Hello, My Name is Mephibosheth!

(2 Samuel 9:1-8 ESV) 1 And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” 3 And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” 4 The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” 5 Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. 6 And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” 7 And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” 8 And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”

This story is one that speaks to God’s great compassion and mercy to mankind. David, who was king of Israel, decided to show kindness to the remaining members of Saul’s household. Upon inquiring if there were any remaining family members, Mephibosheth’s name was presented to him. Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, Saul’s grandson, and was lame in both of his feet. David blessed Mephibosheth by restoring the land that had once belonged to his grandfather Saul, and taking him into the royal palace to enjoy the privilege of eating at David’s table. It is a beautiful picture of the unmerited favor of God.

There are several things to consider. First, David chose to be merciful in spite of Saul’s hatred for him. Saul had done everything in his power to destroy David. He allowed his hatred to control his attitude and actions toward David. Every waking moment Saul was consumed with the destruction of David. I’m grateful that God chose to be merciful to me! I’ve not always walked faithfully with the Lord. There was a time when my daily routine was all about being rebellious against Him. In spite of that, He loved me in a real and tangible way.

Second, from the natural point of view, Mephibosheth wasn’t the best candidate for blessing. Being crippled, he could never effectively serve David or repay the kindness given him. Even the fruit from the restored land would have to be worked by servants. Mephibosheth realized his limitations when he responded, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” The only thing he could give was his sincere appreciation. So Mephibosheth, “came to David and fell on his face and paid homage.” Likewise, we must realize that God’s mercy is given freely, not because of anything (other than worship) we can bring to Him.

Lastly, we discover that mercy is distributed consistently. David never revoked Mephibosheth’s claim to his favor. Verse 13 tells us, “So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table.” Mephibosheth was an unworthy candidate and he had nothing of material value to bring to David. He simply responded the only way he could; he freely received the favor, and he graciously returned gratitude.

Through this historical account we see that God loves us with an everlasting love. We don’t deserve it and we certainly cannot provide anything that will increase God’s holdings. He only desires one thing–gratitude. I can do that!

PRAYER: Father, Your mercy is precious to me. My heart is full of gratitude when I think of all You have provided me. Thank You!

Effective Leadership

(1 Samuel 23:1-5 ESV) 1 Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” 2 Therefore David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the LORD said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” 3 But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4 Then David inquired of the LORD again. And the LORD answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

When we think of leaders, we usually think of someone who is “high up” in an organization. The President of the United States is often referred to as the “leader of the free world!” Steve Jobs led Apple to become one of the most prosperous companies in the world today.

But, what about leadership closer to home. Who steps up to the plate when a crisis needs to be averted? While it is true that David was a well known and highly respected king, this passage of scripture provides insight as to how anyone can provide leadership in difficult situations. Notice…

  • David listened. “Now THEY told David…” Usually, problems come to leadership through the voices closest to the chaos. As a pastor, I often discover problems that need my attention when a member provides information I’m unaware of. For you, it may be your spouse, or a child; maybe a co-worker who takes the time to share vital information that needs to be addressed.
  • David prayed. “Therefore David inquired of the Lord…” This was a BIG problem with national consequences. David knew he needed wisdom from God to effectively  defeat the enemy. But, what about your challenges? As bad as it seems, your problems usually don’t carry national consequences. Even still, prayer should always be the starting point.
  • David listened some more. “But, David’s men said…” It would be easy to criticize these men. But, before we do that let’s consider the fact that their lives were on the line. Their families could be negatively impacted if David was wrong. They wanted to be sure that David was actually hearing the Lord properly before agreeing to engage in warfare that could possibly end in death.
  • David prayed some more. “David inquired of the Lord AGAIN…” David was wise to pray again. When a personal decision determines the welfare of a corporate body, the leader must be certain about the will of God. The New Testament confirms the need to ask, seek, and knock when it comes to prayer. Leaders unwilling to pray are unworthy to be followed!
  • David led. “So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah…” David received the credit for leading a team that was ill-prepared to face the giants in their lives. He led them on two battlefields… their personal fears… and their powerful enemies.

John Michael Montgomery made famous as song that says,

Life’s a dance you learn as you go
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow
Don’t worry about what you don’t know
Life’s a dance you learn as you go

PRAYER: Father, thank you for giving us the ability to lead with divine wisdom. May we overcome the giants of fear that would try to hold us back from victory. Give us the courage to face our challenges with faith and courage. Amen.

Cussed Out. Stoned. Flung Dust.

