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Sermon 2/3/08
2 Samuel 9:6-7 - Hope

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Hope

Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, ‘Mephibosheth?’ And he answered, ‘Here is your servant!’” So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually’” (2 Samuel 9:6-7)

As these words are being written, I am in a waiting room, just inside the gate of a U.S. Federal Prison at Terminal Island, surrounded by the ports at San Pedro, California. In just about half an hour, I am scheduled to enter the “Sally Port” at the back of the waiting room and go deeper into the prison, where I will visit one of the prisoners. His wife is already with him, having entered over an hour ago, with the idea that they can spend time together before I go in. I told his wife that I would not use their names in order to protect their anonymity, but she replied, “Oh no, Ron, I WANT people to know about us – please USE our names.” Her name is Jo and his name is Tom.

I first met Tom here at this same place a week ago, when I visited him for the first time. I have met a lot of prisoners through the Kairos Prison Ministry, but I was not prepared for this one. Most prisoners, and the rest of us for that matter, think we are “innocent” in some manner or another. But this man surprised me. After listening to Tom’s story, and listening to his wife when we had dinner with her the other evening, I have come to believe him. He may have “ruffled the feathers” of his former employers to the extent that they acted against him, but I don’t think he did anything wrong enough to end up in a Federal Prison.

Because he has been in prison, however, he will be “marked” by that record all of his life. He and his wife and their son and daughter will be thought of as “different” in a negative way by those they meet and hear something about their story. That’s just the way people are. They seem to delight in the “fall” of others. The tabloid newspapers are full of articles about the fall of the “stars” of movies and sports, and since ALL newspapers contain such stories, I guess all newspapers are tabloids in one way or another. But God is not like the tabloids.

It should be mentioned that Tom is a “Christian” man; not merely in a religious sense, but he is someone who has given his heart and life to Jesus Christ. His wife has emphatically done the same. She and I were talking in the waiting room before she went in, and she said, “You know, Ron, I KNOW that something good is going to come from all this. I don’t know what it is or how it will happen, but GOOD is going to come from all this trouble.

I agree. God has been in the business of bringing good out of trouble during all the thousands of years of humanity’s existence on this earth. He really cares for us and He intends ultimate good for us all. I keep papers on my desk, including notes and newspaper stories from years ago, and one of them is a yellowed torn-off page from an “Upper Room” article. I don’t know precisely who wrote it, but here it is:

Since I became a quadriplegic, I often feel that God is far from me. I become discouraged and want to give up. One morning, when I was feeling particularly low, I was sitting in my wheelchair staring out the window at the bird feeders. I kept lamenting that God seemed removed from my life. The despair made me feel so useless that I could not see how I could struggle against the many obstacles in my life. As I indulged in this self-pity, I noticed one sparrow on the ground struggling to eat the spilled seed below the feeders. When I looked more closely, I discovered that this bird had only one leg; yet it persistently gathered food to stay alive. This bird was not going to quit. I realized God was communicating a message to me through this. I remembered Jesus’ teaching that no sparrow falls without God’s loving concern and that God cares much more for me. I now give thanks daily for the gift of this wounded messenger and for God’s constant care for all creatures… Prayer: Ever present God, I thank You for Your abiding love and care even when I doubt or forget you are there. Amen” – from the “Upper Room.”

God has a wonderful way of giving renewed HOPE to those who have lost all hope. Tom’s wife, Jo, has enough hope for us all. She, my wife, Genevieve, and I shared about the return of our Lord Jesus Christ on the evening before visiting Tom. Jo is EXCITED about the time when imprisonment and loss will be no more. The topic came up again the next day in the prison waiting room. I mentioned to her that I don't have that kind of conversation very often because my ministry is to help people cope with today. She replied, “Oh Ron, I hope I haven’t offended you with all this talk …” and I replied, “No, certainly not. We are gifted by the Lord, but our gifts are not the same. If you can compare our lives to World War I, during that terrible time of ‘trench warfare,’ I am one of those in the trenches, encouraging and teaching others, but when we look up from our trenches and see you in that little airplane circling overhead, you give hope to the rest of us.” She smiled and just then her name was called.

Mephibosheth, in our Scripture for today, was the grandson of King Saul, who David viewed as “God’s anointed.” Saul hated David, but David didn’t respond in kind. Mephibosheth was also the son of Jonathan, David’s beloved friend - note that in the power of God, the love of David and Jonathan was greater than the hatred of Saul. David was now “King David” and he told Mephibosheth, whom he had just met for the first time: “I will show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake” (2 Samuel 9:7).

This grandson of Saul and son of Jonathan was “crippled in his feet.” 2 Samuel 4:4 says, “When Saul and Jonathan died, his nurse took him up and fled; and it happened that in her hurry to flee, he fell and became lame.” In a time when men might have to fight for their families and very lives in the next moment, this crippled man could not provide for himself or defend anyone. But God had touched the hearts of a servant of Saul named “Ziba” and others to watch over the boy, and the Lord placed compassion into the heart of David. And “so Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate at the king’s table regularly, though he was “lame in both feet” (2 Samuel 9:13).

Though Mephibosheth had become the prisoner of his own body, not unlike the quadriplegic man in the “Upper Room” article, God watched out for him and delivered him. And I agree with Jo that “GOOD is going to come from all this trouble” in relation to her husband, Tom, for God is caring for us all. He is watching over you and me. No matter what your situation in life, God will show you kindness for the sake of His Son.

Father, I come to You, for I know that You care. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
www.FridayStudy.org
Write to:
Ron@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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