2 Samuel 9:1-13 (NIV) 1 David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They called him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” “Your servant,” he replied. 3 The king asked, “Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.” 4 “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. 6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “Your servant,” he replied.
7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” 8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” 9 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. 10 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.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) 11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons. 12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table, and he was crippled in both feet.
Have you ever wondered why God has placed you where He has placed you? Why are you part of your particular family? What is the reason your family exists? I believe God has an individual purpose for each of us, but I also believe He has a purpose for our families as units. Using the story of David and Mephibosheth, I would like to show you how you might investigate and discover your family’s purpose.
So, the backstory for this story involves a covenant that David made with his best friend, Jonathan. Jonathan was Mephibosheth’s father. Jonathan’s dad, King Saul, Mephibosheth’s grandfather, wasn’t such a nice guy toward David. Saul was threatened by David, who had been anointed king by the prophet Samuel when he was just a young boy. In fact, David lived on the run most of his life because Saul was constantly trying to kill him. In spite of that difficult situation, David and Saul’s son, Jonathan, managed to become good friends and they made a pact of sorts, a covenant.
Jonathan promised to look out for David and to warn him of the King’s intentions and plans to kill David so that David could escape whenever necessary. In exchange, Jonathan asked for David to always be kind to his descendants because Jonathan knew David would become Israel’s next king and would have resources to help care for his family.
The covenant is found in I Samuel 20:14-17: 14 But show me unfailing kindness like that of the LORD as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family–not even when the LORD has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.” 16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
As our II Samuel 9 text opens, years and years have passed since the covenant was sworn between the two men, but we find David inquiring if any of Saul’s descendants, which means any of Jonathan’s descendants, were still alive. Saul and his sons had been killed in battle, and remembering his covenant to be kind to Jonathan’s descendants, he asked his servant to find out of there were any surviving family members around. If King David’s family were writing a mission statement about the purpose of their family, perhaps they would include the following statement:
- The House of David keeps its word to others.
This past week, we saw Donald Trump take the “oath of office” which reads: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Those words, uttered by every previous president, are weighty, important, strategic, and purposeful. There is a lot behind those words that he is pledging to live up to. The intent behind the words is a commitment to do whatever it takes to follow through and execute the promise that is made. Time will tell what that oath means to him personally.
Promises, perhaps, don’t mean what they used to mean. I’m not sure our society values a person’s word or puts much hope in a person’s word like we once did. Words can be used to manipulate people and circumstances in the moment, and then can be discarded when the moment has gained the person what they were seeking and no longer need.
Promises can be made as a form of escape to get someone off your back or to lead them to believe you are someone different from who you really are. Where words used to be a person’s bond, often they are just words used to tell someone what they want to hear in an effort to escape an unpleasant situation.
As believers, we know that God has called us to love others, and when we don’t keep our word to them, we are disrespecting them which displeases God. Promises are easy to make, but keeping them is a different story. When we promise to pray for people, when we promise to keep something confidential, when we tell someone we are sorry and promise never to do the same thing again, when we promise we will do what someone is asking, and we don’t make good on our promise, we aren’t showing love and respect the way God desires for us to.
Keeping covenants, keeping promises is essential in our homes if we are going to live as Christians and if we are going to be witnesses to the world around us. The fact that the King of the land was remembering his promise and was also going to some trouble to search for any possible relatives in order to keep his promise is a wonderful example for us to follow.
Husbands and wives, you made some promises a while back. There was something about “to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do you part.” Let me remind you of those vows! One of the challenges in today’s culture is that the institution of marriage has been mocked and downgraded to a social contract, one that can be simply cancelled, torn up, and disposed of. Marriage isn’t a contract. It is a covenant. It is a covenant made before God and His church. We must not take the covenant lightly.
If we make promises to our children, we need to seek to fulfill them with intention and effort. Follow-through as parents is so important if we want them to trust us and share their lives with us. And young people, if you make promises to your parents to do better in school, to clean your room, to be more responsible in some area of your life, you need to follow through. The keeping of our promises shows love and respect.
Keeping our word honors the Lord. Deuteronomy 23:21-23 (NIV) 21 If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. 23 Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.
God takes our word very seriously, and so should we.
- The House of David shows kindness to others.
So, Mephibosheth is located and brought to the palace. When he gets there, he hears these words in verse 7: 7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
While Mephibosheth did have a physical disability, that wasn’t the reason for David’s kindness toward him. David extended kindness to Mephibosheth “for the sake of his father Jonathan.” It was out of respect for his relationship with Jonathan and the covenant they had made that David would assist Mephibosheth. The emphasis in this verse isn’t on Mephibosheth’s need for assistance. The emphasis is on the fact that David had made a vow and had determined to be kind to Jonathan’s descendants. David didn’t decide to be kind because Mephibosheth was unable to walk. David had simply decided to be kind.
