Kingdom of Kindness
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Kingdom of Kindness

2 Samuel 9:1–13  (ID: 3493)

With Israel’s kingdom secured, David enjoyed a time of grateful reflection. Recalling his promises to Jonathan and Saul, he sought their remaining heir—Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth. Land, servants, and honor were restored, and Mephibosheth was welcomed like a son to the king’s table. Alistair Begg explains how David’s expression of God’s covenant loving-kindness foreshadowed Christ, who seeks us in our frailty and welcomes us into His kingdom. Like Mephibosheth, our response to such undeserved, amazing grace should be humble astonishment.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in 1 and 2 Samuel, Volume 7

Great Victories, Terrible Defeat 2 Samuel 8:1–12:31 Series ID: 109017

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me to the Old Testament and to 2 Samuel and to chapter 9 and follow along as I read this chapter. The heading in my Bible is “David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth.”

“And David said, ‘Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ 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.’ 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?’

“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 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.”

Amen. We thank God for the reading of his Word:

We bow down before you, our good and gracious God, asking for the help of the Holy Spirit as we turn to your Word and praying in Christ’s name. Amen.

Well, here we are at chapter 9, and after all the clashing strife of chapter 8, we turn from the sights and sound of these battlefields and turn in to what is a beautiful picture: an expression of God’s lovingkindness, his covenant love, as it is expressed through the life of his servant David in the way in which he treats this man Mephibosheth. (And I have to get it wrong at least once to get it out of my system.) But somebody mentioned to me a few weeks ago now, as we were going through one of the sections of 2 Samuel, “Oh dear, I do hope we’ll be done with the killing very soon.” And I understand that. And chapter 8 had a tremendous amount of killing in it. And we have to remind ourselves that this was not, as we said in our study of 8, simply a kind of tribal skirmish, but the reason for this is because the enemies of God must be subdued and must be defeated. And in the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ steps forward as the King to subdue all the enemies ranged against God and his purposes.

But with that said, I want to suggest to you that here in this section of 2 Samuel 9, we might say that we find David at his best. David at his best. I think it nudges his defeat of Goliath into second place. I mean, the defeat of Goliath in 1 Samuel is, of course, magnificent, where he stands before him in his frailty and yet in his power. But now, here we have this display of kindness. And it’s very, very important that we recognize immediately that when we talk about the kindness here, it’s not simply a matter of David being nice to somebody. We’re familiar with saying to people, “I hope you have a nice day,” or “Be nice to your teacher,” or whatever it might be. And that is, of course, important. But what is being expressed here is the covenant love of God. It’s a word that I think we’ve become familiar with, the word hesed in the Hebrew, and it is the steadfast love of God. In some versions of the Bible, it is his “lovingkindness.” It is his covenant care. The “steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king,” writes Solomon later, “and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.”[1]

Now, it is, as I say, important that we get this; otherwise, we will quickly go wrong. It is a love that commits itself to another by making its promises a matter of solemn historical record. So in other words, he’s not simply being nice to the person up the street. What is being displayed here in the life of David is this commitment to another in the fulfillment of promises that are a matter of solemn record.

The Lord Jesus Christ steps forward as the King to subdue all the enemies ranged against God and his purposes.

Now, in chapter 8 we recognized that “David reigned over all [of] Israel.” He “reigned over all [of] Israel.” That’s the fifteenth verse. And we discovered that the model of his administration was marked by justice and by righteousness—that as the king, he sought then to operate in his leadership by doing what was good and what was right. And in doing so, he recognized—still in chapter 8 and in verse 6, and then again in verse 14—he recognized that it was the Lord that had given him victory.

He recognized, too, actually—going all the way back to chapter 7—that it was on account of God’s promises to him and his presence with him that he found himself in the position that he did. If your Bible is open, you should just look at that, 7:20: “And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God!” In other words, he’s saying, “You know everything about me. You know what I’m like. The fact that I am here today in this position”—notice verse 21: “Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.”

And so, chapter 8 provides us, if you like, a summary of David’s reign. I think we said in passing that the events in chapter 8 provide a mixture, chronologically. Some of what is described in chapter 8 took place before David became king, and some of what is described in chapter 8 is actually a record of something that took place after this, chronologically. And so it is that we move from that and into chapter 9.

