David and Mephibosheth
November 25, 2009
Annemarie and Paul taught this lesson on Saturday, November 28, 2009. We had 8 children (ages 6 through 10). Mrs. Rita joined us halfway through.
[text in square brackets provides references or other useful information; it is not intended to be shared with the children.]
This story is recorded in 2 Samuel 9.
- name cards
- sing psalms and recite verse from previous lesson
- teach the story/lesson
- break for snacks, etc. (shoes off)
- review questions
- teach and distribute the memory verse for homework
- close in prayer
Part 1 – Introduction
[After praying and singing, begin the activity; it can be discussed more after the lesson when the clay has hardened.]
Do you remember Saul, the first king of Israel? Saul had been jealous of David and had tried to kill him. Saul and three of his sons died in a battle with the Philistines. One of these sons was David’s good friend Jonathan.
Jonathan had a 5-year-old son named Mephibosheth [MEH-FIB'-AH-SHETH] at the time. When his babysitter [Hebrew: אָמַן] heard that Saul and Jonathan had died in battle, she picked up little Mephibosheth to run with him, but she accidentally dropped him. His feet were badly hurt, and he would be crippled for the rest of his life.
Part 2 – David Desires to Show Kindness to Saul’s Family
About 10 years later [add the numbers in 2 Samuel 2:10-11], David was finally king over all the land of Israel, but David remembered the promise of friendship that he had made with Jonathan. We can read in the Bible where Jonathan said to David, “Do not ever cut off your kindness from my family.” This is found in the 20th chapter of 1 Samuel.
Remembering Jonathan, David asked his people if there was anyone still alive in Saul’s family to whom he could show kindness. The people found a servant from Saul’s family named Ziba [ZĪ'-BAH], and they brought him to king David.
Ziba told the king that one of Jonathan’s sons, named Mephibosheth, was still alive, and living in a place called Lo-Debar. Lo-Debar [on map] was across the river from Mephibosheth’s former home in Saul’s territory. Mephibosheth had most likely been transported to Lo-Debar because the followers of the defeated king Saul feared an attack from David’s army.
Part 3 – Mephibosheth meets King David
King David told his servants to bring Mephibosheth to his palace at Jerusalem. Mephibosheth was about 15 years old at this time, and king David was 30 years old.
Mephibosheth bowed down when he came before the king in Jerusalem. David said Mephibosheth’s name, and Mephibosheth answered, “Here is your servant.”
Facing a powerful king can be frightening. Mephibosheth probably knew that his grandfather Saul had been David’s enemy; this would make Mephibosheth even more scared when David called for him. But David told Mephibosheth to not be afraid.
Part 4 – The King’s Promise to Mephibosheth
David told Mephibosheth that he would be kind to him, because of Mephibosheth’s father Jonathan. David promised two things to the teenager:
- That he would get all the land that his grandfather Saul had previously owned; and
- That he would always eat bread at the king’s table.
Mephibosheth bowed before the king again, and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” Mephibosheth knew that David could have hated him, and even killed him.
Part 5 – King David’s Commands to Ziba
David also spoke to the servant Ziba, telling him that everything Saul had owned now belonged to Mephibosheth. He ordered Ziba to look after all of Mephibosheth’s land. Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants, and king David told Ziba that all of them must work in this land as farmers, and give everything to Mephibosheth.
David reminded Ziba that the previous king, Saul, had been Ziba’s master, and that Saul’s grandson Mephibosheth would now be eating at David’s table in the palace at Jerusalem.
Ziba answered the king, saying, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.”
Part 6 – David Treats Mephibosheth Like a Son
Keeping his promise, David made sure that Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table. David treated Mephibosheth like one of his own sons. The hiding orphan boy had become like a prince, because of the love and kindness of the mighty king in Israel.
Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem where David’s palace was, even until he was a grown man with a family.
Part 7 – An Even Better Story – God’s Kindness
Remember when we talked about shadows? A shadow looks a bit like the real thing, but it is not the real thing.
The story about king David’s kindness to Mephibosheth helps us to understand God’s kindness. In the Bible, God said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” [Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:14]
Nobody deserves God’s kindness except His son Jesus. But God shows kindness to people when He wants to [Romans 9:18]. Just like Mephibosheth with his king, we cannot buy God’s kindness with money or by working hard; we also cannot pay God back when He is kind to us. God already has everything that He needs, and everything that we have is already His. Unless God shows kindness to us, we are hiding orphans, just like Mephibosheth was.
We already know that God is being kind to us, because we are here reading His Bible and learning about Him. This is better than eating food or having a nice car.
