At the King's Table (II Samuel 9)
Crying for a King
At the King’s Table
II Samuel 9
September 29th, 2013
(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)
I. Where Would You Eat?
Do you have a favorite restaurant? If I said to you, “Money and transportation will not hinder us. Pick any restaurant, close by or around the world, and I will take you there, and by golly… we will eat!”…if I said that, where would you want to go? Which restaurant would you choose? Of all the places you could eat, where is the one place you most want to eat?
Turn over to II Samuel 9 this morning, as we continue our ongoing study in this amazing book of peril, politics, and promises. Let’s see what God has for us this morning.
II. The Passage: “That I May Show the Kindness of God” (9:1-13)
Now as most of you know, much of Samuel, of first and second Samuel is filled with hiding, chasing, fighting, killing, consipiring, and elements like that; elements that give the story an exciting pace, like a good suspense novel or action movie. But there are times when the pace slows down, and when it does, we should take note of that. God has something for us in the excitement, but also when the pace slows down.
As we look at chapter nine together, let me point out that I’ve broken the passage down into five parts. The structure of these five parts is what is called chiasm. In this case, the chiastic structure is seen in how repeated themes are paralleled, starting from the outside and moving inward toward a center or core verse or verses. I’ve tried to point this out in the outline using the letters A, B, and C, with C being the center. Let’s look at these sections together.
A. David’s Faithful Love Declared (9:1)
Let’s begin with verse 1 of chapter 9….
And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?”
Now at first glance, we might think David has misspoken or just fallen and hit his head. As a king in that place, at that time, the typical question would be, “Is there anyone left from the house of Saul, that I may execute him or lock him up?”
Saul was the one who hunted David, and it was Saul’s son Ish-bosheth, and Saul’s general Abner who tried to take the throne after Saul’s death. Additionally, it was Saul’s daughter who mocked and insulted David when he brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. Any other king in the ancient Near East would have been looking for ways to get rid of every trace of the old regime.
But we know from I Samuel that not every descendant of Saul was opposed to David. Listen to this exchange between David and Saul’s son Jonathan, as they discuss the downfall of Saul and God’s promise to put David on the throne. Jonathan tells David…
…May the LORD be with you, as he has been with my father.  If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the LORD, that I may not die;  and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”  And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD take vengeance on David's enemies.”  And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul… Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” (I Samuel 20:13b-17a)
So David’s desire to bless the house of Saul is not a case of temporary amnesia. No, just the opposite! David wants to bless someone from the house of Saul for Jonathan’s sake, because he remembers the promise he made to Jonathan, to not cut off his steadfast love from Jonathan’s house. In fact, the word translated “streadfast love” in I Samuel 20:15 is the same word translated “kindness” in II Samuel 9:1… And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him [steadfast love] for Jonathan's sake?”
The “steadfast” or faithful love we read about in the covenant between David and Jonathan is the same faithful love that God talked about in His covenant with David in II Samuel 7:15, when He promised that His “steadfast love” would not depart from David’s royal descendants. Listen to how David speaks of this love in Psalm 18:
For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name.  Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever. (Psalm 18:49-50)
So the very thing David has received is the very thing David wants to give. But with everything that has happened, is there anyone he can bless for Jonathan’s sake?
B. Ziba Points Out Jonathan’s Son (9:2-4)
We find that question answered for us in the next set of verses. Look at verses 2-4…
Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.”  And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.”  The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”
So in order to find a descendant of Saul that David can bless, the Israelite CIA tracks down one of Saul’s servants, a man named Ziba. And when Ziba is asked, he does in fact know of a son of Jonathan, and this son is still alive. Ziba even know where this son is living. Remember, David was on the run in the desert, or living abroad for many years, so he may not have known what happened to Jonathan in terms of marriage and children. Now the fact that this son was “crippled in his feet” should remind us of the brief and seemingly out of place note that we saw back in chapter 4 of II Samuel. This is what it said:
Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel [news about how they were killed by the Philistines], and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth. (II Samuel 4:4)
C. Mephibosheth Receives the King’s Promise (9:5-8)
So look at how the story continues here in chapter 9…
Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.  And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.”  And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”  And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
Now as we read about David bringing Mephibosheth to Jerusalem, we have to remember what Mephibosheth must have been thinking. He is one of the only male descendants of Saul left alive. Almost everyone else has been killed in battle, or by political intrigue. And David, the new king, was hunted and oppressed by Mephibosheth’s grandfather, Saul. And Mephibosheth was only five when his father died, so he didn’t have opportunity to hear about and appreciate the relationship David and his father had.
