Fighting Loneliness

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2 Samuel 9 is where we are today. And our goal in this section of scripture… We’ve been in 1 and 2 Samuel together, and our goal in this portion of scripture has been to pursue the heart of God. And 1 Samuel 13:14, God makes that famous statement about David, that he’s a man after God’s own heart.

And we’re looking at the story of David. We’ve been seeing a lot of great things about David. We’re going to get to some bad stuff here a little, not today, but in the weeks ahead. But we’ve been looking at some great things about the life of David.

When you read scripture, there are a few characters in the Bible that when we read about them that we just have a lot more information about them than others. Jesus being one, right? And then you have the apostle Paul, Moses, and David.

Now, some say David has had more written about him than any other character in scripture, and so you get a really good opportunity of having some insight into the life of an individual and how he grows in the Lord. And that’s some things that we have looked at recently in the life of David, from the bringing of the Ark into Jerusalem and some things he learned about his relationship with God, into the desire to build the temple and all that that entailed, fighting Goliath, his battle with Saul, trying to run from his life. You see him mature in the Lord from a young man when he’s anointed all the way to the time where we are where he is a king. And 2 Samuel, Chapter Nine is another one of those important passages.

And we titled today’s message Fighting Loneliness, but I’m going to be a little bit honest in saying it’s somewhat of an internet clickbait statement, right? Because we are going to talk about fighting loneliness. We’re for sure going to talk about fighting loneliness, but I want you to know that this passage as much more than that, because when we talk in terms of fighting loneliness, it doesn’t necessitate that your life is necessarily going to be lived for something great either, right? You’re not lonely anymore, but what does that mean? What does life look like? How does that tell you to follow after the Lord? It’s the beginning statement to something that, hopefully, God leads to much more than just simply not being lonely.

If that’s all our goal is today, I just don’t want to be lonely anymore, we missed out on a wonderful opportunity that God calls us to in a relationship with him. So, we titled it that because there’s certainly some implications here that we can learn to relate to our lives, to develop a life that moves from a sense of loneliness, right?

But at the same time, I want to be realistic in saying, look, I’m not going to give you a statement today that’s going to solve every lonely problem you have for the rest of your life. We live in a sinful world and that tends to be something that we wrestle with and battle with, but when we wrestle and battle with things, we want to do it in light of Christ and the things that he says to us, right? How does God speak into this portion of our lives to understand him though this may be a struggle in our human condition because of sinfulness? Not necessarily your sin, but we live in a sin-cursed world, right?

And so we’re going to deal a little bit with that and relate it to today’s topic, but I’m going to cover four ideas when we look at 2 Samuel, Chapter Nine. Good thing about this chapter is it’s a shorter chapter, right? So, we’re going to talk about what David did. We’re going to talk about how Mephibosheth received it. Then we’re going to talk about why David did it and then how it all applies to you. That’s it. So we’re going to share this story, talk about why, and then how it applies. That’s pretty simplistic, isn’t it?

But let’s look at what David did together. When you start off in the story, what you see is David is searching for the house of Saul for Jonathan’s sake in order to show kindness, okay? So David’s searching for the house of Saul for Jonathan’s sake in order to show kindness.

And I’ll share a little bit about those characters if you’re new to the series together, but 2 Samuel, Chapter Nine, Verse One. Then David said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul that I may…” Here’s the key words here. “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.” The king said, “Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul to who may…” And look at this again. “I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet.”

So, you see what David’s desire is here? He says it in verse one, verse three, actually says it again in verse seven, this idea of kindness that he’s wanting to demonstrate to the house of Saul.

And so what he does is he takes this individual named Meph- Meph- Mephibosheth. Sorry, it’s a mouthful there. Mephibosheth from the house of Jonathan and cared for him. So if you’re looking for a good name for your future child consider Mephibosheth, right? So he brings them from the house of Jonathan and he cares for them in a very unique, honoring way.

2 Samuel, Chapter Nine, Verse Five. Look at this. Then King David sent and brought from the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. I pronounced all those correct, all right? And Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David.

And now skip to Verse Seven. And David said to him, and I just want to look at this phrase. I’m going to skip the first phrase here. This next phrase, he says, “I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you shall eat at my table regularly.”

