Lord God, gathered as your people today, let us hear your word:
words of comfort; words of challenge; words of encouragement and cheer.
We know that being close to you, getting near your light might reveal things we’d rather not confront but you have promised that you will stay right by our side, giving us the courage to look in the mirror assuring us of your accompanying love as we face our fears and weaknesses.
Wonderful God, your eyes are filled with compassion not judgment.
Your heart is filled with warmth not condemnation.
May we look on those around us here this morning with your eyes of love, prepared always to look beyond faults and failings, our own and those of others, and see instead the potential to change and to learn from our mistakes assured of your forgiveness.
This morning’s readings are from the book of 2 Samuel and the first part can be found in the old testament section of the pew bibles around page 302. It is 2 Samuel chapter 4 verses 1:12
The is the story of Mephibosheth. A story of misfortune and hardship and is set during a period of a bitter power struggle with brutal and bloody fighting and murder, but the story, like last week’s, does have a happy ending.
The main characters are King Saul’s sons Jonathan and Ishbosheth and Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth along with King David. In their younger days, after David had killed Goliath, David and Jonathan had become been very close friends despite Saul plotting to kill David.
So let us hear the first part of the story in 2 Samuel chapter 4 reading from verse 1:
When Saul's son Ishbosheth heard that Abner had been killed in Hebron, he was afraid, and all the people of Israel were alarmed.
Ishbosheth had two officers who were leaders of raiding parties, Baanah and Rechab, sons of Rimmon, from Beeroth in the tribe of Benjamin. (Beeroth is counted as part of Benjamin. Its original inhabitants had fled to Gittaim, where they have lived ever since.)
Another descendant of Saul was Jonathan's son Mephibosheth, who was five years old when Saul and Jonathan were killed. When the news about their death came from the city of Jezreel, his nurse picked him up and fled; but she was in such a hurry that she dropped him, and he became crippled.
Rechab and Baanah set out for Ishbosheth's house and arrived there about noon, while he was taking his midday rest. The woman at the door had become drowsy while she was sifting wheat and had fallen asleep, so Rechab and Baanah slipped in.
Once inside, they went to Ishbosheth's bedroom, where he was sound asleep, and killed him. Then they cut off his head, took it with them, and walked all night through the Jordan Valley.
They presented the head to King David at Hebron and said to him, "Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul, who tried to kill you. Today the Lord has allowed Your Majesty to take revenge on Saul and his descendants."
David answered them, "I take a vow by the living Lord, who has saved me from all dangers! The messenger who came to me at Ziklag and told me of Saul's death thought he was bringing good news. I seized him and had him put to death. That was the reward I gave him for his good news!
How much worse it will be for evil men who murder an innocent man asleep in his own house! I will now take revenge on you for murdering him and will wipe you off the face of the earth!"
David gave the order, and his soldiers killed Rechab and Baanah and cut off their hands and feet, which they hung up near the pool in Hebron. They took Ishbosheth's head and buried it in Abner's tomb there at Hebron.
We will finish the story after the singing of the Hymn number 115: Love is the touch of intangible joy
So the story of Mephibosheth continues in chapter 9 of 2 Samuel, this time reading from verses 1 to 13 on page 306 in your pew bibles.
One day David asked, "Is there anyone left of Saul's family? If there is, I would like to show him kindness for Jonathan's sake."
There was a servant of Saul's family named Ziba, and he was told to go to David. "Are you Ziba?" the king asked. "At your service, sir," he answered.
The king asked him, "Is there anyone left of Saul's family to whom I can show loyalty and kindness, as I promised God I would?" Ziba answered, "There is still one of Jonathan's sons. He is crippled."
"Where is he?" the king asked. "At the home of Machir son of Ammiel in Lodebar," Ziba answered. So King David sent for him.
When Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul, arrived, he bowed down before David in respect. David said, "Mephibosheth," and he answered, "At your service, sir."
"Don't be afraid," David replied. "I will be kind to you for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will give you back all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always be welcome at my table."
Mephibosheth bowed again and said, "I am no better than a dead dog, sir! Why should you be so good to me?"
Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said, "I am giving Mephibosheth, your master's grandson, everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You, your sons, and your servants will farm the land for your master Saul's family and bring in the harvest, to provide food for them. But Mephibosheth himself will always be a guest at my table." (Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
Ziba answered, "I will do everything Your Majesty commands." So Mephibosheth ate at the king's table, just like one of the king's sons.
Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica. All the members of Ziba's family became servants of Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem, eating all his meals at the king's table.
May God bless and help us to understand this reading of his holy word.
Let us once again bow our heads in prayer, let us pray:
we are here this day, some hurting, some broken, some doubting, some searching yet all cared for by you.
We look around this place, and acknowledge the struggle faced by many of our friends, just as we ourselves often find life a struggle, yet as one family you would have us care for each other, as you care for us
Hearing the story of Mephibosheth we are reminded that in our world today there are many people who have extra challenges in their lives. Whether afflicted by physical or mental conditions, their lives are especially difficult and often leads to them having low self-esteem and struggling to cope. We ask you to bless and support them.
We know you love each and every one of your children unconditionally, but we sometimes still make judgements about people we meet. Help us to see beyond outward and superficial appearances and look to the inner person.
Help us to remember how David never forgot his promises made with Jonathan and help us to be caring and compassionate to those less fortunate than ourselves and like David offer our friendship and help when we can.
We remember the example that Jesus gave us, often seeking out those shunned by society and showing them how much he loved them.
O Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers this day and every day.
Let us now say the prayer that Jesus taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever