"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
October 8, 2008
(The following is taken from 1 Samuel chapter 20; 2 Samuel chapters 4, 9, 15, 16, 19)
In 1 Samuel we read about the strong friendship between David and Jonathan. Even though Jonathan was the son of King Saul, who was jealous of David and tried to kill him on numerous occasions, the two young men remained best friends. Their devotion to one another was tested, but they overcame all obstacles and loved one another as brothers.
In 1 Samuel chapter 20 we read where the two made a covenant with one another. David was fleeing for his life, for Saul desired to kill him. He came to Jonathan and asked, "What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?"
Jonathan told him that his father never did anything, great or small, without confiding in him. He was not going to let David die!
But David was not convinced. He replied to Jonathan, "Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, 'Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.' Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death."
David and Jonathan come up with a plan so that Jonathan could find out from his father whether or not he intended to cause David harm. They also came up with a way for Jonathan to let David know whether it was safe for him to make an appearance of if he needed to remain in hiding.
Before leaving, they made a covenant with one another. Jonathan asked that David would never cut off kindness from his family. 1 Samuel 20:17 says, "And Jonathan had David affirm his oath (vow) out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself."
In the following chapters we see where both Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle. At the time of Jonathan's death, he had a young son. In 2 Samuel 4:4 we read, "Now Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the report of Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened that in her hurry to flee, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth."
David was anointed king after the death of Saul. I'm not sure how many years he had been reigning before he remembered his covenant with Jonathan. But in 2 Samuel chapter 9 we read where he asked, "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?"
Jonathan and David were alone when they made the covenant, so I'm not sure if anyone else knew about it or not. After Jonathan and Saul's death, David could have reneged on his promise; after all, who would know? And even if others did know, who would blame David for not keeping his word after the way Saul treated him and tried to kill him?
It's easier to keep promises if others are aware of it, and we think they will hold us responsible. But when there is no one to whom we have to be accountable to, it's sometimes harder to keep our word. We begin to justify why it's okay for us to not follow through on promises made; after all, who's going to know? Bottom line is: God knows!
David shows his integrity and heart of kindness in this particular incident. He had loved Jonathan as a brother, and was committed to the covenant made between the two of them.
There was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to appear before David. David asked him if there was anyone left of the house of Saul to whom he could show God's kindness.
Ziba answered, "There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet."
David asked where he was, and found out that he was in Lo-debar living in the house of Machir, son of Ammiel. So David sent for him.
And Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself. And David said, "Mephibosheth!" And he answered, "Here is your servant."
David said to him, "Don't be afraid for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all that land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table."
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?"
How sad that Jonathan's son would have such a low opinion of himself. He was the grandson of a former king, and his father had been a great warrior and man of God. Yet, with Mephibosheth only being five years old when his father and grandfather were killed in battle, he probably didn't remember the prestige and honor of being in the royal family. His memories may have mostly consisted of what others had told him.
But now, his perception of himself was that of a dead dog; crippled and useless. He probably felt unworthy that David would summon him into his presence, and even acknowledge his existence. He may have feared that once the king found out that he was lame, he would be refused and cast away. Yet here he knelt before king David, the most powerful man in all Israel and Judah, and was told that all the land that had belonged to his grandfather would now belong to him. He probably never dreamed that such a thing would happen to him! Furthermore, from that day forward he would always eat at the king's table, like a member of David's own family. Mephibosheth must have felt extremely overwhelmed, and amazed that the king was showing such kindness to him.
Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul's servant, 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."
Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. He said to the king, "Your servant will do according to all my lord the king commands."
So Mephibosheth ate at David's table like one of the king's sons. He had a young son named Mica. All who lived in the house of Ziba were servants to Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king's table, [even though] he was lame in both feet.
There is an older gospel song entitled, "Who Am I?" The words to the chorus are: "Who am I, that a King would bleed and die for? Who am I, that He would pray, 'Not my will, thine' for? The answer I may never know; why He'd ever love me so. That to an old rugged cross He'd go, for who am I."
