Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. We have all sinned against God. We all deserve to die and be cast into hell. Yet, God has shown as mercy through faith in His son Jesus. God has shown us grace in giving to us eternal life though we’ve done nothing to deserve it.
Mercy And Grace – The Difference
2 Samuel 19:1-7
1 And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom.
2 And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.
3 And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.
4 But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!
5 And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines;
6 In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.
7 Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.
Betrayal, Conflict, and Animosity in Biblical Families
Today we enter another message about the life of King David into the image producing narrative. Many times over the course of my tenure we have wept with him, struggled with him, cheered him on, and rolled our eyes with utter disbelief. I believe when we last left David, he had just found out about the death of his son Absalom, who had betrayed his father and covetously wanted the King’s throne for himself. Absalom had led a revolt against his father, but was murdered by the captain of the host of Israel’s army, a man named Joab.
Betrayal, hate, animosity in family is a grievous matter! Brother against brother, father against children, mother against daughter, husband against wife-the conflict is as ancient as humanity. In the Bible it is often conflict between an elder and a younger brother, with the younger out ahead. It was the younger Abel who surpassed the elder Cain in offering a sacrifice pleasing to God. Cain seemed to recoup by killing Abel, but he was promptly driven away by the Lord and forced to yield his dominance to a still younger brother, Seth.
Isaac was the heir to God’s promise to Abraham, though his elder brother, Ishmael, was legally the son of Sarah rather than the surrogate mother, Hagar. Jacob used trickery to get the birthright and blessings due his elder twin, Esau. Joseph’s elder brothers hated him so much they sold him into slavery, but he rose to become Lord of Egypt, in a position to hold his brothers lives in his hand.
Betrayal is the most difficult sin. Ahithophel, a prophet, David’s friend, turned against David and counseled Absalom to kill his father.
In 2 Samuel 17, Ahithophel committed suicide when he found out that his advice was evil. In similar fashion, Judas Iscariot, hanged himself when he could not deal with the guilt of betrayal. Certainly, David loved his son, and the betrayal and plans for murder in the heart of Absalom crushed his father.
When David was informed of the death of his son, as he had grieved for another dead son, he went into deep grief. David was an “all or nothing” kind of personality. His personality swung from extreme polar opposites. When happy, he was extremely happy. When sad, he was extremely sad.
In his lament, he was extremely grieved over Absalom’s death to the point that Joab told him how his behavior was negatively affecting the men of the army.
How did David react to Joab’s unsympathetic words? Well, to find the answer is our goal in preaching today. In these verses we will find that David was charitable in public, but vengeful in private. He was merciful and gracious in his actions to heal and restore. I trust that the Holy Spirit will help us see the difference in grace and mercy.
2 Samuel 19:8-12
8 Then the king arose and sat in the gate. And they told all the people, saying, “There is the king, sitting in the gate.” So all the people came before the king. For everyone of Israel had fled to his tent.
9 Now all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom.
10 But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?”
11 So King David sent to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, to his very house?
12 You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?
This passage informs us that David returns to the gate of the city. That’s the place in Jerusalem where legal judgments were handed out. David’s men gathered around him and were apparently satisfied with David’s actions. Word goes out throughout Israel that it is time to restore David as king of the nation. He wants to know why his family are among the last to support him and work for his restoration.
Who is this Amasa?
13 And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.
14 So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: “Return, you and all your servants!”
David sends word to the elders of Judah asking them why they, members of his own tribe, should be the last ones to ask him to return. David also mentions putting Amasa in charge of the army instead of Joab.
Why would he do that? You see, Joab was the one who had killed Absalom, David’s son, a fact that Joab had tried to hide from David; but in the Israeli culture, that fact is not easily hidden. So why did King David choose Amasa to replace Joab?
David calls Amasa his own flesh and blood, in fact, Amasa was David’s nephew, the son of his sister Abigail. Was it to avenge Absalom’s murder?
At this point, David’s choice sounds reasonable.
David wants revenge on Joab.
He chooses his nephew to replace Joab.
However, we need to look back to 2 Samuel 17:25:
17 And Absalom made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab. This Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Jithra, an Israelite, who had gone in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.
Amasa joined Absalom in his rebellion against David! A family member takes the side of someone who hates you and wants to kill you. Absalom made Amasa the head over his army! Amasa was captain of the host of warriors for Israel. Amasa is the one that led the army out to kill David and his men. Now David wants to put him in charge of his own army, and lead the men he had sought to kill! I wonder how Joab felt about that.
Look now at Verses 15
15 Then the king returned and came to the Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to escort the king across the Jordan.
Crossing Jordan is a transition point for Israel at every occurrence. For us crossing over Jordan represents change!
Who is this Shemei?
2 Samuel 17:16-23
16 And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, who was from Bahurim, hastened and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David
17 There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over the Jordan before the king.
18 Then a ferryboat went across to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good. Now Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan.
19 Then he said to the king, “Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, or remember what wrong your servant did on the day that my lord the king left Jerusalem, that the king should take it to heart.
