The Kindness of God.
2 Samuel 9-10, 1 Corinthians 7
So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet. – 2 Samuel 9:13 ESV
The story of David and Mephibosheth is a remarkable picture of the grace God has extended toward undeserving mankind. After becoming king over all of Israel, David could have taken vengeance out on any of the descendants of Saul. After all, Saul had repeatedly tried to eliminate David as the God-ordained successor to his throne. It would have made perfectly logical sense for David to eliminate any of Saul’s potential heirs in order to solidify his rule. But instead, David sought out the remaining household of Saul, not to destroy them, but to show them mercy and grace. David said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” (2 Samuel 9:3 ESV). David’s words are significant. He wanted to show the kindness of God – the same kindness God had shown to him. David recognized that his position as king of Israel was not deserved. He had not earned it. It had been made possible by the grace and kindness of God. So he wanted to extend that same kindness to the remaining heirs of Saul. When Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul, was brought before David, he was told, “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” (2 Samuel 9:7 ESV). Shocked by this news, Mephibosheth could only respond, “What is your servant that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” (2 Samuel 9:8 ESV). Mephibosheth knew he was undeserving of David’s kindness. He did not merit the grace, mercy and unbelievable generosity of the king.
What does this passage reveal about God?
As has been said before, David was referred to by God as a man after His own heart. He had a sensitivity to the ways of God. In this story, we see that David was fully aware of God’s kindness and grace towards him, which made him predisposed to turn around and extend that same kindness toward others – not because they deserved it. What is amazing is that David was willing to extend this kindness to a young man who had nothing to offer in return. The passage makes it clear that Mephibosheth was crippled. He wasn’t even a real threat to David’s kingdom. He was lame in both of his feet and would never have been considered a viable candidate for the kingship of Israel. But David showed him kindness anyway. And what David did for Mephibosheth was shocking. He restored to him all the lands that had belonged to his grandfather, Saul. He gave him a permanent place at his royal table. David made Mephibosheth a part of his royal family, and Mephibosheth is stunned by this turn of events. He recognizes his undeservedness and couldn’t help but marvel at David’s astounding kindness. But all of this is just a shadow of what God has done for us as believers in Jesus Christ. He has taken sinful men like us and made us His heirs and permanent residents of His eternal kingdom. Paul reminds us, “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10 ESV). To the Colossian believers Paul wrote, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:21-22 ESV). There was a time when all believers were in the same state as Mephibosheth. We were living in exile, separated from God, deserving of death, and incapable of doing anything to save ourselves. But God showed us mercy. He extended to us grace. He showered us with kindness. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about man?
Mephibosheth had everything going against him. He was not only the grandson of Saul, David’s arch enemy, he was crippled. In that day and age, to be lame was seen as a curse from God. The Jews believed that physical illness was directly tied to sin. Even when Jesus and His disciples encountered a blind man, the disciples asked, ““Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2 ESV). The disciples wrongly assumed that the man’s blindness was a result of sin. As a crippled man, Mephibosheth would have been viewed with disdain. He would have been an outcast, even as the grandson of the former king of Israel. And as a descendant of Saul, Mephibosheth would have had another strike against him. He would have been seen as an enemy of David, a constant reminder of the former regime and fully deserving of the wrath of the newly appointed king. But again, Mephibosheth represents us. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Like Mephibosheth, I am undeserving of God’s kindness. I was a sinner, as good as dead, unable to save myself or do anything to redeem myself from the righteous judgment of a holy God. And yet, I was shown mercy and grace. I was the recipient of God’s kindness and love – not because of me, but in spite of me. David had experienced the kindness of God. He had been rescued from his exile in the wilderness where he was hiding from the wrath of Saul. He had been restored to fellowship with the people of God. He had been placed on the throne of Israel as their king. And none of this escaped David’s notice. In return, he wanted to show that same kindness – the kindness of God – to others. He chose to show it to the “least of these.” David extended mercy in the same way that he had received it. He didn’t base it on merit. He didn’t do it in order to get something in return. Paul makes it clear that the mercy we have received from God was undeserved – “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5 ESV). I must be willing to show others the same kind of mercy, grace, and kindness I have received from God. Not based on their merit. Not based on what they can do for me in return. But solely based on the kindness that God has shown me.
Father, what an amazing picture of Your grace. I was Mephibosheth, crippled, hopeless and helpless, and yet You showed me kindness. You restored me to fellowship with You and made me Your heir. You have given me a permanent place at Your table and now call me Your Son. Help me to extend that same amazing kindness to all those I meet, whether I think they deserve it or not. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men