Invitation To The King's Table
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 2 Samuel 9: 1-13
Sunday 12th October 2014
In our foundation scripture we see a clear illustration of David's kindness to Mephibosheth. This was the disabled grandson of Saul, the first king of Israel whom had sought to kill David and the son of Jonathan with whom David had entered a covenant. The story opens with David asking the question, "Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" A servant of the house of Saul, Ziba confirmed to David that Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth was in Lo-Debar in the house of Machir. At the collapse of his grandfather's dynasty, he had been dropped as a child when his family were attempting to escape and had been at Lo-Debar, a place representing barrenness and hopelessness ever since.
We are told that when Mephibosheth was finally located and brought out of Lo-Debar and brought before King David, he fell on his face and prostrated before him, no doubt in fear that David's plan was to wipe out the last trace of the previous dynasty. This was the expected behaviour. However, David's intention was not that of retribution, although this would have been justified, particularly given Saul's treatment towards him. David wanted to show kindness. We are told that David had remembered his covenant with Jonathan, this being the motivation for wanting to show the 'kindness of God' towards Saul's descendant. David said, "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." Mephibosheth was brought out of the wilderness, restored and ushered into the presence of the King, having been promised that "he shall eat at my table like one of the king's sons". He was being shown kindness that he did not deserve, did not qualify for and had not earned; a perfect representation of the grace of God towards the undeserving and unworthy.
For centuries, God has been trying to announce His unmerited favour towards us but we have largely misunderstood that what He has been trying to express is that it is His kindness that is on offer to us as a result of His covenant with us through Jesus Christ. This story illustrates perfectly that God's desire is to take us out from the place of barrenness and hopelessness, not because we deserve it, but because of His unmerited favour towards us. It is a story of hope, forgiveness, kindness and restoration; a story of transformation from the place of hopelessness to hope; from prison to liberty, from failure to success and from rags to riches. We see the grace of God in practically every page of the bible; from the creation of the universe, to the parting of the Red Sea, to the restoration of the children of Israel to their promised land after 70 years in exile, each of these events announce the grace of God.
Grace brings us out of situations which seem to spell the end for us. You may currently be in a wilderness place in your life which seems to announce nothing but hopelessness but you must understand that God specializes in turning situations around and relocating us spectacularly to places that we never thought we could find ourselves. Mephibosheth was the grandson of Saul, the previous king of Israel. His father Jonathan had died on the same day as Saul and in the haste to escape from anticipated destruction, his nurse had dropped him and he had become crippled. He was disadvantaged on a number of levels. At that time, those who had disabilities were ostracized; they were not entitled to enter the temple and lived on the fringes of society as we see even hundreds of years later in the account in the book of Acts of the man by the Beautiful Gate who was unable to enter the temple. Because of the covenant that David had with Jonathan however, Mephibosheth's disability was overlooked. In 1 Samuel 20:14 -16, we understand that David had entered into a covenant with Jonathan in which he had agreed not to cut off his kindness from Jonathan's family line forever. The bond between Jonathan and David was profound and David's commitment to his covenant responsibility to the house of Jonathan was such that social norms were of minimal importance. Because of the covenant that we have with God through Jesus, God has overlooked our sins. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, reconciling us to the Father. Our disability, our sin, could not stop God from drawing you closer to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son. This is the grace of God.
Mephibosheth was a stranger to life in the palace, having lived in the place of barrenness from his childhood. That was our condition before Christ found us. Ephesians 2: 11-13 says that we were, 'without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.' God took Mephibosheth from Lo-debar and brought him to the palace and faced with David's unexpected kindness, he expressed his unworthiness saying, "What is your servant that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?" This is the reality of God's grace. We do not merit it and could never earn it. Mephibosheth enjoyed the kindness of the King as a result of his father's covenant. Similarly, we enjoy the fullness of a relationship with the Father because of the covenant established through Jesus Christ. We do not merit being in His presence but that is the power of the grace of God; it takes us from lack to abundance and from defeat to victory. Grace brings about for us a divine exchange. You may be in the place of Lo-Debar but I declare that the grace of God has located you and you are coming out of hopelessness into all that God has for you.
David declared that Mephibosheth would henceforth dine at the King's table. This speaks of elevation. In the same way, we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. Ephesians 2: 1-7 describes us as having been 'dead in trespasses and sins' having been 'children of wrath' and conducting ourselves in the 'lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind'. It goes on to state, 'But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.' Mephibosheth found himself not only taken out of Lo-Debar and brought into the presence of the King, but also found himself now elevated to the status of sonship, being treated as royalty, as one of the King's sons. Similarly, we have become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus. Galatians 4: 7 says, 'Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.' Though he felt like a dead dog, though, no doubt he felt out of place, He was given a permanent place at the king's table. That's nothing but the grace of God.
Ziba was a servant in the house of Saul. This is very much reflected in the manner in which David related to him. David gave Ziba instructions and Ziba carried them out. 2 Samuel 9:11 says, 'Then Ziba said to the king, "According to all that my lord the king has commanded his servant, so will your servant do." Mephibosheth however was a son. David invited him to sit and eat at the king's table, an act of grace and an invitation that is never extended to servants. The distinction between Ziba the servant and Mephibosheth the son is an illustration of the distinction between the religion of servanthood and the relationship of Sonship. Unfortunately, the majority of Christians belong to the religion of servants who simply carry out instructions and the rich, rewarding relationship of sons who enjoy real fellowship and all the privileges that are only extended to family continue to elude them. We are not servants but through Christ Jesus, are sons. A servant serves to maintain his place in the household; his focus is to 'do, do, do,' constantly trying to impress God with how hard he can work, how hard he can pray and how much of the bible he can memorise. He doesn't belong in the household and only remains so long as he is carrying out a function. He wants to impress on the basis of his works, always seeking to gain approval by what he does. Notice, Ziba when asked about whether there was a member of Saul's family left, described Mephibosheth in terms of his disability, he was desperate for recognition and thus had to put Mephibosheth down. Because a son belongs in the household because of his position, there is no need to perform. He can simply receive the benefits that flow from his position. Under the law, we are performance driven but under grace, we can just be. As sons we abide in the presence of the King forever. It is not our activity that qualifies us but the grace of God. God is calling us to recognise who we are in Him. We are sons of God. Servants are never invited to take the positions that are reserved for family. Remember when Abraham complained to God that he had no heir and that his servant Eliezer stood to inherit his estate, God ensured that he had a son through whom the promise would be fulfilled.
You are a son of God and a place awaits you in the presence of the king. You may have been dropped and you may have found yourself in Lo-Debar but the grace of God invites you to take your place at the table. As you sit at the table, you'll notice that your disability cannot be seen; your sins, limitations, failures and weaknesses are no longer on display. You are accepted in the beloved and are forever a member of the royal household. The palace gates have been thrown wide open and dining table is set; the King now bids you, "Welcome"!
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