The story is told in 2 Samuel about a time when King David (after having replaced the former king, Saul) had defeated most of his enemies around him and filled with such gratitude for God’s kindness in his life, he sought to be a channel of blessings to others.
2 Samuel 9:1- “”One day David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”. He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul’s servants. “Are you Ziba?” the king asked.
“Yes sir, I am,” Ziba replied.
The king then asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.”
Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.”
“Where is he?” the king asked.
“In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.”
So David sent for him and brought him from Makir’s home. His name was Mephibosheth; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.”
Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.”
“Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather
Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!”
Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?”
What a powerful story of grace. It is interesting to see David’s response to Mephibosheth as they meet. David says, “do not be afraid”. Why would Mephibosheth be afraid? In those days, it was not an uncommon thing for one king to kill all the family of the former king to rule out any potential competing claims on the throne. Other than the killing off of the predecessors staff, it wouldn’t be unlike a new president today coming in and replacing all the previous administration’s cabinet officials with new ones- people he can trust and who would be in agreement with his philosophies.
What King David does is offer Mephibosheth grace. It is something being given that in no way was deserved (or expected). In fact, in verse 8, Mephibosheth recognizes what is happening. He asks, “who am I that you should show such kindness to me?
As a sidenote, Mephibosheth’s response of “who is your servant…” is similar to David’s response on several occasions: of “who am I?” (1 Samuel 18:18, 2 Samuel 7:18, 1 Chronicles 17:16).
Grace is surprising because it comes when we are not expecting it. When we do something good and noble; sure, then we can come in pride and think “give me ….. because I deserve it, look what I’ve done.”
But when grace is offered to us, like when David extended it to Mephibosheth, there is no basis for it. We are undeserving of it. I guess that’s what makes grace so amazing.
So, let’s bring this back to our Deuteronomy study. As Moses speaks to the Israelites in Deuteronomy, chapters 4-10, he wants them to fully understand what kind of character they have been demonstrating, in comparison to their God, who is holy.
In many verses in these seven chapters, God addresses their stubbornness, rebelliousness, and disobedience. For example, in Deut. 9, verses 6 and 7, it says, ” Understand then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people. Remember this and never forget how you aroused the anger of the Lord your God in the wilderness. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord (nasb). The Israelites were deserving of only God’s judgement for the way they consistently acted contrary to His righteous ways.
The point in God’s summarizing their sinful behaviors and attitudes in verses like I just mentioned is put in contrast to God’s goodness and kind activities towards them. Notice God’s involvements in their lives (despite how they have acted rebelliously):
-10:14-15 – it is God who chooses the Israelites
-6:10-11, 8:7-10 – God is bringing them in to a good land filled with abundant resources
– 7:1-2 – He acted on their behalf
– 10:10-11 – He spared them from what they deserve
-7:6-8 – He chose the Israelites though they were the fewest in number
-4:1, 4:20-22, 4:29-31-He gave them the Promised Land
9:4-6- He did not give them the land because of their righteousness and integrity,
7:7 – there were no attributes about the Israelites meriting their favor
9:7-8, 12. 14, 16, 20,24—the Israelites were rebellious, stubborn, evil, corrupt, and stiff-necked
So, what do we make of this thing called Grace?
It is obvious after reviewing these seven chapters in Deuteronomy that the Israelites were nothing special that would endear God to love them. Their behaviors and attitudes towards God were in contrast to the obedience He required of them.
They were a very ungrateful people who consistently pursued living independently from Him; rejecting the ways God set out for them; by rejecting living in obedience to God’s ways, they were rejecting God, Himself.
Yet, its in the light of understanding how unworthy the Israelites were in their consistent bad behavior that God’s grace shines brightest.
True Grace is not demonstrated to those who deserve our kindness (or God’s kindness), but to those who are undeserving.
That is also the attraction and power of the Gospel, God’s supreme act of grace by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to die for the sins of the world—that is, your rebellious and independent ways, and mine.
There was nothing worthy about humanity for God to want to give up His life for us. Yet, even though He saw humanity as stubborn and rebellious (just like the Israelites), God was still willing to demonstrate His love and give His life up for us, so that we could be reconciled to Him.
And just as King David experienced God’s grace in his life, and then was moved to pour out grace on others who also were undeserving, like Mephibosheth, so we too are called to be channels of God’s grace to others. Who is it in your life that doesn’t deserve your kindness, but whom you can give it to anyway?
Jesus gives us today this same command to live in a gracious kind of way. For example, in one place, He says in Matthew 5:41:
“If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,carry it two miles (NLT). “.
The land of Israel was occupied in New Testament times by Rome. One of the laws at that time had to do with a soldier who could demand that an Israelite carry his supplies one mile. It was legal for him to ask this, but so upsetting to the Israelites to be treated in such a demeaning kind of way.
Yet, how does Jesus treat this issue? He says that when these things happen, they should willingly ask the Roman soldier if they can carry their supplies an additional mile! How shocking would that be to hear?
The principle of Grace is so strong here. Did the Roman soldier deserve this kind gesture. Hardly? Yet, it is in this shocking response of going beyond what is expected that God’s Grace stands out.
And it is by acting in such an unexpected and unlikely kind of way, we can expect that we will get others’ attention. “Why would you act in such a way?” will be a question asked of us many times over. To this question, we are given the opportunity to testify to our Awesome God who is characterized by Amazing Grace.
We can then confidently share with others about this grace because we have experienced it firsthand ourselves.
Be on the lookout today for who you can be gracious!