20 For I, your servant, know that I have sinned. Therefore here I am, the first to come today of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.”
21 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’S anointed?”
22 And David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be adversaries to me today? Shall any man be put to death today in Israel? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?”
23 Therefore the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king swore to him.
Shemei was Benjamite of the house of Saul. He sided with Absolom in a revolt against his father King David. All of the house of Saul hated David because they felt that he had caused the demise and eventual death of Saul. It was a family matter of hatred and vengeance. Remember in 2 Samuel 16:6-7, when David was forced to leave the throne and began running from Absalom and a man named Shimei ran along the hilltop cursing David and throwing rocks at him? One of David’s men, Abishai, wanted to kill Shimei but David said, “Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day”.
As David and his followers passed on Shimei followed them and threw dirt as long as they were in sight. Now Shimei hurries out to meet David as he is returning! Well, how is this going to turn out?
In verses 17 to 23, Shimei begs for forgiveness from David. He realizes that he was in the wrong and throws himself at David’s feet. David may be ready to forgive Shimei, but Abishai is not! Abishai wanted to kill Shimei before. He asks again for permission to kill Shimei. But David rebukes Abishai and promises Shimei that he will not kill him.
Who is this Mephibosheth?
Now look at Verses 24 to 28.
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.
25 So it was, when he had come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?”
26 And he answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go to the king, because your servant is lame.
27 And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is like the angel of God. Therefore do what is good in your eyes.
28 For all my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?”
Do you remember the story of Mephibosheth? In 2 Samuel chapter 16, Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, the man David appointed to work Mephibosheth’s land, came out to meet David also. When David was running from Absalom, Ziba told David that Mephibosheth did not come over to David’s side, but stayed back in Jerusalem because he intended to become king and gain back Saul’s kingdom. It was a lie.
When David heard Ziba’s lie, he was very angry, and he gave everything that Mephibosheth had to his servant Ziba. Like all lies, the truth will prevail if not in this life, then cetainly when our Heavenly King comes back. But now we hear a different story don’t we? It appears that Ziba was lying to David! Why would he do that? So who was telling the truth? Was it Ziba or Mephibosheth? I believe it was Mephibosheth who was telling the truth. Why?
Let’s read on:
29 So the king said to him, “Why do you speak anymore of your matters? I have said, ‘You and Ziba divide the land.’
30 Then Mephibosheth said to the king, “Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house.”
Mephibosheth’s response to David tells me he was the one telling the truth. He didn’t care at all about the land. His only concern was for God’s will to be done, and David’s return as king.
The rest of today’s Bible passage tells us about a great man named Barzillai. David wanted to reward Barzillai for his generosity in providing for him! You see, this great man stood by David and gave generously to the anointed King David, and the men who fought with David.
Who is is this Barzillai?
2 Samuel 17:27
27. And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim
28 Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse,
29 And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.
Now restored to the throne, David wanted to award Barzillai for his provision, support, and generosity during the most difficult days of his life. Barzillai appreciated the offer, but look at his response to David.
2 Sam 19:34-37
34 But Barzillai said to the king, “How long have l to live, that should go up with the king to Jerusalem?
35 I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king ?
36 Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward?
37 Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, near the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him cross over with my lord the king, and do for him what seems good to you.”
Barzillai offers to send his son. He was saying I have raised up a generation to serve you. My son is a capable leader and a wise man of faith. Take Chimham instead.
What is the lesson?
Is there anything that applies directly to our lives? We are people of Mercy and Grace. Is there a difference between those 2 words? YES!
1. Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
2. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.
That may sound like there’s no difference. So let me use a couple of illustrations. If you get stopped by a police officer for speeding and he chooses to not give you a ticket, that’s mercy. You are clearly guilty of speeding and deserve a ticket, but the police officer does not give you what you deserve.
That is mercy!
Now, suppose instead of giving you a ticket, the police officer gives you a a gift card? You have done absolutely nothing to deserve that money, but the police officer gives you the money anyway.
That is grace!
So, as we look at our story today we see grace and mercy in abundance. Shimei deserved to be punished. Some even wanted to kill him. Maybe death would have been too harsh, but he should have been punished in some way. Instead, David shows Shimei mercy.
Ziba is another one who was given mercy. He lied to David about Mephibosheth, but David showed him mercy, too. Now who received grace?
Amasa was given grace! He did nothing to deserve his appointment as army commander. He led Absalom’s army against David! Yet David gave Amasa grace. David gave him command of his army.
There’s another person who received grace. David was shown more grace than the others. He had committed adultery, deception, and murder. David deserved death,but he got his kingdom back. God restored to David what was taken away.
Come to think of it, every person in this church has received mercy and grace. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter what you deserve. God forgives you and restores to you what was taken from you. Never let us think that we are such good people that our goodness makes us something special. We all have sinned against God. We all deserve to die and be cast into hell. Yet, God has shown us mercy through faith in His son Jesus. God has shown us grace in giving to us eternal life. God help us to be like David, a man after your heart.