1 Samuel 9:1-13

Alexander Maclaren

THIS charming idyll of faithful love to a dead friend and generous kindness comes in amid stories of battle like a green oasis in a wilderness of wild rocks and sand. The natural sweetness and chivalry of David’s disposition, which fascinated all who had to do with him, comes beautifully out in it, and it may well stand as an object-lesson of the great Christian duty of practical mercifulness.

I. So regarded, the narrative brings out first the motives of true kindliness.

Saul and three of his four sons had fallen on the fatal field of Gilboa; the fourth, the weak Ishbosheth, had been murdered after his abortive attempt at setting up a rival kingdom had come to nothing. There were only left

Saul’s daughters and some sons by a concubine. So low had the proud house sunk, while David was consolidating his kingdom, and gaining victory wherever he went.

But neither his own prosperity, nor the absence of any trace of Saul’s legitimate male descendants, made him forget his ancient oath to Jonathan. Years had not weakened his love, his sufferings at Saul’s hands had not embittered it. His elevation had not lifted him too high to see the old days of lowliness, and the dear memory of the self-forgetting friend whose love had once been an honour to the shepherd lad. Jonathan’s name had been written on his heart when it was impressionable, and the lettering was as if ‘graven on the rock for ever.’ A heart so faithful to its old love needed no prompting either from men or circumstances. Hence the inquiry after ‘any that is left of the house of Saul’ was occasioned by nothing external, but came welling up from the depth of the king’s own soul.

That is the highest type of kindliness which is spontaneous and self motivated. It is well to be easily moved to beneficence either by the sight of need or by the appeals of others, but it is best to kindle our own fire, and be our own impulse to gracious thoughts and acts. We may humbly say that human mercy then shows likest God’s, when, in such imitation as is possible, it springs in us, as His does in Him, from the depths of our own being. He loves and is kind because He is God. He is His own motive and law. So, in our measure, should we aim at becoming.

But David’s remarkable language in his questions to Ziba goes still deeper in unfolding his motives. For he speaks of showing ‘the kindness of God’ to any remaining of Saul’s house. Now that expression is no mere synonym for kindness exceeding great, but it unfolds what was at once David’s deepest motive and his bright ideal. No doubt, it may include a reminiscence of the sacred obligation of the oath to Jonathan, hut it hallows David’s purposed ‘mercy’ as the echo of God’s to him, and so anticipates the Christian teaching, ‘Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful.’ We must receive mercy from Him before our hearts are softened, so as to give it to others, just as the wire must be charged from the electric source before it can communicate the tingle and the light.

The best basis for the beneficent service of man is experience of the mercy of God. Philanthropy has no roots unless it is planted in religion. That is a lesson which this age needs. And the other side of the thought is as true and needful; namely, that our ‘ religion’ is not ‘ pure and undefiled’ unless

it manifests itself in the service of man. How serene and lofty, then, the ideal! How impossible ever to be too forgiving or too beneficent! ‘As your heavenly Father is,’ — that is our pattern. We have not shown our brother all the kindness which we owe him unless we have shown him ‘the kindness of God.’

II. The progress of the story brings out next the characteristics of David’s kindliness, and these may be patterns for us.

Ziba does not seem to be very. communicative, and appears a rather unwilling witness, who needs to have .the truth extracted bit by bit. He evidently had nothing to do with Mephibosheth, and was quite content that he should be left obscurely stowed away across Jordan in the house of the rich Machir (2Sa 17:27 28 29). Lo Debar was near Mahanaim, on the eastern side of the river, where Ishbosheth’s short-lived kingdom had been planted, and probably the population there still clung to Saul’s solitary representative. There he lived so privately that none of David’s people knew whether he was alive or dead. Perhaps the savage practice of Eastern monarchs, who are wont to get rid of rivals by killing them, led the cripple son of Jonathan to ‘lie low,’ and Ziba’s reticence may have been loyalty to him. It is noteworthy that Ziba is not said to have been sent to bring him, though that would have been natural.

At any rate, Mephibosheth came, apparently dreading whether his summons to court was not his death-warrant. But he is quickly featured. David again recalls the dear memory of Jonathan, which was, no doubt, stirred to deeper tenderness by the sight of his helpless son; but he swiftly passes to practical arrangements, full of common-sense and grasp of the case. The restoration of Saul’s landed estate implies that it was in David’s power. It had probably been ‘forfeited to the crown,’ as we in England say, or perhaps had been ‘squatted on’ by people who had no right to it. David, at any rate, will see that it reverts to its owner.

But what is a lame man to do with it? and will it be wise to let a representative of the former dynasty loose in the territory of Benjamin, where Saul’s memory was still cherished? Apparently, David’s disposition of affairs was prompted partly by consideration for Mephibosheth, partly by affection for Jonathan, and partly by policy. So Ziba, who had not been present, is sent for, and installed as overseer of the estate, to work it for his new master’s benefit, while the owner is to remain at Jerusalem in David’s establishment. It was prudent to keep Mephibosheth at hand. The best way to weaken a pretender’s claims was to make a pensioner of him, and the best way to hinder his doing mischief was to keep him in sight.

But we need not suppose that this was David’s only motive. He gratified his heart by retaining the poor young man beside himself, and, no doubt, sought to win his confidence and love. The recipient of his kindness receives it in characteristic Eastern fashion, with exaggerated words of self-depreciation, which sound almost too humble to be quite sincere. A little gratitude is better than whining professions of unworthiness.

And how did Ziba like his task? The singular remark that he had ‘fifteen sons and twenty servants’ perhaps suggests that he was a person of some importance; and the subsequent one that ‘all in his house were servants to Mephibosheth may imply that neither they nor he quite liked their being handed over thus cavalierly.

But, however that may be, we may note that common-sense and practical sagacity should guide our mercifulness. Kindly impulses are good, but they need cool heads to direct them, or they do more harm than good. It is useless to set lame men to work an estate, even if they get a gift of it. And it is wise not to put untried ones in positions where they may plot against their benefactor. Mercifulness does not mean rash trust in its objects. They will often have to be watched very closely to keep them from going wrong. How many most charitable impulses have been so unwisely worked out that they have injured their objects and disappointed their subjects! We may note, too, in David’s kindliness, that it was prompt to make sacrifice, if, as is probable, he had become owner of the estate. The pattern of all mercy, who is God, has not loved us with a love which cost Him nothing. Sacrifice is the life-blood of service.

III. The subsequent history of Mephibosheth and Ziba is somewhat enigmatical.

Usually the former is supposed to have been slandered by the latter, and to have been truly attached to David. But it is at least questionable whether Ziba was such a villain, and Mephibosheth such an injured innocent, as is supposed. This, at least, is plain, that Ziba demonstrated attachment to David at the time when self-love would have kept him silent. It took some courage to come with gifts to a discrowned king (2Sa 16:1 2 3 4); and his allegation about his master has at least this support, that the latter did not come with the rest of David’s court to share his fortunes, and that the dream that he might fish to advantage in troubled waters is extremely likely to have occurred to him. Nor does it appear clear that, if Ziba’s motive was to get hold of the estate, his adherence to David would have seemed, at that moment, the best way of effecting it.

If we look at the sequel (2Sa 19:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30) Mephibosheth’s excuse for not joining David seems almost as lame as himself. He says that Ziba ‘deceived him,’ and did not bring him the ass for riding on, and therefore he could not come. Was there only one ass available in Jerusalem? and, when all David’s entourage were streaming out to Olivet after him, could not he easily have got there too if he had wished? His demonstration of mourning looks very like a blind, and his language to David has a disagreeable ring of untruthfulness, in its extreme professions of humility and loyalty. ‘Methinks the cripple doth protest too much.’ David evidently did not feel sure about him, and stopped his voluble utterances somewhat brusquely: ‘Why speakest thou any more of thy matters?’ That is as much as to say, ‘Hold your tongue.’ And the final disposition of the property, while it gives Mephibosheth the benefit of the doubt, yet looks as if there was a considerable doubt in the king’s mind.