And I would suggest to you that the link, really, is from the end of chapter 7 into the beginning of chapter 9. So, for example, you will remember that in the balance of chapter 7, David expresses his gratitude to God. And it actually says in verse 18 that he went in, and he sat before the Lord, and he says, “Who am I that I would ever be in a situation like this?”[2] And then he expresses his gratitude to God, and he asks God to continue to bless his house: “For you, O Lord God”—the end of 7—“have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”[3] Then chapter 8, with a summary of the reign, which is set in there for us so that we might have that comprehensive picture. But then he picks it up, as it were: “And David said…” “And David said…”

So, with his enemies defeated, with his kingdom, if you like, established, he has time for reflection. The origin of the phrase “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits,” the origin of that is disputed. But you will notice that David seldom sits, but when he sits, he actually thinks. And as he thinks and as he considers, he then proceeds.

The Question David Posed

Now, let me try and help us through this chapter by first of all considering the question that he posed. The question that he posed. It’s right there at the beginning of the chapter, and it comes twice. In the first instance, perhaps he poses it just to himself—that it is, if you like, a soliloquy; that he is sitting there, and he’s saying to himself, “I wonder, is there anyone left of the house of Saul?” After all, he has done a tremendous job of eradicating all of the enemies and all of the potential threats.

And indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was actually reflecting in this way in order to check and see if there were any other people that represented a threat to his kingship. After all, Saul and his house had fought long and bitter battles against David. That takes us all the way back to chapter 3, the long war that proceeded between them. And so it wouldn’t be surprising if he said, “I’d better just check and make sure that there’s nobody left that could come up against me and so threaten what I’m doing.” That wouldn’t be surprising. But what is astonishing is that that is not what he’s saying. He wasn’t thinking about eliminating an opponent but instead finding somebody, an undeserving somebody, to whom he could show “the kindness of God”—which is what he refers to it as in verse 3—to whom he could show “the kindness of God,” an undeserving member of Saul’s house.

Now, it’s important for us also to recognize that this reflection and this question doesn’t come out of the blue. It’s not “all of a sudden, appears out of nowhere.” And in order to make sure we understand that, I need to encourage you to come back with me for a moment, just back to chapter 20 of 1 Samuel. And you will perhaps remember in that context that David and Jonathan expressed their commitment to one another, and you will see this in 20:14. We’ll come back to this again later, but just notice it now. And Jonathan says to David, he says, “Listen, if I’m still alive after all of this—when all of this shakes out, if I’m still alive—show me the steadfast love of the Lord. Be kind to me. Be kind to me with the kindness of God, the covenant love of God. Show me that, so that I may not die. And furthermore, do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever.”[4] And verse 17: “And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.”

Now, here’s the thing: David had not forgotten that he made that promise. Nor had he forgotten that he gave a similar assurance to Saul himself. We won’t delay on it, but you’ll find that in chapter 24, when Saul acknowledges to David, he says, “I know you’re going to be the king. I know that your kingdom will be established.” And then he says to him, he says, “But I want you to swear an oath to me.”[5] This is 1 Samuel 24:21: “‘Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my offspring after me, … that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.’ And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up [from] the stronghold.” Now, that is a long time ago. That is a long time ago. That is at least a decade; maybe two decades have elapsed. And as David sits in this situation and reflects, he says to himself, “I wonder, then, if there is anybody that I could display this kindness to.”

When I read this this week, it made me think of another scene that we considered a long time ago when we studied the life of Joseph. And if you remember, when Joseph is put in jail, he has the opportunity to interpret the dreams of two fellow prisoners, one of them being the cupbearer. And when he interprets the dream of the cupbearer, he says to the cupbearer, “Now, I want you to make sure that you speak on my behalf when you get out of here and make sure that I can get out of here too.”[6] And the cupbearer paid attention to what he said—at least he gave the impression that he did—but it says at the end of chapter 40, of Genesis 40, “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”[7]

It’s the sin of omission, isn’t it? Think of all of our unfulfilled promises, just in passing. You ever sit and think about all the things you said you’d do? All the letters you said you’d write? All the promises that you made? Well, here we find in David a wonderful reminder.

