Grateful for Grace
2 Samuel 9:1-8
Sally tells this true story: I heard the door open and slam shut at the back of the church. An exasperated
young man looked around briefly and then sat next to me. "Sorry I'm late!" he offered with no explanation.
I wondered: Who is this stranger anyway?
My mother had been buried the week before in our family plot in another state. Now, we were having a
memorial service for friends here where she had been living with me the last two years. In a few minutes,
the young man leaned over and whispered: "Why do they keep calling her 'Margaret'?"
"Because that's her name!"
"No," he insisted. "Her name is Mary Peters."
"I'm sorry, but this is a service for Margaret Browning!"
"Isn't this the Lutheran church?"
"No, the Lutheran church is across the street."
"I believe you're at the wrong funeral, sir!" I couldn't help myself: This whole crazy scenario bubbled up
inside me and came out as laughter. As I cupped my hands over my face, hoping it would be interpreted as
sobs, I peeked at the bewildered man beside me.
He was laughing, too!
At the final "Amen," we darted out a side door and across the street, but the hearse had already pulled out.
He said his name was Rick; and since he had missed his aunt's funeral, he owed me a cup of coffee and an
That afternoon began a lifelong friendship with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the
right place. This past June we celebrated our twenty-second wedding anniversary! Whenever anyone asks
us how we met, Rick tells them, "Her dead mother and my dead Aunt Mary introduced us! Ours was a
marriage made in Heaven."
Husbands and wives ought to be best friends, but the Bible does not discourage same-sex friendship. Even
today, middle-eastern people are not hesitant to showtheir love to others of the same sex by hugging and
kissing on the cheek when they meet. Many American men feel it's unmacho to hug other men. Yet, the
Bible promotes a wholesome bond between friends. Several verses in Proverbs say, "A friend loves at all
times....(As) perfume rejoice the heart, so does the sweetness of a man's friend....As iron sharpens iron, so a
man sharpens the character of his friend."
It's only when same-sex relationships become carnal and break God's laws for purity that the Bible calls
those relations immoral. God's plan is for heterosexual homes to propagate the race and exemplify the
standards of his Word. However, the Bible gives us some beautiful accounts of women loving women. One of
our favorite wedding passages was spoken between two women when Ruth said to Naomi, "Entreat me not
to leave thee nor to return from following after thee; for whether thou goest I will go." First and Second
Samuel also record a beautiful friendship between two men, David and Jonathan. Let me use their example
at this Thanksgiving season to remind us to be "Grateful for Grace," which is the title of this sermon. Look
at my text in 2 Samuel 9:1-8.
To learn why David was anxious to help Jonathan's son, we need to review what 1 Samuel tells us about
David's friendship with Jonathan. When David was a young man, maybe 14-16 years old, he was
summonsed frequently to come and play his harp to help King Saul relax. While still a young man, David
made a name for himself as a warrior by killing the giant, Goliath. After that, Saul invited David to be his
personal armor-bearer, eventually making David a captain in the army and later giving him one of the
King's daughters to marry.
During this time, David met Jonathan, King Saul's son. They were close to the same age and were both
soldiers in Saul's army. They became such close friends that 1 Samuel 18 says their souls were knit together
and they loved each other as their own souls. These verses record a covenant they made. Although we're
not told the details, supposedly they promised to always befriend each other. Jonathan was wise with
enough spiritual insight to see that David was more popular with the people than Saul and his children were.
Perhaps David told Jonathan of his anointing earlier when the prophet Samuel had told him he would be
king one day. But, Jonathan was in line for the throne! This should have made Jonathan envious of David,
but envy has no place where true friends love and protect each other. Their bond was such that, whoever
became king, they would share that honor with the other.
I. The Promise Made, 1 Samuel 20:14-17
We see the promise made in I Samuel 20:14-17. Here, David and Jonathan renewed their covenant and
promised their lasting friendship. It seems that Jonathan was the last to accept that his father was jealous of
David and was plotting to kill him. When Jonathan finally realized this, he went to warn his friend and help
David escape. When David and Jonathan met for the last time, David promised to always show "the
kindness of the Lord" to his friend and his household.
Saul drove David away, and for several years David lived among his former enemies, the Philistines. David
had many chances to kill Saul, but he would not touch the Lord's anointed because Saul was still the king of
his people, Israel. Once, when David was not with the Philistines, they came into battle against Saul and his
sons, including Jonathan. When King Saul was mortally wounded, a young Amalekite helped him fall on his
sword and die. When David learned Jonathan was killed by the Philistines, he tore his clothes in grief and
wept aloud over the loss of his true friend.
God also weeps when we disobey him, because God has made a covenant with himself to love those who love
him. Each time we sin we break God's heart again. He created us to be his friends, but "he was in the world
and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not." Since God has clearly
said, "The wages of sin is death," we are all under the death sentence for our sins.
II. The Promise Remembered, 2 Samuel 9:1
Second Samuel 9, verse 1, records the promise remembered. Between 15 and 20 years had passed since
David made his promise to Jonathan. David had become king, and Jonathan had died in the battle that
eventually put David on the throne. For 7 years, David had fought with the house of Saul before his kingdom
was secure. Now the land was at peace, but tugging in the back of David's mind was the promise he made to
Jonathan. So, David asked, "Is there anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for
Jonathan's sake?" his was the gracious question of a grateful man. He didn't ask, "Is there another like
Jonathan? Is there a strong man who would look good in my court? Is there someone deserving of my
favor?" No, he asked, "Is there anyone?" It's a question of unqualified grace.