We may take up the same somewhat doubting position. If he requited David’s kindness thus unworthily, is it not the too common experience that one way of malting enemies is to load with benefits? But no cynical wisdom of that sort should interfere with our showing mercy; and if we are to take ‘the kindness of God’ for our pattern, we must let our sunshine and rain fall, as His do, on ‘the unthankful and the evil.’

Spurgeon -  If there be a Mephibosheth anywhere who is lame or halt, help him for Jonathan’s sake. If there be a poor tried believer, weep with him, and bear his cross for the sake of him who wept for thee and carried thy sins. Since thou art thus forgiven freely for Christ’s sake, go and tell to others the joyful news of pardoning mercy. Be not contented with this unspeakable blessing for thyself alone, but publish abroad the story of the cross. Holy gladness and holy boldness will make you a good preacher, and all the world will be a pulpit for you to preach in. Cheerful holiness is the most forcible of sermons, but the Lord must give it you. Seek it this morning before you go into the world. When it is the Lord’s work in which we rejoice, we need not be afraid of being too glad.

Spurgeon - Morning and Evening - “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?”—2 Samuel 9:8

If Mephibosheth was thus humbled by David’s kindness, what shall we be in the presence of our gracious Lord? The more grace we have, the less we shall think of ourselves, for grace, like light, reveals our impurity. Eminent saints have scarcely known to what to compare themselves, their sense of unworthiness has been so clear and keen. “I am,” says holy Rutherford, “a dry and withered branch, a piece of dead carcass, dry bones, and not able to step over a straw.” In another place he writes, “Except as to open outbreakings, I want nothing of what Judas and Cain had.” The meanest objects in nature appear to the humbled mind to have a preference above itself, because they have never contracted sin: a dog may be greedy, fierce, or filthy, but it has no conscience to violate, no Holy Spirit to resist. A dog may be a worthless animal, and yet by a little kindness it is soon won to love its master, and is faithful unto death; but we forget the goodness of the Lord, and follow not at his call. The term “dead dog” is the most expressive of all terms of contempt, but it is none too strong to express the self-abhorrence of instructed believers. They do not affect mock modesty, they mean what they say, they have weighed themselves in the balances of the sanctuary, and found out the vanity of their nature. At best, we are but clay, animated dust, mere walking hillocks; but viewed as sinners, we are monsters indeed. Let it be published in heaven as a wonder, that the Lord Jesus should set his heart’s love upon such as we are. Dust and ashes though we be, we must and will “magnify the exceeding greatness of his grace.” Could not his heart find rest in heaven? Must he needs come to these tents of Kedar for a spouse, and choose a bride upon whom the sun had looked? O heavens and earth, break forth into a song, and give all glory to our sweet Lord Jesus.

Spurgeon - Morning and Evening -  “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.”  —2 Samuel 9:13

Mephibosheth was no great ornament to a royal table, yet he had a continual place at David’s board, because the king could see in his face the features of the beloved Jonathan. Like Mephibosheth, we may cry unto the King of Glory, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldst look upon such a dead dog as I am?” but still the Lord indulges us with most familiar intercourse with himself, because he sees in our countenances the remembrance of his dearly-beloved Jesus. The Lord’s people are dear for another’s sake. Such is the love which the Father bears to his only begotten, that for his sake he raises his lowly brethren from poverty and banishment, to courtly companionship, noble rank, and royal provision. Their deformity shall not rob them of their privileges. Lameness is no bar to sonship; the cripple is as much the heir as if he could run like Asahel. Our right does not limp, though our might may. A king’s table is a noble hiding-place for lame legs, and at the gospel feast we learn to glory in infirmities, because the power of Christ resteth upon us. Yet grievous disability may mar the persons of the best-loved saints. Here is one feasted by David, and yet so lame in both his feet that he could not go up with the king when he fled from the city, and was therefore maligned and injured by his servant Ziba. Saints whose faith is weak, and whose knowledge is slender, are great losers; they are exposed to many enemies, and cannot follow the king whithersoever he goeth. This disease frequently arises from falls. Bad nursing in their spiritual infancy often causes converts to fall into a despondency from which they never recover, and sin in other cases brings broken bones. Lord, help the lame to leap like an hart, and satisfy all thy people with the bread of thy table!

Spurgeon - I once thought, that if I might but get the broken crumbs at God's back door of grace—that I would be satisfied; like the woman who said, "even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from the master's table." But no child of God is ever served with scraps and leftovers! Like Mephibosheth, they all feast from the King's own table. In matters of grace, we all have Benjamin's portion—we all have ten times more than we could have expected! And though our necessities are great—yet are we often amazed at the marvelous plenty of grace, which God gives us experimentally to enjoy!

Spurgeon - From this story (OF MEPHIBOSHETH) we learn to remember past kindnesses. If in his prosperity any man has been good to us, let us deal well with him if we ever see either him or his children in want. Never let it be said that a child of God is ungrateful to his fellow-men. If we are to do kindness to those who have treated us ill, much more are we bound to repay the favours of those who have been our friends. A further lesson may be found in the fact that David and Jonathan had made a covenant, and that David was faithful to it, even though Jonathan’s son was both obscure in his abode, poor in his estate, and deformed in his person. The Lord also is true to his covenant; he will not forsake those who put their trust in him. Though many of his people are, spiritually, as lame as Mephibosheth, yet he remembers them, and even deigns to invite them to sit at his table in familiar intercourse with him. The Lord is not ashamed of the poor; feeble friends of Jesus, but out of love to their well-beloved Lord and Master he will grant to them to eat continually at the king’s table, even though they be lame on both their feet.

      Poor, weak, and worthless, though I am,
      I have a rich almighty Friend;
      Jesus, the Saviour, is His name:
      He freely loves, and without end.

      He cheers my heart, my wants supplies,
      And says that I shall shortly be
      Enthroned with him above the skies:
      Oh! what a friend is Christ to me!

      God is gone up with shouts of joy,
         And angels harping round;
      Our Lord is welcomed to the sky
         With trumpet’s joyful sound.

      Open, ye heavenly gates, to let
         The King of glory in;
      The Lord of hosts, of saying might,
         Who vanquished death and sin.

      And shall not mortals join their songs,
         Though poor their notes may be?
      The lisping of believing tongues,
         Makes heavenly minstrelsy.

"Mephibosheth...shall eat at my table like one of the king's sons." -2 Samuel 9:11

A British factory worker and his wife were excited when, after many years of marriage, they discovered they were going to have their first child. According to author Jill Briscoe, who told this true story, the man eagerly relayed the good news to his fellow workers. He told them God had answered his prayers. But they made fun of him for asking God for a child.

When the baby was born, he was diagnosed as having Down’s syndrome. As the father made his way to work for the first time after the birth, he wondered how to face his co-workers. “God, please give me wisdom,” he prayed. Just as he feared, some said mockingly, “So, God gave you this child!” The new father stood for a long time, silently asking God for help. At last he said, “I’m glad the Lord gave this child to me and not to you.”

As this man accepted his disabled son as God’s gift to him, so David was pleased to show kindness to Saul’s son who was “lame in his feet” (2 Samuel 9:3). Some may have rejected Mephibosheth because he was lame, but David’s action showed that he valued him greatly.

In God's eyes, every person is important. He sent His only Son to die for us. May we remember with gratitude how much He values each human life. -J D Branon 

Lord, may we see in those we meet
The imprint of Your image fair,
And may their special dignity
Grow stronger from our love and care. -DJD

Everyone is valuable to God. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

2 Samuel 9 The Value Of A Life
January 26, 2003 — by Dave Branon
Mephibosheth . . . shall eat at my table like one of the king's sons. —2 Samuel 9:11

A British factory worker and his wife were excited when, after many years of marriage, they discovered they were going to have their first child. According to author Jill Briscoe, who told this true story, the man eagerly relayed the good news to his fellow workers. He told them God had answered his prayers. But they made fun of him for asking God for a child.

