A Message delivered by Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford (pulpit supply) at the Smyrna (NY) Baptist Church June 16, 2019, 11 AM

TODAY’S FUNNY: “The Witnesses”

Saturday morning the weather was too bad to play golf. The old man was bored with nothing to do. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. He opened it to find two young, well-dressed men standing there who said:

“Hello sir, We’re from the Kingdom and we’d like to talk with you.”

So the man said, “Come in and have a seat!” He offered them a fresh cup of coffee and asked, “What do you young men want to talk about?”

They looked at each other & said, “Beats us. We never got this far before.”


In our Scripture reading, we came across a name which might be most unfamiliar to many of you. The name is “Mephibosheth”. Let’s say it together!

Biblical scholars believe that his name was originally “Meribbaal” or “Memphibaal”. In 1 Chronicles Chapters 8 and 9, references are made to such a man – the son of Jonathan whose own son is named Micah. A casual hearing of “Meribbaal” would easily show the connection with the Canaanite false deity, Baal. Thus his name was changed to “Mephibosheth. His name literally means “exterminator of idols” or, better, “exterminator of shame.”

Kindness. A child needs kindness – the kind of love that he is hoping for from his father. And often his view of the Heavenly Father is first seen through how he looks at and is treated by his earthly father.

Today we are going to see fatherly lessons from a most unusual source – a young man named “Mephibosheth.” PRAYER


Kindness. David desired to show kindness to someone perhaps whom he had never met. Dwell on that for a minute.

Because what is “kindness”? Webster’s dictionary – and this is what it really says! – defines kindness as “1. The state or quality of being kind. 2. A kind act.” Now, I’ve been out of elementary school for a few days, yet I remember being drilled in me the foundation of a definition: I can never use the word in the definition in order to define itself! Webster should be ashamed (although we need to be kind – history tells us he was a brother in Christ who helped teach Indians how to come to faith in Christ).

So I turned to my faithful (Merrill) Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Under “kindness”, with references of course, his definition is “favor” or “grace”. He further describes it as “favor, benefit, desire, zeal toward another in a good sense; showing to another a favor ‘like that of God’ or ‘for the sake of God.’” Mr. Unger illustrates his definition with this picture: a person being God’s instrument showing God’s desire toward someone through his actions or words.

Into that scene comes David.

* David wants to show this kindness toward an unknown member of Saul’s family for the sake of Jonathan. Why?

Turn with me to 1 Sam. 20:42. We are at the end of the chapter – but throughout the past pages of the Bible we readily learn that Saul had no use for David. Saul was king of Israel! Jonathan was Saul’s choice to be his successor. And that settled it, or so it seemed. But perhaps Saul knew that David had been anointed by Samuel to be Saul’s successor – in fact, literally take the place of the wayward king who no longer had the favor of God Himself. Saul had no use for David.

But like a scene out of Romeo and Juliet, David and Jonathan’s souls, as the Bible says, “were knit together with love better than that of women.” Jonathan knew – and he knew that deep down his dad Saul knew – that David, NOT Jonathan, would be the next king of Israel.

So in v. 42 they make a treaty, a pact if you will, that they will care for each other’s seed for ever. They made a vow that had eternal consequences.

Illustration: Did you know that the Bible has much to say about making vows? Solomon wisely sums this Biblical subject up in Ecc. 5:5: “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” Thus we should be careful how we vow! A car loan is a vow! You are vowing to pay back what the bank loaned you. You think you can’t pay it? Then Ecc. 5:5 is for you, too! Don’t take out the loan!

* And how long was it between 1 Samuel 20:42 and 2 Samuel 9? Years. Perhaps decades! Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle in 1 Samuel 31. David was anointed king over Judah – a kingship which would last 7 1/2 years. And then he was anointed king over the united kingdom of Judah and Israel. And then? And then he fought wars that brought about peace with all of his neighbors – a peace that he would hand down to his son, Solomon, his successor.

Years. Decades. But those days did not lessen the binding of David and Jonathan’s vow. Verse 2 tells us how Ziba from the house of Saul enters the scene.

Would you think after all these years of David’s kingship that the relatives of Saul would have any less hate for David? Apparently not!