One of the best greetings that I’ve had written into a book that was given to me was given to me by my friend Alec Motyer, when, in signing a book to me, he said, “I rejoice in a Christian love that passing time cannot erode.” Well, the love, the covenant love of God, is not eroded by the passing of time. And so David says to himself, “There must be somebody.”

And so the word gets out. I imagine that his people around him would have said, “You know, David has been talking a lot these last few days—talking to himself almost—and saying, ‘I wonder, is there anybody?’” And so the word is passed to Ziba. And we won’t delay on Ziba. But Ziba is the one who is able to come, declare his servanthood to David in verse 2, and as he’s given the question again, Ziba is able to point him in the right direction. And he “said to the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan; he[’s] crippled in his feet.’” And you will notice that that is the final statement in this chapter as well. In other words, there is something about the helplessness, about the predicament of this individual that speaks to David’s kindness and his compassion.

Now, we know from chapter 4—and I hope you remember—that the event concerning this fellow had to do with the occasion when warfare began to ensue and his nursemaid picked him up and made a run for it, and “she fled in her haste,” and “he fell and became lame”—this is 2 Samuel 4:4—and “his name was Mephibosheth.” Now, he was five years old at that time. By this time in this chapter, he is a young man and has a son of his own. So I say to you again, time has elapsed. And time has not eroded David’s desire to express this covenant love to the servant of Saul.

Now, when he finds this out, when he is given the news, he doesn’t waver, and he doesn’t reconsider. I suppose it would have been possible for him. This sometimes happens in life, doesn’t it? You have a good idea. You have a genuine desire. And then you get the answer to your question, and then it sort of goes away from you, all of a sudden, for no good reason, and you just don’t follow through. I mean, it would have been possible for him to say, “Well, now that I’ve got the information and thought about it for a wee while, it was a long time ago. Conditions were different then. After all, it was something of a formality. It was just between me and Jonathan. After all, times have changed.” All of the kind of things that we’re tempted to say.

You think about the covenant of marriage: “It was such a long time ago. Things have changed. I’ve changed. We’re different now.” You see, if David was simply operating on the basis of his feelings, there’s no saying what he would have done. But the reason that he poses the question that he poses is because he is prepared to pursue for no other obvious reason at all than the fact that he promised: “I promised. And because I promised, I will seek this person out.” Hence the question that he has posed.

The Action David Took

Secondly, to notice the action that he then took. He follows up on this. He wants to know, verse 4, “Well, where is he?” And Ziba said to him, “Well, he’s in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” The little we know about that simply affirms the fact that he’s not in much of a place, he’s obviously dependent on the care of others, and really, he has nothing very much to say for himself.

If David… You know, when you’re a king, I think you want nice people around you. You want to make sure that your entourage is a good group. That would be standard fare, wouldn’t it? What kind of king is it who’s gonna have a cripple in his entourage? Why would he do this? No obvious reason. What would this individual have to offer? Nothing very much. You see, that’s why I say this is not about being nice. This is about the loving-kindness of God, painted in this amazing sketch in this incident in David’s life.

Love always takes the initiative. Love always takes the initiative. And what Mephibosheth would have anticipated in making his supervised journey to meet the king we can only surmise. After all, he would know that David had done a very, very good job of removing any potential threats to his kingship. He came from the lineage of… It’s very carefully put, isn’t it? He’s “the son of Jonathan,” he’s the “son of Saul.” Saul is his grandfather. Saul was the great enemy of David. Therefore, he’s not able to say, “Well, you know, I’ve got a very good lineage. My background is terrific. I can probably appeal to that.” No, he wouldn’t want to make much of that. Furthermore, he has really got no position of power or anything at all. But here he comes. And no surprise that he falls before David—falls before him—and he “paid homage” to him. In other words, his approach is respectful, and at the same time, it is fearful.

This is not about being nice. This is about the loving-kindness of God, painted in this amazing sketch in this incident in David’s life.

Now, I want you to see something that I think may be important, but it’s not a main and a plain thing. And it is simply this: that up until this little encounter here, where we read in the second half of verse 6—I’ll show you in a moment—the dialogue goes, “The king said… The king said… The king asked… He responded to the king… The king… The king… The king… The king…” Now, you will notice here, when Mephibosheth shows up, the narrator says, “And David said to him…” It doesn’t say, “And the king said to him…” It’s almost as though by this mechanism, by this literary mechanism, the writer wants us to recognize that what is now taking place in this conversation is something beyond simply king to subject. It is David addressing Mephibosheth: “And David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’” To which he must have said, “He knows my name! How’s he know my name?” Well, let that settle in your thinking.

