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A Friendly Reminder

2 Samuel 9 • April 16, 2023 • g1265

Pastor Chris Mathis from Calvary Chapel High Desert teaches an expository message through 2 Samuel 9 titled, “A Friendly Reminder.”

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Pastor Chris Mathis

April 16, 2023

Sermon Scripture Reference

Let’s dive into God’s Word. We’ll read from 2 Samuel 9.

“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?’ And there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba. So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, ‘Are you Ziba?’ And he said, ‘At your service!’ Then the king said, ‘Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?’ And Ziba said to the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.’ So the king said to him, ‘Where is he?’ And Ziba said to the king, ‘Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.’ Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar.”

“Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, ‘Mephibosheth?’ And he answered, ‘Here is your servant!’ So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father's sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.’ Then he bowed himself, and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?’”

“And the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, ‘I have given to your master's son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master's son may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's son shall eat bread at my table always.’ Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, ‘According to all that my lord the king has commanded his servant, so will your servant do.’ ‘As for Mephibosheth,’ said the king, ‘he shall eat at my table like one of the king's sons.’ Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants of Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king's table. And he was lame in both his feet.”

Every one of us have had moments when we go out to the mail, and in the stack of mail we see “friendly reminders.” You may get a “friendly reminder” from your dentist that it’s time for your six-month cleaning. But you don’t like seeing the dentist. Or you may get a “friendly reminder” that pops up in your email that says your anti-virus software is going to expire in 14 days, and you are set to auto-renew.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you lost a credit card or your credit card number got stolen, so they reissue you a new one? And all the bills you had set up on auto-pay get cancelled, but you don’t know that until you get a little “friendly reminder” from the water company that your bill is three days overdue. You say, “Oh! I need to give them the new card number.”

Here in 2 Samuel 9, there is a little “friendly reminder” that comes to King David. His kingdom is being established. And between chapters 7-9, David has experienced the loving-kindness of God. It’s a Hebrew word that shows up 250 times in the Old Testament. It’s the word “chesed.”

It was Myles Coverdale in 1535 who made up the word “loving-kindness” to translate the word “chesed.” One way in which it is defined is “an act in which a person from whom I have the right to expect nothing gives me everything.” When you really have the right to get nothing but get everything, that’s an act of loving-kindness.

Loving-kindness in God’s Word is such an important truth in the revelation of who God is. It’s usually better illustrated than defined. So let me give you an illustration.

There is a man by the name of Samuel Cesay, who runs a ministry organization in Sierra Leone, West Africa. The main focus of the ministry is to build schools in remote villages to educate the people. But in 2014, Ebola broke out in West Africa. And as the Ebola virus swept through the area, Samuel changed the focus of his ministry from building schools in remote villages to helping families survive while they were quarantined from their exposure to Ebola.

Rumors were spreading that families were literally starving to death, because they did not get enough food for a three-week quarantine. The government did not have the resources to help people out, so Samuel quickly shifted his focus to provide food for those starving families.

As this was going on, Samuel had a man in his ministry by the name of John who they had to let go, because some rumors of misappropriation of funds had turned out to be true. So John lost his job, and he was not happy with the ministry. John then went to the local witch doctor and hired him to pronounce a death curse on Samuel.

It wasn’t too long after that John’s family, of 23 people, was exposed to Ebola and forced into the three-week quarantine in one house. When Samuel got word of it—though John had treated him so poorly—he leaped into action and he made John and his family a priority for the ministry. They delivered food to that house for the entire three weeks.

And when John saw the ministry come and bring him what he did not deserve, there are reports of him trying to break through the quarantine barricade, because he was so overwhelmed. At the end of it, not a single one of his family members died, starved or missed a meal. This so radically did something in John’s life. Why? Because he had the right to nothing, but he, through loving-kindness, received everything.

That’s what’s present for us here in 2 Samuel 9. And this loving-kindness begins to show up in chapter 7, where David gets an idea to build a house for the Lord. But God said to David, “I’ve got something for you. You’re not going to build Me a house; I’m going to build you a house.” God made this promise to David that his house, his family, his throne and his kingdom would be everlasting. It would always exist.

It was at this moment in David’s life that he did not deserve what he received, but this tidal wave of loving-kindness swept over his life, and God said to him, “Oh, David, let me show you who I am. I am full of loving-kindness, and I am going to do this work for you.”

