Lighthouse Leader Study Guide

Date: October 15, 2017

Series: The kings & the King: A Study of 2 Samuel

2 Samuel 8:1-10:19

This Week’s Printable Resources:

Overview of this Lesson

David lived in an era when kings killed their competitors. And he’d spent a decade or more on the receiving end of that threat. Saul, the first king of Israel, wanted David dead. David had dodged spears, hidden in caves, even endured Saul’s efforts to recruit his wife as a spy. But friendship softened (and complicated) this battle between king and future king. David had sworn eternal friendship to Saul’s son Jonathan.

Now Saul was dead and so was Jonathan. David reigned as king. How was David to keep his vow of friendship to Jonathan? If Jonathan had left children, they would be Saul’s grandchildren as well–potential heirs to the throne. The politically savvy said, “Forget the friendship; wipe them out!” David, however, shows us his true character this week when he sets all of that aside to honor Jonathan’s one surviving son, a lame boy named Mephibosheth. What we see this week is a beautiful picture of God’s grace. At the same time, we will examine some of the challenges people with disabilities face today, even in the church.

Memory Verse for This Week

Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Core Belief

Salvation by Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-25; 8:38-39): We believe a person has a right relationship with God only by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. This makes believers eternally secure in Jesus Christ.

This Week’s Take Home Truth

God’s grace comes to our souls in the middle of his wrath upon our sin, and both are seen in our beautiful Savior Jesus Christ.


  • Reflect on one of your long-term friendships. When have you had an opportunity to serve your friend in a time of need? (Or when and how has your friend served you?)
  • Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?

Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.

Read the Text (2 Samuel 9)

Between two war stories is a beautiful snapshot of King David’s grace towards Mephibosheth. Watch how this story about a boy named Mephibosheth mirrors the work of God’s grace in our lives. Read 2 Samuel 9.

Digging Deeper

In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.

Summarize what is happening in 2 Samuel 8-10, focusing specifically on Chapter 9.

Chapters 8 and 10 tell of David’s wars with his surrounding enemies. In the midst of all this violence is a beautiful picture of grace. Mephibosheth is the lone survivor of Saul’s family. A son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth was whisked away during the civil war between Judah and Israel as the house of Saul with Ishbosheth serving as king warred against the house of David. The civil war ended with the death of Ishbosheth and the reunification of Israel and Judah under David.

Hidden away in the the desert country of Lo Debar, Mephibosheth was likely living as a destitute with nothing to his name.

The custom in monarchies was for a new king to scour the countryside looking for any surviving relatives of the former king. These survivors were viewed as a threat because they had a legal claim to the throne. When these survivors were discovered, they would be quickly executed to eliminate all opposition to the new king’s reign.

To help paint this chapter with a little more color, permit me to tell retell it with some narrative license:

It’s easy to imagine, then, the shear terror Mephibosheth must have felt when he heard the horses and chariots ride up to his small tent and stop. The soldiers would speak words that were both simple yet terrifying:

“Are you Mephibosheth?”

“Yes, I am.”

“You have been ordered to appear before the king in Jerusalem.”

The solemn look on there faces would give no hint as to the why. The truth is, the soldiers did not know the why. They were simply following orders that had been passed down through several levels of command: go and bring Mephibosheth from Lo Debar to Jerusalem. Soldiers don’t ask why, they just do what they are told to do.

Mephibosheth was a cripple, so, in the logic of most people of his day, he was no threat at all. In fact, in the eyes of others, he was of little value. Yet, it wasn’t his physical ability that the king was concerned about, it was the blood of Saul that coursed through his veins. In Mephibosheth’s mind, that was the threat.

When Mephibosheth arrived in Jerusalem, death was probably a foregone conclusion, it was just a question of how he would die. Like any man, he probably hoped it would be a quick and painless death. For this, he would be thankful.

As he was ushered in before the king, the soldiers stood by waiting. There, standing in front of him was King David. He was ruddy in appearance, and with a brightness in his eyes. Mephibosheth had heard stories about David. Every boy in Israel heard stories about David. Many imagined themselves standing against the great giant of Gath, Goliath, and they would play the part of David, who with his sling and five stones would kill the giant. Mephibosheth knew that David had been good friends with his father, Jonathan, but he also knew that his grandfather, Saul, had hated David and spent years chasing him through the wilderness trying to kill him.