What added comfort it must have been to Mephibosheth to hear David say, “I know your father. I am a friend of your father’s.” I remember driving between Parkersburg and the Lexington, KY area one year long ago when an ice storm hit. The highway was closed, and all drivers were forced to exit. I found myself as a single young woman, maybe 24 years old, stuck at a truck stop in Owingsville, KY. I was facing spending the night in my car in a parking lot with lots of other stranded drivers, most of whom were big burly truckers, and I was scared.
The Holy Spirit helped me remember that I had been in Owingsville, KY a few years earlier with a singing group from Anderson University. I had done the communication for our group and was the one to speak with pastors about directions, our arrival time and what we would need to set up for our concert. In an instant, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a name. Lowell Rice. Lowell was the pastor of the Church of God in Owingsville, KY. I went to the phone booth (that was back before cell phones, people) and I looked up his number in the book that was hanging there. I dialed the number. He answered. I’ll never forget his words on the other end of the phone. “I remember you. I know your father. I will be right there.”
He remembered me, and he knew my father, and he was coming to my rescue! He took me to his house and put me up for the night. He showed me such kindness. When I thanked him, he said, “Your dad would have done the same thing for my daughter.” He knew my dad was a kind person, a person who would also extend kindness to others. Kindness is an extension of relationship, yes, but it is also extending ourselves to others out of love and respect for the friendships and networks God has placed in our lives.
We have all needed the kindness of strangers. Whether it has been a pair of jumper cables we needed to borrow, someone providing the extra five dollars behind us in the check-out line because we had gone a little over, or someone bringing a meal by or sending a card to cheer us. We have all needed special kindness.
David extended kindness not just one time, not just on one occasion, not just every now and then, but he extended kindness to Mephibosheth for the rest of his life. Kindness was a way of life for David in his relationship to Mephibosheth. He took him in as part of his own family. He ate meals with the royal family.
Verse 8 tells us that Mephibosheth didn’t think very highly of himself. He called himself a “dead dog.” I’m guessing he was a real fun guy at parties! Sometimes we distance ourselves from Debby Downers and Franky Frowners because they can suck the life out of us. They can be difficult to spend time with. David could have given him a wing in the palace and sent servants to care for him without personally interacting with him and investing time in him, but in kindness, he reached out and drew Mephibosheth in.
- The House of David assists others with support and restoration.
David told Mephibosheth in verse 7 that he would restore to him the land that had once been his grandfather’s. He explained to his own servant, Ziba, in verse 9 that he was giving everything to Mephibosheth that had once belonged to King Saul. He told his servant that he was to make sure that the land he was restoring to Mephibosheth would be worked and harvested in order that Mephibosheth would be provided for.
Now, walk with me in your mind for a second. Why would Mephibosheth need the land? He was going to live in the King’s palace. Why would he need the food from the land? He was going to eat at the King’s table. He would be taken care of. Look at verse 12: Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica. As I studied this passage, I thought, “Why did the writer include that detail in the story?” Why did we hear about Mephibosheth’s little boy?
Isn’t it every parent’s dream to be able to leave a legacy, to leave an inheritance, to pass something on to their children? In ancient times, it was all about land. Land was your inheritance. In this story, we see David helping to bring restoration to Mephibosheth’s life so that he would have something to pass on to his young son, so that his son would be able to have a life and care for himself one day. Isn’t that awesome?
When you reach out in kindness to others, know that it has the potential to go beyond that one individual and can impact future generations. When you help make life better for a parent, you are helping to make life better for a child! For the past couple of weeks, Pastor Thom has been assisting a lady in our community that is a single mom with two high school kids. We have been able to help them with food. Some of you have been part of that process. We have been able to assist her in getting a new apartment and furniture for her place. Some of you have been part of that process. We have been able to help her find a job.
She was dejected and depressed. She had no one to help. She had met a dead end. One day in December she had no financial resources and nothing to eat. She didn’t think very highly of herself, but turnaround has come to her life! She now has a safe place for her kids. She now has income to help support her family. Because of the impact God has made on her through our collective kindness, she has a way to make life better for her children. That, my friends, is what it is all about! And it leads me to my final point:
- The House of David provides a safe place for others.
Back in ancient times when a new king took over, he would often have the family members of the previous king killed to ensure none of them would rise up and try to take the throne. David, however, took the previous king’s descendant in and care for him. Mephibosheth would live in safety for the rest of his life.
Perhaps you don’t know why Mephibosheth was unable to walk. His physical challenge was the result of an accident that took place. The story is found in II Samuel 4. When his nurse heard that Saul and his sons had been killed in battle, which means she heard that Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s dad had been killed, she was afraid someone would come after Mephibosheth and kill him, too. In panic and fear, she scooped him up and tried to make a run to safety with him. However, somehow, she fell while holding him or he simply fell out of her arms, and he became injured and unable to walk.
The safe place she found for Mephibosheth was in a place called Lo-debar. Lo-debar actually means, “without pasture” “without hope.” Because of the way David chose to live, he was able to bring Mephibosheth from a place of hiding to a place of dining, from a place of desolation to a place of peace, from obscurity to the King’s table. What an incredible and profound transformation in Mephibosheth’s life.