Spiritually we can be a lot like Mephibosheth. Our lives are crippled with sin and we feel useless and unworthy. Then we find out that we have a summons from the King. He calls us to show us kindness and love, for His Father's sake. We come, but feel unworthy to be in His presence. We fall down, unable to face King Jesus. Why would He want to have contact with a "dead dog" like us? But yet, we are given the gracious invitation to continually sit at the King's table, as one of His very own children. We no longer have to live in sin. We no longer have to crawl around the outskirts of the table, hoping for a handout or that a morsel will fall off for us to enjoy. But if we accept the invitation, we can sit at the King's table for eternity.
As time went by, David's son, Absalom, became power hungry and began coveting David's throne. He was very devious and began turning the hearts of the people of Israel against his father. David eventually had to take his family and flee.
Just as David passed the summit of the Mount of Olives, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth, met him. He had a couple of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a jug of wine. The king asked Ziba, "Why have you brought these?"
Ziba answered, "The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine to refresh those who become exhausted in the desert."
The king then asked him, "Where is your master's grandson?"
Ziba said to him, "He is staying in Jerusalem, for he said, 'Today the house of Israel will give me back my grandfather's kingdom.'"
Then the king said to Ziba, "All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours." And Ziba said, "I humbly bow. May I find favor in your eyes, my lord the king."
David didn't realize at the time that Ziba was being devious and was tricking him. I'm sure he was weary from his journey, and tired of having to be on the run. He must have felt very betrayed that his own son would try to overthrow his kingdom, in order to become king.
Sometimes we can become weary from circumstances of life. Life can be wearisome and tiresome at times. There are occasions when we may be weak emotionally, mentally, or physically; and in turn, it can cause us to be weak spiritually. That's when we need to be careful who we're listening to. We need to pray before making any hasty decisions, during those times. And we need to be sure that we don't jump to conclusions and are not judging someone from what we "think" we see or what we are being told by others. It's difficult to take back words or promises, after they are spoken.
David very likely felt as if Mephibosheth had betrayed him, just as his son had. He may have thought, "Not only am I having to run from my son, who is trying to steal my kingdom; now I find out that Saul's grandson, to whom I've shown great kindness and allowed to eat at my table, has been waiting for this opportunity to take back his grandfather's position as king." He made the hasty decision to believe that Ziba was being honest, without giving Mephibosheth a chance to speak on his own behalf, and gave this servant all that belonged to Mephibosheth.
Absalom ended up dying, and David and all those with him started the return trek back to Jerusalem. As they reached the Jordan river, many rushed to meet the king.
Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes, from the day king David left until he returned in peace. When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, "Why didn't you go with me, Mephibosheth?"
Now David asks, but it's a little too late!
He said, "O my lord, the king, my servant [Ziba] deceived me; for I said, 'Saddle me the donkey that I may ride on it and go to the king,' for your servant is lame. But Ziba my servant betrayed me. Moreover, he has slandered your servant to my lord the king; but my lord the king is like the angel of God, so do whatever pleases you. All my grandfather's descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?"
The king said to him, "Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided, 'You and Ziba shall divide the land.'"
Mephibosheth said to the king, "Let him take it all, since my lord the king has returned home in safety and peace."
Because of Mephibosheth's feet being lame, he had to depend on the help of others. He probably trusted Ziba. After all, Ziba had been a servant to his grandfather, and now he and his sons and servants had been looking after and caring for the land on behalf of Mephibosheth.
Apparently, Ziba had become resentful of having to farm the land and bring in the crops for Mephibosheth. He probably felt that here he was having to do all the work, and Mephibosheth was reaping all the benefits. He possibly had just been looking for an opportunity in which to discredit Mephibosheth in the eyes of David. Now the perfect situation arose, and Ziba quickly took advantage of it. Instead of saddling the donkey, as Mephibosheth had requested, so that he could go to David, Ziba betrayed him. Not only did Ziba run off and leave Mephibosheth in Jerusalem and betray him, he also slandered his good name to the king.
