Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
2 Samuel 9:1 (JERUSALEM.)1 Samuel 20:15). He had been probably unaware of his leaving a son behind him (for Mephibosheth was born while he was in exile, five years before the battle of Gilboa); or, if acquainted with the fact, supposed that he perished in the destruction of the house of Saul. But surmising, perhaps, from something he heard, that a son of his friend survived, he made the inquiry, "Is there yet any that is left," etc.? It was a practice only too common in the East, on a change of dynasty, for the reigning monarch to put to death the surviving members of the family of his predecessor, in order to make his own position more secure. And the conduct of David, in contrast therewith, evinced his gratitude, fidelity, piety, and noble generosity. "Neither the splendour of victories, nor the pleasures of prosperity, nor the lustre of his crown, could make him unmindful of his covenant and oath to his former friend. A suspicious, faithless tyrant would at least have kept the family that imagined they had a right to his kingdom low enough to have prevented the possibility of their ever disputing it with him; or at least have shut up the heir of it in close imprisonment, or got rid of his fears upon his account by totally destroying him; thinking he might reasonably dispense with his oath to his deceased friend through the necessity of self-preservation, and securing to his own family the peaceable succession to his crown" (Chandler). The words "for Jonathan's sake" -
I. EXPRESS A PRINCIPLE OF HUMAN CONDUCT. It is not unusual for one person to show kindness to another for the sake of someone else, for whom, whether living or dead, he entertains a high regard, on account of his excellent character or eminent services; with whom the object of his kindness is closely connected, and without whom he would not have shown it. How often has a king exercised his prerogative of mercy toward an offender, or bestowed riches and honour on a subject, for the sake of the faithful service of his father! "The fruit of well doing lives longer than himself who is the doer, and thereby he leaves a blessing and good treasure behind him to his posterity" (Guild). "There are thousands of young men and women who are daily receiving kindness for their fathers' and mothers' sakes. And this is, in fact, one of the incidental blessings connected with having parents who, though now dead, were, when living, persons of worthy and estimable life. Their children inherit the advantages which the love of others for their memory can bestow, and many an applicant for some office of trust and emolument would be turned away from the door were it not that his face bears the lineaments of a departed and cherished friend, or his tones call back to memory the voice which will speak no more" (E. Mellor).
II. ILLUSTRATE A METHOD OF DIVINE DEALINGS. God deals with men, not merely in their separate individuality, but also in their relationship to one another; spares and blesses them, not only directly and immediately, but also indirectly and mediately, through and on account of each other; and shows kindness to many for the sake of one. This:
1. Occurs in various ways. By means of the hereditary influence of a good man on his descendants, and the moral influence on others of his example, utterances, labours, and sufferings; and (with more special reference to the case under consideration) by granting his intercessory requests, fulfilling the promises made to him on their behalf, and doing them good out of regard to him, or because of something he has done which was necessary to that end.
2. Appears in numerous instances. With respect to individuals, "The Lord hath blessed me for thy sake" (Genesis 30:27; Genesis 19:29; 1 Kings 11:12); families (Genesis 39:5; Psalm 69:26; Proverbs 13:22); Churches, cities, and nations (Genesis 18:26; Exodus 32:14; 1 Kings 8:19); "beloved for the fathers' sakes" (Romans 11:28); "As the new wine is found in the cluster," etc. (Isaiah 65:8; Isaiah 1:9). So God testifies his love of righteousness, teaches the worth of a good man in relation to the unworthy, and causes his sovereign mercy to abound toward them.
3. Has its highest application in Christ, "the one Mediator between God and man,"
(2) who is closely allied to men (Hebrews 2:16);
(3) who has laboured, interceded, and suffered for us (1 Peter 3:18); and
(4) to whom many promises have been made on behalf of those who are in him (Galatians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 1:20). The nature, grounds, and extent of his mediation cannot be fully explained; but the fact is certain, that it is "for Christ's sake" (Ephesians 4:32), "in Christ" (Revised Version), and "for his Name's sake" (1 John 2:12), we are forgiven, have access to the Father, and are "blessed with every spiritual blessing" (Ephesians 1:3). "He comprises in his own Person all and everything that is most desirable" (Gregory Nazianzen).
