Today, on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. There's something freeing about grace. It takes away all of the demands and it puts all of the response on God's shoulders as he comes to us and says, you're mine.
I'll take you just like you are, crutches and all. When we search the scriptures for a biblical definition of grace, we naturally think of going to the New Testament. But in 2 Samuel chapter 9, we find one of the most generous expressions of grace and mercy in the entire Bible.
And it's our subject today on Insight for Living, as Chuck Swindoll concludes a message introduced on Thursday's program. His teaching is founded on this stirring scene in King David's palace. It's a beautiful metaphor for the kind of mercy we receive from our Heavenly Father as well.
Chuck titled his message Grace in a Barren Place. Every once in a while, we come across a moment in scripture where grace just sort of opens up in a beautiful illustration that you can never forget. And that's where we've come in our study of the life of David. 2 Samuel chapter 9 is the story and it describes grace for us in the life of Mephibosheth. Last time we were with David, he was in an interlude of peace and quietness. He was thinking about his past and all the blessings that had been his. And I'm sure as we begin 2 Samuel 9 that David had thought specifically about his love for Jonathan, his friend, whom he had lost in the war.
David began to think about a promise he had made. Verse 1, is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake? And Ziba said to the king, there is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet. He walks on crutches. He's not one to carry himself in the regal dignity of the king.
He's a cripple. As part of the reason the story is so moving, David moves right on. He said, where is he?
Isn't that beautiful? There's a beautiful response on David's part. He didn't ask how badly, didn't ask how it happened, he just said, where's the man located? So the king said to him, where is he? And Ziba said to the king, behold, he is in the house of Makar, the son of Amiel in Lo-de-bar. He's in a place where there is unimaginable desolation. David, he lives out in the barren fields of Palestine.
The custom was that the king would kill one who lived on from a previous dynasty and so an individual was either exterminated or he hid for his life. And that's what this man had done. He had hidden himself away and the only one who knew his whereabouts was a servant of Saul named Ziba. Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself. He said, Mephibosheth, he answered, here is your servant. He didn't know what to expect. David said to him, do not fear, for I will surely show grace. I will demonstrate mercy to you for the sake of your father Jonathan and I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul and you shall eat at my table regularly. Can you imagine that response?
Expecting a sword to strike his neck, he hears the words that are unbelievable words from a king. Dr. Carl Menninger in his book The Vital Balance talks about a particular kind of personality. He calls it the negativistic personality, which at first says no to almost everything. The kids here tonight are thinking, that describes my parents. That's the kind of mom and dad I've got.
Not really. These are troubled patients, says Menninger. These troubled people have never made an unsound loan.
They have never voted for a liberal cause or sponsored any extravagances. They cannot permit themselves the pleasure of giving. He describes them as rigid, chronically unhappy individuals, bitter, insecure, and often suicidal. So see kids, that's really not your parents.
They're not that bad off. And then illustrating the two, he tells the story of President Thomas Jefferson, who was with a group of companions riding horseback cross country. And they came to a river.
It was swollen. A wayfarer waited until several of the party had crossed and then hailed President Jefferson and asked if he would carry him across on his horse. The president took him on the back of the horse and later set him down on the opposite bank. Tell me, asked one of the men, why did you select the president to ask this favor of? The president? The man answered.
I didn't know he was the president. All I know is that on some of the faces is written the answer no, and on some of the faces is written the answer yes. He had a yes face. So did David.
People who understand grace fully have a yes face. And when B'shibosheth looked up in the words of Meninger, he saw a yes face written across David. And David looked at him and he said, oh, my friend, you're going to have a place of honor that you've never had before. You're going to eat regularly at my table.
And it gets better. Look at it. Verse eight. He prostrated himself and said, what is your servant?
That you should regard a dead dog like me. The king, notice, he didn't even answer him. He called Saul's servant Ziba and said to him, all that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson. You and your sons and your servants shall cultivate the land for him. You shall bring in the produce so that your master's grandson may have food. Nevertheless, Mephibosheth, your master's grandson shall eat at my table regularly. Now Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants. And Ziba said to the king, according to all that my lord, the king commands his servant, so your servant will do. Mephibosheth ate at David's table as one of the king's sons. Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micah. All who lived in the house of Ziba were servants to Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem and he ate at the king's table regularly and he was lame in both his feet.
End of story. What a fantastic account of grace. Every time I read it, I get a yes face written across mine because I see a demonstration of what grace is all about. I want you to picture what life would be like at the supper table with David, okay? The meal is fixed and the dinner bell rings and they're having some guests that night.