So it is very likely that Mephibosheth thought he was coming to Jerusalem to be judged; maybe to be executed. Notice his first words in verse 6, “I am YOUR servant”. And notice David’s words in verse 7, “Do not fear…”.
You can see from the outline on your insert that verses 5-8 represent the center of this passage. And if we broke it down even further, verse 7 would be the center of the center! “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness [chesed, “steadfast love”] for the sake of your father Jonathan… David is not only going to restore all of the family land to Mephibosheth, but he is also going to bring this man into his home and grant him a position of honor at the table of the king. For a man who thought he was coming to be cursed, this blessing must have been overwhelming. His response seems to confirm that.
B. Ziba Provides for Jonathan’s Son (9:9-11a)
So let’s see how David puts this promise into motion. Look at verse 9…
Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson.  And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.  Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.”
So one issue raised by David’s promise to Mephibosheth is simply, “What is a crippled man going to do with a his family’s land?” That’s where Ziba comes back in, as we can see from these verses. Now it may have been that Ziba had been working all of the land that belonged to Saul’s family…and keeping all the profits. Verse 10 tells us he is clearly doing pretty well for himself: he “had fifteen sons and twenty servants”. So David’s decision must not have been welcome news for Ziba, and when we get into chapters 16 and 19, there may be some indication that he was looking for ways to undo David’s decision.
But for now, Ziba accepts the new arrangement, and thus, David’s promise to Mephibosheth can be and will be carried out.
A. David’s Faithful Love Demonstrated (9:11b-13)
Look at how the author wraps things up in the second half of verse 11, through the end of the chapter. He writes…
So Mephibosheth ate at David's table, like one of the king's sons.  And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba's house became Mephibosheth's servants.  So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king's table. Now he was lame in both his feet.
The chapter begins with David’s declaration of his desire to show faithful love, and the chapter ends with David’s demonstration of that desire.
III. Behold, I Stand at the Door
So let’s think about what we’ve seen here. Let’s think about we’ve seen in terms of this question: “What is God saying to you in this chapter?” Think about that for a minute. What would you say? Maybe the ‘take away’ is “Keep your promises!” or “Be kind to the disabled!” Those would certainly be great expressions of God’s heart, and certainly in line with many other passages in the Bible. But I don’t think that’s what this passage is all about.
I believe the key to this passage can be found, as was the case with the last chapter, in what it repeats. Three times David speaks of “kindness” or “steadfast love” (vs. 1, 3, 7), and four times the writer talks about Mephibosheth eating at the king’s table (vs. 7, 10, 11, 13).
It seems clear that the author of Samuel wants to, once again, highlight for us the heart of David. David was the king God’s people needed because David was a man who was faithful to his word, just as God is faithful to His word. And David expresses faithful love, just as God expresses faithful love. And one of the most powerful pictures of the generosity of that faithful love is Mephibosheth eating at David’s table.
But wait a minute. How in the world does this connect to us…today? I think the connection becomes clear when we hear a passage like this:
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials,  and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom,  that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:28-30)
These are the words of Jesus, the son of David. And just as his far-off grandfather spoke, so Jesus speaks about his own disciples “eating and drinking at [his] table in [his] kingdom”. What “table” was Jesus speaking about? He was talking about what some have called “the messianic banquet”, the great feast of the returning king. Listen to several other passages that use this same language:
“I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 8:11)
“I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:9)
How do you imagine eternity? Well this morning, God has reminded us of just one of the pictures the Bible uses to describe the eternal blessings we will enjoy because of Jesus. Eternity will be like a great meal, the best meal, a royal meal, with an amazing spread…but also a family meal, with joy and laughter and love. You see, by grace, through the cross, the King of Heaven has become our Father, and the Lord of all, Jesus Christ, our older brother.
