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The Basics of Grace

Charlie Boyd - 2/25/2024


The story we find in 2 Samuel 9 is one of the most moving, most beautiful stories of grace in all of Scripture. It’s the story of a great king, King David, who, as the recipient of God’s great grace, shows mind-boggling grace to a potential rival to the throne—to someone who is completely undeserving. But there’s so much more here. This short story points forward to the Bible’s “big story” of redemption. It’s one of the best illustrations of grace in all the Bible. 


Sometimes, as we follow Jesus, it’s good to go back to the basics. Today, I want to go back and ask, “What comes to your mind when you hear the word “grace?” The gracefulness of a ballet dancer, a quick prayer you say before a meal, a way to address a person of royal status, as in, “your grace?” All those examples paint a picture of grace, but none of them carry the deep, God-centered, self-giving definition of grace that we find in Scripture. So, the question is: “What is true biblical grace?” Your first thought might be to turn to the NT to answer that question. And certainly, the NT’s teaching on grace is found on nearly every page. But it might surprise you to learn that one of the greatest examples of grace in all of Scripture is found in the story of a man who, although undeserving, was given a seat at the banquet table of Israel’s greatest king, King David. The man's name is strange. It’s almost unpronounceable—“Mephibosheth. ” He was the son of David’s best friend, Jonathan, and the grandson of David’s greatest adversary, the former king Saul. And that meant he could be a potential, future rival to the throne.

READ 2 Samuel 9:1-4 — We learn from 2Sam7 that God has shown great grace/kindness to David by making an unconditional covenant promise with him and his family—a promise that finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, the Son of David. So, David is who he is and where he is 100% by God’s grace, and David knows this deep in his bones. One day, David remembers the covenant he made with Jonathan. (Jonathan, Saul’s son, was the next in line to be the King of Israel, and he literally risked his own life and the wrath of his father, who was out to kill David, by protecting David). As a result of their friendship, David made a covenant with Jonathan in which he promised that he would provide for and protect Saul's house forever. So, David wants to keep his promise to Jonathan, and he wonders if there’s anyone left in Saul’s family to whom he could show covenant-keeping kindness and promise-keeping grace. He learns from one of Saul’s former servants that Jonathan’s crippled son is still alive. He’s living in exile in a far-off, barren, desolate place. (cf 2Sam4 for more background on Mephibosheth)

READ 2 Samuel 9:5-7 — There’s no question that Mephibosheth was very afraid when he was called before King David. The custom in those days was that when a new king ascended to the throne, the new king would exterminate all the former king's sons, thereby eliminating all potential future rivals to the throne. That’s not David’s plan at all. In v7, David tells Mephibosheth all the wonderful things he will do for him. First, he says, “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father. Second, he says, I will make you rich.” “I will restore to you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul.” Third, he says, “I will adopt you into my family as one of my sons.” That’s what David when he says, “You will always eat with me at my table.” READ 2Sam9:8—Mephibosheth is completely undone. He’s overwhelmed at such an outpouring of extravagant grace. READ 2Sam9:9-13—David takes action to make good on his promises. What an amazing story of amazing grace!

But remember, this little story is meant to be like a window to help us understand the Bible’s big story of redemption. We see this clearly in one little phrase tucked away in v3, where David asks Ziba, “Is anyone from Saul’s family still alive? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.” Notice, it’s not just “kindness” but “God’s kindness.” “God’s kindness”—the Hebrew word is “hesed,” which means unconditional, steadfast, covenant love—the kind of gracious, unearned, undeserved love that God had shown to David and that He has shown to us. “Hesed” is God’s grace showered on people who don’t deserve it, can’t earn it, and can never repay it. Again, this story is an incredible picture of the redemptive love and grace of the Lord Jesus. In a very real sense, we are all “Mephibosheths.” None of us could ever earn or deserve God’s kindness showered on us in the grace of Jesus. In this story, King David took the initiative to seek out someone to shower God’s kindness upon. In the same way, God took the initiative with us in sending Jesus to die for our sins and to rise from the dead to give us eternal life. God invites us to come as we are, “poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore,” as the old hymn puts it. We must never forget that we are who we are, and we have what we have, not by our achievements, not because of how good we are, but simply because God rescued us by His transforming grace. Do you see how your story of grace parallels Mephibosheth’s story? First, out of the goodness of God’s heart, because of Jesus, He has showered His faithful love and grace on us. Second, by grace, He has made us rich with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph1), and “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2Pet1). God has given us everything we truly need in Christ! Third, by grace, God makes us His children. He makes us His sons and daughters. And that means, like Mephibosheth, “I am a child of the King.” Think of it—we’ve been showered with grace. We’ve been given spiritual riches beyond our wildest dreams. We’ve been made children of the King. We are “royals,” all because of God’s “hesed”—His gracious, promise-keeping kindness. ”Hesed” is the link from David to Jesus to us. There is no question about it: this little story is a snapshot that points us to the Bible's big story.

But, we can’t just stop with being grateful for the grace we have received. We can’t just stop and stand in wonder at all that God has done for us. No, there’s something else we must not forget when it comes to getting back to the basics of grace—something more simply celebrating what grace means to us and for us. How so? First, we have been “graced” to show grace. We have been graced by God to show God’s grace to others. The God who “graced” you wants to “grace” others through you. Second, (the flip side to the first point), a person who has received grace but doesn’t show grace doesn’t really understand grace. Grace has both a vertical and a horizontal dimension to it. Third, to show grace is to extend kindness to people who don’t deserve it, can never earn it, and can’t repay it. Who in your life right now might that be?

This application for this message is not, “You have received grace; now go out there and try harder this week to show grace.” No, David didn’t have to try harder to show grace. Because of God’s kindness, David said, “I want God’s kindness to flow through me.” “I want the kindness I’ve experienced from God to be expressed through me.” You and I have been “graced” by God to show grace to others. The application is simply this: Invite God to “grace” others through you this week. Jesus lives in you in order to live his life through you, and when he is living his life through you, others will experience his great grace.

*We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.