Well, along come members of the family in later years, Amnon, clever, witty, comes to the table first. And then there's Joab, one of the guests, muscular, tanned, skin is bronzed from the sun, bearing the marks of warfare, masculine, attractive. There's Absalom from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet.
There is not a blemish on him. There is Tamar, beautiful, beautiful daughter of David. There is Solomon. He's been in the study all day and he finally makes his way to the table. But then as they all sit around waiting, waiting, they hear this clump, clump, clump, clump, Mephibosheth slides here and as one sage put it, the tablecloth covered his feet. And he sat there around the table as one of the king's sons. Oh, what a scene, huh? But you know, that doesn't stop.
You know, that story is still going on. Let me show you several analogies between the life of Mephibosheth with the king and a child of God with his Lord. I find no less than eight analogies. Number one, once Mephibosheth enjoyed fellowship with his father.
It was uninterrupted. So, man, we read that Adam walked with the Lord in the cool of the evening and he enjoyed an uninterrupted fellowship with his creator. And in that fellowship, he knew a face-to-face relationship that we've never known that is like Adam knew. That's the first analogy. Mephibosheth once knew what it was like to be related to the king.
Here's number two. When disaster and fear came, the nurse fled and Mephibosheth suffered a fall. It left him crippled for the rest of his days.
Got the analogy? When sin came, the disaster of fear struck man. He began to hide. The first response of man when sin came was hiding from God, not running to him, and finding reasons for not being with God. And man became a spiritual invalid and will be so forever on earth.
Here's number three. David the king, out of sheer love for Jonathan, demonstrated grace to the crippled. So God, out of love for his son, Jesus Christ, and the death he paid, demonstrates grace to the believing sinner. He's still seeking people who are crippled, who are lost in trespasses and sins. But today, they're walking with God because the Lord in grace set his heart out of love for his son upon those individuals.
Number four. The crippled had nothing, deserved nothing, in fact didn't even try to win the king's favor. He was hiding from the king. So man deserved nothing, had nothing, and could offer God nothing. We were hiding when he found us. Reminds me of the words of a song that used to be very popular, I was straying when Christ found me.
That describes our lives. Some of you can look back not too many years ago to times when you were addicted to drugs, when you were involved in a fast-moving, futile life, moving from one skirmish to another, from one guilt experience to another, spending one confusing night after another wondering where it all is going to lead. You offered nothing to God, you had nothing that you could give to him. Not one good work that you could say genuinely revealed righteousness. And yet the king set his heart on you. That's grace. That's what God does for us which we don't deserve and can never repay. That's grace. There's something freeing about grace. It takes away all of the demands and it puts all of the response on God's shoulders as he comes to us and says, you're mine. I'll take you just like you are, crutches and all.
Number five. David restored Mephibosheth from a place of barrenness to a place of honor. He took this cripple from a hiding place in which there was no pasture land and he brought him to the place of plenty, right into the very courtroom of the king.
The analogy is clear. God the Father has done that for us. God has taken us from where we were and brought us to where he is, in fact to a place of fellowship that only Adam once knew. He restored us to what we once had in Adam.
Number six. David adopted him into his family and he became the king's son. And God has done that for the believing sinner, adopted. Occasionally I will have individuals who have adopted their children write me and ask for some biblical insight regarding whether or not it was wise for them to do that.
They have questions. Some individuals, oh, it happened much more earlier than it does lately because adopting is difficult now, that is with any kind of choice in mind. And it's a great delight to write them back and to say, you've made a decision that's just like the decision God made. He goes through adoption all the time. Every one of his children is adopted.
He has chosen us, brought us into his family and said, you sit at my table, you enjoy my food, I give you my life. Not a Christian here tonight that isn't adopted as a family member of God. And you can understand what Mephibosheth experienced a little better than those born into David's family could. Maybe you're an adopted child.
And if you are, then you probably would better understand what I'm trying to say because I was born into the family which I was raised. Something very special about knowing that your parents chose you and took you and loved you and gave you what they had rather than leaving you with what you would have had in that kind of life. Mephibosheth had nothing but crutches and he was given the plenty of the king.
There's another. The cripple's limp was a constant reminder of grace. Every time he limped from one place to the next, from one step to the next, he was reminded, I am in a place because of the grace of the king and nothing else. That's the way it is with the father. The continued problem with sin is a continued reminder of grace. Every time you claim that verse, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us, every time you do that, you're reminding yourself grace is available. That's when the Lord just covers your feet with his tablecloth. He says, have a seat, you're mine. I chose you because I wanted to.
