A King Shows Kindness

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The Gospel Project® for Adults
Leader Guide ESV, Unit 11, Session 4
© 2019 LifeWay Christian Resources, Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser. Edited by Rev. Lex DeLong, M.A., Sept., 2022.
Summary and Goal
In this session, we will see David, who has been given rest from his enemies, turn his attention to the internal affairs of his kingdom. This, in and of itself, was not surprising, but one of his acts was quite startling. Years before, David had promised Jonathan (1 Sam. 20) and Saul (1 Sam. 24) that he would not cut off their family’s descendants but that he would show them kindness instead. We will see David make good on that promise by extending kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. And in this account, we will see a picture of a greater act of kindness from a greater King: God adopting us into His family through faith in Jesus and giving us a place at His table.
Session Outline
++The king looks for someone to whom he may show God’s kindness (2 Sam. 9:1-5); the King fulfills His promise.
++The king restores a lost estate (2 Sam. 9:6-10).
++The king provides a seat of honor at his table (2 Sam. 9:11-13).
Session in a Sentence
God fulfills His eternal redemptive promise so His people might sit eternally at His secure table of blessing.
Christ Connection
King David extended undeserved and unexpected kindness to Mephibosheth (a cripple, unable to care for himself) when he restored his lost estate and invited him to eat at the king’s table with his own sons.
God has extended kindness to us (cripples, unable to care for ourselves) by graciously adopting us into His family as His children through Christ. As God’s forgiven children, we look forward to celebrating at His table in His kingdom forever.
Missional Application
To point people to the eternal Shepherd (Ps. 23)
Read the story on page 66 of the DDG
- Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997), 48-49.
In June of 1990, a woman threw a party at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Boston. The woman and her fiance had visited the hotel some weeks prior to plan their wedding banquet. The price tag: $13,000, with half required as a down payment. A few days later, however, the groom got cold feet and called off the wedding. When the former bride-to-be was told she could only get ten percent back, she decided to go ahead with the banquet, not for her wedding but as a blowout for the down-and-outs of Boston. Ten years before, she had been living in a homeless shelter; now she had the means to bless the homeless. So she sent invitations to rescue missions and homeless shelters. The night of the party, those used to peeling bits of pizza off cardboard for dinner were treated to hors d’oeuvres, chicken cordon blue, and chocolate wedding cake as they danced the night away. 1
When has someone extended undeserved kindness to you? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?
David, who has been given rest from his enemies, turned his attention to the internal affairs of his kingdom.
David made good on a promise by extending kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. In this account, there is a picture of a greater act of kindness: God adopting us into His family through faith in Jesus and giving us a place at His table.
In 2 Samuel 8, one can see all the victories that David accomplished for Israel. The Lord gave him victory wherever he went and continued to establish his reign and kingdom (v. 14). Here, at the height of his power, David turned his attention toward getting the affairs of his house in order. First up was to make good on a promise to bless the house of Saul.

Point 1: The king looks for someone to whom he may show God’s kindness (2 Sam. 9:1-5); the King fulfills His promise.

