Summary: These sermons served as the foundation for Max’s newest book, Facing Your Giants. Our Lord is a covenant-maker and covenant-keeper.

“Tough Promises”

2 Samuel 9:1-7

These sermons served as the foundation for Max’s newest book, Facing Your Giants.

THEME: Our Lord is a covenant-maker and covenant-keeper.

Introduction: I enjoy western movies. I grew up watching Roy and Gene ride across the silver screen on Saturday mornings. I read that the most watched made-for-TV movie was the western “Crossfire Trail”: In the story the hero travels hundred of miles to keep his promise to his dying friend. The main “bad guy” in the film laments that his plans are being destroyed by the hero’s arrival and states: “What kind of dinosaur upends his whole life to keep his promise to a dying man?” Keeping promises creates heroes. Are you a promise keeper?

Transition: King David kept his promise to Jonathan.

I. David – A Promise Keeping King

King David’s life couldn’t be better. Just crowned. His throne room smells like fresh paint, and his city architect is laying out new neighborhoods. God’s ark indwells the tabernacle; gold and silver overflow the king’s coffers; Israel’s enemies maintain their distance. The days of ducking Saul are a distant memory. But then David remembers a promise he made to Jonathan. When Saul threatened to kill David, Jonathan fought to save him. Jonathan succeeded and asked David to show loving kindness to him. If he died, Jonathan wanted David to show loving kindness to his family (1 Sam. 20:14-15).

Jonathan died. But David’s promise did not.

To David, a covenant is no small matter. When you catalog the giants David faced, be sure the word promise survives the cut and makes the short list.

The husband of a depressed wife knows the challenge of a promise. As she daily stumbles through a gloomy fog, he wonders what happened to the girl he married. Can you keep a promise in a time like this?

The wife of a cheating husband asks the same. He’s back. He’s sorry. She’s hurt. She wonders, He broke his promise…Do I keep mine?

Parents have asked such a question. Parents of prodigals. Parents of runaways. Parents of the handicapped and disabled. Even parents of healthy toddlers have wondered how to keep a promise. Honeymoon moments and quiet evenings are buried beneath the mountain of dirty diapers and short nights.

Enter Mephibosheth. Advisers summoned Ziba, a former servant of Saul. Did he know of a surviving member of Saul’s household? Take a good look at Ziba’s answer: “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet” (2 Sam. 9:3).

Ziba mentions no name, just points out that the boy is lame. We sense a thinly veiled disclaimer in his words. “Be careful, David. He isn’t – how would you say it? – suited for the palace. You might think twice about keeping this promise.”

When Mephibosheth was five years old, his father and grandfather died at the hands of the Philistines. Knowing their brutality, the family of Saul headed for the hills. Mephibosheth’s nurse snatched him up and ran, then tripped and dropped the boy, breaking both his ankles, leaving him incurably lame. Escaping servants carried him across the Jordan River to an inhospitable village called Lo Debar. The name means “without pasture.” Picture a tumbleweed-tossed, low-rent trailer town in an Arizona desert. Mephibosheth hid there, first for fear of the Philistines, then for fear of David. Victimized. Ostracized. Disabled. Uncultured. He is brought to the palace and fearfully enters. David restores to him everything that belonged to Saul and his family and gave him a place in his palace and at his table.

Faster than you can say Mephibosheth twice, he gets promoted form Lo Debar to the king’s table. Good-bye, obscurity. Hello, royalty and realty. Note: David could have sent money to Lo Debar. A lifelong annuity would have generously fulfilled his promise. But David gave Mephibosheth more than a pension; he gave him a place – a place at the royal table. The kid who had no legs to stand on has everything to live for. Why? Because he impressed David? Convinced David? Coerced David? No, Mephibosheth did nothing. A promise prompted David. The king is kind, not because the boy is deserving, but because the promise is enduring.

Absalom’s Rebellion Fifteen years later Absalom leads a rebellion and forces David to flee Jerusalem. Ziba leaves with David. Ziba tells David that Mephibosheth sided with the enemy. After Absalom dies and David returns to Jerusalem, Mephibosheth gives David another version of the story. He said that Ziba left him behind. Who is telling the truth? We don’t know because David never asked. Why? It doesn’t matter. His place in the palace depends, not on his behavior, but on David’s promise.

Transition: Why? Why is David so loyal? And how? How is David so loyal? Mephibosheth brings nothing and takes much. From whence does David quarry such resolve? Were we able to ask David how he fulfilled his giant-of-a-promise, he would take us from his story to God’s story. God sets the standard for covenant keeping.

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Butch Payne

commented on Mar 2, 2016

You wow me Max

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