When the baby was born, he was diagnosed as having Down syndrome. As the father made his way to work for the first time after the birth, he wondered how to face his co-workers. “God, please give me wisdom,” he prayed. Just as he feared, some said mockingly, “So, God gave you this child!” The new father stood for a long time, silently asking God for help. At last he said, “I’m glad the Lord gave this child to me and not to you.”

As this man accepted his disabled son as God’s gift to him, so King David was pleased to show kindness to Saul’s grandson who was “lame in his feet” (2 Samuel 9:3). Some may have rejected Mephibosheth because he was lame, but David’s action showed that he valued him.

In God’s eyes, every person is important. He sent His only Son to die for us. May we remember with gratitude how much He values each human life.

Lord, we would see in those we meet
  The likeness of Your image there,
  And may their special dignity
  Grow stronger from our love and care. —D. De Haan

Everyone is valuable to God. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

2 Samuel 9:1-13 SPECIAL PEOPLE

"Be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted." - 1 Peter 3:8

Hubert H. Humphrey, former senator, vice-president, college professor, and family man, spoke proudly and lovingly of his family in a television interview. Then his eyes moistened as he recalled the birth of a very special granddaughter with Down's syndrome. "It happened several years ago," he said, "and do you know, that little girl has brought more love into our family circle than had existed before."

A few years later Humphrey died, and after the graveside service the family found it difficult to leave the cemetery. But it was this grandchild who lifted their spirits. "Grandpa is in heaven, not in this casket," she said. What a blessing that little girl with a disability has been to the Humphrey family!

As king, David could have eliminated Saul's household for Saul's attempts to kill him. But he desired instead to show favor to any living member of Saul's family for Jonathan's sake. When told about Mephibosheth, who was "lame in his feet" (2 Samuel 9:3), David showed him special kindness. I believe his physical condition, as well as his place in Saul's household, brought out the best in David.

People with disabilities fulfill a unique place in God's plan. Let's learn from David's example.- H. V. Lugt  

They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play,
But with this child sent from above
Comes stronger faith and richer love.-- Massimilla

People with a disability have a unique ability to teach us how to love. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

James Smith - Handfuls of Purpose - THE LAME PRINCE.

Bible "Fear Nots, No. 4.

"And David said unto him, Fear not, for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake" (2 Sam. 9:7).

How welcome this royal "Fear not" must have been to the trembling and fearful prince, Mephibosheth! How unexpected it was! What a surprise it was to him, being altogether different to what he really expected.

The King's "Fear not" would fall on his ears as a peal of silvery bells. But who was this Prince Mephibosheth? He was Jonathan's son, the last survivor of the royal house of Saul. When news of the death of King Saul and his sons on the fatal battlefield of Gilboa reached the royal palace, the nurse, snatching up in her arms this infant son of Jonathan, fled with him to Lo-debar. In the hurry she let him fall, when his feet were permanently injured. Sixteen years had passed when, upon David inquiring, "Is there any that is left of the house of Saul that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" and hearing of the survival of this lame prince, sent and had him brought into his royal presence. Tremblingly must Mephibosheth have made that journey; and, at last, ushered into the king's presence, must have expected his death. When lo! nothing but grace was meted out to him.
It is a lovely picture of salvation. Convicted of sin, and aware of your lost and ruined condition, do you feel you dare not entertain any hope of securing His grace and favour? Then listen and take to heart this story.

I. He was the King's Enemy, owing to his relation to Saul, though, thank God, the king was not an enemy of the poor trembling prince. We are by nature at enmity with God, though God is not at enmity with us, and is ever beseeching us to be reconciled to Him.

II. He was Lame Through a Fall. And so is it with us. What moral and spiritual weakness and sickness and infirmities are ours by the Fall.

III. He was in a Far Country, away from the king. Far, far away from Jerusalem, the place of blessing, of peace and worship, at Lo-debar, "the place of no bread." We, too, are by nature in the far country, away, far away, from God.

IV. He was Sought Out by the King. No, it was not a matter of Mephibosheth seeking the king, but the king seeking him. Wherein do you think our Christian faith differs from all other faiths that have ever been or are? In this, and this alone, all other faiths represent man, in the first instance, seeking God (which is not true, for man, left to himself, does not want God), but the Christian faith represents God as seeking man, which alone is true to fact. Man is indifferent to God; but God is not indifferent to him.

V. He was Received In his Deformity, just as he was, without any attempt to improve himself. Ah, that we must remember:

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

VI. He was Received for Another's Sake, for the sake of Jonathan. And we are received for Another's sake, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Accepted in the Beloved."

VII. He Learned to Estimate Himself Aright, but only after he came to David When Mephibosheth said, "What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?" he may have simply indulged in an Eastern's habit of self-depreciation in the presence of his superior. Yet it may have been a genuine and sincere expression of his deepest feelings. But, pray note, he only expressed this view after he came to David. It is only after we come to the Lord Jesus that we take low and truer views of ourselves, and get to see sin in the light of Heaven.

VIII. He Got in David More than he had Lost. What he had lost he regained, plus David's friendship and fellowship. We gain more in Christ than we lost in Adam.

IX. He Dwelt with the King in the royal palace, and upon royal fare: "For he did eat continually at the king's table." Oh, what blessed news! And we, too, may leave the pit and the dunghill and dwell in the holiest of all by the Blood of Jesus.

Poor conscience-stricken sinner, fearful of just and deserved judgment, listen to our blessed Lord's "Fear not, for I will surely show thee kindness for Jesus' sake." Dare, therefore, to entertain hope of finding mercy, and cling to the Rock of Ages.

James Smith - Handfuls of Purpose -  DAVID AND MEPHIBOSHETH,; OR, SAVED BY GRACE.
2 Samuel 9.

   "Man's forgiveness may be true and sweet, 
   But yet he stoops to give it. More complete 
   Is love that lays forgiveness at thy feet, 
   And pleads with thee to raise it! Only Heaven 
   Means Crowned, not Vanquished, when it says Forgiven!"—A. Procter.

Much food for reflection might be found in comparing this chapter with Romans 9-11. The purposes of God concerning Israel, as revealed in these chapters, ought to be better known than they are among believers everywhere. We might observe here—

I. Mephibosheth's Condition; or, The Sinner's Need.
1. FEARFULNESS. From the fact that such inquiry had to be made, we may learn that Mephibosheth was hiding from the king. They dread God who know not His love (v. 1). Hiding from his best friend. So like the sinner (Gen. 3:8).
2. DESTITUTION. "In the house of Machir (sold) in Lodebar" (without pasture) (v. 4). How true! The rebellious dwell in a dry land (Psa. 68:6). Away from God the sinner is but lodging in the house of poverty (Isa. 44:20; Luke 15:16).
3. HELPLESSNESS. "Lame on both feet" (v. 13). At that time ye were without strength (Rom. 5:6). With regard to the things of God the unregenerated are heartless, handless, footless. Any ability we have is God-given (1 Peter 4:11).

II. David's Purpose; or, The Love of God. He wished to show kindness to the house of Saul (his enemy) for Jonathan's sake (the gift of God). What an illustration of 2 Corinthians 5:19. This—
1. LOVE WAS SPONTANEOUS. It was the voluntary impulse of a kind and merciful heart. "God is Love." God takes the first step towards man's redemption (Eph. 1:4; 1 Peter 1:2). He so loved the world that He gave His Son. "We love Him because He first loved us."
2. LOVE WAS GRACIOUS. It sought out the undeserving. It offered favour to an enemy. While we were yet enemies Christ died for us. It was, indeed, the "Gospel of Grace" that David's servant carried to the poor cripple. What a privilege to belong to such "sent ones" (v. 5). This is a beautiful illustration of Romans 10:14, 15. What is the meaning of John 20:21?
3. LOVE WAS SELF-SACRIFICING. "I have given all that pertained to Saul" (v. 9). This was a great gift, but it was for Jonathan's sake. In John 3:16 we see a greater gift, and with this gift comes the pledge of all things (Rom. 8:32; 2 Peter 1:3).

