“A Nobody Becomes a Somebody”
Hello and welcome to the “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Something I enjoy doing is watching an underdog overcome great odds to do something great. In many cases, I like to cheer for the one who is overlooked or neglected. I pull for a sports team or for an individual who does not look like they are going to win or to come out on top; and maybe you like to cheer for the underdog as well. In the Bible we find several stories about overlooked people who made it to the top. We read how they overcame great obstacles or problems and rose to an honored position. We might think about the stories of King David or the Apostle Paul. And those stories make us feel good, and in some cases we can even relate to them. In today's lesson, we will revisit a story about one who was overlooked, but then who experienced a king's kindness and mercy. It is a touching story, and perhaps one with which we can relate. It reminds us of how God, through His son, Jesus Christ, demonstrates His amazing grace. I invite you now to open your heart and your Bible as we study together.
As we read and study the Bible, we sometimes come across a story with which we can really connect. It speaks to us, or we can resonate with it. We see ourselves in the midst of that story for one reason or another. Perhaps we can relate to one or more of the characters. Or perhaps we even see how God has worked in our life in the very same way He worked in the lives of the people in that story. Well, there is one story which does that for me. It contains a very powerful message about one of the most important subjects in all of the Bible. It speaks for itself. It's a good story. It was an ugly day in 2nd Samuel, some 3000 years ago. And during that time period, kings ruled throughout the land and battles were fought to determine who controlled what. Loyalties were challenged, and families were even torn apart. And when one king was killed, the conquering king began to take over that kingdom, and all of the members of the previous king were sought out and put to death. And that was done in order to eliminate any kind of threat of someone rising up and staking a claim to that new king's dynasty. Oh, politics and power and pride were all at the center of life in that Middle Eastern world. Can you imagine what that would look like in the world today? A president or a prime minister would be replaced by another leader, and that previous leader would begin to gather up his family and they would look for a place to hide. They would think about surviving and preserving their life, and they would run for the hills and they would try to be safe. You know, we can think about that, as to what it would look like even where we live. Imagine an incoming ruler doing that in our world today. No doubt it would be a little bit scary. And if we were in that situation, where that president or prime minister was living, perhaps we too would look for a place where we can go and hide and preserve our life. Well, that was the case with King Saul. We read in the last chapter of 1st Samuel, he died, and upon his demise the battle for his throne began. We find these words in chapter 3 of 2nd Samuel, beginning with verse 1. <There was a long war between the House of Saul and the House of David, and David grew stronger and stronger while the House of Saul became weaker and weaker.> Well, not only Saul but also his son Jonathan and many of their servants died as well. And no doubt the story of Saul and Jonathan's death made big news. Perhaps it was on the front page of the Jerusalem Times, if there was such a newspaper back then. But yet it was a very sad day because God's king had been put to death. Well, most everyone knew David would become Saul's successor. God had already identified him as such, and now that day had finally come. Saul knew his days were numbered. Perhaps you remember the psalm the people sang: Saul has killed his thousands, but David has killed his ten thousands. Oh, David was popular and the people longed for and looked forward to the time when David would become the king. Well, in the first few chapters here in 2nd Samuel, David's army is doing battle with Saul's army. They're eliminating any kind of future threat that might come into David's reign. Naturally, fear ran throughout Saul's family. They headed for the hills when that news from Jezreel came. Very few of them escaped. In fact, another one of Saul's sons is put to death in chapter 4. His name is Ishbosheth. Many people lost their lives. No doubt it was a sad day. But after the dust settled, David's kingdom began to be established and he began to rise in power, and he had all kinds of property and wealth. And life was good for David. But we do read, a couple of chapters later, about someone in Saul family who did survive. It was one of his grandsons. Listen to these words from 2nd Samuel, chapter 4, verse 4. <(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)> Can you imagine the scene of confusion and pandemonium? The news had arrived and Saul's attendant picked up his grandson, Mephibosheth, and she's making her way out. She's headed for the hills. She's looking for that safe place. Something happens, in that she drops the grandson, Mephibosheth. He's only five years old. And the text tells us he's injured. He suffers a permanent injury. He's crippled in both feet. Well, nothing else is said about Mephibosheth for some six chapters, or about 20 years. During that time, David's popularity increases. His territory includes all of Judah and all of Israel, some 12,000 square miles, and life is good for David and for his family. And in the midst of all of that expansion and prosperity, David reflects back on his early childhood. He reflects back on a friendship he had with a man by the name of Jonathan, who just happens to be King Saul's son and the father of this man Mephibosheth, which we read about here in chapter 4. In fact, they had a very special connection. They were like best friends. And that was somewhat odd, David being the best friend of King Saul's son. King Saul didn't like David, and King Saul view David as a threat. He knew that perhaps David would become the king in his place, and that was no doubt a very strange relationship. But David and Jonathan were close friends. We read about a friendship and a covenant they had with each other back in 1st Samuel chapter 20. Listen to these words from Jonathan starting in verse 14. <"Show me unfailing kindness like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.” So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.