In verse 3 he reveals that indeed Jonathan had a son who is still living. Ziba gives at least 3 huge revelations of his own character:

#1 Ziba NEVER says the fellow’s name! And soon we know why, as

#2 Jonathan’s son is “lame on his feet.” Apparently there is no “Israeli Disabilities Act” in existence at this time. No doubt to Ziba this lame son of Jonathan was useless to Ziba. We learn in v. 10 that Ziba himself had 15 sons and 20 servants – now they were profitable for Ziba, both in the house and out in the field. But this nameless son of Jonathan is useless. He is lame. He cannot do a thing. He can’t work. He can only eat, food that could be used for someone helpful.

Did Ziba know how this lame man became lame? The scriptures tell us! In 2 Samuel 4:4, we learn that when the news came of the death in battle of Saul and Jonathan, this young man, now 5, was being carried out in haste by his nurse. But in that haste, the young boy was dropped – and for the rest of his life he would be lame in his feet.

#3 Ziba knew exactly where this nameless son of Jonathan is: at the house of Machir – son of Ammiel – and he lives in Lodebar.

Wait! Did you notice how Ziba introduced his location? “Behold!” We’ve heard that word before! It is used throughout the Christmas story to introduce something important. In fact, in Matthew and Luke’s Christmas accounts, “behold” is used 14 times! And here it is in our story today!

Turn with me to 2 Samuel 17:27 where we get a hint of the true character of this Machir. Absalom had successfully – at least temporarily – usurped the kingdom from his father, David. David was fleeing Jerusalem for his life. And into this picture come 3 men – including Machir. Machir was God’s instrument of kindness to David! No charge! In the verses to follow we learn of all that these 3 provided for David and his crew. Wow. Machir was a godly man who no doubt showed Jonathan’s son an unwritten compassion.

So there is a vow between David and Jonathan – they would take care of each other’s heritage forever. Years later, David’s heart is stirred to fulfill that vow which he desires – he hungers – to fulfill. But at this point in the story, it appears that that there is no one in Saul’s family now who feels like Jonathan felt years ago.

Into that picture comes…kindness disposes.


David calls for this unnamed son of Jonathan – and he is found right where Ziba said he would be, at the house of Machir.

In verse 6, our unnamed “lame in his feet” subject is addressed, by David, “Mephibosheth”. Not once, NOT ONCE, does David address him as “hey you lame man”. This is just the beginning of David’s disposing kindness. Perhaps it had been a long time since Mephibosheth had heard someone call him by name!

ILLUSTRATION: You remember when we were kids. The Phys Ed teacher told us to divide into teams for the softball game. He picked out 2 captains, and then we all lined up in one line. The first ones picked were always the fastest, the best hitters. And then the captains have to choose among those who are left. The cast-offs. The lame ones. “Oh, I’ll take shorty.” “I’ll take slow poke”. “I’ll take freckle-face.” They did have names, right? Their parents did name them at birth, and certainly “Shorty”, “Slowpoke”, and “Freckleface” were not their given names.

David does not call him “hey Lame Man”. He calls him by name. Mephibosheth. Kindness disposes. Instantly. Immediately. Even in those areas which might not seem important to others – they are important to God. For after all, it is His kindness, HIS favor, HIS grace which is being shown here.

Out of reverence, but seemingly not out of love, our now named lame man does 3 things before David: he falls on his face, he bows in reverence, and then he humbles – almost grovels – himself and says “behold thy servant.”

He has no idea what is about to happen!! Kindness is like that. It reaches out to the unsuspecting! And the one who gives it is simply extending the love, mercy, and favor of God to the unsuspecting receiver.

In verse 7, David begins to fulfill the vow that he has been holding on to for all these years. He’s excited. He is so full of joy!

Notice he DOESN’T first start with what he is going to give. Rather he starts with FEAR NOT! He is about to be an instrument of Christmas! Then he adds, “I will show you kindness for your father’s sake – I am fulfilling a promise your dad and I made together so many years ago.”

Only THEN does David share what the kindness is: in addition to fulfilling a vow, there is the restoration of all Saul owned. But wait! There’s more! There is David’s sharing that from now on, this son of Jonathan will eat bread at David’s table continually.

Note: David could NOT fulfill his promise with Jonathan any time before this, because he wasn’t king. There had to be a death (Saul).

And, he could have ended at “I’ll restore all of your grandfather’s land”. As king, David OWNED it all! But he didn’t stop there. The giving of the land is NOT what David yearned for! He yearned to have continuous fellowship with the family of Jonathan once again.

