Futility of Fear, 4

A Lame Prince and a Full Table

2 Samuel 9

But David said, “Don’t be afraid! I’ve asked you to come so that I can be kind to you because of my vow to your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you shall live here at the palace!” (2 Samuel 9:7 TLB)

Generally getting a letter from any government bureaucracy is never a good sign. Getting a phone call is even worse. In this short story tucked away in 2 Samuel, a lame man was summoned by the King and given good news. In this story, we see King David at his very best. We generally think of David in connection with the sin he committed, which is the natural thing to do. It’s human nature to focus of the bad, not the good. Recall the old saying:

There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it behooves most of us not to talk about the rest of us.

Indeed. This chapter shows why David was loved so much by God. The events probably happened sometime around the mid-point of his 40 year reign.

This “fear not” might be the most touching one in the Bible. We’ll find out why, beginning with the lame prince, Mephibosheth.

Who was Mephibosheth?

This man with the strange name was the son of Jonathan, grandson of crazy King Saul. Saul, you’ll remember, was David’s sworn enemy and at his death, according to the custom of the day, the new king would put to death all the members of the dead king’s family that would have a claim on the throne. When Jonathan and Saul died in battle, Jonathan’s young son was hidden so that David or his forces wouldn’t find him and kill him. That little (at that time) boy’s name was Mephibosheth.

Twenty years later

As chapter 9 dawns, it is some 20 years later and David has been the undisputed king of Israel for two decades. Before he was king, David didn’t think twice about killing those who were against him. And even after he assumed the throne, during the early years of his reign, he believed all surviving members of the house of Saul to be his mortal enemies.

But now, David has done a complete 180! Now, instead of hunting Saul’s descendants down to eliminate them, he wanted to find any surviving members to bless them.

One day David began wondering if any of Saul’s family was still living, for he wanted to be kind to them, as he had promised Prince Jonathan. (2 Samuel 9:1 TLB)

David wanted to show “kindness” to any members of Saul’s family because of something he had said to Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s good friend, and father of Mephibosheth.

And remember, you must demonstrate the love and kindness of the Lord not only to me during my own lifetime, but also to my children after the Lord has destroyed all of your enemies.” So Jonathan made a covenant with the family of David, and David swore to it with a terrible curse against himself and his descendants, should he be unfaithful to his promise. (1 Samuel 20:14-16 TLB)

It’s taken two decades, but it was now time for David to honor his friend; to honor a debt to the past.

So King David sent for Mephibosheth—Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. Mephibosheth arrived in great fear and greeted the king in deep humility, bowing low before him. (2 Samuel 9:5, 6 TLB)

After some searching, a son of Jonathan was found. Mephibosheth was fearful and we can understand why! He must have arrived at the palace sure that he would be executed. Instead, we read this:

But David said, “Don’t be afraid! I’ve asked you to come so that I can be kind to you because of my vow to your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you shall live here at the palace!” (2 Samuel 9:7 TLB)

Instead of an execution, the King decreed to return all of Saul’s property and promised Mephibosheth a place at his royal table in perpetuity.

Mephibosheth, the lame prince, feared the worst but in the end, he was blessed beyond belief. His fear was based on his not having all the facts. There was no way he could have known what was going on in David’s head. Common sense dictated fear. But often God overrules common sense to accomplish his purpose.

Lessons from the lame prince

This is a fascinating story for all kinds of reasons, and over the centuries many sermons have been preached drawing powerful applications from it; applications that illustrate some very profound theological truths in ways easy to understand.

As a matter of fact, this whole story is a picture of salvation, and the spiritual truths it portrays are really quite stunning. Let’s consider some of them.

First, we are all horribly crippled in God’s sight. Human beings are a mess; sin has deformed us and we are lame because of a fall: a fall into sin. Mephibosheth had problems with his feet, and so do we.

Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known… (Romans 3:15-17 KJV)

That’s just a glimpse of how God sees us! We rush headlong into trouble. We have no peace. Without God, we have no hope of salvation; we will always be led astray by the devil, straight into sin. It can never be otherwise.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and uthe Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6 KJV)

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 16:25 KJV)

Of course, that goes against the modern, secular humanistic way of viewing humanity. We’re getting better and better, they claim. Human beings, through education, legislation, reason, and intellect, can purge things like violence, racism, and injustice from society. This is what they say, anyway. But they couldn’t be more wrong!

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV84)

You can’t trust yourself to get anything right! Even your very heart lies to you whenever it can. Your heart can convince you everything is all right, when in truth it’s all wrong. Your heart can make you think what you are doing is healthy and good for you even while it may be killing you. “Follow your heart,” is what the world says, but God warns us not to because it will lead you death.

Nothing good can come from an unredeemed heart. Paul understood this:

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:18 NIV84)

This is what man looks like. Absolutely spiritually crippled. Helpless in every way.

Second, David was kind to Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake. This is truly an amazing aspect to this story. Mephibosheth didn’t ask for help; he didn’t seek out an audience with king to plead his case. David didn’t know who this lame man was before he found him. David sought this man out and did what he did for him because of his friendship for Jonathan. When David looked at Mephibosheth, he thought about Jonathan and the promise he made his friend all those years ago.

Jonathan meant a lot to David. Here is how David reacted to news of his death:

How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Samuel 1:25-26 NIV84)

God has saved us because of Another – The Lord Jesus Christ. Because of the Father’s love for His Son, He has saved us. That’s a fact, and that’s what Ephesians 1:6 tells us:

…to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:6 NIV84)

When God sees us in Christ, He accepts us and He saves us.

Third, David never brought up Mephibosheth’s disability. David never mentioned the man’s deformed feet. Instead, David treated him like an equal. He sat at the king’s table with the king. He ate the king’s food. He wore the king’s clothes. When we come Christ, confess our sins, and claim Him as our Lord and Savior, God forgives our sins and He forgets our sins. He will never mention them again.

Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless actsI will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17a NIV84)

Not only that, Mephibosheth was received in his deformity. Just as he was; he made no attempt to “improve” himself or hide his feet. Remember the words of the classic hymn:

Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me.
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee:
O Lamb of God, I come.

Fourth, he learned to see himself as David saw him. When Mephibosheth first stood in front of David, he was a pitiful sight and that’s how he thought of himself.

Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (2 Samuel 9:8 NIV84)

He saw himself as a dead dog! What a low estimation of himself. But that’s not how David saw him. David sought him out; with time and expense, David searched for this “dead dog” as the sole surviving member of the house of Saul. This was no “dead dog.” He meant something to David. And wasn’t treated like a dead dog; he was treated like royalty, for the rest of his life. You can be sure he didn’t feel like a dead dog for long!

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.) (2 Samuel 9:10 NIV84)

Lastly, Mephibosheth got in David much more than he had lost. What his family had lost, he regained and more! He gained the friendship and fellowship of the king. We gain more in Christ than we lost in Adam.

There is no fear in becoming a friend of God. Mephibosheth feared King David for no real reason. Nobody who comes to God for forgiveness has a thing to fear.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37 NIV84)

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