“Do not fear.” “Do not fear.” You think how many times in the Bible an encounter like this is preceded by this very phrase, “Do not fear.” “Fear not.” Do you find yourself looking at this and saying, “Well, that makes me think about something a lot later on”? The angelic word: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be [for] all [the] people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David”—the city of David!—“a Saviour, [who] is Christ the Lord.”[8] And here David, of “the city of David” fame, brings this individual to him, and his opening gambit is “I don’t want you to be afraid. I don’t want you to be afraid. And I’ll tell you why you don’t need to be afraid. Because…”

And verse 7 is surely the fulcrum of all these verses. It is, if you like, the heart of it all. “[So] David said to him, ‘Do[n’t] fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.’” In other words, “What you’re going to be able to enjoy as a result of my kindness to you is not on account of anything in you. It is on account of a promise that I have already made a long time ago—a promise that you would know nothing about.” After all, he was, as we say, only five years old. But it was the covenant that David had made with Jonathan that lay behind the assurance that he now gives to Mephibosheth.

The Provision David Made

And that action is then followed—and this is my third and final point—and that action is then followed up by the provision that he made. So, the question that he posed: “Is there anybody?” Answer: “Well, there is a fellow.” “Okay, well, where is he?” “Well, he’s over there.” “Well, go get him. And bring him.” So he sent for him, and he summoned him, and he came to him, and he spoke to him, not top-down but mano-a-mano: “Mephibosheth, I’m David. Don’t be afraid. I’m going to show you the kindness of God, because of the promise that I made to your dad.”

And the provision is described for us there. What is he going to do? Well, he tells him: “I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father.” “Your grandfather’s place is gonna be yours.” “My grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelves, so it stood forty days on the floor,”[9] or whatever it was, right? So you imagine the provision that was there in Saul’s, that had been taken away. It was under the custody of others. It wasn’t in the proviso of Mephibosheth—no, not for a moment.

This is unbelievable. This is astonishing! If it doesn’t astonish us, then we need to think a little more. He’s been living in the house of Machir, a no-name location. And, proverbially, with the stroke of a pen, he is all of a sudden a rich man. All the fields and the basic regimen that Saul his grandfather enjoyed is now going to be his. That’s the first thing.

Secondly, “And you shall eat at my table always.” “You shall eat at my table always.” This is more than “bare necessities, the simple bare necessities.”[10] This is the fullness… It’s like when you get into John chapter 1: “Out of the fullness of his grace we have all received…”[11] That’s what this is a picture of here.

Now, if you think about this: David had enjoyed the same privilege at Saul’s table. In fact, if you are in the honors course, you will already have said to yourself, “Oh, wait a minute. We’ve known something of this table business before.” That’s right! Because remember, the whole deal was that David enjoyed the privilege, as a prince of the court, to sit at the table of Saul. And you’ll need to reread 1 Samuel 20 again for yourself, when he says, “I’m going to not show up at the table. And I want you, Jonathan, to check out your father’s reaction.”[12] And it is in his absence from the table of the king that Jonathan displays to him the affection and love and support and obeisance that recognizes David’s kingship, which gives rise to his covenant promise to Jonathan, which then leads to the circumstance that we find before us now. The covenant that he had made with Jonathan is the basis by which he keeps his promise, securing for Mephibosheth honor and blessing beyond what he could ever imagine.

So, “Your grandpa’s place is yours. You will always eat at my table.” And thirdly, you will notice that he provides for him a management team to ensure that Mephibosheth will be able to enjoy these benefits. And you will notice in verse 12 that Ziba—who was himself a prosperous fellow—that Ziba and his folks became the servants of Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth’s Reaction

Well, of course, what is the reaction? Well, he says, “What is your servant,” verse 8, “that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” Ha-ha! You get this? He doesn’t say, “Well, finally somebody woke up! Finally somebody’s begun to think and realize what an important person I am. I may not be able to walk like other people, but I still have a position to fulfill. And I can understand why you would now realize the extent of my potential influence and would call me into your position and do this for me. And it just makes perfect sense.”