III. SUGGEST A GROUND OF DEVOUT CONFIDENCE. When Mephibosheth appeared before the king, "he doubtless was in fear for his life (vers. 6. 7). Such generosity to a fallen rival as David showed in restoring him to his paternal property, seemed to him scarcely credible" ('Speaker's Commentary'). But the assurance that it was "for Jonathan's sake" must have inspired him with confidence. And similarly, "for Jesus' sake" affords a
(2) effectual, and
(3) abiding ground of hope, and
IV. INDICATE A MOTIVE TO PRACTICAL BENEVOLENCE, after the example of David and from love to our Divine Friend (ch. 1:26); in:
1. Forgiving each other (Ephesians 4:32).
2. Kind and comforting speech. "Fear not" (ver. 7).
3. Generous gifts.
6. Prayers (Romans 15:30).
7. Personnel, diligent, and constant service on behalf of "the Church which is his body," and of all "for whom Christ died" (2 Corinthians 4:5 3John 7). For his Name's sake; "For my sake." This is the Christian's peculiar, highest, and mightiest motive; implying not only supreme affection toward him who "alone is worthy," but also sincere sympathy with his spirit and purposes; and producing most beneficent effects. - D.
2 Samuel 9:3. - (JERUSALEM.)1 Samuel 20:14, 15); felt the obligation of his former promises and covenants (1 Samuel 24:21, 22; 1 Samuel 23:18); and now purposed, in accordance therewith, to "show the kindness of God," i.e. "love from religious motives, or as God shows it" (Thenius); "in God and for his sake" (Keil); "in the Lord's sight, and according to the Lord's example, pure, perpetual love, and not such love as arises from mere human respects and is shown in the eye of man" (Wordsworth); and not simply "great and eminent kindness" (Poole, Patrick). There are benevolent affections in our nature; but they must be imbued with religious motives and principles in order that their exercise may be of the highest kind. "The kindness of God" is such as is shown:
1. Out of reverence for his Name. Holy, just, and true; merciful and gracious; delighting in loving kindness. "God is love;" and the eternal Fountain of love in his creatures.
2. In obedience to his will, as expressed in numerous injunctions to the faithful performance of what has been promised; in the royal law (James 2:8); and in manifold exhortations to compassionate love.
3. From gratitude for his benefits. These had been bestowed on David in abundant measure (2 Samuel 7:18; 2 Samuel 8:6). The acts of kindness which God performs toward men both enable and incite them to perform acts of kindness toward their fellow men. "What goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee" (Numbers 10:32). Freely ye have received, freely give."
4. In imitation of his example; of faithfulness, goodness, unsought, abounding, unfailing, and everlasting love. David was specially called, as king, to exhibit in his character and conduct an image of the moral excellences of the Divine King of Israel; and to this Christians are likewise celled. "Be ye therefore perfect," etc. (Matthew 5:43-48), "merciful" (Luke 6:36), "imitators of God as beloved children," etc. (Ephesians 5:1).
5. Under the inspiration of his grace, his love, his Spirit; and, indeed, "it is the merciful love of God himself that dwells in the heart of the truly pious, and works therefrom; for he that lives in fellowship with God receives into his heart, through the Holy Ghost, the love that is in God, and lives and moves in that love" (Erdmann). "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16). He not only reflects the Divine love on others, but is also the medium of its communication to them.
6. With the desire of his approval, of pleasing him rather than men, and of partaking more fully of his loving kindness, which "is better than life."
