How Do You Approach the King?
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2 Samuel 16, 19
Shimei and Mephibosheth
I want to begin our lesson this morning by briefly making an illustration by looking at two individuals in the Bible. One man is Mephibosheth, the other is a man named Shimei. Both men are mentioned in 2 Samuel chapters sixteen and nineteen.
At the beginning of this story, the nation of Israel is in the midst of a power struggle. David’s son is trying to supplant his father on the throne. At one point, David loses popularity with the people and it begins to see like Absalom will reign on the throne in His place. Things get so bad that David and his servants have to flee Jerusalem in order to avoid being violently overthrown by his own son.
More than ever, David needs his supporters to rally around him. You might recall the strong friendship David had with Jonathan, the son of Saul. Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son. He moved to Jerusalem and because he was Jonathan’s son, David treated both he and his son Micha with the greatest kindness.
When David had to flee Jerusalem he was expecting Mephibosheth’s support. Instead, at the opening of 2 Sam. 16 Mephibosheth has sent his servant with gifts for David but the servant lets David know that Mephibosheth won’t be fleeing the city with David. After all David had done for him, this almost certainly hurt the king.
Now let’s turn our attention to Shimei. Shimei was also from Saul’s family. He is still clearly bitter that Saul was killed and that David now reigns in his place. As king David fled the city he cursed and threw stones at the king.
Because of their lack of loyalty, David could have had either of these men put to death, but David restrains himself.
The story ends in tragedy. David’s armies battle and his son dies in rebellion against his father. The news breaks David’s heart.
With Absalom now dead the rebellion against David has come to an end. What will happen to Mephibosheth and Shimei, the two men who refused to show their loyalty to David?
Remember Shimei, the one who cursed David and threw the stones at him and his men? As David crosses the Jordan to enter back into his territory, Shimei falls down before the king, begging David to forgive his sin against the king.
David’s servants expect that David’s enemies within the kingdom would be killed for their disloyalty when David returned. But David promises that he wasn’t returning to kill people and make enemies. David swears that no one would be put to death for their disloyalty to him.
Mephibosheth, unaware of this, also came down to meet the king and ask his forgiveness. But there is a distinction between Shimei’s attitude since the king left and the attitude of Mephibosheth. Note the description of Mephibosheth:
"24 Now Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. And he had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he returned in peace."
- 2 Samuel 19:24 (NKJV)
Mephibosheth goes on to explain why he didn’t go with the king and to apologize for his actions. David forgave Mephibosheth also.
What I want us to take note of is the difference between these two men. The appearance of Shimei seems to be perfectly normal while the scriptures tell us that Mephibosheth hadn’t cared for his feet, trimmed his mustache or even washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day the king returned. Clearly, Mephibosheth was distraught and bothered by the choice he made. He was worried about the king and felt guilty about his actions and was sorry for what he had done.
The difference between these two men seems simple. The difference was the heart. While Shimei came to the king asking forgiveness because he was afraid for his life, Mephibosheth came to the king asking for forgiveness because he was genuinely sorry. The difference between the two was the condition of their heart.
Today I want to talk about another king…a greater king…the King of Kings…Jesus. (Title Slide) How do you approach Jesus? Why do you ask for His blood to forgive you of your sins? It’s an important question to consider. Do you approach the King of Kings like Shimei or like Mephibosheth?
Motives for Submission to God
Listen to the following quote:
“we must live our lives in faithful and loyal service to our Lord Jesus Christ as God has directed (Revelation 2:10). We must find a congregation that believes and practices as the New Testament directs... following the Word of God... speaking where the Bible speaks, living by His Word and His Word alone. Trusting in God to save us as He has promised those who would be faithful to Him.” - (Taken from a church of Christ Website)
It's not my intention to attack the church or the person who wrote the article. I understand the point they are making and it is a valid point. But if I were an outsider or didn’t understand what the person who wrote this probably meant, I would probably assume He is telling me that being saved is nearly impossible. It sounds a lot like he’s saying that, in order to be saved, a Christian needs to live a sinless life with perfect understanding of the scriptures. And they need to attend the right church. The problem is, none of us have perfect understanding of the scriptures and we all struggle with sin from time to time. This can lead a person to the point where they never feel good enough. They never feel informed enough. They never feel righteous enough and they begin to doubt their salvation.
But listen to the words of John, as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit:
"13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."
- 1 John 5:13 (NKJV)
John says we can know that we have eternal life.
There is a problem that I perceive to exist in the minds of some people in the church. I think most of us agree, proper doctrine is placed at a very high level by several people. Sometimes, I have felt that some people look to it as the most important thing above all.
And I think that comes from a good place. We want to do the right thing because we understand that anything else is sin, and we don’t want to be unfaithful to God.