No, it’s the very reverse of that. He’s astonished by it. He said, “This doesn’t make any sense at all. Why would you do this? Why would you do this for a dead dog like me?” You say, “Well, that’s very self-deprecating.” No, I think he meant it. Actually, you will recall that David used the very same terminology about himself in relationship to Saul in the earlier part of the story.[13] In other words, he says, “I’m the bottom of the pile here. Why would you do this?”

Let me just jump forward for a second. The reason some of us have never come to trust in Christ is because we’ve never faced the fact that we are by our very nature at the bottom of the pile—that we are lame, that we are sinful, that we are crippled, and that we are diseased. And so the message comes to us along the lines of “God likes really nice people. You’re a very nice person from the Chagrin Valley, and therefore, you’ve got a very, very even chance of being welcomed into his eternal kingdom.” No! Not for a nanosecond. The reverse is the case. The reaction of this fellow is the right reaction to the covenant love of God: “My God!” “My Lord, what love is this that pays so dearly?”[14]

Interestingly, you will notice that Mephibosheth’s reaction is actually akin to the reaction of David way back in chapter 7: “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and [he] said, ‘Who am I …?’”[15] This is amazing grace. This is unfailing love. That’s what it is. You see, what Mephibosheth expected he didn’t receive, and what he received he didn’t deserve.

No, so what happens? Well, you see there the fulfillment of it: “Mephibosheth,” verse 11b, “ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons.” He enjoyed the fullness of the king’s provision—he and his son, a reminder that the line is going to continue. Remember the promise he made to Saul? “I will make sure that your line continues.” Here we have it: his great-grandson now!

Well, I can imagine that Mephibosheth would have occasion, if he had known the book, to have said to himself, “He welcomes me to his banqueting table, and his banner over me is love.”[16] Because notice what has happened here: David has found him, he has summoned him, he has treated him kindly, he has provided for his needs, he has given him a seat at his table, and he is treating him as a son. That’s why I say to you that this is David at his very best. We’re going to see David later on at his very worst, in a couple of chapters. This is him at his very best, inasmuch as what he does foreshadows Christ; inasmuch as what we discover is that the kingdom of David is a kingdom of kindness, righteousness, and justice.

How is that worked out? Well, in the big picture, it will involve this. But what about on the day-to-day picture? What about in interpersonal relationships? What does it mean for you, David, to get up in the morning and say, “I’m gonna do the good thing, and I’m gonna do the right thing”? “Well,” he says, “I’ll tell you what I’m gonna have to do: I’m gonna have to see if there is anybody left of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God, that I may do what is good and that I may do what is right.”

Well, of course, what do we know? That the picture, as glorious as it is, is a picture that comes into full frame, into glorious Technicolor, in Jesus. Because hundreds of years—about a century and a half—after these events, the prophets are writing. And the prophets write of a day that is yet to come. You can read this on your own. But Isaiah, in 35:6, he talks about a day that will come when “the eyes of the blind” will “be opened,” when “the lame man” shall “leap like a deer,” when “the tongue of the mute” will “sing for joy.”[17] And six hundred years before Jesus, the people lived, read this, and wondered.

Communion is the reminder to us that the kingdom of God is the kingdom of kindness, in a love that he shows to the diseased, the lame, the deaf, the dying.

And then the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.[18] And suddenly the lame leap, the deaf hear, the blind see, the mute sing. And people say, “Then this is he! This is the King. This is the King who out-kings all the kings. This must be the one.” “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the [waves] obey him!”[19] Yes! Because in Jesus all these signs find their fulfillment and declare that the kingdom has come.

When the King Comes Calling

Well, let me finish in this way. You stand back from it again, and there we have it. Mephibosheth, I don’t know his circumstances. Maybe they picked him up and moved him around. Maybe he stumbled. Maybe he had crutches. He went around his day, someone brought him his breakfast, and there he was, in the house of Machir, in a place that nobody really knows where it is anymore. He was a sort of no-name nonentity, lost, crippled, living on his own.

And somebody showed up at the front door. And they said, “We’re looking for Mephibosheth.”

Someone said, “Well, he’s in here. Why do you need him?”

“Well, the king wants him.”