So, David takes Mephibosheth from the house of Saul, a fallen position, elevates him, puts him at the king’s table to eat regularly. What a position of honor. And we’ve really seen some incredible things David’s done through the last few chapters of this book, right?

Chapter Five, he unites all of Israel. Chapter Six, he brings the ark into Jerusalem. In Chapter Seven, he wants to build the temple. He doesn’t get to build the temple, but we learn a lot of great things about David’s heart in Chapter Seven. Chapter Eight, he goes on this conquest again against the Philistines to protect his people.

And now in Chapter Nine, he’s extending this grace to the house of Saul, to this individual named Mephibosheth, “for the sake,” it tells us in Verse Seven, “for the sake of your father, Jonathan.”

Now, how does Mephibosheth respond? I’m just trying to figure out how to say that name less. But how does he respond, right? Let me ask you, before we look at this next little section here, how would you respond?

You think about the circumstances leading up to this, that, yes, Jonathan was friend of David, and Mephibosheth is his child, but his grandfather is also Saul.

And you remember what King Saul did to David, right? He pursued after him for well over a year. He wanted to kill David. And now David is in the position that Saul was in, ruling and reigning as king, and Mephibosheth represents the house of Saul who would have been the house of his enemy.

And now you learn that King David, as one of the last living relatives here, has called you before his presence. What would you think? How would you respond, right?

Maybe the night before you appear before this [inaudible 00:07:42] you just say, “Well, I’m a little busy this evening. Give me a night of sleep,” and maybe you just plan your escape. Certainly, that night you probably don’t have a very good night of rest.

But Mephibosheth comes before the king in Verse Six. Let’s look at this. The son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself. And David said, “Mephibosheth.” And he said, “Here is your servant.” And Verse Seven, “And David said to him,” and here’s the important words. “You’re dead.” No, that’s not what he says. In Verse Seven he says, “And do not fear. Do not fear.”

And look in Verse Eight. Mephibosheth, again, he prostrated himself and said, “What is your servant that you should regard a dead dog like me?” So, Mephibosheth responds by falling on his face, really, and begging for his life, and David tells him not to be afraid.

So, it’s easy to understand why Mephibosheth would respond this way, right? The tradition during David’s day, if you’re a king that takes power over another king, the first thing that you want to do is eliminate everyone in the family that was opposed to you in taking this position, right? Because what you don’t want is another uprising.

And even if Mephibosheth’s goal is not to necessarily take over the throne again for the sake of his family that recently had the throne, other people can see Mephibosheth as this rallying point in opposition, politically, against King David.

So, even if his desire is not to take over King David’s position again, he could become a puppet in other people’s plans to rally around in order to provoke people to unite against King David. And so David, by sparing his life, could be taking risk, right? And no one expects David to do this.

Now, this is on somebody’s radar, was like, “You know what David should really do, right?” But David does this anyway. And we think about how far David goes in order to demonstrate this kind of care for Mephibosheth, right? David, he reaches across political lines. He reaches across tribal lines. He’s from the tribe of Judah and Saul was from Benjamin. He even reaches across enemy lines.

David extends this particular grace that just is astounding when you consider it, and I really think that this is the reason that we find this in this chapter. When God writes in his word, he’s not just telling us stories to tell the stories. They have purpose for us to glean from.

And so we can ask the question… Okay, so then if we think a little deeper here, if we just look at the story, now we can ask the question, why did David to it? Why would David do this? And this is an enormous question because I feel like that question not only answers this passage, but it really gets to the heart of what Christianity is all about.

Why would David extend this kind of love? Well, it’s rooted in one word that we’ve already seen together. David cared for Mephibosheth because of one word, and that word here is kindness, right?

In Verse One, you saw it. He did it because of Jonathan, the relationship they had as friends, the kindness. Verse Three, he wanted to show the kindness of God. Verse Seven, again, he says, “I did it for the sake of your father, Jonathan.”

The word kindness. What is this kindness? In Hebrew, this word kindness means [foreign language 00:11:48]. And it’s not just any type of kindness.