III. Mephibosheth's Faith; or, Salvation Enjoyed.

1. BELIEVED THE MESSAGE. So proved his faith by obeying the call. "He came unto David" (v. 6). See 2 Chron. 30:10, 11). The Master is come, and calleth for thee. We test the truth of the Gospel when we believe it.
2. HUMBLED HIMSELF. "He fell on his face." So well he may. He confesses himself to be as a "dead dog" (v. 8). You hath he quickened who were dead in sin—worse than a dead dog. The goodness of God leads to repentance (2 Cor. 5:14).
3. WAS ACCEPTED. "David said, Fear not, I will show thee kindness" (v. 7). The God who invites will surely receive (John 7:37). Think of His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7).
4. WAS ADOPTED. "He shall eat at my table as one of the king's sons" (v. 11). Although he was lame on both his feet he sat continually at the king's table. His table of mercy covers many an infirmity (1 John 3:1, 2).
5. WAS MADE AN HEIR. "David said, I will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father" (v. 7). From poverty to plenty through the grace of the king (1 Peter 1:3, 4). By grace are ye saved through faith (Eph. 2:8).

Jerry Bridges - AT THE KING’S TABLE

You shall eat at my table always. (2 SAMUEL 9:7)

There’s a beautiful story in the life of King David illustrating God’s grace to us through Christ. Mephibosheth was the son of David’s bosom friend, Jonathan, son of Saul. He’d been crippled in both feet at age five. After David was established as king over all Israel, he desired to show kindness to anyone remaining of Saul’s family, “for Jonathan’s sake.” So Mephibosheth—crippled and destitute, unable to care for himself and living in someone else’s house—was brought into David’s house and “ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11, NIV).

Why was Mephibosheth treated this way? It was for Jonathan’s sake. We might say Jonathan’s loyal friendship with David “earned” Mephibosheth’s seat at David’s table. Mephibosheth, in his crippled and destitute condition, unable to improve his lot and wholly dependent on the benevolence of others, is an illustration of you and me, crippled by sin and unable to help ourselves. David, in his graciousness, illustrates God the Father, and Jonathan illustrates Christ.
Just as Mephibosheth was elevated to a place at the king’s table for Jonathan’s sake, so you and I are elevated to the status of God’s children for Christ’s sake. And just as being seated at the king’s table involved not only daily food but other privileges as well, so God’s salvation for Christ’s sake carries with it all the provisions we need, not only for eternity but for this life as well.

This account both begins and ends with the statement that Mephibosheth was crippled in both feet (2 Sa 9:3, 13). Mephibosheth never got over his crippled condition. He never got to the place where he could leave the king’s table and make it on his own. And neither do we.

Jerry Bridges in Transforming Grace - There is a beautiful story in the life of King David illustrating God’s grace to us through Christ. Mephibosheth was the son of David’s bosom friend, Jonathan, son of Saul. He had been crippled in both feet at age five. After David was established as king over all Israel, he desired to show kindness to anyone remaining of Saul’s house “for Jonathan’s sake.” So Mephibosheth—crippled and destitute, unable to care for himself and living in someone else’s house—was brought into David’s house and “ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11).
Why was Mephibosheth treated like one of David’s sons? It was for Jonathan’s sake. We might say Jonathan’s loyal friendship with David “earned” Mephibosheth’s seat at David’s table. Mephibosheth, in his crippled and destitute condition, unable to improve his lot and wholly dependent on the benevolence of others, is an illustration of you and me, crippled by sin and unable to help ourselves. David, in his graciousness, illustrates God the Father, and Jonathan illustrates Christ.
Just as Mephibosheth was elevated to a place at the king’s table for Jonathan’s sake, so you and I are elevated to the status of God’s children for Christ’s sake. And just as being seated at the king’s table involved not only daily food but other privileges as well, so God’s salvation for Christ’s sake carries with it all the provisions we need, not only for eternity but for this life as well.
As if to emphasize the special privilege of Mephibosheth, the inspired writer mentions four times in one short chapter that Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table (see 2 Samuel 9:7, 10, 11, 13). Three of those times he says he always ate at the king’s table. But the account both begins and ends with the statement that Mephibosheth was crippled in both feet (see verses 3, 13). Mephibosheth never got over his crippled condition. He never got to the place where he could leave the king’s table and make it on his own. And neither do we.

H A Ironside - Continual Burnt Offering

2 Samuel 19:30 Mephibosheth was the lame son of Jonathan to whom David had shown the kindness of God for his father’s sake (2 Samuel 9). When David fled from Absalom he was unable, because of his infirmity, to go with his benefactor and was lied about and his motives in remaining behind misrepresented by his servant Ziba to whom David gave all the property of Mephibosheth because of the deception. Returning at last in triumph Jonathan’s son came to greet him and soon cleared himself of the charges of disloyalty. Sorry that he had mistrusted him, David gave instructions that Ziba and he should divide the land. In his answer Mephibosheth showed that David himself meant more to him than all his benefits. His heart was satisfied to have the king at home in peace. So Christ can satisfy every yearning of the heart, and all else counts as naught compared with Him.

         Take the world but give me Jesus,
         Let me have His constant smile,
         Then throughout my pilgrim journey
         Faith shall cheer me all the while.

Ivan Steeds  - Day by Day
April 23rd 2 Samuel 9:1–13


David’s name means ‘loving’ and he showed here ‘the kindness of God’, 2 Sa 9:3. Mephibosheth was linked with rebellious Saul, lived in fear in Lo-debar (‘no pasture/no bread’) and was lame. He described himself as ‘a dead dog’, 2 Sa 9:8. Any change in his condition could only be brought about by David’s kindness. He reminds us of God’s kindness toward us through Christ Jesus’, Eph. 2:7. David displayed the nature of God’s kindness.
It does not treat us as we deserve. Mephibosheth might have expected judgment and death as a result of his links with Saul, but he found love which embraced and forgave him.
It loves us in spite of our condition. There was nothing attractive about Mephibosheth and yet David showed him the kindness of God. It was ‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us … when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son’, Rom. 5:8, 10.
It makes the first move. It was David who enquired after, searched and sent for Mephibosheth. We should be thankful that divine love made the first move towards us. ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son …’, 1 John 4:10.
It reaches out to us where we are. Mephibosheth was not able to reach out to David, so David’s kindness went out to him. ‘But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ’, Eph. 2:12
It removes our fear. It was a comfort to Mephibosheth’s trembling heart to hear David say, ‘Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake’, v. 7. ‘Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you’, Eph. 4:32, are words to allay any fears that might arise in our hearts.
It restores what it did not take away. Mephibosheth received back his land, but he also ate continually at the king’s table, vv. 7, 10, 11, 13. David’s words in Psalm 69, ‘I restored that which I took not away’, point us to Christ. ‘But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us … hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’, Eph. 2:4, 6.

2 Samuel 9:1–13


Jonah described the God that he knew as One characterized by ‘great kindness’, Jonah 4:2, and that is the aspect of the Lord Jesus shown in David’s actions in today’s reading; see vv. 1, 3 and 7. Mephibosheth was but five years old when his father Jonathan, his grandfather Saul, and his uncles were slain in one day in battle with the Philistines. In the rush to save the toddler from possible attack by the armies of the enemy his nurse dropped him and in the resulting fall he was made lame. His injuries were severe and ever after his feet needed daily attention. His life story was one of disaster, disappointment and disapproval by others. The passage opens with him staying in the remote town of Lodebar (‘no pasture’) in Gilead where there was neither balm nor physician to help.
Being of the family of Saul he was in fact an enemy of David who could legitimately have killed him with a view to preserving the kingdom. Yet David, because of an earlier commitment to Jonathan, was determined to show kindness, unexpected and undeserved, to Mephibosheth and so he set about finding him. He was intent, in spite of his incapacity, to bring Mephibosheth to the palace and set him at his table.
Mephibosheth arrived in Jerusalem fearful, agitated and expecting the worst, only to find in David reassurance (‘fear not’); kindness; restoration (of land); and provision for the rest of his life at the king’s table. While David had made a commitment to Jonathan in legal terms, he not only acted in justice but also in love. No mention is made of Mephibosheth’s lameness and David himself later wrote, ‘Thou hast delivered my soul from death and my feet from falling’, evidence that he appreciated what this action meant to the fallen son of Saul’s stricken regime.
In this gesture of great kindness David is a vivid picture of the Lord Jesus in that He too, after His victory at Calvary, invites those crippled in the original ‘fall’ to come to Him. All who do respond find eternal salvation and blessings from His hand. Their past is no longer an issue and their allegiance to the King is unquestioned, even when misrepresented and wickedly maligned (e.g., by Ziba, ‘the strong one’, 2 Sam. 16:1–4). For such kindness we give thanks.


