2 Samuel 19:15-40 (Part 2) – My Mephibosheth Moment Before the King

Posted: August 8, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel
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2 Samuel 19:15-40 (Part 2 of 3)
David Returns to Jerusalem

No matter how good we have been, we are but filthy rags before the spotless, blameless, pure, righteous and holy God. That’s the plain truth of it all. Not only is God the Creator of all things. Not only is God all powerful, all knowing, ever-present, he is righteousness. He is holiness. He is almighty. Before Him, we are small and insignificant. Before Him, we are imperfect. Before Him, our best is like an ant on a skyscraper compared to Him.

That’s how I felt back in December 2001 when I was sitting in Abundant Life Church in the Berea suburb of Greenville, SC watching a play where the main character’s name was Mark, ironically. It was a play where we see a young man living the party lifestyle never having time for God. The character saw the whole spiritual thing as an impediment to the fun he was having in life. He thought he was a good enough guy. He thought that did more good than bad. He had situational ethics. He would been the moral laws of God that most of us know even when we don’t know God and rationalize away that it was OK. He didn’t really think that being part of the church or having an official relationship with God was for him. He was having too much fun. He wanted to be able to party it up. Have flirtations that might go a little too far. He wanted to party on the weekends. He didn’t really care for all this responsibility stuff that has been thrust upon him as he has grown older. So, the party lifestyle was his way of dealing with it. Then, right about a third of the way through the play, he is involved in a car accident. The scene where they were working on him was so realistic it was amazing (this was a church production but man the production values of this play were so professional). When the lights came up after the sounds of the accident, we see our main character standing above the body as the EMS folks attended to the person below. The central character, Mark, is watching the action and is bewildered and wondering what is going on and begging the medical personnel to bring that person back to life and slowly realizes that it is him they are working on.

As he is standing there watching, he gets weary and passes out and the scene goes black. When we wakes up as the lights come back up, he finds himself in the presence of Satan. Mark is bewildered and wondering how the hell he ended up in hell. He tells Satan there has been some kind of mistake. Mark pleads with Satan, dressed sharply in a black suit, sunglasses (even though it’s dark), a red power tie, etc. (no horns and stuff like that). Mark pleads that he has been a good person basically. And Satan laughs and gives Mark the lowdown on the holiness required to be a citizen of heaven. They then proceed to review Mark’s life through photos and video on the church’s two large video screens. Satan keeps reminding Mark how each of these photos and videos are daggers in his holiness and that each one of these scenes alone is enough to disqualify him from citizenship in heaven. With each photo and video, Mark begins to realize that he is sunk. With each successive one, his pride drops further and further. With each successive one, he realizes that his idea that he’s been good enough is far outweighed by the sins that he has committed in his life. All of it is overpowering and overwhelming to him. The false façade he had created for himself that he could deal with God later is crashing down on him realizing that he is in hell. It’s too late. He melts to the floor sobbing in wails of torment and regret. The person playing Mark had absolutely real sobs and wails. Even though he was playing a character in a play, you could tell he was reliving his own experience. Then Satan calls his sharply dressed attendants, his demons, to come “take this one away” and we see them bodily carrying Mark away with him screaming in anguish over his eternal fate. And the scene goes black.
The next thing we hear and see in the play is that sound of a heart monitor and we are watching a video on the screen and one of the EMS attendants shouts “I’ve got a pulse” and they begin furiously working to get Mark back to life. After we in the video them arriving at the hospital and rushing him in the door the video goes black and the live production on stage comes back up to lights. This scene is like maybe three months later and we progressively see by the conversations that Mark is changed man. And then at the end of the play, the central character looks toward the audience and everything goes black behind and it’s just him in a single spotlight. He explains how he learned from the car wreck and called to the Lord to be His Savior right after he regained consciousness in the recovery room. He said this was different than all his previous warm-fuzzy spiritual experiences, this was real. He said that he was a changed man and then began a plea in tears to each one in the audience that does not know Jesus as their Savior and how the “I do more good than bad” idea is just Satan’s way of deluding us. We are imperfect and unholy and do not deserve citizen in heaven on our own. It is only through Jesus that we find salvation and the pardon of our sentence to hell that we truly deserve. Hell is real he said. I’ve been there he said. The house lights came up and the pastoral staff came on stage and the lead character began the altar call process.

I was there. I came down. The irony of the main character being named Mark just added to this encounter with the Holy Spirit who had been on me for a few months since I started going back to church in October 2001. I remember this play in vivid detail as you can see. The play was about me! Every bit of it I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and my head throbbing, because this was my moment! This was my salvation moment. It was the moment that all my pretenses and defenses fell away. I am nothing but filthy rags before God and I am at His mercy. I truly deserved hell and still do in the absence of the wondrous work of Jesus Christ on my behalf. I will take half of what I am entitled to in heaven through Jesus just to say thank you to him. I would be the lowliest of the low in heaven just to show Jesus how thankful I am for what He has done for me that I don’t even in any way deserve.