Then in chapter 8, you see God beginning to fulfill that promise of His loving-kindness to establish his throne, his kingdom and his house. In 2 Samuel 8:2-3, it starts off with David “defeated.” But verse 6 says, “The Lord preserved David wherever he went,” and verse 15 says, “David reigned over all Israel.” In other words, this tidal wave of God’s loving-kindness came onto David. God was saying, “David, I’m going to do so much for you.” And God was accomplishing that in chapter 8; David’s kingdom was being established. God was fulfilling His promises.

Then it’s as if David checked the mail one day in chapter 9, verse 1, and gets a “friendly reminder.” “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?’”

As we work through chapter 9, we will discover three indicators of kindness. The first one is kindness to reassure, the second is a kindness to restore and the third indicator is the kindness to receive.

Remember in chapter 7, David is swept away in a wave of God’s loving-kindness toward him. It reminds him, in chapter 9, to show the same loving-kindness to others.

It’s like this: the summer months are coming, and the pool that may be green now is going to be crystal clear. People are going to have get-togethers, and there will be people in the pool. And there will be a child who will get out of the pool, spot a dry aunt or uncle and go over to them and give them a big, wet hug. The child wanted to share his love. Someone will be sopping wet with the loving-kindness of God, but he’ll say, “Who can I hug so they experience what I’ve experienced?”

So David asks the question: “Is there any relative of my best friend in the world, from the household of the previous king, to whom I can show this loving-kindness?” The question in verse 1 is for Jonathan’s sake.

In chapter 7, David experienced God’s loving-kindness and now in chapter 9, David is reminded of a promise he made to Jonathan when the two friends were together, in 1 Samuel 20. It was there that they promised before the Lord that they would show one another the loving-kindness of God; that whether Jonathan lived or died, David would be kind to Jonathan’s household. David wanted to hug someone with that same kindness, so he said, “Is there anybody still there, so that I can show them what I have found in God?”

Now we see this person who is going to receive this loving-kindness. But there are some unusual observations to be made. There is a son of Jonathan’s who is still alive. There is one from the previous king, but you have to go all the way down in our text to verse 6 to get his name, Mephibosheth. We will find all kinds of things about him before we even get his name.

Expectant mothers, don’t name your son Mephibosheth. Don’t do that to him.

Most of what we have studied is about David, but now the central character in this chapter is Mephibosheth. And think about that loving-kindness: one who has a right to nothing, to expect nothing but receives everything.

Before we are given his name, we find that Mephibosheth “is lame in his feet,” verse 3. The wild thing about Mephibosheth is that this is his most frequently referenced characteristic. That is the first thing we are told about him, and it is the last thing we are told about him in this chapter, in verse 13.

In chapter 4, verse 4, we find out he became lame in his feet when he was fleeing for his life. His father, Jonathan, died in battle. His grandfather, Saul, died in battle, and while Mephibosheth was trying to escape death at the age of five, he fled and fell, resulting in him becoming lame in both feet. Then in chapter 19, verses 24 and 26, you see again the reference to his lameness.

Now in chapter 9, Ziba comes to David to say that Mephibosheth has nothing to offer David. He wouldn’t even be qualified to be the next king, because he is lame in his feet.

Put yourself in Mephibosheth’s shoes. The day he walked through “the valley of the shadow of death,” because his dad and his grandfather died, was the last day he walked. That was when he became lame. You have a sense here that this man, who is going to get this loving-kindness, has nothing to offer. His life is tragically defined by a disability.

And that’s real for some of you. You remember the doctor visits and hearing the label that you have tried to shake off. “You’re permanently disabled.” You may know exactly what it’s like to have your feet turned into limp fish, because that lameness is real for you. You know the day-to-day battles of waking up in the morning, and you’re mentally ready to conquer the world, but physically you can’t. It’s a daily punch in the gut every time you open your eyes.

There are some who look at Mephibosheth, who is lame in his feet, and there is this lame reality in their life. You have crept into church and thought, I have done much wrong in my life and so much bad that I have nothing to offer, nothing to give God. You have slid into the pew and sit there “spiritually lame.” It’s just like Mephibosheth.

Now you read further and you find that Mephibosheth is exiled. Notice where he’s found, in verse 4. He is in another man’s house, “in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.” Lo Debar is mentioned twice, in verses 4 and 5.

The final run that left Mephibosheth lame pushed him until he stopped in Lo Debar, which was a desolate, deserted place. Lo Debar is literally translated “no pasture.” It’s such an obscure, out-on-the-fringe of civilization.

You may realize those moments when you are driving out in the middle of nowhere, and way off the road off a dirt path there’s an old trailer that’s been converted, and somebody’s actually living in it. What story is going on there! It’s a Lo Debar place. It’s a place to hide, a place where you don’t want anyone to know where you are. Lo Debar is a place that is described by Sural Baxter as “being so out on the fringe of society that Lo Debar became a synonym for a place of no value.”