> You know, that kind of commitment among friends is special, isn't it? A kind of relationship that says you have done something for me and and I'm thankful for that, and we're going to keep this going. I'm going to take care of your family. You will take care of my family. It's good to remember that from which we've come and those people who helped get us to where we are, even today. Maybe you have a special friend like that in your life. I know I do. I have a friend. We still keep in contact after all these years. We became best friends when we were in but first grade. And that's the kind of relationship that we find here with David and Jonathan. Well, with all of the power and the wealth God has now entrusted to David, he reflects back on that time. He thinks about that relationship and the covenant that he had with Jonathan. And so in chapter 9 of 2nd Samuel verse 1, King David said this, “Is there still anyone left in the House of Saul that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?” It's interesting, isn't it! Here David is, the king, he is well-established, he is popular, he is wealthy, he doesn't lack anything. And he could have taken the approach that said, well, look at me. I am somebody special. I am the king, but he didn't do that. There was no selfishness in David's life, and he remembers his friend. He values that covenant relationship. And in fact, it's interesting to note, David used the word kindness, here in chapter 9 verse 1, just like Jonathan had used it, back in 1st Samuel 20 verse 17, in the passage we just read. David now wants to show kindness to someone in Saul's household, just like Jonathan had asked him to do. Other words for that word kindness would include steadfast love or mercy. And you combine all of those together you might come up with the word grace. Yes, David is looking for someone in Saul family to whom he can show grace for the sake of Saul's son, his best friend, Jonathan. And so David wants to pass on that same kindness which he has received from God to someone else. And so David asks the question, “Is there anyone?” And he doesn't ask if there is someone who is deserving of his kindness. He doesn't look for someone who can come in and be his right hand man and help him reign over the country. He doesn't ask if there is someone who has some military experience who can come in and assist Joab with the army. He doesn't ask that. He simply asks, “Is there anybody? Is there anyone?” And the answer comes back beginning in verse 2 of that 9th chapter. <Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” “At your service,” he replied. The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.> Well, obviously, this is the same man that we read about a moment ago, which is mentioned in chapter 4 verse 4. It is this man named Mephibosheth, crippled in both feet, the grandson of King Saul. Well, Ziba was a survivor of that war. He belonged to Saul. He was one of his servants. And maybe he comes in and he presents this man who is disabled in both feet to David -thinking he will be of no use to you, king, so I'm going to dishonor you by giving you someone who is crippled, and he really doesn't amount to much, and he lives in Lo Debar, in a place that he doesn't even own. Lo Debar was a barren place, way down south of Jerusalem, out in the middle of nowhere. In fact, the word lo debar means barren place. Have you ever been to such? Have you ever been to a barren place where there are hardly any trees, and it's hot, and the wind blows? Maybe some of you might even live near where I live. Some days we experience a lo debar area here where I live. But that's where Mephibosheth lived. And so David was going to send for him. It didn't matter where he lived, he would send for him. We find that in verse 5: <So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “At your service,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”> We look at verse 7, and David desires to show kindness to this man for the sake of his dad, Jonathan, David's best friend. And Mephibosheth hears that, and here’s his response in verse 8. <“What is your servant that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I.”> Wow. Here is a man Mephibosheth, who has a low self-esteem. He doesn't think much of himself. He calls himself nothing but a dead dog from a barren land. Crippled in both feet, perhaps he's even embarrassed to be in front of the king and he wonders, how did David find out who he was and where he lived. Yet again, none of that mattered to David. He tells him these words in verse 9 and following. <Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons. Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.