7. For the promotion of his glory; "that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." - D.
1 Samuel 20:14) when he took an oath of him that he would be kind to himself and his family. "The kindness of the Lord," or "the kindness of God," is an expression descriptive of the highest and best kindness possible to man or angel. It is kindness which -
I. FLOWS FROM GOD. This is true of all the kindness which exists amongst men. "Love is of God." All the love of men towards each other streams forth from the fountain of Divine love, and should be thus regarded by those who are the objects of it, he being praised for all. But this is emphatically true of Christian kindness. It originates in, and is a manifestation of, the love of God in Christ. It is produced by the Holy Spirit as given to the disciples of Christ, and by means of the truth respecting him (1 Peter 1:22, 23). It is a product of regeneration. It is God's love dwelling in human hearts and revealing itself in human lives. It is an element of "the Divine nature" of which Christians are "partakers" (2 Peter 1:4).
II. IS EXERCISED FROM REGARD TO GOD.
1. It has its root, like all Christian graces, in faith towards God (Galatians 5:6).
2. It springs from gratitude and love to him for all his goodness, especially for his redeeming love (1 John 4:11).
3. It. is practised in obedience to his commandments (l John 4:21).
4. It aims at his approval
III. IS GOD-LIKE. As it is:
1. Disinterested. "Seeketh not her own" (1 Corinthians 13:5). Kindness which is exercised with a view to personal advantage is not kindness but policy and commercial subtlety.
2. Expansive. Ready to help all who need, as far as power permits. Not restricting itself to the good and worthy, but "kind unto the unthankful and the evil" (Luke 6:35); nor yet to friends, but extending to enemies (Matthew 5:44, 45, 48); nor to one's own sect in religion, but regarding with love all Christian brethren (1 John 5:1; Ephesians 6:24). Yet it is:
3. Discriminating. The Divine love is united with righteousness, and seeks righteous ends. Hence it cannot be the same thing, and displayed in the same manner, towards the righteous and the unrighteous, the obedient and the disobedient; and it mainly seeks to promote righteousness and salvation in all, and varies its methods accordingly. Christian love and kindness will be exercised with similar discrimination as far as is possible to men; and will seek supremely the moral and spiritual benefit of its objects. Indiscriminate benevolence does more harm than good.
4. Unsparing. "He spared not his own Son" (Romans 8:32), and in him the love of God appears as self-sacrificing (1 John 3:16) and bountiful (Ephesians 1:3). Christian love possesses the same qualities of bountifulness (2 Corinthians 8:2, 3, 9-11), self-denial, and self-sacrifice. It "endureth all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7).
IV. IS NOURISHED BY CONVERSE WITH GOD. The acts and habits of devotion - reading, meditation, prayer, praise - bring us into closer communion with God, secure us more of his Spirit, open our hearts to receive the impress of his character, promote in us all those sentiments and principles towards him which issue in hearty love and kindness towards our brethren. Let us draw nigh continually to him whose name is Love, and we shall find it ever more easy to be loving. - G.W.
2 Samuel 9:4. - (GILEAD.)
"But, O Saul, do not fail us.
2. Tender compassion toward the orphan, unfortunate add friendless. The sight of human distress drew forth his sympathy; and (like the good Samaritan) he suffered no other considerations to hinder its practical expression.
3. Constant friendship. During many years (ver. 12), with all their changes, he provided, apparently "without fee or reward," a peaceful home for the crippled prince, and continued his steadfast protector.
4. Active benevolence. He was "rich in good works" (2 Timothy 6:18). Sensibility, as the word is generally used, is a mere animal instinct, useless when it does not immediately lead to active benevolence; and in such cases not only useless, but pernicious, because it has a tendency to produce a resting satisfied with the emotion and a neglect of the action" (W. Cooke Taylor).
5. Beneficent influence. His conduct could not but produce a good effect on the rude, warlike tribe of which he was chief; and possibly incited others (Shobi and Barzillai) to the like.
"Great deeds cannot die:
6. Noble recompense. "The blessing of him that was ready to perish" (Job 29:13), the approval of his own conscience, the enduring memorial of a good name. Although (like that of Abou Ben-Adhem) his name has not been written in the sacred record among "the names of those who love the Lord," but only "as one that loves his fellow men," it could not fail of being divinely honoured.