Read 2 Samuel 9:1-5 (DDG p. 67).
1 And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 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.” 3 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.” 4 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.” 5 Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.
DDG (p. 67)
The king of Israel, powerful, victorious, and blessed by God, was looking for ways to bless and extend kindness to another—to someone from his former rival’s family, as he promised to Saul and Jonathon that he would. In that day, it was customary for a new king to wipe out the former king’s family to reduce the threat of a coup or revenge assassination, not show them kindness. In this we see the depth of David’s character and trust in God, for David to keep his promise knowing that God would keep His promise. Deep down, he wanted to do good; he wanted to keep his word to bless the house of Saul and to honor his friend, Jonathan.
· Years before, David had promised Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:14-16) and Saul (1 Sam. 24:20-22) that he would not cut off their family’s descendants but that he would show them kindness instead.
· We should be compelled, like David, to seek out ways to do good to others around us. Jesus Christ did not redeem us merely to respond to opportunities to do good; He wants us to be eager and zealous to do good (Gal. 6:10; Titus 2:14).
Galatians 6:10 NASB
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Titus 2:14 NASB
who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
He wants us to be proactive, not reactive, in our quest to show others good in light of how we have been shown goodness by God.
We are called to outdo one another in showing honor (Rom. 12:10).
Romans 12:10 NASB
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
We are commanded to count others’ needs above our own (Phil. 2:3-4).
Philippians 2:3–4 NASB
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
In other words, we should wake up and ask ourselves:
“Whom can I do good for today? Who needs grace and kindness from me? How can I love others and count their interests as more important than mine?”
Where are some places Christians can intentionally seek out opportunities to do good for others?
(at home; at work; at church; in the community; on the Internet; on social media; on the streets; at the bus stop; at the grocery store; at the gas station; at a restaurant)
DDG (p. 67)
David sent for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, who was lame in both feet. Without regard for the harm or benefit to his kingdom, David planned to show kindness to the grandson of his former enemy, and that kindness would be purely one-sided.
David was going to bless and extend kindness to Mephibosheth with no conditions, and there was no way Mephibosheth could repay him.
· David could gain nothing politically, militarily, or socially by doing anything for the family of his former enemy, Saul, and 2 Samuel 8 is clear that David had all that he needed. He did not need any social capital, nor was this a publicity stunt to gain the approval of the people in the city. Everyone was already in awe of David, and Mephibosheth could not further his standing in any way—he was lame in both feet.
In the old testament, David is painted as a picture of the king that would come, one of his descendants, that would show the same kind of love.
Christians are called to love others sincerely from a pure heart (1 Pet. 1:22). We should labor to keep our motives in check and frequently ask why we are seeking to do good to others—What is my true motivation? This is what Jesus meant by not practicing our righteousness before men in order to be seen by them (Matt. 6:1). When we put on a show for people, we get exactly what we want: the applause of people. Yet in so doing, we miss the applause of God. David shows us a way forward. He planned to do good for Mephibosheth without expecting anything in return. May we follow his example as we look for opportunities to extend kindness to others in need, especially those who cannot pay us back (Luke 14:12-14).
A common understanding during David’s day was that when someone had an ailment or sickness, it was usually brought on by that person’s (or a parent’s) sin. We see examples of this in the way Job’s friends responded to his suffering (Job 4–31) and in how the disciples viewed the man born blind from birth (John 9). Even though Mephibosheth’s ailment wasn’t his fault (2 Sam. 4:4), there is no question that he would have been perceived as an inferior person.
From God’s perspective, however, being lame or disabled in some way does not detract from one’s humanity and worth, nor does it disqualify from contributing in this world. Every person is an image-bearer of God, valuable in God’s sight, and with purpose in God’s plan.
What wrong motives might guide our good deeds?
(guilt and shame; personal profit and benefit; the applause of our peers; the applause of those we would serve; just following the crowd; fear of judgment from God and others; pride of position and ability over others)
God is more interested in our longing to be kind, than He is our acts of kindness.
One can do acts of kindness for the wrong motivations. God’s desire is for us to live as a reflection of His glory, grace, mercy, and love. As David was faithful to his promise to Saul and Jonathan, so ought we to be faithful to our promise to God to accept Him as Lord…to live as He has directed us to live.

Point 2: The king restores a lost estate (2 Sam. 9:6-10).