AT FIVE YEARS of age, Mephibosheth suffered an accident. He was a cripple all his life, a condition demanding daily attention. What care has to be taken of the young. When summoned to David, 2 Sa 9:9:4f, he had a young son of his own, 2 Sa 9:12.

The Preliminaries, 2 Sa 9:9:1–5. David’s initial question finely expresses his steadfast love “for Jonathan’s (=gift of the Lord) sake”, 2 Sa 9:1; cf. Rom. 11:29. The remaining questions are all prefaced by reference to “the king”, 2 Sa 9:2, 3, 4, as are Ziba’s answers, 2 Sa 9:3b, 4b. With authority “king David” sent for Mephibosheth to Lo-debar (=place of no pasture), 2 Sa 9:4f.

The Amazing Proportions of Steadfast Love, 2 Sa 9:6–8. The word king is not used here. Note Mephibosheth’s responses, initially, 2 Sa 9:6a, and finally on being overwhelmed by David’s determined love to him. Only when we rightly estimate our own nothingness as but “dead dogs”, does the causeless and measureless character of divine love bring us to love much, 2 Sa 9:8. That which “David said” is central. First, as the good shepherd he calls his own sheep by name, 2 Sa 9:6b; cf. John 10:3. Then the fourfold expression of his love falls upon Mephibosheth’s ears: “Fear not”—assurance; “I will surely show thee kindness”—guaranteed covenant love; “I will restore thee all the land”—a complete inheritance regained, and “thou shalt eat bread at my table continually”—loftiest grace and privilege. Sadly, Mephibosheth still only saw himself as “thy servant” rather than as “one of the king’s sons”. The servile spirit ill-befits one in whom “grace reigns”.

Royal Authority and Royal Grace Establish All, 2 Sa 9:9–13. Whenever Ziba is involved it is with “the king”, 2 Sa 9:9, 11; there is authority but no nearness. Contrast the tone following “As for Mephibosheth”, 2 Sa 9:11b. The use of “king” here stresses the regal character of David’s love, for Mephibosheth was to be “as one of the king’s sons”, 2 Sa 9:11, eating “at the king’s table”, 2 Sa 9:13 (omit italicized ref. in v. 11), in Jerusalem. What a contrast to the “place of no pasture”! True, he was still lame, 2 Sa 9:13b, but the grace that had brought him to the table, had provided by that very means a hiding of all his infirmities. Rejoice, my heart, for the Lord has “brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love”.

Greg Laurie - For Every Season - 

Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1)

Mephibosheth was only five years old when his father Jonathan and his grandfather Saul were killed on the battlefield. Imagine, if you will, life as he had known it up to this point. The privilege and potential of his present could not have prepared him for the hard life he would face in the future. There was life in the palace as a young prince … people waiting on him hand and foot … being raised by his godly father Jonathan. Life was good for this young boy.
But there were dark clouds gathering in his world. In one moment, through no fault of his own, his entire life would change forever. Jonathan knew things were going to change. Thus, he persuaded David to make an agreement to look out for his descendants. He made David promise to show kindness to his family forever. David made that promise. And he kept it.
When news hit the palace that Saul and Jonathan had been killed on the battlefield, the nurse who was caring for Mephibosheth, in her frenzied state, dropped this little boy on the ground. As a result, he was crippled for life.
Perhaps you have gone through hardships in your childhood. Maybe something traumatic has happened to you. You have been dropped in life, so to speak. You wonder if anything good can come out of your life.
Mephibosheth was dropped in life, but God intervened. In fact, God specializes in taking people who have been dropped in life and picking them back up again. That is just what David did for Mephibosheth. That is just what God will do for you.

Warren Wiersbe - Sharing God’s kindness (2 Sam. 9:1–13)

“The kindness of God” is the one of two themes in this chapter (vv. 1, 3, 7), and it means the mercy and favor of the Lord to undeserving people. Paul saw the kindness of God in the coming of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross (Titus 3:1–7 [3:4]; Eph. 2:1–9 [2:7]), and we see in David’s dealings with Mephibosheth a picture of God’s kindness to lost sinners. David had promised both Saul and Jonathan that he would not exterminate their descendants when he became king (1 Sam. 20:12–17, 42; 24:21), and in the case of Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, David not only kept his promise but went above and beyond the call of duty.

The second major theme is the kingship of David. The name “David” is used by itself six times in the chapter: six times he’s called “the king,” and once the two are united in “King David” (v. 5). Nobody in all Israel except David could have shown this kindness to Mephibosheth because David was the king. He had inherited all that had belonged to King Saul (12:8) and could dispose of it as he saw fit. Surely we have here a picture of the Son of David, Jesus Christ, who through His death, resurrection, and ascension has been glorified on the throne of heaven and can now dispense His spiritual riches to needy sinners. The name “David” means “beloved,” and Jesus is God’s beloved Son (Matt. 3:17; 17:5), sent to earth to save lost sinners.

Finding Mephibosheth (2 Sa 9:1–4). It’s important to note that David’s motivation for seeking Mephibosheth was not the sad plight of the crippled man but David’s desire to honor Jonathan, the father. He did what he did “for Jonathan’s sake” (1 Sam. 20:11–17). Mephibosheth was five years old when his father died in battle (4:4), so he was now about twenty-one years old and had a young son of his own (v. 12). David couldn’t show any love or kindness to Jonathan, so he looked for one of Jonathan’s relatives to whom he could express his affection. So it is with God’s children: they are called and saved, not because they deserve anything from God, but for the sake of God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:6; 4:32). God in His grace gives us what we don’t deserve, and in His mercy doesn’t give us what we do deserve.

David found out where Mephibosheth was living by asking Ziba, who served as an “estate manager” for Saul. Ziba answered David’s questions about Mephibosheth, but he turned out to be very deceitful and lied to the king about Mephibosheth when David fled from Absalom (2 Sa 16:1–4) and when David returned to Jerusalem (2 Sa 19:17, 24–30). The combination of David’s impulsiveness and Ziba’s deceit cost Mephibosheth half his property.

Calling Mephibosheth (2 Sa 9:5–8). What were the lame prince’s thoughts when the summons came to appear before the king? If he believed what his grandfather had said about David, he would have feared for his life; but if he had listened to what his father told him about David, he would have rejoiced. Someone had to help the young man to the palace, where he fell before David—something difficult for a person with crippled legs—and acknowledged his own unworthiness. The king spoke his name and immediately assured him that there was nothing to fear. David then unofficially “adopted” Mephibosheth by restoring to him the land that his father, Jonathan, would have inherited from Saul, and then by inviting him to live at the palace and eat at the king’s table. David had eaten at Saul’s table and it had nearly cost him his life, but Mephibosheth would eat at David’s table and his life would be protected.

The fact that David made the first move to rescue Mephibosheth reminds us that it was God who reached out to us and not we who sought Him. We were estranged from God and enemies of God, yet He loved us and sent His Son to die for us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 NKJV). For David to rescue and restore Mephibosheth cost him only the land of Saul, which he had never paid for to begin with; but for God to restore us and bring us into His family, Jesus had to sacrifice His life. Our inheritance is much more than a piece of real estate on earth: it’s an eternal home in heaven!