Would David remember his friendship with Jonathan when he saw Mephibosheth or would he remember Saul’s hatred for him?

Instinctively, Mephibosheth fell to the ground and prostrated himself before the king. He didn’t dare look at him.

David spoke softly, but firmly: “Mephibosheth?”

Mephibosheth answered, “Here is your servant.” His voice shook as he spoke the words. His crippled legs trembled with fear.

Suddenly, and with complete surprise, David looked intently at Mephibosheth. Rather than anger or hatred, Mephibosheth saw warmth and love on David’s face as tears welled up in his eyes.

“Do not fear,” the king spoke softly, for I will surely show you kindness for your father Jonathan’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you shall eat at my table along with my other sons.”

Mephibosheth could not believe what he was hearing. His clothes were torn and his look spoke clearly of his poverty.

Mephibosheth’s face turned from one of fear to bewilderment. Why? Almost without thinking, he heard himself asking the king, “Why? Why would you show such kindness to your servant? Look at me…I am nothing more than a dead dog.”

The king then called Saul’s servant, Ziba and gave clear instructions. His voice was strong and precise: “I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master’s son may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread at my table always.”

In an instant, Mephibosheth had gone from a poor, destitute fugitive to one of the wealthiest men in all of Israel, sitting at the king’s table with the king’s sons.

That is grace.

Side Note

Even in more recent times we see kings being extremely generous and giving. For example, in 1681, King Charles II of England gave a land grant charter to William Penn. The charter was written as a way of repaying Penn for a debt owed by the king to Penn’s father. In the charter, King Charles gave Penn the land grant of Pennsylvania, a region in the Americas. King Charles named the land grant after the Penn family and tacked on the Latin words for “forest land”—sylvania. Thus, the colony became known as Pennsylvania. The land grant encompassed all of the states of Pennsylvania and Delaware today.

What did it mean to be crippled or lame at this time in Bible history?

It wasn’t too long ago even in our own history that a physical disability was looked down upon by society. There were no social programs for the disabled, and those physically unable to eat were reduced to begging for food or relying on the generosity of others.

Certainly, there would never be an exception for a lame man to serve in any position of honor or privilege. A handicap was often viewed as some kind of judgment or curse upon the man, and he was therefore to be shunned more than honored.

All of this would cause many to look upon David’s decision to honor Mephibosheth with suspicion or even as a foolish act. The disabled were to be kept out of sight and out of mind, certainly not sitting at the king’s table! This was a tremendous honor for David to bestow upon Mephibosheth, not only because he was Saul’s heir, which many saw as David’s enemy, but because Mephibosheth was lame, too. In fact, as if to underscore this point, the Bible starts this chapter and ends this chapter with the clear reminder, Mephibosheth was lame in both his feet.

What is it like to be disabled in America today? Perhaps ask some friends or family members to give you their input.

I am writing this week’s lesson while on our mission trip to Stockholm, Sweden. Mike Boone is on this trip with us, so I asked him for some feedback on this question and the next. Mike is the director of Adaptive Sports Iowa, which provides sorts and recreation opportunities for physically disabled men and women.

To start, the preferred word is disability, not handicapped, crippled, lame, etc.

Life for disabled people has improved tremendously since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1991. This law brought a multitude of changes to American culture that makes life easier and more assessable for disabled Americans.

One of the common misconceptions people have is one of identity: most think being disabled is what defines a person, it is a part of their identity, but Mike said this is not the case. Disabled men, women, and children are husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, accountants, teachers, mechanics, etc. Their disability is only a factor in their life, but it does not define them.

How can you support and develop friendships with people with a disability?

The biggest barrier for many in building meaningful relationships with people with disabilities is discomfort. Mike suggested the best way to overcome that barrier is to simply treat your new friend’s disability as you would any other aspect of their personhood. In other words, don’t focus on the disability. Remember, it is just a part of who the person is, not their identity.