So Mephibosheth was trying to hide. He was in a place that for every stop sign, there are 15 “No Trespassing” signs. You go to a place like that to never be found.

In verse 5, we see that Mephibosheth is dependent on others. Machir is a man found in the Scriptures whose life is marked by loving-kindness toward Saul and David. He took Mephibosheth in. So Mephibosheth had nothing.

Do you see how there is some hope that comes to you if you are “spiritually lame”? If you are exiled from the family of God? If you’re trying to hide from the things you’ve done? There’s a reality that you battle with the fear of remembering what David wants to do: show loving-kindness.

Now we have in verses 6-8 that David brings Mephibosheth into his palace. You can imagine Mephibosheth out on the ranch of Lo Debar as the dirt is kicking up, because the king has sent his people to pick him up. He can’t run or hide. He is lifted onto one of the king’s animals. And now we find him on the cold, stone floor in the king’s palace.

Compare the two. David is the loved king of Israel. He is the most powerful man in the world, and according to chapter 8, he has win upon win in subduing all his enemies, because of God’s goodness. He has within his palace the fragrance of royalty in the cedar that panels the rooms. He has the dressing attire of a king. And there, in fear, is Mephibosheth on the floor of the palace. He has the very familiar smell of wind and dirt from Lo Debar. Mephibosheth is thinking, At any moment I will feel, as my life ends, the feeling of a cold, sharp sword slipping through my neck, and David’s throne will be established.

But this will be an act of kindness. Verse 7 says, “David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness.’” This is the first indicator of kindness: the kindness to reassure.

Remember all that Mephibosheth has gone through. He has nothing to offer, yet he is brought to the king. According to chapter 8, you would think he’s the last relative of Saul, the previous king, so David’s throne would be established by getting rid of this man. But David says to him, in reassuring fashion, “Do not fear. That’s not my intention.”

Reassuring words spoken in a moment of panic and fear are one of the greatest marks of kindness. They are words of truth when panic comes in from uncertainty. They are words of love when fear is deceiving the heart. And everyone knows what it’s like to be in a fearful moment.

I was surprised about a month ago at a men’s leadership meeting at our church. I asked them, “What are some of the things you see going on that the church is facing?” Hands began to go up, and their replies all focused around fear. In the children’s ministry, we’re seeing a lot of kids come in who are fearful. They’re fearful about their mom and dad. They’re fearful about the future. Another man said that where he was working, he was seeing a huge spike in men in the business committing suicide. A lot of the reasons for that are around their fear; around how they will make ends meet, the fear they’re facing in their responsibilities.

Every year a study is released of the top ten fears. Think about it. Is this not real to you—the fear of a loved one dying? The fear of a loved one becoming seriously ill? The fear of civil unrest? The fear of not having enough money for retirement? The fear of mass shootings? We understand fear.

In 2 Samuel 4:4, it says that Mephibosheth fled in fear, fell and became lame in both his feet. But now watch what David does in 2 Samuel 9:7. He said, “Do not fear.” Kindness to reassure does this first: it is quick to extinguish fear.

There is this great loving-kindness that comes to you and me that in Christ, we do not walk in fear. He “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” David comes in and says the truth to Mephibosheth that is throughout Scripture, “Do not fear.”

Think about how important that is. There were the angels that appeared to the shepherds at the announcement of Jesus’ birth. Those shepherds were all afraid, but the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” When Mary found out that she was going to give birth to the Christ child, the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid.” In Revelation 1, when Jesus showed up before John, and John was overwhelmed and fell down in fear, Jesus said to him, “Do not be afraid.” In John’s writing it says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” And look at the loving-kindness of David in our text. He said to Mephibosheth, “Do not fear.”

But we have to look at this correctly. If you say, “Do not be afraid,” you should be able to help eliminate that fear. If you just say, “Don’t be afraid” and you just run off and think, I’d be scared to death if that was me! But at least I told him the right thing, that doesn’t eliminate the fear.

Let’s illustrate it this way. It comes to that moment in life when your hip is constantly bothering you, and you go to the doctor. He takes the images and tells you, “I hate to break it to you, but you’re at that age when arthritis is setting in. You’ve been rough on those hips. It’s time for a hip replacement.”

You say, “I watched that on YouTube one time, and they use Makita power tools to do that.”

“But you really need it.”