Of all the places I could eat, that is the one place I most want to eat (and need to eat): at the King’s table. Is that where you want to be? Will you be at that table as well?
But eating at the King’s table is not simply a future reality. Did you know eternal life begins the moment you trust Jesus Christ as your only hope? In the same way, even now, right now, we are able to enjoy the nourishment and joy of the King’s table.
In I Corinthians 10:21, the Apostle Paul also speaks about “the table of the Lord”. To what table is Paul referring? A future table? No, he’s talking there about the Lord’s supper, about the bread and the wine that we use to remember Jesus. I don’t know if you ever thought about it this way, but the communion table is foretaste of the table to come. The bread and wine point us to the cross, and the cross points us to the reality that for all eternity, we will be sustained and nourished as we feast on God’s grace.
Jesus used similar language when he spoke through the Apostle John to the church in the city of Laodicea. He said…Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:20-21)
Jesus is not talking to unbelievers here. He’s speaking to a struggling church. He’s reminding them about the feast of fellowship that they can have with Him…if they will simply turn from their foolishness and let the Master of the house come in, for He hasn’t come to condemn them, but to discipline them in love. Why? In order that they might eat together. To eat at the king’s table is to eat with the King. That’s what we see here. Aren’t these beautiful words? Isn’t this a beautiful invitation?
Think for a minute about the parallels between you and Mephibosheth:
Just as Mephibosheth was physically crippled, we are spiritually weak and helpless because of our sin, because we have turned from God and tried to play God ourselves. (Rom. 5:6)
Just as Mephibosheth was from a family that was hostile to David, we are from Adam’s family, a family that has turned against God and become His enemies. (Rom. 5:10, 12)
And yet, just as Mephibosheth was shown kindness because of the king’s promise to his father, so too have we been shown God’s kindness, by grace, because of His promise to our spiritual father Abraham and His covenant through Jesus. We also have heard the words, “Do not fear.” (Galatians 3:14)
And just as Mephibosheth enjoyed protection and provision because of the king, so also do we enjoy spiritual protection and provision for all our needs through the King of Kings, Jesus…and not just for a little while, but for always…forever (Romans 8:31-39).
Have you ever heard news this good? The fact is, God has spared no expense when it comes to this forever feast. He gave His own Son to make all of it possible. Are you hungry this morning, spiritually hungry? All of us are. We are hungry for meaning, for hope, for belonging, for peace, for love.
And because all of us are, when we walk out that door, we will be tempted to eat, to spiritually nourish ourselves, at so many other places, at the table of human praise…at the table of fleeting pleasure…at the table of denial…at the table of rationalization…at the table of self-righteousness…at the table of romance…at the table of stuff…at the table of political action…at the table of distraction…at the table of career…even at the table of religion.
But beware, those tables are full of junk food; junk food that might taste sweet going down, but in the end, will leave you hungry, sick, listless, and weighed down. It’s a counterfeit feast.
Here’s what I’d like you to do this week. Close your eyes for a minute. Each day this week, I want you to wake up and imagine you are getting out of bed and entering a beautiful banquet hall. At the center of this hall is an amazing table decked out with the very best food and drink. Can you see it there? There are others there too, others who have come to the table. And at the head of the table is Jesus, the King. He is smiling and calling you over. And as you sit at His side and eat, not only is the food fresh and full of flavor, but it satisfies you.
Do you deserve to be at that table? No. Like Mephibosheth, we are nothing but “dead dogs”. But the King has asked about us. He has sought us out. How will each day be different as, through His word and His Spirit, you feast with Jesus: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
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