“Hey, Mephibosheth? King David is calling for you.”

“Well, I don’t know if I want to go.”

“Well, you’re gonna have to go. They’ve sent somebody here to take you.”

And off he goes. And, of course, we know the story.

One day—one day—the King went calling at the house of Levi the tax collector. And the religious people said, “Well, this doesn’t seem to make sense at all. I thought if the Messiah came, he would hang around with the nice people. Don’t you know about Levi? Haven’t you heard about his parties? I mean, he’s metaphorically a misfit. He’s lame. He’s bad.” You remember Jesus says, “Yeah, but I’ve come to houses like this. You think I came to call a righteous group? I came to call sinners to repentance.”[20]

And one day he went in to eat at the house of man called Zacchaeus, the wee man up the tree.[21] And the same response: “I can’t believe he went to Zacchaeus’s house! Doesn’t he know who Zacchaeus is? If he was really the Messiah, he’d be hanging around with the people that have got their lives organized, who are doing all the right things, who are saying all the right things. But look where he’s gone! Why does he do that?” Well, the same reason. He didn’t come to call righteous, because he displays his kindness to us—the kindness to his enemies.

And when Paul picks up on this—and with this I end—but when Paul writes about this in a theological frame, he gets it clear as a bell for us: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” For the ungodly! “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare … to die—but God show[ed] his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[22] You see how religion has it upside down? “Clean yourself up, and maybe you’ll make yourself acceptable to God.” And you read the Bible, and you say, “Well, that couldn’t possibly be the case.” And you’re right. Here, verse 10; this is Romans 5: “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

So, the knock came on the door at the house of Machir. Metaphorically, the knock came on the door of the house of Levi. It came, the knock on the door, at the house of Zacchaeus. How about your house? How about your house? Have you heard his knock? “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if [anyone] hear[s] my voice, and open[s] the door, I will come in to him, and … sup with him.”[23] We’ll sit together at the table, just like we’re gonna do this evening. That’s what Communion is about. Communion is not some kind of, you know, armband for people who are doing really well. Communion is the reminder to us that the kingdom of God is the kingdom of kindness, in a love that he shows to the diseased, the lame, the deaf, the dying—just as I am.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind,
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all [of this] in [you] I find.
[Lord Jesus Christ], I come.[24]

If you’re not astonished by this, you got a real, real issue.

Well, let’s pray:

Well, we thank you, Father, that you are the God of covenant love, that you come to us in our frailty and in our need, in our rebellion and in our sinfulness. Thank you that just as the messenger came to the home of Mephibosheth, you send out your messengers. And indeed, when we think about it on that level, we pray that we in turn—those of us who have been set free by your grace and goodness—might become the messengers knocking, as it were, on the doors of others and saying, “Come along. He has called for you. He summons you. He brings you into his banqueting table, and his banner is love.”

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for fulfilling all of this and making it possible for us to understand more and more of these Old Testament passages. And we pray in your name. Amen.

[1] Proverbs 20:28 (ESV).

[2] 2 Samuel 7:18 (paraphrased).

[3] 2 Samuel 7:29 (ESV).

[4] 1 Samuel 20:14–15 (paraphrased).

[5] 1 Samuel 24:20–21 (paraphrased).

[6] Genesis 40:14 (paraphrased).

[7] Genesis 40:23 (ESV).

[8] Luke 2:10–11 (KJV).

[9] Henry Clay Work, “My Grandfather’s Clock” (1876). Lyrics lightly altered.

[10] Terry Gilkyson, “The Bare Necessities” (1967).

[11] John 1:16 (paraphrased).

[12] 1 Samuel 20:5–7 (paraphrased).

[13] See 1 Samuel 24:14.

[14] Graham Kendrick, “Amazing Love (My Lord, What Love Is This?)” (1989).

[15] 2 Samuel 7:18 (ESV).

[16] Song of Solomon 2:4 (paraphrased).

[17] Isaiah 35:5–6 (ESV).

[18] See Mark 1:15.

[19] Matthew 8:27 (KJV).

[20] See Luke 5:27–32.

[21] See Luke 19:1–10.

[22] Romans 5:6–8 (ESV).

[23] Revelation 3:20 (KJV).

[24] Charlotte Elliott, “Just As I Am” (1835).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.