You may put it off, but finally you schedule it. And just for the sake of illustration here, you have your early appointment to be there, but for some odd reason, you have no friend or family to take you to your appointment. So you do what we do in this day and age—you get on your cell phone and order a Lyft or an Uber and check the prices. Then early in the morning, your Uber driver pulls up and you get in the car and head for the hospital to get your hip replacement. Then when the driver realizes your destination is the hospital and you’re a little uneasy, says, “I realize you’re going to the hospital. Is everything okay?”

Then with some trepidation and a little crack in your voice, you say, “Yes. I’m going to get a hip replacement today, and I just couldn’t get anybody to take me.”

The Uber driver says, “Ooh, I’ve seen that on YouTube. I actually think Makita sponsors the operating room there.” You pull up to the hospital a little shaky, you get out and your Uber driver motions you over to his window and says to you, “Don’t be afraid.” What would that do for you?

Then you sit down with the doctor who is going to do the procedure. He says, “I understand that you are fearful. That’s understandable, but let me tell you something. In my career, I have done thousands of these replacements. And I studied at the university that pioneered hip replacements. When I was studying this specialty, my professor was actually part of the first team that created the hip replacement procedure. Every summer I attend a week-long seminar on hip replacement procedures to stay up-to-date and to understand the latest technology in which we are doing this. And out of the thousands I have done, I have not had any major issues whatsoever. Six weeks later my patients were thankful they did it.” Then he says to you, “Do not be afraid.”

You see the difference? This kindness to reassure extinguishes fear but understands that there is authority and the ability to extinguish the fear.

The second aspect of the assurance is to reveal your motive. Notice in our text, in verses 1, 3 and 7, that David makes it clear that his motive is kindness. Remember that loving-kindness? That someone has the right to nothing, expects nothing, but is given everything? Up front David said, “I have no hidden agenda, no hidden motive, and God has been so lovingly kind to me that I want you, Mephibosheth, to experience it too. I know you don’t deserve it, but that’s what makes it loving-kindness.”

David revealed his motive. He wasn’t an individual who was playing the game of cat and mouse. That’s a battle we face in our flesh. In thinking about somebody who has rubbed you wrong, you think about the house of Saul and how much wrong Saul did to David. But David didn’t focus on that. He didn’t get back. He didn’t get even. He showed loving-kindness.

Now notice in verse 8 that Mephibosheth just fell down on the palace floor and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” In that society, they looked at dogs differently than we do. They did not take them to the mall in a stroller. They did not get them a pet-certified egg for Easter. They were nuisances. So you see how overwhelmed Mephibosheth is. He was saying, “Why are you doing this for me?” He experienced loving-kindness.

Ask yourself a question at this moment. Are you letting someone sit in fear when you can help alleviate that fear? Are you getting too much pleasure out of someone spiraling and struggling, because they wronged you at one time? Show loving-kindness.

Now notice, secondly, the kindness to restore. In verse 7, David said, “I…will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bead at my table continually.” In the word “restore,” David begins to turn back things in Mephibosheth’s life. His life has been marked by loss: he lost his father, he lost his grandfather, he lost his mobility, he lost his future, he lost all his family possessions, he lost his place in society.

And notice what David said in loving-kindness: “Today we begin to turn that around.” David restores to Mephibosheth all that his grandfather Saul had owned. He restored all the land, the property, the pasture. Mephibosheth went from Lo Debar with no pasture to all of the pasture of the former king. It’s such a wonderful act of kindness. It was restoring to Mephibosheth his rightful place in society, his place of respect within the community and bringing him out from the fringes into the central aspect of daily life.

And if you read carefully, this loving-kindness to restore is such a wonderful act of restoring that you will find from this that David returning to Mephibosheth all of the land provided not only for Mephibosheth but also for his son, who is mentioned in the text. And in 1 Chronicles 8:34-40, you find that Saul’s line is not extinguished but rather they flourish from generation to generation.

There is a loving-kindness in God that can restore what has been lost and restore it to function. You find in our text this restoring to function in verses 9-10. David tells Ziba, Saul’s former servant, to work the land, bring in the harvest of the land or to turn things to function.

We see those moments in society when people win major prizes, like some of the lottery winnings. “Wow this is life changing!” Then April 15th comes around. The government wins a prize too; you gotta pay taxes on it.

Notice David in his kindness here. He restores Mephibosheth’s life to function. A lame-footed man cannot work his land. With Ziba and his sons and servants working the land for Mephibosheth, it would produce crops again.