Yet when Mephibosheth found out what had occurred, and was told that he was to divide the land and share it with Ziba, he responded with integrity and showed his true character. Because of his affliction, Ziba lied to David and stole Mephibosheth's inheritance. Yet Mephibosheth showed that his motives and heart were pure. He told David, "Let Ziba have it all." All he cared about was the fact that the king had returned home in peace and safety. That was more important to him than material possessions or family inheritance.
Tragedy or times of trials and tribulation can show what a person's true character is truly like. There are times when we may get caught up in situations and can become more focused on money or material possessions, and make that priority over people.
Mephibosheth loved David. And even though he knew that his grandfather's descendants only deserved death, he was given a place of honor at the king's table. He knew that he was blessed and had been shown favor.
We deserve death and punishment for our sins. Yet our Heavenly Father loved us enough to send His only Son to die for our sins. Because of that, we can live as King's Kids. What an awesome thought! We can learn much from this story of David and Mephibosheth.
There is a scripture that says not to say I will to to some city and do something for a year. But instead, it says to say, "As God wills." Last week was a good example of why I shouldn't say that I'll work on the newsletter every single week. For the last couple of weeks, I've been working frantically to keep up with the commitments I have made at work. I don't think commitments are necessarily a bad thing. But they should be made with care, and kept with care. Failing one commitment can cause an avalanche. While I was working so hard to fix one commitment, I let others slide. Before long, one mistake could cause dozens more. It's important at times like this to stop, take a deep breath, pray, and focus on those things that are good, pure, edifying, uplifting, etc. At work, I sit facing a window. It helps me to stop and focus on the beautiful tree and sky in front of me.
1 lb. Hamburger
½ cup minute rice
½ cup onion
Chopped green pepper (optional)
1 can mushroom soup
1 small can mushrooms
1 can water
In a bowl mix together all ingredients, except the mushrooms, mushroom soup and water. Shape into meatballs and place in a greased casserole dish. Mix the mushrooms, mushroom soup and water together and pour over the meatballs. Bake 1 hour at 350.
Something that I try to remember to thank God for daily, is His protection. We get into cars every day, taking for granted that we'll arrive at our destinations safely. We go to sleep at night, not thinking about break-ins or fires. Not that we should live in fear, but we should give thanks to God for taking care of us and protecting us and our families. I believe that there are times when God is watching out for us, and we don't even know that He has averted danger or prevented us from being involved in an accident. And when things do occur, He is a very present help and will give us peace and safety. Two particular stories regarding this come to mind.
Years ago, I remember hearing my aunt Elsie share this incident. She was coming home from work one day and kept feeling impressed that she needed to stop and get a loaf of bread. She knew that she had bread at home and kept thinking, "This is silly. I don't even need bread." But the thought was persistent and she couldn't get rid of the voice in her mind telling her to stop at the store. So she stopped and picked up a load of bread. Just a few miles down the road she run upon a major accident that had just occurred, involving a death. According to the time of the accident, she figured out that had she not stopped for the bread she would have been in very spot when it happened. She believed with all her heart that God had been the One who had spoke to her about stopping at the store, and had protected her from harm.
I have a nephew who is in the Army and stationed in South Korea. He has been gone for almost a month now to some training that he was required to go through. His wife and baby daughter have been home alone in their apartment there. He has not been able to come home during this month, nor has his family been able to visit him. They live about ten minutes off base, in an apartment building that has mostly older adults living in it. There are only two apartments on the floor where they live, and the other residents had recently moved out. A few nights ago around three or so in the morning, a noise woke my nephew's wife up. She thought it sounded like someone had rattled the door knob, but thought it was probably just her imagination and she was just jumpy since her husband was gone. Then she heard someone try to kick the door in. She was so frightened that all she could think to pray was, "Jesus, I know You're protecting me" over and over. They have two dogs that they keep inside the apartment, and they both started barking and growling. Whoever was at the door ran away. She hasn't been bothered since.
"Success comes in cans -- failures in can'ts."
We hope everyone is enjoying this fall season.
We love you!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our newsletter. We appreciate you very much.
Loretta & Jon