibosheth never spoke of his maimed feet. What do you think they talked about? About Jonathan!
What do we talk about? Too many Christians like to talk about the days when they were crippled by sin. When we come together, let us speak about our mutual friend.... Jesus Christ! If we talked more about Jesus our problems just might fade away.
Verses 8-10 "Mephibosheth bowed down and said, 'What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?'" -- Noticeable humility! 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. 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.)
Lame and unsightly as a dead dog, Mephibosheth becomes a part of David's family. Those who humble themselves will be exalted!
Verses 11-13 "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. Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica, and all the members of Ziba's household were servants of Mephibosheth. (He was a young married man of perhaps 20-25 years of age.) And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king's table, and he was crippled in both feet.
You never read in here that David was able to cure the cripple and make him able to walk. We cannot walk a life that is perfect before our King. Humans are always cripples. Our best efforts are not enough.
There are more deep lessons to be learned from this beautiful story if we continue to plumb its depths. Put the human race, put yourself in Mephibosheth's place.... 1. Once Mephibosheth savored an unbroken companionship with his father. 6000 years ago Adam walked in close daily fellowship with his father.
2. Disaster struck suddenly and Mephibosheth suffered when his nurse dropped him. When sin came into this world, Adam and Eve were crippled for life. Humanity turned into spiritual invalids. The curse was deep and lifelong. In God's sight we are all cripples. All have gone astray... Isaiah 53:6 All have stumbled and fallen. None of us stand perfect.
3. King David sought the outcast. King David set his heart on Mephibosheth. God is the hound of heaven, and seeks the lost that He might save them. Some of you can recall when you were out there hooked on sin. You were depraved and lost. Into a life of drugs, alcohol, illicit lovemaking... the list goes on and on. You had no hope. You had completely backslid from God. But the King loves you. He accepts you crutches, braces, weaknesses and all.
If you do not resist, God will find you and save you. He comes seeking sinners who are spiritually disabled. They are dead in sin. Lost. Hiding from Him. He seeks them and finds them.
4. King David manifested grace to Mephibosheth. He deserved death. But the King out of love for Jonathan, showed love to the enfeebled son. Just so, God, out of love for His son Jesus Christ wants to show His great loving kindness to us. Jesus has noble purposes for His lost sheep. He will do us good and not evil.
When David first saw Mephibosheth he did not see a cripple, he saw the likeness of Jonathan. When God looks at us He sees the image of His own Son. We stand perfect in God's sight for the sake of Jesus.
5. Mephibosheth was undeserving. He was spiritually bankrupt. He had nothing with which to compensate the generosity of the King.
6. Mephibosheth fell prone out at David's feet. It is when we come to the King and surrender all to Him that we receive hope and life. When you stop zigzagging all around God and place yourself totally in the hands you go from death to life.
7. King David reinstated Mephibosheth. He took this broken man of hardship and poverty and brought him into full benefit and blessing.
Just so, God takes us from the gutter of sin and the poverty of worthlessness and gives us full and complete status. We will be re-established into the full blessings that Adam lost.
8. King David adopted Mephibosheth into his own family. He sat at the kings table, ate the kings food, slept in the kings palace. Likewise, the believing sinner becomes a son of God. We join the family of God. We sit at His table. He feeds us with choice morsels of heavenly manna. We come to His table of salvation just as we are, crippled and miserable.
In the palace of David the supper bell rings and in come the hungry family. There is the man after God's own heart - David at the head of the table. Others enter and sit down. Handsome Absalom, Wise studious Solomon, beautiful tender Tamar, David's daughter. Maybe muscular Joab comes in. Then we hear the clop, tap, clump, thump, thud of Mephibosheth as he hobbles in and sits at that great table. He is now one of the sons of the King.
All through eternity we will enjoy fellowship with the King. Imagine yourself sitting at that great silver table when we all get to heaven. The saved will be there. Maybe you will sit beside Paul or Peter. Moses, Elijah, Isaac Newton, Mephibosheth, Rahab, Jonah... HMS Richards, Martin Luther... The list goes on and on. Imagine asking towering Adam; could you please pass the potatoes? We will all break bread together.
I want to meet David, this man after God's own heart. God is there waiting for the entrance of His children. He has prepared a place there for you. Will you accept it? Mephibosheth chose to believe that David's love was genuine. It made all the difference! I appeal to you today to accept Jesus as your Saviour. He loves you. He will pass the potatoes to you personally.
Let's sing: Near to the Heart of God.
Prayer: Thank You Lord for searching and finding me when I was running the other way. Thank You for loving me when I was not worthy. Thank You for adopting me when I did not deserve it. Thank You for your loving kindness and your saving grace. Thank You for sending Jesus, a Man after your own heart to be our tender beautiful Saviour. Help me to be a person after your own heart of love. Amen. Opening Hymn: 39 Scripture Reading: Psalm 51:5-10 Closing Hymn: 495 Near to the Heart of God 980516gettys#443 See: David, a man of passion and testiny, 1997. History of Israel volume 12, 1991.
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last updated 6/23/98 by Bob Beckett.