"The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
2 Samuel 9:5-13. - (THE KING'S PALACE.)
I. EXTRAORDINARY VICISSITUDES IS LIFE. A prince by birth, deprived of his father, crippled by a heedless footstep, carried into exile and poverty, recently a helpless dependent in a remote district, is conducted into the presence of one who was once a shepherd boy, afterwards a wandering outlaw, and now the greatest monarch on earth! Such changes:
1. May be largely, though not entirely, traced to moral causes, personal character, hereditary relationships.
4. And should be regarded in an appropriate spirit (James 1:9, 10).
II. THE DEPRESSING INFLUENCE OF MISFORTUNE. "He fell on his face, and did reverence" (ver. 6); "And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?" (ver. 8). His physical infirmity, combined with long continued dependence, made him not merely humble, but timid, anxious, abject, and self-depreciatory. Hence his language (due in part to Oriental exaggeration) is excusable, though scarcely to be commended (Kitto, 'Daily Bible Illus.'). The natural tendency of heavy affliction to enfeeble and crush the spirit is effectually overcome only by the aid of Divine grace.
III. AN ADMIRABLE EXHIBITION OF KINDNESS; spontaneous, faithful, considerate, magnanimous, practical, enduring, Divine.
1. In gracious and encouraging words. "Mephibosheth!" (ver. 6). "Fear not!" etc. (ver. 7). To David himself, in a time of dejection, Jonathan had said," Fear not!" (1 Samuel 23:17); and how often has the Lord spoken the same comforting word to his servants (Genesis 15:1; Luke 12:32; Revelation 1:17)!
2. In becoming and beneficent acts; fulfilling what had been promised (vers. 9-11), restoring an alienated inheritance, and making a sure, permanent, and abundant provision (ver. 12).
3. In honoured, intimate, and abiding friendship. '"Mephibosheth, thy master's son, shall eat bread alway at my table" (vers. 10, 11,13). Such kindness, like sunshine after rain, and as a visit of "the angel of God" (2 Samuel 19:27, 28), dispersed his fear, alleviated his misfortune, and filled him with grateful devotion; whilst his presence at the royal table would daily remind the king of his deceased friend, and incite him to renewed generosity.
IV. THE IRREMEDIABLE DEFECTS OF THE MOST FAVOURED EARTHLY CONDITION. "And he was lame on both his feet" (ver. 13). His deformity was incurable; his infirmity became an occasion of complaint and slander (2 Samuel 16:2-4); and his dejection and distress returned "as the clouds after the rain" (2 Samuel 19:24-30). The king himself often longed to flee away and be at rest (Psalm 55:6). And it is vain to expect perfection in character or condition except in the heavenly mansions.
"There is a spot in every flower, "To smile and weep, and weep and smile,
"To smile and weep, and weep and smile,
parable of the spiritual history of everyone who is restored to God. He was:
1. A prince. To you belongs a more than princely dignity; for you are all "the offspring of God," and bear on you traces of "the image and glory" of "the Father of spirits."
2. Lost. You belong to a sinful and fallen race; and your condition is one of deprivation, helplessness, obscurity, and misery. "A true religion ought to instruct man both in his greatness and his misery" (Pascal).
4. Found; unexpectedly to himself and to the joy of the seeker. So is it when the gracious message of the gospel comes to you, "not in word only, but in power."
5. Self-abased; in the presence of the king. When you see the height of Divine greatness and goodness, you also see the depth of your own unworthiness and shame.
6. Comforted. "Fear not; only believe."
7. Exated; endowed with more than had been lost; and adopted as "one of the king's sons" (ver. 11). The gifts of God are worthy of himself. When one, to whom Alexander gave a city, declined to accept it, on the, ground that it was unsuitable to his condition, he said, "I do not ask what is becoming in you to receive, but what is becoming in me to give" (Seneca, 'De Beneficiis'). - D.