Today, we can throw words out, generically, in our culture. Just be kind to one another. In the world that you can be anything, my wife’s got this written on our doors we go out, “In the world that you can be anything, be kind.” That’s what it says.

But what does kindness mean for us? This particular kindness is much deeper than just simply the word. It’s rooted in covenantal love, covenantal relationship. When David is saying this word kindness, packaged with it is this idea of covenantal love. And David associates it with the house of Jonathan.

Now, where does David get this from? When you just read this story left unto itself, you might be thinking, Jonathan was David’s friend. All of a sudden David wakes up one day, he doesn’t have anything better to do, and all of a sudden he starts to think about his friend, Jonathan. He’s like, “You know what? I just want to do something nice for Jonathan. I miss Jonathan. Today’s the anniversary of his passing, and I just want to care for things because I care about Jonathan.” Is that what David’s doing?

If you go back into 1 Samuel, here’s a few things that we saw together in 1 Samuel, Chapter 18, Verse Three. And David and Jonathan’s relationship… I want you to see this, that one of the first interactions that they have together is in Chapter 18, and it says then Jonathan made a covenant with David. And here’s why. Because he loved him as himself.

And our Verse Four, we read this together in the park. You might remember this. Verse Four, look what Jonathan does. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.

So, if you remember in the context of Chapter 18, this is David anointed, Chapter 16. David defeats Goliath, Chapter 17. When you get to Chapter 18, Jonathan recognizes in David that there’s something special God’s doing here, that God’s hand is here.

And Jonathan does something very unique even for his day, right? He is the next in line for the throne. And rather than assume his position, his rightful position, as son to King Saul, he comes off his throne and surrenders his sword and takes off his royal robe, as if to communicate without saying a word, that this position doesn’t belong to me, but it belongs to him, and he gives it all to David. Because why? He covenanted with him, this loving relationship. And he does this, Jonathan does this, at great risk to his own life so that David could become who God was calling him to be. In fact, it costs Jonathan his life.

When you look in 1 Samuel Chapter 20, if you remember this, we looked at this together. It says in Verse Eight… In Chapter 20, David knows for sure that King Saul’s trying to kill him, and he wants, really, to win Jonathan over and understanding this, and he meets Jonathan in a field and he says, “Look, you need to go talk to your dad to find out if his heart’s really about killing me. And when you find out you need to come back and tell me.”

And in Verse Eight, this is where David says this. “Therefore, deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you.” David’s saying, “Look, I’m about to die, Jonathan. Just could you be kind to me here because my life is on the line, and deal kindly with me because we have this covenant together.”

And then in Verse 14 in Chapter 20, you see Jonathan’s response. He says, “If I am still alive.” Look at that. He’s saying, “In this covenant relationship, I’m going to go do this for you, David, but it could cost me my life. And if I am still alive, will you not show me the loving kindness of the Lord that I may not die? You shall not cut off your loving kindness from my house forever.”

And Verse 17, Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him because he loved him as he loved his own life. That kindness that David’s expressing to Mephibosheth is rooted in this story with Jonathan and David, where they covenanted together.

And in Chapter 20, you see Jonathan saying, “Look, at risk of my own life, if I live, or if I die, here’s what I want you to do. Please just take care of my family. Take care of my family.” And they had this covenant where they cared for one another more than their own life, or as much as they cared about their own life.

Covenantal love is crucial to understanding 2 Samuel, Chapter Nine. And, honestly, covenantal love, I think, is lost today. Covenantal love is lost today and without it, what it does, I think, is it leads us to loneliness. And I’m not meaning just the feeling of loneliness. I mean genuinely lacking companionship because we lack the depth of relationship that covenantal love expresses.

And why? Why do we not walk in covenantal love today? And I don’t think this is a unique problem for our culture. I think it’s unique to just… Or it’s to human nature in general.

But when I think about this type of relationship, and I look at our culture today, I think we stand back from covenantal love. I’m just going to give you three top reasons why I think, for us, it’s a struggle to walk in the type of relationship that Jonathan and David communicate here.

Number one, we stand back from covenantal love because what we’re taught is more consumer love. I sometimes call it contractual love, but it’s more of a retail love.