Church, this kindness to restore is a kindness that we have been called to. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus has come to reconcile us to God; that He restored the relationship between man and God in Christ. The Bible gives the plea to us that we are to be the ambassadors of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:19 gives a big cry of kindness to you and me to come back to God. The kindness of God to restore is such a kindness that in faith and obedience to the Lord, He can restore a marriage and make it a flourishing marriage to His glory and His honor. He can restore a family and bring it to a flourishing family to His glory and His honor.

We find that David had seen and experienced the loving-kindness of God, and now he is showing it to Mephibosheth. He said, “Don’t fear; I’m going to assure you. You’re not lost, because I’m going to restore you.”

David then comes in with the third indicator of kindness, which is to receive. I want you to notice the repetition of Mephibosheth eating at the king’s table. Verse 7 says, “And you shall eat bread at my table continually.” Verse 10 says, “Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread at my table always.” Verse 11 says, “He shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.” And verse 13 says, “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table.” This is the third indicator, the kindness to receive.

Mephibosheth is no longer in hiding; he’s in prominence. He’s no longer destitute; he’s restored. He’s no longer forgotten; he’s respected. He’s no longer rejected; he’s received. If you look at the chapter, there are four references to him being at the king’s table continually. You can “hear” the pulling of the chair over the marble floor up to the king’s table. You can “see” that a new table setting is put out for Mephibosheth to eat at the king’s table.

Notice the kindness to receive: he is received and welcomed continually. Mephibosheth doesn’t just receive a one-time act of kindness in which David might have said, “Well, to be fair to Jonathan, Mephibosheth can eat with us one time. We won’t talk about all the business.” So Mephibosheth doesn’t come for just one dining at the king’s table. Mephibosheth doesn’t think, This will be my one-and-only shot, so I’ll steal the salt shaker as a memento. I’ll tell the grandkids, “Look, I ate at the king’s table. I’ll salt that food for you.”

Rather it was continual. It meant that the first night Mephibosheth slid up to the table, his name plaque was engraved, and the lining of his name was crisp. But months down the road, it begins to fade, because it is polished every night. He is welcomed continually. There is a standing place at the table for him. He comes night after night.

So he becomes familiar with the kingdom. He sits and eats with David day after day and sees the kindness of David. He grows close to David. And any concerns he had of David melt away as he eats David’s biscuits with him. It’s continuous.

Look very carefully at this kindness to receive; he is welcomed like family. In verse 11, David says, “He shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.” This is absolutely incredible, because when you look through Scripture, you see only two kinds of people who eat at the king’s table. There are those who do something for the king—they meet a need for him, such as commanders and generals, who report to him and do the king’s business—and those who simply know the king, and the king knows them. And Mephibosheth is received “like one of the king’s sons.”

You have the sons of David, who come to him in all of their grandeur. They have their big, million-dollar smiles. They are of tall stature returning from studies, from their princely duties. They sit down at the table and say, “Dad, can we eat?”

David says, “No; we’re still missing one son.” Then you hear the thud of the crutch and the slide of the feet, as Mephibosheth makes his way to the king’s table.

When you look at David’s sons sitting at the table with all of their smarts and all of their confidence, you’re shocked when the table thuds, because lame-footed Mephibosheth falls into his seat. Then David says, “Now we can eat.”

You have to look at David and be thankful that he really puts his actions with his words. I think of the well-known psalm, Psalm 23. Remember the last day Mephibosheth walked? Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Then the psalmist says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy…”—or “loving-kindness”—“…shall follow me all the days of my life.”

There is a wonderful kindness for you and me to receive such a welcoming. There is such a truth, that you may not realize, that we look forward to so much and so often as believers. There is one who has come in the line of David, who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. His name is Jesus. And Jesus has wonderfully and radically prepared a table for His people. He has given this hope that He pulls up a chair for you and me. But not because of what we’ve done and not because of what we can do and not because of what we have to offer; it’s because He is a God of loving-kindness.

He can say to you and declare to you, “Fear not.” He says, “Come unto Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” He can say to you, dead in your sin and lost, “But wait; I will receive you and restore you unto Myself and bring you into a right relationship with God.” If you listen to the cries of Jesus to come to Him, you will “hear” the wood vibration of another chair being pulled up to His table. It has your name on it because of His grace.

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About Pastor Chris Mathis

Chris Mathis is the Assistant Pastor at Calvary Chapel High Desert in Hesperia, California.

Sermon Summary

Pastor Chris Mathis from Calvary Chapel High Desert teaches an expository message through 2 Samuel 9 titled, “A Friendly Reminder.”

Pastor Photo

Pastor Chris Mathis

April 16, 2023