Read: 2 Samuel 9:6-10 (DDG p. 68).
6 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.” 7 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.” 8 And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
9 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. 10 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.
DDG (p. 68)
Any act of kindness to the former king’s line would have been viewed as an exceptional act of grace in itself. But David chose to have Mephibosheth brought to him so he could announce to him personally how he was going to show him kindness.
Voices from Church History
“Love through me, Love of God; Make me like Thy clear air Through which, unhindered, colors pass As though it were not there. Powers of the love of God, Depths of the heart Divine, O Love that faileth not, break forth And flood this world of Thine.” 2 –Amy Carmichael (1867-1951 missionary to India)
· This is the way of God’s kingdom. While God certainly sent messengers in the form of angels and prophets to His people in the past, the expectation and hope was that God Himself would meet with His people personally and deliver them (Isa. 40:1-11). That is exactly what God did when He sent His Son to dwell among us and rescue us from our sin.
DDG (p. 68)
To Mephibosheth, the grandson of an enemy, David restored Saul’s estate and provided for its care. But even more astonishing, David gave Mephibosheth a permanent seat in which to dine at the table with the king. Mephibosheth surely approached King David with some fear for his life, and he considered himself a “dead dog” in his presence. But now he was the master of an estate and honored as royalty in the palace.
Is there a better picture of grace?
· v. 8, “Dead Dog”: Dogs are not spoken of positively in Scripture (e.g., Prov. 26:11), so Mephibosheth’s identifying himself as a dead dog reveals that he felt as though he were nothing in the presence of David; he had come before David in absolute humility.
Perhaps these words resonated with David, for he too used this precise phrase to describe himself when he was on the run from Saul (1 Sam. 24:14). In Saul’s presence, David felt weak and useless, exactly how Mephibosheth felt in this moment. Christians too can feel like a “dead dog” before others, and even God. But whereas Saul stood over David seeking to take his life, David stooped down to Mephibosheth seeking to give him a new life. This was how the true king of Israel was meant to behave: blessing, defending, and protecting his people.
God’s grace bestows dignity.
· This is the nature of God’s kingdom. Mephibosheth came before David in humility, with nothing to offer, and David elevated him to a master and royalty, such that he ate at the king’s table like one of the king’s sons (2 Sam. 9:11). This is what God does for us through the gospel: He takes undeserving sinners and elevates them to children of the King. This is the upside-down nature of God’s grace.
How does this passage reveal the upside-down nature of God’s grace in the gospel?
(we come to Jesus crippled in both feet, in our sin; through no contribution of our own, and only by faith, Jesus takes His enemies and transforms them into brothers and sisters, coheirs of the promises of God; God takes those who cannot provide for their own salvation and provides for their eternal salvation at His own expense)

Point 3: The king provides a seat of honor at his table (2 Sam. 9:11-13).