When you think in terms of consumer love, in the consumer relationship, you will sacrifice relationship in order to meet your need. In covenantal love, you sacrifice need in order to benefit the relationship.

Now, in a consumer-driven retail world… Look, I think that type of relationship in the consumer world is important and it’s healthy, right? You’ve got a dollar and you develop this relationship in the retail world based on your dollar. And if you go and you get poor customer service or poor product, then take your dollar somewhere else, right? That’s what drives the economy to get better. It’s what drives businesses to get better. If you’re not a good business and your dollar goes away, you figure out how to be a better business. And someone’s a good business and you give your dollar there, then they realize, “We’re doing pretty good at business,” right? You communicate something that way.

However, if you treat personal relationships like you treat retail relationships, what you have is a fragmented society full of loneliness. Consumer relationship is for business, but covenant relationship is for friendship.

And so this idea is covenant relationship is about giving and not consuming. And in our society today, I think that consumer relationship takes precedent to who we are, because… Let me tell you about this.

The second point is we stand back from covenantal love because we are afraid of commitment. And the reason we’re afraid of commitment is because, by golly, we are Americans, and we have our freedom and with freedom, it’s all about individuality, right?

What is my personal wants? What is my personal needs? It takes precedent above all others, but what you see with David and Jonathan, this section of scripture, is they love them more than their own life. Jonathan willing to risk his life.

We reject commitment. We like to be able, with no commitment, just to kind of pop in and pop out, right? I get what I want, and I meet my need, and I’m gone.

Covenant love brings with it limits. It limits your freedom because it’s about serving, not being served.

The irony is when you think about covenant love, as scary as commitment of covenantal love is, because you lose your freedom, there is nothing more liberating and freeing than covenantal relationship. I think our soul longs for the circle of friends that are committed to one another, that stick together, that know you have each other’s back. I think we’re created that way as human beings.

You read the story of Jonathan and David, and without even saying anything, without even providing a sermon for it, if you just read the story, you just think, “Man, how sweet is that? How great is that? That even in adversity, here you see these two brothers in the Lord, they’re there for each other, and you don’t have that type of liberation and freedom, and freedom in that relationship, without losing your freedom to the dedication of covenant love.

Or how about this? I think the third reason we pull back from that covenantal love is we have what some might call FOMO, right? Fear of missing out. Man, we are overwhelmed with the possibilities of everything, and because of the possibilities of everything, we end up not really committing to anything and, therefore, accomplishing nothing.

The moment you enter into covenant love, you identify yourself about something, right? But can I tell you? The people that you go back in life and just admire are the kind of people that don’t let that FOMO, that fear of missing out, dictate, but they have determined in their heart what they are going to be about, and they live it out.

Even to the point when you see in the life of David, when Jonathan’s gone, because of that covenantal relationship he had, he just keeps blessing Jonathan’s family. So, why does it matter?

It’s in this chapter that you’re peeling back the curtain on a godly, life-changing love to see how, really, what does it look like when it fleshes out? We can talk about unconditional [foreign language 00:00:22:53] love all day and we can love. God’s about love. The supreme ethic of Christianity is love, but what does it look like when it’s lived through you, right?

And that’s what you see in the story of David is in this very practical way it’s this giving of himself to the benefit of someone else. When Mephibosheth comes to David, he knows the tradition is death, but in covenant love, what does he find? Life.

And the same for you. If you come to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus, you know in that sinfulness before him, the sentence against us is death. But what do you find? You find life. You find a seat at the King’s table.

And David demonstrated this kindness of love for Mephibosheth, “for the sake,” he says, “of your father, Jonathan.” And we, as human beings, are designed to long for a friendship like Jonathan and David. That Jonathan, he gave up his throne and risked his life so that David could live in his.

And guys, you have that kind of friendship, that Jesus gave up his throne and risked his life so that you could find yours in him. Covenantal love. That’s what makes Christianity so unique. We don’t avail ourselves to God. Every religion in the world will teach you that. You’ve got to do until you think God might be happy with you, and you just hope for the best, right? But not in Christianity.

