“ The Lord is merciful and gracious slow to anger, abounding in love…he does not treat us as our sins deserve ”
A few years ago, my eldest daughter had been insolent and disrespectful so I sent her to her room while I decided on an appropriate punishment to fit the crime. Taking away her iPad? Grounding her? A TV-ban? I felt God say, “Give her a gift”. Everything inside of me was welling up with the sense of injustice, “But she doesn’t deserve it!” Then I got it - hasn’t God given us exactly what we don’t deserve?
In 2 Samuel 9, we read a wonderful story of mercy and grace. David was now king of Israel. King Saul had died and his son, Jonathan (David’s close friend), had also been killed. It would have been customary for the old king’s family to have been put to death so that no-one could have a claim to the throne and usurp the new king’s authority but David had made a promise to his friend Jonathan that he would show kindness to his family (1 Samuel 20:15). When David became King, he asked a servant to find any remaining family so that he could show God’s grace to them.
Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, who was crippled, was brought before the king. He knelt in fear, no doubt expecting the worst, but listen to the words of David in 2 Samuel 9: 7-8, “‘Don’t be afraid, I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!’ Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, ‘Who am I, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?’”
The chapter ends with the words, “but Mephibosheth … always ate at the king’s table”.
God’s grace and mercy towards us are incredible gifts to those who believe.
Mercy is ‘not getting what we deserve’. For my eldest, what she deserved was punishment. For Mephibosheth, it was death. For us, it is eternal separation from God. How wonderful that He does not treat us as our sins deserve. But, even better, God goes beyond mercy to grace!
Grace is ‘getting what we don’t deserve’. For my eldest, that was a gift. For Mephibosheth, that was a place at the king’s table. For us, it is eternal life. Like Mephibosheth, we are welcomed into our King’s house, have a place at His table and are treated like precious children. Why would God show kindness to “dead dogs” like us? Because of His mercy and grace! Praise God!
I grew up in a Christian family and went to Church as was expected. I didn’t find my own faith until I was in my 30s, by which time I had spent some years away from Church. I never stopped believing in God but didn’t particularly find Him relevant to my life and how I wanted to live it.
As I look back on my teens and twenties, I can see that although I was not intentionally walking with God, He was always walking with me.
When I was 17, I broke two vertebrae in my neck (C2 and C3) due to a riding accident. Inexplicably I walked away when, at best, I should probably have been paralysed, or at worst, dead.
In my late twenties I crewed on a racing yacht, one night (3am) whilst racing, we had a serious incident where I ended up armpit deep in the sea - but still on board! Miraculously the yacht righted herself. When speaking to my mother upon my return two days later, she asked what had happened as she had woken up at 3am knowing I was in the water and thought I had fallen overboard. She woke my father and said they needed to pray. I had not been wearing either a lifeline or lifejacket and the winch handle I was using was swept away. Had the yacht not righted herself, I also could have been swept away in the dark and would probably have drowned.
I believe that God’s mercy and grace have always been extended to me even when I was too far from God to ever think about asking for it.
I don’t, and never did, deserve it, but have found that it is freely and consistently given to me as the very best of gifts.
What has God said to you through today’s promise?