Read 2 Samuel 9:11-13 (DDG p. 69).
11 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. 12 And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.
DDG (p. 69)
For as long as David was king, Mephibosheth would always have access to him and reap all the benefits of being at the royal table. There was no higher honor anyone living in Israel could have received. David, a powerful king in the world, treated this outsider, the grandson of his enemy, as one of his own sons. We have to remember that Mephibosheth did nothing to earn or deserve this blessing. He received all the benefits that David’s sons received solely by an act of the king’s grace, as long as the king lived.
· Again, this is a picture of God’s grace in the gospel. By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, we have been adopted into God’s family. We are now God’s sons and daughters and given full rights and privileges as His children, and the Father sees us the same way He sees His one and only Son, Jesus (Gal. 4:4-7). Just like Mephibosheth, there is nothing that we did to earn or merit this blessing. We were dead in our sins, straying from God, and enemies in God’s sight. But God, in His great grace, reached down, lifted us up, and seated us at His table (Eph. 2:1-10).
This is how the gospel is radically different from any other worldview or religion, which says we must earn a deity’s attention and favor. In the gospel, we can do nothing to make God love us or want to accept us. Instead, He welcomes us to His table not because of what we can do or have done but because of what Christ alone has done for us. This is why Paul calls us to praise the glory of His grace (Eph. 1:3-6).
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 69).
Adoption: Adoption into God’s family is one the positive benefits of justification. Not only are we pardoned from the judgment against us through justification, but we also experience a change of identity—we become children of God (John 1:12; Gal. 4:5). Through adoption our relationship with God, which was once lost through the fall, is now restored, resulting in the benefits of being an heir of God and a coheir with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17).
· As we consider our adoption by grace through faith into Christ’s family, some might struggle with doubt that God is for us as His children. We may feel the need to earn our keep, as if God were not pleased with us as we are. Others may feel a halfhearted duty to obey the Father. And still others may rationalize open rebellion against Him, since we are saved no matter what.
· While how we live certainly matters and there is room for growth in all of us, we can be assured that because of Christ, God already accepts us in full and that He is working for us. The more we understand and trust what Christ accomplished for us on the cross, the more we should be/will be motivated to rejoice, to obey, and to submit to whatever our Father desires of us. And being sons and daughters of God, He faithfully pursues us, sanctifies us, and works all things in our lives for His glory and our good. No matter what comes, we can be certain that God is committed to our joy and well-being and to His glory being declared through our faithful lives.
DDG (p. 69)
By adoption, believers are welcomed to dine at the Father’s table. Christians enjoy full access and fellowship with God, symbolized now, in part, through the Lord’s Supper. But there is still more to come. At present we remain in a fallen world that is under the curse of sin. But one day the curse will be lifted at our King’s second coming, and then we will dine forever with one another at His table (Isa. 25:6-8, cf. Rev. 19:6-9). At the end of history, there will be a feast unlike any we have experienced. We will be with our God, clothed in our Brother’s righteousness, all physically restored, dining at our Father’s table forever.
Isaiah 25:6–8 (NASB)
And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken.
Revelation 19:6–9 (NASB)
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.And he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”
What are some ways we should respond to the grace of God in our adoption into His family?
(in worship; in joyful obedience to God’s will; in humble repentance and confession as beloved sons and daughters; with a heart for the mission to proclaim the gospel to all the nations; in loving fellowship with all believers)
My Mission
Listen, wwe have seen one of the clearest pictures of grace between two humans in the Bible. But we need to be careful to see ourselves properly in this story. With respect to God, we are never David and always Mephibosheth, receiving His kindness from a position of desperation and weakness. Though spiritually crippled men and women, God has extended kindness and grace to us. He sent His Son to redeem us from the curse and bring us under His blessing forever. Only after seeing ourselves through the lens of Mephibosheth can we find ourselves in the place to imitate David with others, to extend God’s kindness and show others the mercy, love, and grace of our King. Who needs this kindness from you? We live in a world starving for kindness. May we be a people who are eager and willing to extend freely the grace that has been lavished upon us in Christ!
DDG (p. 70)
Because we have received God’s kindness in salvation through Jesus, we extend kindness to others so that they may see the greater kindness of God and become part of His family.
· What does God’s grace in adoption through faith in Jesus spur you on to do?
· How can your group serve those who feel useless or who struggle with physical challenges?
· What acts of kindness will you perform this week to point others to God’s greater act of kindness in sending Jesus to save sinners?
Voices from the Church
“This story … spurs us on to deeds of unreserved kindness, for it reflects what Jesus has done for us. He is our Saviour at whose table we partake of his sacrificial gift of bread and wine.” 3 –Jerald Mall (South Asia Bible Commentary)
Close in prayer:
1. Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997), 48-49.
2. Amy Carmichael, “Love Through Me,” in Mountain Breezes: The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael (Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publications, 1999) [eBook].
3. Jerald Mall, “2 Samuel,” in South Asia Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Brian Wintle (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 384.
4. Ibid.
5. Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel, vol. 7 in The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2003) [Wordsearch].
6. Jerald Mall, “2 Samuel,” in South Asia Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Brian Wintle, 384.
7. David Toshio Tsumura, “1–2 Samuel,” in ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 557, n. 9:9.
8. John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Samuel (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905), 455.
9. Bryan E. Beyer, “1, 2 Samuel,” in CSB Study Bible (Nashville: B&H, 2017), 473, n. 9:9-11.
10. Heath Thomas and J. D. Greear, Christ-Centered Expositon: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Samuel (Nashville: B&H, 2016) [Wordsearch].
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