GRACE IN ACTION
T. PIERCE BROWN
We find in 2 Samuel 4 that Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, was injured after Jonathan was killed, and could not walk. Let us notice some qualities or circumstances that remind us of our condition, in need of grace.
He was relatively helpless, lame on both feet (2 Sam.9:13). The Hebrew author says in Hebrews 12:13, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed.” Paul says in Romans 5:6, “While ye were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.” Without the saving grace of God, we were helpless and hopeless, as Paul puts it in Eph.2:12, “– having no hope and without God in the world.”
He was fearful and in hiding, typical of all who sin. From Adam and Eve in the garden to those in Revelation6:16where men cried out to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us” men who sin try to hide from “the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Even the place where he was hiding suggests destitution, for he was in the house of Machir (which means “sold”) in Lodebar (which means “without a pasture”). Paul pictures the sinner as “sold under sin” (Rom.6:16). David said in Psalm 68:8, “The rebellious dwell in a dry land.”
Look next at David’s purpose and plan, which was according to the covenant he had made with Jonathan in 1 Sam. 20:15, where he promised that he would not cut off his lovingkindness from Jonathan’s house forever. So David said to him in 2 Sam. 9:7, “I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan.” We need to be aware and grateful that our “sins are forgiven for His name’s sake” (1 John2:12). This is one reason why we are to do all we do in the name of Christ, for we have life through His name (John20:31), are justified in His name (1 Cor.6:11). Every spiritual blessing we receive from the time of our salvation on to the end of life is for the sake of the name of Christ.
It is my strong conviction that if we could create in all those who claim to be Christians a strong sense of gratitude for the grace of God, we would never have to nag persons to attend, give, do personal evangelism or any number of other things in which we are so sadly lacking. It is tragic beyond expression that many brethren today think they have discovered that salvation is by the grace of God and there is not one thing man can do to obtain his salvation. It seems so clear that one feels almost apologetic to mention that one has always had to accept God’s grace on the terms by which it is offered. It seems almost as silly as to discuss whether a circle is round. Yet is true that we need to emphasize grace and thus create an attitude of gratitude that will cause us to do many things for God and man that merely a desire to obey law will not do.
Note that David’s love and expression of it was spontaneous and gracious. It was a voluntary impulse of a kind and merciful heart. He did not wait until Mephibosheth sought him out and begged him for mercy. We thank God that the same thing is true in the case of God offering us salvation. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is so marvelously true that “We love Him because he first loved us” (2 John4:19).
Nothing that Mephibosheth had done caused it, but it was on account of David’s own nature and for Jonathan’s sake. It was a sacrificial gift in that he said in v. 9, “I have given all that pertaineth to Saul.” We are reminded of 2 Peter 1:3,4 “Seeing that His divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us by His own glory and virtue; whereby He hath granted unto us His precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
Mephibosheth’s response and the results are almost as significant as we think of this beautiful story representing our salvation by grace. He believed the message and came unto David (v. 6). Can you imagine him saying, “I believe, and accept your grace, but I do think it necessary to come, nor do anything else?” He reverently and humbly responded. He asked in verse 8, “What is thy servant that thou shouldest look on such a dead dog as I?” The denominational theologians have taught that one who is dead in sin cannot act, and thus must be saved by the direct and miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit. Lazarus was dead, but he responded to the word of Christ. Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins.” We were dead in sin — worse than a dead dog as Mephibosheth classified himself. But we can humbly and reverently respond and accept the gracious offer.
He was accepted and became as one of the kings sons, (vss. 7, 11). Even after having read it for over 65 years, my heart still swells with joy and wonder when I read such passages as Ephesians 2:5, “Even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” To be “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” is a glory, honor and blessing beyond comprehension.
When David fled, he demonstrated his appreciation (2 Samuel19:24). He neither trimmed his beard nor changed his clothes. That did not do much to help David, but it demonstrated love and gratitude. You and I may not be able to do much, but we can always do what we can, where we are, with what we have and demonstrate gratitude and love if we have it. If we do not have gratitude or love, after thinking carefully of what God has done for us, we may be beyond redemption. If I understand the Bible properly, no one gets beyond redemption unless he gets beyond the place where he can repent.