Enriching Mephibosheth (2 Sa 9:9–13). David took him into his own family, provided for him, protected him, and let him eat at his own table. It wouldn’t be easy to care for a grown man who was lame in both feet, but David promised to do so. Whereas previously Mephibosheth had Ziba and his fifteen sons and twenty servants working for him (v. 10), now all the resources and authority of the king of Israel were at his disposal! Ziba and his sons and servants would still work the land for Mephibosheth and give him the profits, but those profits would be insignificant compared with the king’s wealth. David’s words “eat at my table” are found four times in the passage (vv. 7, 10, 11, 13) and indicate that Jonathan’s son would be treated like David’s son.

Mephibosheth looked upon himself as a “dead dog” (v. 8), and we were “dead” in our trespasses and sins when Jesus called us and gave us new life (Eph. 2:1–6). We have a higher position than that which David gave Mephibosheth, for we sit on the throne with Jesus Christ and reign in life through Him (Rom. 5:17). God gives us the riches of His mercy and grace (Eph. 2:4–7) and “unsearchable riches” in Christ (Eph. 3:8). God supplies all our needs, not out of an earthly king’s treasury, but according to “his riches in glory” (Phil. 4:19). Mephibosheth lived the rest of his life in the earthly Jerusalem (v. 13), but God’s children today are already citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, where they will dwell forever with the Lord (Heb. 12:22–24).

This touching event in the life of David not only illustrates the believer’s spiritual experience in Christ, but it also reveals to us that David was indeed a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). He was a shepherd who had a special concern for the lame sheep in the flock.

One last fact should be noted: when some of Saul’s descendants were chosen to be slain, David protected Mephibosheth from death (21:1–11, especially v. 7). There was another descendant named Mephibosheth (v. 8), but David knew the difference between the two! The spiritual application to believers today is obvious: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 NKJV). “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 5:9 NKJV). “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18 NKJV).

Mephibosheth is a difficult name to remember and pronounce, but he reminds us of some wonderful truths about “the kindness of God” shown to us through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.  (Be Restored)

G Campbell Morgan - 2Sa. 9:1 Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?—2 Sam. 9.1.
There is an exquisite tenderness about the story of this chapter. David's love for Jonathan was still fresh. One can easily imagine how, in the days of his growing prosperity, the king would often think of the old strenuous times, and of his friend's loyalty to him under circumstances so full of stress and peril. For David, the house of Saul, which had caused him so much suffering, was redeemed by his love for Jonathan; and therefore he instituted inquiry as to whether there were any left of that house, to whom he might show kindness for the sake of his friend. This inquiry resulted in the finding of Mephibosheth, whose lameness was tragic and pathetic, in that it had been caused by a fall on the awful day of Jezreel, when his father and grandfather had fallen together. To him the king restored the lands of Saul, and he set him as an honoured guest at his own table. David's own account of this was that he desired to "show the kindness of God unto 'dim." This declaration recalls the words of the covenant made between him and Jonathan long before, in which his friend had charged him to show him "the loving kindness of Jehovah," and also that he should show this same kindness to his house for ever. In this action David is seen as the man after God's own heart, keeping covenant and heaping benefits upon those who might be accounted enemies. The common attitude of human nature would not prompt such action. It was indeed the kindness of God.

Greg Laurie - For Every Season - 

“As for Mephibosheth,”said the king, “he shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.” … So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet. (2 Samuel 9:11, 13)

The Bible tells us that when David sought out Jonathan’s son to show him kindness, Mephibosheth was living in Lo-debar. When the prophet Amos spoke of this place, he said, “And just as stupid is this bragging about your conquest of Lo-debar …” (Amos 6:13 NLT). The name really means “the place of no pasture.” You didn’t want to live in Lo-debar. It was a dry, parched, crummy place to live.
But where were we when Jesus Christ found us? We were living in Lo-debar, a parched, dried-up place. And just like David sought out Mephibosheth, Jesus Christ sought us. It is worth noting that it was not Mephibosheth who looked for David; it was David who looked for Mephibosheth. That might not seem significant, but it really is. David wanted to have a relationship with him. We read in 2 Samuel 9:5, “Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar.” David was persistent. He would not give up on Mephibosheth.
This is a reminder to us that we need to reach out to our friends, neighbors, and even enemies who don’t know Christ. They don’t realize it, but they are living in Lo-debar. They are living in a parched place—separated from God. So we need to ask God to place an urgency in our hearts. We all know people who need someone to reach out to them. That is exactly what David did. And that is what we need to do.

P G Matthew - Daily Delight - 

August 3  David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” —2 Samuel 9:1

What does Mephibosheth mean? In Hebrew, bosheth means “shame,” so I believe it means “big shame.” Mephibosheth represents all sinners who are redeemed. We must therefore give special attention to 2 Samuel 9 because it speaks of the redemption of God’s people.
Mephibosheth deserved death. His grandfather Saul was an unregenerate who refused to obey God’s command and sought his own glory instead. After David ascended to the throne, it would have been proper and just for him to kill all the descendants of his rival Saul, as kings normally did in those days. As a direct descendant of Saul, Mephibosheth son of Jonathan knew and acknowledged that he was liable to being killed. He later said as much to King David after 
Absalom’s rebellion: “All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king” (2 Sam. 19:28).
But David had made a covenant with Jonathan, and he wanted to honor it. After being established by God as the undisputed king of Israel, David expressed his desire to show kindness to any living descendant of his mortal enemy Saul. And so we find the amazing language seen in verse one above.
That invitation is still going out even this day wherever the gospel is preached. It is the invitation of the great King, who, rather than showing justice, chooses to show kindness to his enemies. What is the invitation? “Come unto me; I will give you rest.” This is what the gospel is all about. We are all, by nature, Mephibosheths—sinners, people of great shame, enemies of God and deserving of his wrath. But God in mercy sends out his great gospel invitation, and we are saved. Why? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
This is the great theme of this chapter: God’s covenant mercy shown to the Mephibosheths of the world. The great King, of his own initiative, shows his kindness, grace, and unfailing mercy, not to well-deserving, or even ill-deserving people, but to his hell-deserving shameful enemies. And, like Mephibosheth, we are given a place at the banqueting table of the great King.

William MacDonald - Truths to Live By

December 30
“And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Sam. 9:1)

Mephibosheth was a grandson of King Saul, who had repeatedly tried to take David’s life. He therefore came from a rebel family that might have expected to be wiped out when David came to the throne. In addition to that, Mephibosheth was a helpless cripple, having been dropped by his nurse when he was young. The fact that he lived in someone else’s home in Lo-debar, meaning “no pasture,” suggests that he was impoverished. Lo-debar was on the east side of the Jordan and therefore “afar off” from Jerusalem, God’s dwelling. There was no merit in Mephibosheth as far as David’s favor was concerned.

In spite of all that, David inquired concerning him, sent messengers after him, brought him to the royal palace, assured him that there was nothing to fear, enriched him with all Saul’s land, provided him with a retinue of servants to wait on him and honored him with a permanent place at the king’s table as one of the king’s sons.

Why did David show such mercy, grace and compassion to one who was so unworthy? The answer is “for Jonathan’s sake.” David had made a covenant with Jonathan, the father of Mephibosheth, that he would never cease to show kindness to Jonathan’s family. It was an unconditional covenant of grace (1 Sam. 20:14-17).

Mephibosheth realized this, for when he was first ushered into the king’s presence, he prostrated himself and said that “a dead dog” like he did not deserve such kindness.

It should not be difficult for us to find ourselves in this picture. We were born of a rebel, sinful race under the condemnation of death. We were morally deformed and paralyzed by sin. We too dwelt in a land of “no pasture,” spiritually starved. Not only were we doomed, helpless and impoverished, we were “afar off” from God, without Christ and without hope. There was nothing in us to draw forth God’s love and kindness.

Yet God sought us, found us, delivered us from the fear of death, blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies, brought us to His banqueting table, and raised the banner of His love over us.

Why did He do it? It was for Jesus’ sake. And it was because of His covenant of grace under which He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.