III. The Promise Kept, 2 Samuel 9:2-8
So, in the third place, we see the promise kept in chapter 9, verses 2-8. David called one of the former
servants of Saul. "Ziba, do you know of anyone who's left of the house of Saul to whom I might show the
kindness of the Lord?" Ziba replied, "I know of one, a son of Jonathan, but he's a cripple."
Just a cripple, not the kind of person a king would be involved with.
In David's day, it was believed that cripples were that way as a punishment for sin, and they were often left
to die. But, this cripple represents just exactly the kind of person God is interested in. The Bible says when
we were foolish and disobedient, unable to help ourselves, God loved us. So, David sent for Jonathan's son.
Imagine Mephibosheth's response when soldiers of David came to his hiding place. Remember, it was the
fear of this king that caused the accident that resulted in his being crippled. When he was five years old, the
news reached his home that Saul and Jonathan were dead.
Fearing for the young boy's life, his nurse picked him up to run and hide him. In those moments of panic,
Mephibosheth fell and suffered an injury that crippled him for life. Since then, he had lived in fear of being
discovered and killed. Now, the very man he feared had found him and had sent for him.
I can see that crippled young man shaking with fear as he is brought before David. David, too, saw it and
said, "Fear not." Then, David assured him that he did not bring him there to kill him but to show him
kindness for the sake of Jonathan, his father. For no merit of his own, Mephibosheth would eat at the palace
table the rest of his life with all the privileges of David's own sons.
Mephibosheth couldn't understand it. He said, "Who am I, that you should even look upon such a dead dog
as I - What have I done to deserve this?" And the answer was: Nothing! This kindness wasn't shown
because of anything he had done or could do; he was a paralytic, practically helpless! He had to be picked
upand carried wherever he went. It was all because of grace, based on a promise David made to his father,
maybe even before he was born.
IV. The Principle to Apply
Now, let's apply the principle of grace. First, put yourself in Mephibosheth's place. Like him, we were moral
cripples. We had no right to expect anything less than death. God has said, "The soul that sins shall die."
Yet, Titus 1:2 says God made a promise before the world began that those who enter into covenant with
him will be the objects of his unfailing grace.
We don't deserve grace. No one deserves a place in God's Heaven. But, that's not the issue. Grace means
unmerited favor. We can spell it as an anachronism, "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." God offers salvation
to any who will accept it as a free gift. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to
his great mercy he saves us." God picks us up, cleans up our lives, transforms our characters, and promises
to take us home to reign with him. He's building a mansion for us and preparing us a place at his Heavenly
table for eternity. That's grace! Have you accepted his grace? It comes as a free invitation. All you have to
do is pray and accept the invitation.
Let me give you an illustration of grace: You're speeding down I-95 because you're running late. You know
the speed limit, and you know you are exceeding it, but you've got to get to your appointment. Then, you
round a bend, and there sits a patrolman looking straight at you with your pretty picture in his camera! You
hit your brakes, but he's got you; and you know you're guilty. In your mirror you see him turn around and
come your way with his blue lights flashing. As he comes up behind you, your heart is racing and you
prepare to pull over. But, he goes right by you and stops the car in front of you. That's grace!! Grace
somehow lets you off the hook when you know you're guilty.
If you've already tasted the grace of God, let this Thanksgiving season be the time you remember to be
grateful for grace. Last Tuesday evening at our Harvest Celebration, we thanked God for our families and
our country, for the food we were eating and the peace we were enjoying. But, when was the last time you
thanked God for his grace? God instilled in himself the quality of grace that caused him to make a covenant
promise to bless us. Though we've done nothing to deserve it, God chose before the foundation of the world
to bless those who respond to his Son. He, himself alone, chose to transform us and take us to Heaven.
Sometimes, I walk up to my wife and give her a peck on the cheek to encourage her; and I tell her I love her
anyhow. Men, that leaves them guessing! But, people, God truly loves us anyhow!! You know, pride's a
funny thing: You can't live with a person who has too much pride, and you can't live with them if they don't
have enough pride in themselves! But, pride has no place in grace. No one deserves Heaven. And, good
works have no place in grace. No one can work enough good to earn God's forgiveness. The only way we get
it is if God decides to give it to us just because it's in his nature to love, forgive, and bless us. That's what the
kindness of the Lord will do for you and me, and he does it for Jesus' sake. In his high-priestly prayer in
John 17 just before he died, Jesus asked the Father to let his friends be with him to see his glory in Heaven.
If you know God's grace and have responded to it by giving your life to Jesus, then display that same kind of
grace to others. Jesus said they will know we are Christians by our love. However, if you haven't done so,
the best way you can show your thanksgiving to God is to respond to his grace today. Receive it and thank
him for it. You don't have to pay him for it, just be grateful for grace. It's amazing; it's free; it's
unconditional; it's eternal; and it's ours just because of who God is!