God will treat His adopted children like great princes and princesses. He will be kind and loving to them, just as He is to His son Jesus.
Part 8 – Our Answer to God’s Kindness
We are not on this earth to do what we want to do. Jesus bought us, and He owns us. Apostle Paul, a joyful servant of Jesus Christ, wrote that we “were bought at a price,” and so we should not “become slaves of men” [1 Corinthians 7:23].
This is very good. Jesus is the perfect Master. Having any other master will only bring trouble for us. We have all had other masters, and they have not loved us or been kind to us.
When people are slaves to their own heart, they do evil things. When people are slaves to money, they try to get as much money as they can. Some of them do get lots of money, but they do not have any treasure in heaven. Our money will become somebody else’s money when we die. Everything that we buy on this earth will end up rotting or rusting away. But nobody can steal treasure that we have in heaven. Jesus said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” [Matthew 6:20].
[If the clay has hardened a bit, it might be a good time to discuss the activity some more, or after the review questions.]
Like last time, divide the kids into two teams with a fair mixture of older and younger kids. The teams will be on opposite sides of the larger room, and the judge/teacher will be at a desk in the middle. Each team must appoint a scribe (to write the team’s answer on paper), and a runner– to carry the answer to the judge.
The first team to bring an answer, if it is correct, will receive 10 points. However, it is not over– if their answer was incorrect, they will not get the points. Also, the second team has a timed opportunity to bring in their own answer– if it is correct, they can earn 5 points.
- Who was Mephibosheth’s grandfather? Who was his father? (Part-marks possible.)
- Two sad things happened to Mephibosheth when he was 5-years-old. What were they? [His father died, and he became crippled in the feet.]
- Why did king David want to know whether there were any members of Saul’s family left? [He remembered his promise of family kindness that he had made with Mephibosheth's father Jonathan.]
- Why might Mephibosheth have been hiding from the king, and likely afraid to ever see him?
- Where did Mephibosheth first meet the king? [In the king's palace in Jerusalem.]
- What two things did David promise to Mephibosheth? (Part marks are possible.)
- Did Mephibosheth think he deserved these promises/gifts?
- Did the king keep his promises to Mephibosheth?
- What did David command the servant Ziba to do? [Look after Mephibosheth's new land for him, with all his sons and servants.]
- Did Ziba agree to obey King David?
- Do we deserve kindness from God?
- Does God ALWAYS keep His promises?
- Are we on this earth to do what we want?
- Who is a more loving master to serve: our own heart, or Jesus?
- Can anyone or anything destroy our treasure in heaven?
[Best before the story is taught, so that the air-dry clay can be set aside to harden by the end of the class.] Give each of the children one or two lumps of air-dry clay, and let them know it is theirs to keep. Explain to them that the clay is nothing unless they (the potters) choose to do something with the clay. Let them know that they may chose to show kindness to one (or both) lumps of clay at this time. The sovereignty of the potter over the clay is unconsciously obvious to the children, who have been busy “creating” things since they were tiny. This illustration can lead to discussion and understanding of the truth about the Sovereignty of the Creator over His creation. For those certain boys who choose to be unkind or to neglect their lump of clay, ask the kids if it makes any sense for that lump to complain to the boy who owns it? Now it is good to read Romans 9:18-21. Many of us have suffered under the Arminian slavery of working to earn God. If we have any love, we will not hide this simple truth about God’s sovereignty from the children. It is not difficult to understand, though it goes against the human delusion of our own innate goodness. And so, the class may ask, or the teacher may prompt, “but is it not right to choose God?” The answer is that it is right, and we will have the appetite by the grace of God to choose God because He first chose us. We don’t find God, because God isn’t lost. It is Him who bends in mercy and grace; He chooses to show kindness to us, as did David to Mephibosheth, despite that we do not deserve it, and we have hid our faces (Is 53:3) like the hiding Mephibosheth. There are other scriptures about the sovereignty of the potter: Is 29:15-16; 64:8-9; Jer 18:1-6. Mephibosheth didn’t make a deal with the King; it was the other way around.
Materials (photos, coloring pages, activity pages)
- Flashcards 4-1 through 4-6 (we do not have permission to publish these on this blog).
- Some possible ideas (free): begin here, and then advance forward through the pages.
- 4×6 print of memory verse for their albums: “God decided [in advance] to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus [Christ]. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5; NLT). Note: the photo of a father and son’s hands in this print is distributed here under a Creative Commons license.
- map of Israel
- Genevan Psalms
- 2 coloring pages from flashcards — 4-1 and 4-5