That’s the idea that came to mind today as I focused on Mephibosheth i in this passage, 2 Samuel 19:15-40, this morning (as part of three blogs on this passage). Over this blog and two others, we will focus on the three characters that are presented (Shimei, Mephibosheth, and Barzillai). Today, we look at Mephibosheth. So, let’s read the passage now and think on Mephibosheth:

15 So the king started back to Jerusalem. And when he arrived at the Jordan River, the people of Judah came to Gilgal to meet him and escort him across the river. 16 Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin, hurried across with the men of Judah to welcome King David. 17 A thousand other men from the tribe of Benjamin were with him, including Ziba, the chief servant of the house of Saul, and Ziba’s fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed down to the Jordan to meet the king. 18 They crossed the shallows of the Jordan to bring the king’s household across the river, helping him in every way they could.

As the king was about to cross the river, Shimei fell down before him. 19 “My lord the king, please forgive me,” he pleaded. “Forget the terrible thing your servant did when you left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20 I know how much I sinned. That is why I have come here today, the very first person in all Israel[a] to greet my lord the king.”

21 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shimei should die, for he cursed the Lord’s anointed king!”

22 “Who asked your opinion, you sons of Zeruiah!” David exclaimed. “Why have you become my adversary[b] today? This is not a day for execution, for today I am once again the king of Israel!” 23 Then, turning to Shimei, David vowed, “Your life will be spared.”

24 Now Mephibosheth,[c] Saul’s grandson, came down from Jerusalem to meet the king. He had not cared for his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes since the day the king left Jerusalem. 25 “Why didn’t you come with me, Mephibosheth?” the king asked him.

26 Mephibosheth replied, “My lord the king, my servant Ziba deceived me. I told him, ‘Saddle my donkey[d] so I can go with the king.’ For as you know I am crippled. 27 Ziba has slandered me by saying that I refused to come. But I know that my lord the king is like an angel of God, so do what you think is best. 28 All my relatives and I could expect only death from you, my lord, but instead you have honored me by allowing me to eat at your own table! What more can I ask?”

29 “You’ve said enough,” David replied. “I’ve decided that you and Ziba will divide your land equally between you.”

30 “Give him all of it,” Mephibosheth said. “I am content just to have you safely back again, my lord the king!”

31 Barzillai of Gilead had come down from Rogelim to escort the king across the Jordan. 32 He was very old—eighty years of age—and very wealthy. He was the one who had provided food for the king during his stay in Mahanaim. 33 “Come across with me and live in Jerusalem,” the king said to Barzillai. “I will take care of you there.”

34 “No,” he replied, “I am far too old to go with the king to Jerusalem. 35 I am eighty years old today, and I can no longer enjoy anything. Food and wine are no longer tasty, and I cannot hear the singers as they sing. I would only be a burden to my lord the king. 36 Just to go across the Jordan River with the king is all the honor I need! 37 Then let me return again to die in my own town, where my father and mother are buried. But here is your servant, my son Kimham. Let him go with my lord the king and receive whatever you want to give him.”

38 “Good,” the king agreed. “Kimham will go with me, and I will help him in any way you would like. And I will do for you anything you want.” 39 So all the people crossed the Jordan with the king. After David had blessed Barzillai and kissed him, Barzillai returned to his own home.

40 The king then crossed over to Gilgal, taking Kimham with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel escorted the king on his way.

In this passage, we see that David showed tremendous mercy and generosity as he returned to Jerusalem. He spared Shimei, restored Mephibosheth, and rewarded the faithfulness of Barzillai. He restored Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was so thankful for the king’s mercy that he was willing to give all his property away just to show thanks to David for sparing him. Regardless of whether he thought he deserved it or not, Mephibosheth knew that the king could do away with him simply for not coming to him in that critical time of civil war. Mephibosheth knew that David could have him killed so there was no pretense in him. He was literally filthy rags before David. He was overjoyed when David showed him mercy to the point that he willingly gave away everything that he owned.

Are you thinking that you can deal with Jesus later? Are you living as though you got it all under control? Do you think that you are good enough? The reality is that you cannot do enough good to make up for even one sin. One sin convicts us and we are done. We are no longer candidates for heaven when we commit our first sin. We are done. We are out. We are finished. Then, when the Righteous Judge reviews the evidence of our lifetime of sins, we are convicted without recourse. We are habitual sin criminals. We are a third strike criminal with no recourse but banishment to the eternal prison of hell. But we have one and one only hope. His name is Jesus Christ. He has taken the punishment for our sins. Cry out to Him and believe that He was the Son of God who willingly went to the cross to die for our sins. Cry out to Him and believe that He was risen from the dead to give you hope about eternity in heaven. Cry out to Him ask him for mercy before the Father. He is your only way out of the sentence you have on your head.

Think about it. I did. I throw myself at the mercy of my Savior and have been living a life of thanksgiving to Him ever since. He snatched me out of my bus to the prison called hell. I will willingly be a janitor in heaven just to say thank you to Jesus for saving me. Please come to Him. There is no later. There is only now.

Amen and Amen.

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