No one wants to live in “Lo-debar.” No one wants to live in fear, in hiding, and without options for change. What if each of our families, asked God to give us an opportunity to make a difference for one other family, by showing them kindness, by assisting them with restoration and support, and by helping them come out of hiding and into a safe place.
Neither my husband or myself ever post much about the political climate in America for many reasons, but on Friday, Thom posted something that I think can help reinforce what I hope will be the climax of this message. Here is what he said:
Some people are feeling great hope today. Some people are feeling great fear. That is one aspect of placing our hope in anything but Christ. Jesus is The Hope of the world. Trust Him. If you don’t know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior I would love to tell you about Him, and the hope that His power and presence bring to my life. I know it sounds crazy but because of my hope in Christ I don’t have to place my hope in or fear whoever is elected or what they do or don’t do. Yes, I want America to be as great as it can be, but ultimately, I want all Americans to know Christ and live for Him. Now that would make America great.
Yes, we are to keep our word. Yes, we are to show people kindness. Yes, need to reach out to support other people as they seek a better life for themselves and their families, but listen, ultimately, our job as believers, is to help people get to the King’s Table! Why? Because once people are brought to the King they will live with the hope they need to face all of life’s challenges. Physical safety is important, but spiritual safety is paramount.
If I were to write a mission statement for King David’s family based on this story, it would read something like this: The King David family exists to live out our word before God and others, to show kindness to all people as a way of life, to support others as we are able, using our resources and networks with others, to enable them to recover from life’s trials and be established in life in an effort to help people find hope and healing in the person of Jesus Christ.
If someone was to write a mission statement for your family based on the current way in which you live, what would it say? What would you like for it to say? More than anything, I want the testimony of my family to be, “They invited people to the King’s table.” How about you?
Lamech: Genesis 4:19-24. (This mission statement led to the judgment of the world by flood.)
Abraham: Genesis 18:19 (Abraham’s family mission statement was given to him by God).
Jacob: Genesis 35:1-5 (This is a weak statement).
Caleb: Numbers 14:24; Deuteronomy 1:36; Joshua 14:6-12; Judges 1:11-13 (given to him by God).
Joshua: Joshua 24:15 (Good strong family mission statement).
David: 1 Kings 2:1-4 (David’s Covenant).
Stephanus: 1 Corinthians 16:15.
Gary Smalley’s family: “We dedicate our family to the task of enriching other families.”
“Our family goal is to enrich other people’s lives through physical healing.”
“Our family goal is to raise money for Christian organizations to further God’s building of His kingdom.”
“The mission of our family is to help foreign missionaries spread the gospel to all of the world.”
“We devote our family to neighborhood evangelism.”
“God has called our family to demonstrate unconditional love to each other and to other people around us.”
Stephen Covey’s family: “The mission of our family is to create a nurturing place of faith, order, truth , love, happiness, and relaxation and to provide opportunity for each individual to become responsibly independent and effectively interdependent in order to serve worthy purposes in society through understanding and living the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
[Note the four parts: The characteristics of the home, the effect upon the individual persons, our real purpose, the ultimate source of the power.]
GUIDELINES FOR DEVELOPING A FAMILY MISSION STATEMENT:
- Mission statements should be timeless.
- The best mission statements deal with both ends and means.
- Every member of the family should participate. Even if your children are younger, you can still start using this “family constitution” method. Just keep the mission simple and full of pictures.
- You don’t invent your family mission. You detect it. You uncover it. Each family possesses special gifts, unique qualities, and characteristics. These are clues that God gives you to your family mission statement. Ask God to reveal your unique family mission.
PROBLEMS THAT OCCUR WITH MISSION STATEMENTS:
- They are rushed. – Developing a mission statement is a process, not an event.
- They are announced. – “This is what our mission will be.”
- They are forgotten. – If this happens, they lose their power to affect change.
BENEFITS OF A FAMILY MISSION STATEMENT:
- A family mission statement will free you from the tyranny of other people and life’s circumstances. If you don’t have a clearly-defined direction as a family, other people or the crush of life’s circumstances will tend to set direction for you. You will find yourself the slave of other people and circumstances. — Example: The kids get involved in too many sports and clubs — mom and dad begin to feel like the taxi service family — the family learns to say, “No! That does not contribute to our mission.”
- A good mission statement will define and motivate. It will be God’s means to create a unique household. — Statements (words) have the power to motivate, to bring growth, change, and realization of a vision.
- The reason most families split up is because they do not share a common vision. Since each of the family members participate in the creation of the mission statement, the process of making a mission statement will draw your family together. “This is our vision. We share it. This is why we exist as a family.” — Society is tearing the family apart. We must confront division with “NO! We have a unique purpose for being together!”
- A family mission statement will affect your personal inner life, your heart. As you go through the process of developing a mission statement, you will absorb your mission statement. It will cause you to personally reexamine your motives, attitudes, and behaviors.
- A family mission statement will become the policeman in your home. — Even the simplest statement will become a patrolman, but you can also develop your mission statement into a family constitution. Here is the Gary Smalley Family Constitution which is an expansion of a mission statement to include limits.