> Here is a man whom King David had never heard of before, and yet he offers Mephibosheth everything. He said, “You're going to have 35 servants serving you, and they will farm the land that I'm giving back to you, which I took from your grandfather, Saul. And they will harvest the crops and bring them in to you. You will have everything you could possibly imagine. But here’s something else, Mephibosheth; you're going to eat at my table.” It's interesting to note, Mephibosheth has nothing to give back or to return to King David. In his mind, he is a nobody. In his mind, he is nothing more than a dead dog from way down south in the middle of nowhere. He recognizes his liabilities, but David shows him kindness. Perhaps he even hid his feet when he came into the presence of the king because he was embarrassed. But David says, “You will eat at my table.” In fact, four times he tells him that in verses 7 through 13. And he would eat at David's table not out of necessity, because Zeba and the servants would take care of him, but he would eat the evening meal at David's table because of David's kindness, because of his grace. In other words, he extended to Mephibosheth the highest honor possible. He had now become a somebody. He had a place to live. He had fellowship at the king's table. He belonged to the king’s family, all because of the king's grace. As a five year old boy, Mephibosheth enjoyed fellowship in Saul's mansion; he was the grandson of the king, but his fall crippled him for life. But now a new king comes on the scene and shows him kindness, which he does not even deserve because he was from a different king; but David restored Mephibosheth to that place of honor. And his limp was a constant reminder of his inadequacies and the problems that he had, but he knew that David loved him, and he knew that he had a place at the king's table every day. Oh, it's a beautiful story, isn't it, about a king extending kindness and grace to someone who deserved to die. And we might ask ourselves the question today, well, yes, that's a great story, but what's the correlation? What's the connection between that and us today? At one time we enjoyed fellowship with God, but sin entered into this world and that sin has crippled us for life. But a new King, by the name of Jesus Christ, came along and He showed us compassion and kindness, unconditional love and grace. And we did absolutely nothing to deserve that; in fact, we deserve to die because of the sin in our life. But Jesus restored us to a place of honor through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. And now, our forgiven sin is a constant reminder of the inadequacies that we have in our life. But in spite of all of that, we are now a part of God's family. We are God's children. And on a regular basis, when we assemble with other children who belong to God around a communion table, we are reminded of the fact that we can have fellowship at that table. We can enjoy the presence of the King. And perhaps as we do that, as we take of the Communion, or the Lord's Supper, symbolically, that table hides the crippleness in our life. It covers up the sin, because we know we have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ and now we have a full right to be a part of that fellowship meal. We go from being a nobody to being a somebody, just like Mephibosheth. Revelation chapter 3 verse 20 reminds us there is coming a day when we, too, will eat at the King's banquet table, and Jesus Christ, Himself, will be our host for all eternity. And that's something we can anticipate and look forward to with great joy. You know, I hope all of us can claim this story as our own. I hope we can see what God, through Jesus Christ, has done for our lives. And I trust that each one of us has embraced the loving kindness and the grace of our King, named Jesus Christ.
There are several meaningful statements found in the Bible that give us a different perspective about God. They help us to understand Him, perhaps, just a little bit better. We think about those adjectives, those active words that describe God. God is a God of patience and love and forgiveness; or, we think about God being loving and kind and compassionate. Those are key words that we go to when we want to think about God and who He is and what He has done for us; and they’re meaningful. I have a special word that I use for God; and that is, He is the God of the second chance. It’s a good way to look at it, isn’t it! I don’t know how many second chances I have received in life, but over and over again I received those chances, another opportunity to get things right, another opportunity to start over again; and that’s meaningful. And all of that comes as a result of God’s amazing grace for us. We don’t deserve second chances. We don’t earn those second chances. But God, out of His amazing grace, gives them to us. I don’t know if you have a special word that you like to go to when you think about God. And if not, that’s okay, I’ll lend mine to you. In fact, I did not even come up with that on my own. But, indeed, God is the God of the second chance. I’ve even added a phrase to that: He is the God of the second chance, and I know that firsthand. Maybe you do, too. Maybe you’ve had a firsthand experience with a second chance, with the amazing grace of God. I encourage you, today, to think about God’s love for you, and the grace He continually pours out into your life.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” Oh, I love it when a nobody becomes a somebody, especially when God is involved in the process. And I hope you do too. This lesson is available on our website to be viewed and heard again. You can find it at keytothekingdom.com. Please feel free to take a look at it, or many other lessons which are available. All of them can be easily downloaded and there is no cost or commitment required. A number of other teaching materials and lessons can also be found on the site. Two minute videos and one minute devotional thoughts are available and received quite a bit of interest. Our basic beliefs and contact information is there as well. I also invite you to send us an email with a question or a comment about this ministry or today's lesson. Other ways to find us are through Roku® television, a free phone app, and on Facebook®. Please access the media outlet which is most convenient. It is always a pleasure to share these weekly Bible messages with you. And hopefully you are blessed by them and will tune in again next time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”