We have life because of covenantal love, because of what Jesus has done for us. We use the biblical, the doctrine word, is imputation, right? Where Jesus imputes his righteousness on us by giving his life for us.

So, what do we do with all this? When you walk out the doors today, how does 2 Samuel Nine… How do you bring it home?

Well, one is to say this. Man, if you don’t have covenantal love with Jesus, to understand that this is the place, the invitation to you, where David’s life becomes a model of Jesus’s life, that Jesus, in the same position as King of Kings, or greater position as King of Kings, holds your life in his hands, and he could crush it in any moment.

But instead, what does he do? He extends grace, mercy, and love, and he offers you a seat at the table if you would just fall before him and confess him as Savior and King.

Number two, if you have covenantal relationship with Jesus, this becomes the platform for us to really make our life count for something that matters beyond just today. No more FOMO, but to hone ourselves in in the glory of God made known in our lives, that this covenantal love has been expressed to us that we could then demonstrate it to others just as Jonathan demonstrated to David, that David could find his life, spare his life. And then David, therefore, carries it on in Jonathan’s family. And so it is with us, guys.

In God’s community, if you hold back, you miss out. But if you surrender, you bless abundantly.

I’m big on this thought as a church family. We get together on Sundays, and I love getting together on Sundays and seeing God’s people and rallying behind the glory of God being made known in my heart, and into this world, and how it can transcend in all of us.

And one of the things I love to remind myself is, look, Sunday morning, we don’t get together just to get together. I love the tradition of it, but it’s much deeper than just the tradition of getting together on Sunday. Jesus’s people are called together for a rallying purpose behind why God created the church to storm down the gates of hell, to make his glory known, to watch people rescued in him, and to see lives transformed. That’s why we gather together.

And when I think back into the early days of the church and its existence, and we just ask the question, how did they make such a difference? The scripture even tells us in the beginning of the book of Acts, that there was a time that the Lord added 3,000 souls in one day. In one day, 3,000 souls added to the kingdom. How does that happen? What is it needs to happen in God’s community and God’s people to see that that kind of transformation in a society and a place where people live?

In Acts, Chapter Two, Verse 42, do you know it tells you what it is? Look at this. And they were continually devoting themselves. There was a cost for which they lived, and I love that they chose this word devoted. It goes on and gives a list of everything that they did, but it was because of this devotion. This word devotion comes from the same Greek word for [foreign language 00:28:38], which means to worship.

Jesus said in John 4:23 to 25, “The time is coming, and now is that he who worships must worship me in spirit and truth.” Same word derives as the word devoting here.

And what is this word? This word carries this idea of this deep intimate commitment, the giving of self for the benefit of others.

And what the early church saw when they lived this out is that it was inspiring to the people around them. The people around them saw this, and they said, “I crave that. I want that.” And the Lord adds 3,000 souls in a single day by the demonstration of this type of love in God’s people. It’s contagious.

You could do this in church history with almost any missionary, but there’s this young lady named Mary Slesser. Mary Slesser lived at the turn of the last century. She was mid-1800s, 1848 to the early 1900s. There she is.

Here’s what’s incredible about her story. She went as a young lady, 27 years old, to Nigeria as a missionary. The reason she went was because of David Livingston. And some of you may know the story of David Livingston. He went all over Africa, ends up giving his life in Africa. When he dies, they cut his heart out. They leave it in Africa and they send his body back at a request for his home country. And they gave this thought that David Livingston, you can have his body from where it was from, but we’re keeping his heart here because David Livingston gave his heart for Africa.

And Mary Slesser as a young lady, her mother used to read to her missionary stories, and she had a tough life, but her mother used to read to her missionary stories and her mother read to her about David Livingston. And at 27 years old, when she heard David Livingston was dead, she packed her things and moved to Africa, and she gave her life there. She was covenantally dedicated to her Lord, and in that relationship, she gave her life for the people in Africa.

Guys, I say all this to say to us, when our hearts see that type of dedication, it’s inspirational, isn’t it? And where does it come from? You know where it comes from. That covenantal love that inspires your heart to give all that you are, as Jesus has done for you, so you can make that difference in the world.

Great Grace