The fitting response for us is to prostrate ourselves in His presence and say, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” 

Robert Neighbour - Mephibosheth

Grace Longing

"And David said: Is there yet any left of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him?" (II Sam. 9:1).
The spirit of grace is beautifully expressed in this passage. One can easily discern yearnings of the heart; one can readily discover the longings of the soul, in the words, "Is there any left?"
Oh, that we might better understand the heart of God! The Bible gives some striking examples of this very thing.
1. Christ longs for Israel. Hear Him as He opens up His heart! "All day long have I stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and a gainsaying people" (Rom. 10:21). What words of love are these! Words expressing no superfluity of suave insincerity, but words expressing the innermost yearnings of the great heart of the great and eternal God.
Is there anything more tender than this? "When Israel was a child, I loved him." "I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by the arms." "I drew them with the cords of a man, with bands of love." "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel?" (Hos. 11:1-8).
What depths of yearning we have in these words — words, expressing a love that cannot be shaken. Chastisement may endure for the night, but forgiveness will come to Israel in the morning.
2. Christ longs after His Church. Listen! "He loved His Church and bought it." The Church wanders, forgetting its first love, and touching the farthest reach of its defection in Laodicea. Yet, it is unto the Church at Laodicea, that Christ says: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in unto him and sup with him, and he with Me." What words of grace and of longing are these!
Surely the Church is dear to the heart of our Lord; and His grace will finally present us, without spot, or blemish or any such thing, before the presence of His glory.
3. Christ longs after the whole world. "God so loved the world," is enough; but much more than this is said. Behold the depths of God's grace in such words as these: "Come unto Me ALL ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest:" "I am the Door, by Me if any man will enter in, he shall be saved:" Twice in one chapter, in John 3:15 and in John 3:16, do we find the very same words: "That whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish." The very last call of the Bible is: "Whosoever will, let him come."
Of a truth, God longs after the lost. He calls for him to come. He would that "all should come unto repentance." Our God is "The God of all grace."

Grace Unfolding
"That I may shew the kindness of God unto him" (II Sam. 9:1).
The word translated "kindness" in this passage is the Hebrew, "chesed" and it means "grace." And wherein is the grace of God "unfolded" in this verse? In that it is kindness unto the house of Saul. The "House of Saul" stood for a dynasty opposed and antagonistic to David. Those of the "house of Saul" were enemies.
Grace is "the kindness of God toward enemies."
"God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).
"Scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die, but GOD," but God, but God — You "were dead in trespasses and sins; ye * * walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air * * children of disobedience * * conversation * * in the lusts of the flesh * * fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind * * by nature the children of wrath * * but God, but God, but God * * quickened, * * raised * * made us to sit with Him * * for, by grace are ye saved."

   "Majestic sweetness sits enthroned,
   Upon the Saviour's brow:
   His head with radiant glories crowned,
   His lips with grace o'erflow.

   No mortal can with Him compare,
   Among the sons of men;
   Fairer is He, than all the fair
   That fill the Heavenly train.

   He saw me plunged in deep distress,
   He flew to my relief;
   For me He bore the shameful Cross,
   And carried all my grief.

   To Him I owe my life and breath,
   And all the joys I have;
   He makes me triumph over death,
   He saves me from the grave."

Grace Explaining
"For Jonathan's sake" (2 Sam. 9:1).
Wonderful depths are to be discovered in these simple words. "I will shew him the kindness of God for Jonathan's sake." The heart of David had been knit to Jonathan. Now, for Jonathan's sake, David will show grace to Saul.
No human example can fully set forth the grace of God, much less can any human basis of kindness fully set forth the basis of the grace of God.
Still we all know that there is declared in our key verse the fact that God's grace is made possible only in Christ, God's well-beloved Son.
"God Who is rich in love, for the great love wherewith He loved us, * * hath quickened us together with Christ, (for by grace are ye saved)."
All the grace of God, both now and in the ages to come, is made possible unto us, only in God's "kindness toward us, in Christ Jesus."
It is in Christ Jesus that we are made new creatures. It is in Christ Jesus that we, who were afar off, are made nigh. It is in Christ Jesus that we have our access by the Spirit unto the Father.
God is a God of all grace, but God is also a God of infinite holiness and justice. God's holiness could not fellowship the unclean, and God's justice could not justify the ungodly. God's grace operated upon the only basis upon which it could operate. Christ died for sinners, and imputed unto them who believe His holiness; Christ died for sinners and fully met every demand of the justice of God. So it is that we are saved by grace, but a grace made possible in our Lord Jesus Christ.

   "For nothing good have I,
   Whereby Thy grace to claim;
   I'll wash my garments white,
   In the Blood of Calvary's Lamb,


   Jesus paid it all,
   All to Him, (God) I owe;
   Sin had left a crimson stain,
   He washed it white as snow."

Grace Designating
"Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.
"And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-debar" (II Sam. 9:3, 4).
Let us observe the condition of Mephibosheth. How wonderful it all is! Grace designates its blessings to one so helpless and impoverished as poor Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan.
1. He was at Lo-debar. Lo-debar means "no pasture." This is just where the sinner dwells. He is living in Egypt with its onions, and garlic, and melons. He knows nothing of Canaan with its finest of the wheat, its olives and pomegranates, its milk and honey.
The sinner is "filling his belly with the husks that the swine did eat." The sinner is starving for the Bread of Life and dying in thirst for the Water of Life.
Grace stands and cries to the one who dwells at Lo-debar: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and ye who have no money come ye, buy and eat; yea, buy wine and milk, without money and without price."
Grace stands and calls to the thirsty: "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink." To the hungry, grace says: "I am the Bread of Life. He that eateth of Me shall never hunger."
2. He was in the home of Machir. The word means "sold." That is where the sinner is today. Sold under sin. But Machir was the son of Ammiel, and Ammiel means, "People of God."
How striking is the analogy. Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan, who was the son of Saul, king of Israel; Mephibosheth, who should have been heir to a kingdom — sold, impoverished.
3. He was lame in both of his feet. His nurse had dropped him as she fled with him, when the news of Saul's and of Jonathan's death in the battle had come to her. In her haste, she had dropped him. He was lame in both of his feet.
The sinner too is lame. He has no strength to get to God. How beautiful it all is. "When we were yet without strength, Christ died." When Mephibosheth was without strength, David sent and fetched him from Lo-debar.
God's grace is designated toward the ungodly, the unworthy. Christ came into the pool of Bethesda, the house of God; and said to the man thirty-eight years sick, "Arise, take up thy bed and walk."
Illustration: One day Dr. Bernardo was accosted by a dirty urchin, asking admission to the shelter of his great London Orphanage. Dr. Bernardo questioned the lad: "My boy, I do not know you. Who are you? What have you to recommend you?" Immediately the youthful waif held up the threads of his torn and ragged coat and said: "If you please sir, I thought these here would be all I needed to recommend me." No wonder that the man of God caught the lad in his arms and received him. He had appealed to grace.

Grace Fetching
"Then King David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar" (II Sam. 9:5).
The word "fetching" is not much used, but it is a word which is very expressive. It is not only "tell him to come;" but it is also "provide all means for his coming."
This is just what our Blessed Lord does. He invites us to come to Him! and then He sends us One to conduct us to Him; and then He provides for all the exigencies of our coming.
"He found him in a desert land, and in the waste and howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him. * * He kept him. * * As an eagle fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord did lead him" (Deut. 32:11, 12).
Abraham sent Eliezer for his son's bride. Eliezer said to Rebekah, "Will you go?" The damsel answered, "I will go." Then she was escorted across the desert sands unto Abraham and unto Isaac. Eliezer "fetched her." He furnished the camel, and he conducted her, and he provided all things for her safety and comfort.
God has sent the Holy Spirit to call us from Lo-debar. He "fetches us" over the sands of this life. In Him — our Paraclete, our Heavenly Conductor we will find all our needs supplied; until He brings us home to Glory, and to our God, and to our blessed Bridegroom.