2 thoughts: #1 God has given us His salvation. We belong to Him for all of eternity, because HE owns it all! He purchased it through the cross. We are His. Are you a child of the King? Do you enjoy the promise of heaven from the One Who owns it all and has shared that with sinners like us through the cross?

But #2, God hungers not just to see us in heaven. He hungers to be with us continually! He hungers for our communion, our fellowship!

So David fulfills God’s heart by having Mephibosheth eat at David’s table forever. Don’t you think when he looked at Mephibosheth, who he was seeing? You bet, he was seeing Jonathan through his son’s eyes. Wow.

Read again v. 8. The Message paraphrases this verse wonderfully this way: “Shuffling and stammering, not looking him in the eye, Mephibosheth said, ‘Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me?’” Kindness disposed is most unexpected!

#3 KINDNESS DWELLS (vs. 9-13)

ILLUSTRATION: you remember those old hour long tv mysteries? Our hero is in an impossible situation. He is in an absolutely helpless and hopeless way. With only 5 minutes to go in the show, you think, “oh no – this will have to be continued next week! I can’t wait that long to see how it will end!” And then what happens. In less than 5 minutes, the bad guys lose and our hero wins.

In our final verses here, David does what that tv show did: the bad guy loses and the hero – the most unsuspecting hero in this case – wins!

Ziba the scorner of the helpless now becomes the provider for the helpless!

But wait! Once again there’s more! Mephibosheth is not only going to have Saul’s land returned. He is not only going to dwell with the king in Jerusalem. He is not only going to eat at David’s table. Look at verse 11: he is going to be as one of the king’s sons!

In fact, our story in verse 13 tells us that he not only was lame, he was lame in both of his feet.

He was completely helpless. Despite all of David’s kindnesses, his earthly condition was not taken away. This tells us 2 things: (1) God takes us just as we are, doubly lame, and brings glory to Himself – through us! And, (2) We still have an old nature which must be daily surrendered to the king (Rom. 6:13ff).


Let’s wrap this up! So what lessons – even fatherly lessons, if you will – have we learned from this most unlikely source?


This whole account revolves around a promise between David and Jonathan. And while it may have seemed a long time by our time frames from the time the promise was given until the time it is fulfilled, it is still worthy to be trusted!

* When God says, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (both in Joel and in Romans), well, then He still can save even the most unsuspecting people. Let us continue to love with His love to the unlovely!

* When God says, “I will supply all of your need according to My riches in glory” – well, that’s ok to believe.

* When God encourages you that “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” – wow, even me, then that settles it, too!

Dad’s? Parents? Are we teaching our children God’s promises? Can our children and grandchildren see God’s promises on display through us?


Ziba did not look at Mephibosheth through those eyes. In fact, it is possible that so many of Ziba’s family and friends made regular contact with Mephibosheth that he eventually believed their taunt: “I’m no more of value than a dead dog, a stray mutt.”

But Machir did see Mephibosheth through God’s eyes – and so did David. David had the authority to extend to the son of Jonathan the compassion he needed so desperately. And as children of the King of kings, so do we. We have a two-fold invite: first, to see people as Jesus does. Dads – do we look at our children as Jesus does? AND second, to bring the unlovely in God’s terms to the One Who is altogether lovely. Romans 5:6, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Dads – are you bringing your children to Jesus?


David could have simply restored Saul’s lands to Saul’s grandson. That in itself would have fulfilled David’s promise with Jonathan. But no, David had God’s heart. It had been years since he had talked with Jonathan.

ILLUSTRATION: A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I had supper with my cousins in Macon, Georgia. Looking at me across from the supper table, my cousins were saying: to each other, “Jeremy both looks and sounds just like our dad.”

Can you hear David? “Wow! Mephibosheth has Jonathan’s looks! He sounds just like Jonathan! I want to spend as much time with him as I can. Why, I’ll have him with me at every meal!”

So, when we come to know Jesus as Savior, can you hear the Father say, “wow, he looks and sounds just like My Son Jesus. I want to spend time with him!”

Dads: have your children and grandchildren seen Jesus through you? Do they know that first thing in the morning you will be spending time with the King?

And do they know that they should be spending time with Jesus, too? Fatherly lessons from an unlikely source

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