(2 Samuel 16:5-14 ESV) 5 When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually. 6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7 And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! 8 The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” 9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” 10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?'” 11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. 12 It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today.” 13 So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. 14 And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself.

Well, this is just uncomfortable. No, really. David was in a very difficult place. His son, Absalom was trying to wrestle the kingdom from his hands. If that wasn’t enough, a foul-mouthed descendant of Saul had showed up and was taking out his frustrations on the king. We are told that Shimei was cursing at David, throwing stones at him, and flinging dirt in his direction. Sounds like a crazy man doesn’t it? (Shimei actually had some valid reasons that we won’t get into today)

In reading this, I thought about times I’ve had people just “go off” on me. I know that you’ve experienced the same thing in your life. I remember one lady screaming, “Preacher, one of these days I’m gonna split hell wide open, and it’s gonna be your fault.” That was a bit difficult to take! Another time, I had a church member tell me, “Preacher, if you can’t live on $150 per week, you don’t deserve to live.” Trust me, I could tell you some doozies…

Leaders tend to have targets painted on their backs. Whatever, or wherever you lead, there will be people who resent your position, and disagree with your decisions.

Parents get disrespected all the time. It’s unsettling when a child you have raised disrespects you to your face. It’s devastating. Just ask David about Absalom.

David’s response to Shimei was gracious. He was surrounded by his personal bodyguards and could have had him killed with a hand gesture. In fact, Abishai offered to take him out. A nod from the head of David would have sealed his fate.

David was fully aware of his own sins. He had recently been confronted by Nathan for his sin with Bathsheba and the planned assassination of her husband, Uriah. He was guilty. If not for the grace of God, he could have been under judgment himself. It may be that his own forgiveness allowed him to extend some patience to Shimei.

I’m reminded of the New Testament Scripture that instructs, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

This story had a happy ending. Although it was a troubling incident, we are told, “The king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself.” (Verse 14)

So, the next time someone curses you, hurls stones your direction, and flings dirt in your face… take a step back, breathe deeply, and extend grace… for there was a time when the Lord extended His hand of grace to you. Refresh yourself in that knowledge and move on to a calmer environment.

PRAYER: Realizing my imperfections, I thank You today for grace. I certainly don’t deserve it. Help me to extend that grace to others who may have valid reasons to be upset and frustrated with me. Bring peace. And let it start with me. Amen.

It Ain’t Over Until God Says So…

(1 Samuel 23:9-14 ESV) 9 David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” 10 Then David said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11 Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.” 13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. 14 And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.

The historical account we read today describes a low-point in David’s life. He was aware of his destiny, but for whatever reasons, he had not yet arrived at the place of transition from being a young shepherd boy to being the king he was meant to be. If things weren’t bad enough, he was surrounded by men who were in pretty dire straights as well. Scripture says, “And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.” (1 Samuel 22:2 ESV)

David needed trustworthy information so he called for Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and inquire of the Lord. David asked God two very important questions. (1) Will Saul come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me? (2) Will the men of Keilah betray me into the hands of Saul to prevent their destruction? The answer to both questions was straightforward. “He will.” “They will.”

Let me just say that this was not the answer David was hoping for. When we call out to God during difficult seasons, we want to hear a more encouraging word; an answer more in line with our hopes and desires. But, God did not gloss over the challenges that lay ahead for David. He wanted him to be alert. His mind had to be sharp as he faced Saul’s relentless pursuit. He could not afford to let down his guard.

I read and reread this passage searching for a comforting word to David. You know what? It’s not there. God did not add the obligatory, “Don’t worry, I’ll fight the battle for you.” Scripture simply follows up with, “Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go.”

How could David confidently advance knowing that Saul and his men would pursue him so aggressively? It’s because God had promised David that he would be king; that he would succeed Saul in leading Israel. Since that was not yet a reality, David knew it was coming in the future. So, he just kept believing!

And here’s the good news…  “Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.” God’s promise to David became evident each day; at the end of every day David was able to declare God’s faithfulness. He experienced new mercy each day even while being pursued by the most powerful and unreasonable man in Israel.

The same is true for you! Satan, the enemy of your soul is out to steal from you, to kill you, and destroy you. He wants to prevent you from achieving your destiny in Christ. Stay sharp! Continue to advance! And, when you look back over your shoulder, you will see the hand of God as He directed your steps throughout life’s journey.

PRAYER: Father, I will trust You even when it appears that my enemy is advancing. Your promises are true regardless of the pursuit of the enemy. In the end, I will overcome because You will keep me safe in Your hand. Amen.

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