For example, if a person has blond hair or red hair, you wouldn’t focus on that aspect alone in starting a conversation with someone. “So, I see you have red hair…how did that happen?” Remember, you may be uncomfortable, but the other person is probably only uncomfortable because you are uncomfortable.

I can share an example I learned many years ago. We had a man who attended our church, and he had been blind from birth, so his lack of sight was not a disability to him. He had never been able to see, so this was normal for him. I can remember when we were first getting to know each other, I always reintroduced myself to him, “Hey, Bob, it’s Chris Eller.”

One day, he kindly reassured me that I didn’t need to announce myself to him, he recognized me as soon as he heard my voice.

From that point forward, I felt like the discomfort was gone. When I saw him, I would simply start the conversation: “Hey, Bob, how’s it going?” “Great, Chris, how are you?” He never missed a beat.

Why should that surprise us? I think one of the best ways to bridge the gap of discomfort when we meet someone whether they have a disability or not is to simply seek to be their friend.

How does the story of Mephibosheth picture God’s grace to us?

It’s difficult not to see a beautiful picture of salvation in the story of Mephibosheth. Here are some points of comparison:

  • Like Mephibosheth, we are lost in a desert place, separated from God by blood. Our father, the Devil, is the sworn enemy of God and hates God and God’s people. There is nothing we have to do to offend God, it is in our DNA.
  • Like Mephibosheth, we hide from God’s justice. Our very existence stands in opposition to God and to His rightful place as King and Creator of the universe.
  • Yet, like David, in the midst of the wrath and ugliness that is all around us, God seeks us, we are not seeking Him.
  • Like David who never mentioned Mephibosheth’s disability, but instead simply saw Jonathan’s son, God forgets our sin (Hebrews 10:17). It is blotted out by the blood of Jesus Christ.
  • Why does God seek us? Is it because we are good? Is it because we have earned His attention? No. God seeks us because Christ died for us, and purchased our redemption.

There are two amazing verses that draw a hard line between this parallel: 2 Samuel 9 begins this chapter by telling us, “Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

Jump ahead to the New Testament, and we see Paul make the same declaration about God our Father: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)).

Why did David seek Mephibosheth? Because of his covenant with Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father. Why does God forgive us? Because of the Lord Jesus Christ. What a beautiful picture of God’s grace.

Concluding Thoughts

These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.

Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?

Becoming A House of Prayer

“Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices; Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” – Isaiah 56:7.

Prayer Focus for the Week of October 15

This week we begin our 40 Days of Prayer at First Family. Challenge your group members to make prayer a special focus between now and Thanksgiving.

Set aside a portion of your Lighthouse for prayer.

Next Steps

Questions to consider as you continue to reflect on what you learned this week:

  • Take Action: Make a quick list of some of the needy people you know. These might be people with physical, emotional or financial needs, or even people who have special needs because of their life stages–a young mother, an aging relative, a person who has recently experienced grief or divorce.
  • Select one person from this list that you are willing to offer your friendship. As you consider what this could cost you (time, money, personal risk), what one or two steps can you take to be a friend to this person?
  • Take courage: “A church is handicapped unless it has persons with handicapping conditions within it. Only when all of God’s children are present are we truly the body of Christ.” — Harold Wilke

Work to memorize this week’s memory verse: Ephesians 4:32

Our Core Belief this week is Salvation by Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-25; 8:38-39): We believe a person has a right relationship with God only by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. This makes believers eternally secure in Jesus Christ.

Remember to use the daily Bible reading plan as part of your walk with Christ, taking the time to reflect on each passage and what it means for your lives.

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

As I wrote this week’s lesson, the words of a song by Casting Crowns came to mind. I’ve reflected on these words this week, and they fit well the theme of this week’s lesson. I pray they are a blessing to you, too.

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of thieves
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
No one knows what we’re for only against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

‘Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours

And I was the lost ’cause and I was the outcast


You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

Songwriters: John Mark Hall / Matthew West

Jesus, Friend of Sinners lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Capitol Christian Music Group