I. THIS IS TRUE AS RESPECTS THEIR PARTICIPATION OF THE GIFTS OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE. All creatures depend upon him, and he supplies their wants (Psalm 104:27, 28; Psalm 145:15, 16). But the lower creatures partake of his bounty unconscious of the hand which feeds them. They are, in relation to God, rather like the horses in the stable, or the cattle and sheep in the fields, than the children at the table. And what these are through incapacity, ungodly people are through unbelief and forgetfulness. They live on the bounty of God, unmindful of him and unthankful. His children, however, even in the enjoyment of their daily food, "sit at his table." As he provides, so they recognize his care and bounty, and give him thanks. As he is present, so they are conscious of his presence. They regard him as presiding at their meals, and are glad to discern him so near. They ask for his blessing, and receive it. They "eat to the Lord, and give God thanks" (Romans 14:6). They satisfy their appetites and gratify their tastes as in his sight. They aim "to eat and drink... to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). They not only enjoy his gifts, but commune with himself. They talk with him, and he with them. Common meals thus enjoyed become as sacraments and means of grace. Let it be our endeavour to enjoy them thus more than we have done.
II. THE WORDS ARE MORE EMPHATICALLY APPLICABLE TO THE CHRISTIAN'S ENJOYMENT OF SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS. In this sense, "he eats continually at the king's table." The image reminds us of:
1. His exaltation. Once, like Mephibosheth, living far away from the king, now brought near, and associated with, yea, made really one of, his children. Still "lame" and otherwise defective, and unfit perhaps for much service, yet admitted to favour and honour.
2. The abundance of the best provisions he enjoys. At the King's table is plenty, and of the best. At the table of the heavenly King, spread under the gospel, are provisions the choicest and rarest, to be found nowhere else; and which nourish, not for this short earthly life, but for life eternal. The best intellectual food is here; but especially that food which quickens and nourishes the soul, in faith, and love, and hope, and holiness. Divine truth and whatever it reveals and presents - the pardoning mercy and fatherly love of God, the love and sacrifice of Christ, his body and his blood, which are the real food and drink of men. Of these the believing and loving soul may partake at will, anywhere and everywhere. The King's table is not confined to place; but especially in the house of God and at the Lord's Supper, the table is spread, and Christians gather together to feed and feast.
3. At the King's table is the best society. At the table of the Divine King we associate with the Father and the Son, by the Spirit; and by him also with saints and angels, "the excellent of the earth" and the excellent of heaven. The Lord fulfils his promise, "I will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).
4. At the King's table is gladness. The honour, the provision, the company, all tend to give pleasure.
5. There also is safety. The palace of a king is commonly the securest spot in the land. Far more assured is the safety of those who sit at the table of the heavenly King. Angels guard them; God himself is their Dwelling place and Defence.
6. The privilege of eating at the table of our King is perpetual. As in the case of Mephibosheth. If it is not continually enjoyed, it is our own fault. The privilege enjoyed by Mephibosheth would be a constant solace to him in his helplessness; and the spiritual counterpart is to Christians a constant source of comfort and support under their troubles.
III. THE WORDS ARE PERFECTLY FULFILLED IN THE HEAVENLY WORLD. The future blessedness of God's people is often compared to a feast (see Matthew 8:11; Revelation 2:7; Revelation 19:9). It is, in fact, the continuance and the perfecting of the blessedness now enjoyed, The King himself is perfectly "manifested." "They shall see his face" (Revelation 22:4); "We shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). His love and favour are so displayed as not to admit of a doubt. The provisions at his table are the same as on earth; but the guests are better able to enjoy them, their spiritual appetite and tastes being freed from all that lessens their fitness to do so. The society is the same, but those imperfect on earth are perfected in spirit and in body (Hebrews 12:23; Philippians 3:21). The security is absolute; the joy unmingled with sorrow; the feast is perpetual and without end. "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God" (Luke 14:15). Who shall partake of that bliss? All are invited by the gospel; and none will be excluded but such as exclude themselves by refusing to accept the invitation, and obtain the necessary preparation for the feast, which consists in reconciliation to the King through Jesus Christ, constant loyalty and obedience to him, and joyful partaking now of his spiritual gifts. To "eat continually at the King's table" here is the necessary condition of our doing so hereafter, as it is also the preparation for that happiness and the evidence that we shall enjoy it. - G.W.