Warrior. Poet. King. Pt. 4 David and Mephibosheth

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Warrior. Poet. King
Pt. 4 David and Mephibosheth
1 Samuel 9

David, in the Bible, was a man’s man. He was the kind of guy that all the little Jewish boys pretended to be. He was a poetic, noble warrior. He was strong, yet gentle. Stern, yet gracious.

So far we’ve looked at the stories of how David interacted with Goliath, Saul, and Jonathan. We’re kind of following a timeline here. And now we come to an absolutely beautiful story of David that is sadly not taught a lot. I believe it’s a very clear image of the Gospel, and so we’re going to study this story in light of the Gospel. Allow me to set up the scene for you.

Saul and Jonathan have died in battle. The Israelites were retreating and the Philistines pursued them. Jonathan was caught and killed. Saul continued running, but soon realized he also was going to die. And so, rather than let the Philistines have the honor of killing the Israelite King, he committed suicide. So the story of Saul and Jonathan ended there on a bloody battlefield, but their legacy continued on.

Word came back to the palace in the middle of the night that Saul and Jonathan were dead. As the servants were awakened there was sorrow and dread. In those days, if a ruler was defeated, it was customary to kill off his entire family so there would be no heirs. Saul and Jonathan died, which meant Jonathan’s brothers, Ish-bosheth would become king. Ish-bosheth was a cruel man who would certainly kill off Jonathan’s family.

Soldiers were already starting to get anxious. And not before long, they heard Ish-bosheth coming with his soldiers to take over. That’s when the servants and family fled into the night. One servant, scooped up Jonathan’s five year old son, Mephibosheth, and without any time to gather belongings or clothes she fled the dark palace. She could sense she was being pursued and so she ran all the faster. She was just making it into the all clear when she tripped on a root. She and Mephibosheth tumbled to the ground and the boy fell at an odd angle, breaking his back and paralyzing him. The servant scooped him up and continued running for their lives.

II Samuel 4:4 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 came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.

So now there is chaos in the royal palace. A growing number of people are following David and are demanding his rightful place to the throne, while Ishbosheth, who has crowned himself the king according to the customs, won’t give it up. Years pass, chapter 4 ends, and we’re kind of left wondering, “Why was Mephibosheth’s story even in there?”

And then the plot thickens… Ish-bosheth is killed by an insider. The assassin brings word back to David, thinking he did a wonderful thing, but David is grieved to have a family member of his best friend killed in his name. So he has the assassin killed, but he is none-the-less, crowned as the new King of Israel. However, years pass on again. David gets lost in his duties as king. Until…

II Samuel 9:1-5 And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2Now 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.” 3And 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.” 4The 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.” 5Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.

David summons Mephibosheth and the servant from the Land of Lo-Debar. Interestingly, the name Lo-Debar is interpreted as, “Land of nothing.”

I Samuel 9:6-8 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.” 7And 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.” 8And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”

He had lost his ability to walk, his inheritance, and his family. He was a broken man living in the land of nothing. We can safely say, Mephibosheth is in a dark and desperate place.

I Samuel 9:9-13 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. 10And 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. 11Then 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. 12And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. 13So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

In a beautiful climax of the story, David vows to take care of Mephibosheth and treat him well. You might have already put the pieces together, but let me lay out the Gospel for you according to this story.

We’ve all been broken by our own fall. We’ve been paralyzed and are incapable of taking care of ourselves. Our fall was sin. And that sin left us broken and alone with nothing to our name but emptiness.

God summoned us just like David summoned Mephibosheth. And when we answer that call He brings us to his table.

This table is a position of royalty. In the palace it was well-known that only the king’s family and guests were to sit at this table. David made it very clear, Mephibosheth was to be considered family. So God takes us from a position of brokenness, forsakenness, and helplessness and sits us, as his children, at a table of grace.

What a beautiful picture of God’s redeeming grace! It doesn’t matter who your family is. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from. It doesn’t matter how deep your brokenness goes. It doesn’t matter that you come from a land of nothing. God has called us to join Him at His table. And what’s absolutely gorgeous in this picture is that, so long as Mephibosheth sat at the table, he could not see his broken legs. But you know what he did see? The spread in front of him. A feast of grace. And this is the truth for you.

If you’ve put your trust in Jesus Christ, remember this, you were called out of nothing. You were helpless. And God set you at his table. You need to remember this, to humble yourself. Perhaps you are fixated on your sin, and you’ve convinced yourself that your brokenness has disqualified you. Simply scoot back up to the table. Let God’s grace cover your sin.

If you’ve not whole-heartedly trusted in Jesus to forgive you of your sins, would you answer His call? He’s calling you out of your sin, and to His table. He is offering forgiveness and salvation in exchange for your sin and emptiness. He wants you to become His child and sit with Him at His table.

James Robinson has been the Youth Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, TX since June 2014. He was drawn to work with students because he believes teenagers are in a highly moldable stage of life where it is absolutely imperative they allow the Gospel to identify who they are. As a Student Pastor, James says he has the inexpressible joy of regularly speaking that life-shaping Gospel into the students' lives.