There's one more. When Mephibosheth sat down at the table of the king, he was treated just like another son of the king. No preference for those born in the king's family. I want to step into the future and say in closing that that's the way it will be when we feast with our Lord. Often pictured what supper time would be like around the table of heaven. Can you imagine sitting near Paul and Peter and John and asking James to pass the potatoes and talking to Isaac Watts and Martin Luther and the great reformers, Zwingli and Calvin, Savonarola, Huss, Wycliffe. Some of the evangelists of the past that forged out a new path so that the whole western world in the United States might hear. Those who carried the message on horseback, Wesley preached from horseback. He traveled in his lifetime 225,000 miles. His pulpit was a saddle.
He preached without the ability of having near him public address systems and on occasion addressed as many as 5,000 individuals. He'll be there. Some would tell you he wouldn't be there but he'll be there. He'll be there. And then along with all these greats, all these tremendous people that have made history, he'll slide under the table. Lord will look at you and he'll say, with that look, you're mine. You're as important to me as the Joabs and the Absaloms and the Tamars.
Your record is clean. Here's the meal. What a moving story we have heard today. As we conclude these moments together, I'd like to ask you to bow please in prayer. You have heard today one analogy after another related to the grace of God and the moving story of a man who really did not deserve even to be remembered who was remembered and placed in a position of incredible privilege all because of the grace and the heart of a king. That is exactly what our God has done for every one of us. Well, perhaps not for you.
Yes, you. Maybe you find yourself still crippled, still broken, still unattractive and unlovely and distant from the one who made you. All of this is the consequence of sin that has come, but the good news is that you need not remain in that condition.
Mephibosheth, you recall, took the king at his word and took his place at the king's table, full of gratitude. God is able to make of you something beautiful and good, even though there is nothing either beautiful or good right now that is in yourself. And the way that happens is through a relationship you can have with the Lord Jesus Christ.
By receiving him as your own Savior and Master, well, there can be a transformation that starts from within and works its way to the outside where you become beautiful within and all the way through your life you are being transformed to beautiful throughout. So as I pray, I ask you today to trust in the one who can transform your life, even Christ. So our Father, thank you for taking all of our confusion and all our mess in life and for understanding us and accepting us as we are.
As we have often sung in years past, we had nothing to offer you but brokenness and strife, but with our adoption into your family you have made something beautiful out of our life. And Lord God, it will take us all of eternity to express to you in any adequate manner what your grace means to us. And so we delight today, our Father, in the privilege of expressing our joy to others and through words and through songs and through statements of praise to you as we let you know our gratitude. I pray for those who have lost their way, who have lost their hearts, who find themselves in a broken down and barren condition, living far away from you and I pray that you will bring them by your grace to yourself. May your love draw them and may your grace fill them and overwhelm them with gratitude. All of us find ourselves there today because of Christ in whose family we live and in whose name we pray.
Amen. If you're among those who received Chuck Swindoll's newsletter called Insights, I want to make sure you saw the recommended reading list for your entire family. This is a wonderful season for recreational reading and the newsletter clearly illustrates a wide variety of great options.
In the event you don't receive the newsletter in the mail, you can easily access this information by going to insight.org slash summer. Let me draw your attention to one of Chuck's most popular books because it'll help your entire family grow deeper in their Christian walk. It's called Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life. This classic volume of 144 readings will help you grow closer to God in whatever stage of life you happen to be in.
It'll also help you identify what's truly most important in life through the practical and sometimes fun activities that are offered at the end of each chapter. To purchase Chuck's devotional book called Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, go to insight.org slash offer or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. As a nonprofit ministry, we're completely reliant on the voluntary contributions from those who value Chuck's daily Bible teaching. As God prompts you to give, please follow His leading.
If you're listening in the United States, you can call 800-772-8888 or go online to insight.org slash donate. You've heard him teach about the Holy Land using word pictures to make us feel like we're actually strolling through the old city. Learning about Jerusalem is fascinating for sure, but seeing the land of Israel with your own eyes is life changing.
In fact, it's absolutely magnificent. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and the gracious hosts and experts assembled by Inside for Living Ministries. Join us on an unforgettable 12-day tour, March 5th through the 16th, 2023. At special sites along the way, I will teach from God's word. We'll worship at the Mount of Beatitudes and share the Lord's table at the Garden Tomb. In fact, we'll sail the Sea of Galilee together and we'll visit places where Jesus walked and taught.
To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. Just imagine walking along those sacred sites and seeing the Bible come to life before your very eyes. Mark your calendar for March 5th through the 16th, 2023 and make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to insight.org slash events. Inside for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his biography of David, a man of passion and destiny.
That's Monday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Grace in a Barren Place, was copyrighted in 1978, 1988, 1997, and 2009. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2009 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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