But if we place too much emphasis on the perfect understanding of doctrine and our ability to follow it, it leaves us
Almost feeling that the reason that we’re saved is because of what we’ve done: WE believe. WE made the decision to be baptized, WE believe the right doctrines and WE attend the right church. WE have a church that follows the proper pattern. WE use our money scripturally and WE worship the right way and WE have the proper church leadership and WE, WE, WE and so on. Before long it sounds like quite a bit of it has to do with us and our understanding and what we do.
When we begin to think like this, our understanding of who God is becomes intellectual: It becomes a system of list making and law keeping. If have the right rules and follow those rules, then maybe (just maybe) we will get to go to Heaven when we die.
If that’s how you’re viewing Christianity, I want to invite you to think about things differently with me.
Here’s the bad news, the bitter pill we all have to swallow: You aren’t good enough. You never will be, so stop trying to be. You don’t know enough. Your knowledge will increase, and you will grow spiritually, but you’ll never know enough to perfect your faith. As hard as we try we are bound to misunderstand some things. We are bound to make mistakes. We do our best, but you can’t be perfect. You can’t.
Salvation: Man’s Part
In the process of salvation there is man’s part and there is God’s part. Since we’re already on the subject of man’s part, let’s look at several verses in rapid succession to gains some understanding – to see what the Lord is concerned with:
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” – Jer. 17:10
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Heb. 4:12
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Prov. 3:5-6
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Prov. 21:2
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” – 1 Sam. 16:7
“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Tim. 1:5
“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” – Rom. 10:10
These, and a whole host of other verses we could point to indicate that what God is most concerned with is a person’s heart.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Is understanding and following proper doctrine important? Yes, it is! Should we ever strive to do so? Absolutely! But is it the most important thing? Is it what will save us?
I want us to look at a familiar passage in a little different light:
" "2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, "3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
- 1 Peter 2:2–3 (NKJV)
What is your part in the salvation process? In a nutshell, your responsibility is to have the proper heart. Your job is to learn about God and do the right thing while you can. But you also need to realize that you are always in a state of growing. That means we are constantly striving to understand God’s ways better tomorrow than we do today. We will make mistakes but we’ll surround ourselves with people who are knowledgeable and we’ll learn as we go along. When we realize something is wrong, we’ll change our views and alter our practice.
Salvation: God’s Part
But the Bible almost sounds like God demands perfection to get into Heaven. And Here’s the bad news. He does. But here’s the good news, you don’t have to do it on your own.
You see, God designed us. He understands our fallen state. He doesn’t demand perfection because He knows we’re not capable of it. Listen to these verses:
"20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. "21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, "22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; "23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, "24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,"
- Romans 3:20–24 (NKJV)
"7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift."
- Ephesians 4:7 (NKJV)
"8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, "9 not of works, lest anyone should boast."
- Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV)
I want us to be reminded of something this morning. You are not sufficient. You can’t pray enough, know enough, go to a good enough church, you can’t do enough good things on your own to earn or deserve your salvation. Not one bit.
As I said a moment ago, the bad news is, you have to be perfect to restore your relationship with God and go to Heaven. The good news is, you don’t have to do the work. You are made perfect, not for anything you have done on your own, but because of God’s grace…because of what Christ has done…by offering Himself in our place as a gift on the cross, reconciling us to God. Listen to a couple more verses:
"23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
- Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
"57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
- 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV)
Just like the difference between Shimei and Mephibosheth. Shimei submitted to David just so he could save his own neck (but his actions showed He really hated the king). On the other hand, Mephibosheth was sorry for what he had done. Mephibosheth’s heart was in the right place.
The everlasting debate between many Christians is this:
Are we saved because we believe and obey?
Do we believe and obey because that is an identifying mark that we are a saved believer?
I would like to ask you if we really have to choose. Does it really have to be one or the other if we understand the subject properly? I ask, can’t both be true from different perspectives?
God doesn’t want your perfection you don’t have and can never attain. He just wants your heart to be right with Him. The sure sign you’re heart is right is your willingness to submit your life to Him and seek to do His will with your life. That is a sure sign that your heart is right with God.
As the song goes, Jesus paid it all!
Confessing Jesus without the shedding of His blood would just be a statement.
Repenting without Christ is just a change of behavior. It wouldn’t do anything to change our destiny
Being baptized without Christ’s blood is just getting wet.
While doing the right things is important, we need to be reminded that Jesus did the heavy lifting. Jesus paid it all. Jesus is sufficient!
JESUS is the narrow gate. We are saved because of what HE DID!
When Jesus died, His last words were “It is finished.” It was HIS redemptive work on the cross. HE finished the work and cleared the path to forgiveness, not us.
HE makes it possible to overcome death!
It was JESUS…PERIOD!
Jesus paid it all! Period!