Grace Bestowing
"Now when Mephibosheth * * was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!
"And David said unto him, Fear not * * I will restore thee all * * thou shalt eat bread at my table continually" (II Sam. 9:6, 7).
How precious is this scene.
1. The picture of Mephibosheth's appreciation. Jonathan's son came with no sounding of trumpets, as though he had accomplished some worthy feat. He came in humility, confessing his own worthlessness. He said, "What is thy servant that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?"
Grace excludes boasting, because grace is bestowed where there is no worth. The sinner cannot begin to recount before God his merits. There is no merit. The sinner deserves nothing but the house of Machir, nothing but Lo-debar. The sinner deserves no more than judgment and eternal death.
The sinner will not so much as lift up his face, but beating upon his breast he says: "God be merciful unto me the sinner."
2. The picture of David's kindness. To David and to him alone belongs the praise of lifting up Mephibosheth. It was not David and Mephibosheth, but David alone.
The sinner gives all glory to God. Grace does it all and therefore deserves all the praise.
Consider the results of David's kindness. He restored to Mephibosheth all he had lost, and besides all of that, he gave him place at his own table continually.
Such kindness bespeaks the gifts of God. We receive back all we lost in Adam, and besides we receive much more, because we are made to sit with Him in the Heavenlies forevermore. Grace gives to us all that belongs to the Giver of grace. "Father, I will that they may be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glories." This is good, but this is not all. "And the glory that Thou hast given Me I have given to them."
To the elder son the father said, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."
Thank God, for the bestowals of grace. And what will it be in the by and by? For in the ages to come, God will reveal unto us "the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

Grace Praised
"My lord the king, is as an angel of God" (2 Sam. 19:27).
It is necessary here to study a bit of David's subsequent history, after he had restored Mephibosheth.
1. Absalom had raised an insurrection against his father David.
2. David had fled from the city followed by his faithful servants.
3. Absalom had been slain in battle and the kingdom made sure unto David.
4. David had been met by Ziba, who was steward over all of the goods of Saul, which had been restored unto Mephibosheth. Ziba had lied unto David concerning Mephibosheth, stating that Mephibosheth had refused to follow him, thinking that David's discomfiture might mean the restoring of the kingdom unto his own hands, as one of Saul's sons.
5. Howbeit, from the day David had left, and until his return Mephibosheth had remained loyal and true to David. He had neither "dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes."
6. Now that David had returned in peace, Mephibosheth hasted to meet him. He reminded David of how he had received him, when he was a dead man; how he had accorded him a seat at his own table and how he was unto him, "as an angel of God."
7. Mephibosheth had but one great joy, and that was that his lord, the king, had "come again in peace to his own house."
The brief stating of this history, reminds us of the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ is rejected among men. He has gone into the Heavens. We, too, should stand aloof from any fellowship which might in any way discredit our allegiance to the King. Our one chief desire should be the return of Christ and crowning.

   Lift up your heads, pilgrims a-weary,
   See day's approach, now crimson the sky:
   Night shadows flee, and your Beloved,
   Awaited with longing, at last draweth nigh.

   Dark was the night, sin warred against us,
   Heavy the load of sorrow we bore:
   But now we see signs of His coming;
   Our hearts glow within us, joy's cup runneth o'er.

   O blessed hope! O blissful promise!
   Filling our hearts with rapture Divine:
   O day of days! Hail Thy appearing!
   Thy transcendent glory, forever shall shine.

   Even so come, precious Lord Jesus
   Creation waits redemption to see:
   Caught up with clouds, soon we shall meet Thee.
   O blessed assurance, forever with Thee.
    — Mabel Johnston Camp.

Mephibosheth Represents the Sinner

Now Mephibosheth represents the sinner. My dear friend, you are like Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth pictures you. And how does Mephibosheth picture you?

1. He Was Deformed

Well, first of all, he was deformed—and so are we. He was crippled by the fall—and so are we. And so Mephibosheth was deformed. He couldn’t come. He had to be brought. He did not want to come. He had to be sought. And that’s the way we are. We are spiritually and morally crippled by sin.

2. He Was Dethroned

But not only, dear friend, was he deformed; Mephibosheth was dethroned. You see, he was a prince, but he was living in exile. Did you know that God made us to be kings and princes, but we’ve been living on the backside of nowhere without the Lord Jesus Christ, breathing dust and dragging our dead limbs behind us, when we ought to be sitting enthroned with our Lord? But here was a prince who had lost his kingdom. He was dethroned.

3. He Was Doomed

And not only was he deformed, and dethroned; but, friend, he was doomed. He knew he had the sentence of death on him. He knew that he was an enemy and that he deserved no mercy. He said, “Why should you do this to such a dog as I am?” (2 Samuel 9:8) He realized that the sentence of death was his. And so should we. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

4.  He Was Deceived

That’s what we were. We were deformed, dethroned, and doomed; and I guess the worst thing is deceived. All of this time Mephibosheth was thinking David was his enemy, when David was his friend. Did you know that people feel that way about God? Did you know that God has to run us down in order to save us? Did you know that? We don’t seek Him. We fear God. There’s something—sin has put a negative attitude; the devil has done a trick on us. And the devil says, “God’s out to get you; don’t let Him save you.” And you’ll sit in a service like this and be negative toward God like somehow you’ve got to become one of those old Christians.
Oh, my dear friend, all God wants to do is to bless you, love you, and to share the blessings of the blood covenant with you. And here’s Mephibosheth, who’s been deceived about David. He’s been told that David was his enemy, when David was really his friend. What a picture of a lost sinner is Mephibosheth! Jonathan pictures, my friend, the Savior, who made a blood covenant with you. Mephibosheth pictures the sinner, who needs to enter into the blood covenant.

What Mephibosheth Received

Now I want to show you what Mephibosheth received. And what Mephibosheth received is what you will receive if you enter into the blood covenant. And it’s so very wonderful. There are four basic things that he received. And I want you to see them.
1.  The King’s Forgiveness

Second Samuel chapter 9—the very first thing he received is what I want to call the king’s forgiveness. Look in verse 7: “And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness.” (2 Samuel 9:7) Hallelujah! He deserved judgment, and he received kindness.
Friend, because of the covenant, you don’t have to be afraid. Hallelujah! You don’t! You deserve hell, but you’re not going to hell, because of the blood covenant. And so he received the king’s forgiveness.

2. The King’s Fellowship

But not only did he receive the king’s forgiveness; he received the king’s fellowship. Four times it is mentioned that he is to eat with the king. Look, if you will, in verse 7: “Thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.” (2 Samuel 9:7) Look, if you will, in verse 10: “Thy master’s son shall eat bread alway at my table.” (2 Samuel 9:10) Look, if you will, at the last part of verse 11: “He shall eat at my table.” (2 Samuel 9:11) Look, if you will, in verse 13: “He did eat continually at the king’s table.” (2 Samuel 9:13) Why does God say that? Because, my dear friend, a fellowship meal is the most intimate association that you can have.
Now if you were invited to meet with the President of the United States, that would be one thing; but, friend, if you were invited to dine with the President of United States, that would be something else, wouldn’t it? It’s saying, “You’re not just going to have a once-in-a-while meal; you’re going to sit at my table continually.” You see, salvation, my friend, is not a funeral; it’s a feast. Do you understand that? Listen. I’m not inviting you to something bad; I’m inviting you to something wonderful. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him,”—and do what?—“and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

3. The King’s Fortune

You see, there’s the king’s fellowship. But not only the king’s forgiveness, and the king’s fellowship; my dear friend, there’s the king’s fortune. And the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said unto him, “I have given unto thy master’s son all that pertaineth to Saul and to all his house.” (2 Samuel 9:9) Now, who was Saul? Saul was the king. And he’s saying, “Mephibosheth, enough; and you don’t understand enough; and you are not worthy.”
The devil will say that to you, dear friend. I’m going to tell you something. Don’t you argue with him, because you’ll lose the argument. You are not worthy. Just point him to the blood covenant and step out of the argument. Now the argument is between him and God—and he’s going to lose.

Conclusion Dear friend, it doesn’t make any difference: God has done it for Jesus’ sake, and on the cross, with his rich, red, royal blood, He made a covenant for you. And you can enter into that covenant of life and peace. And I pray God you’ll not miss it. (From "Enjoying Covenant Blessings" - Adrian Rogers)

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