David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Samuel 9:1
By this time in his life, David has achieved great success and is honored throughout the land of Israel. His love for God was exceedingly well known and an example to all the nation. In this chapter we get a more intimate look at the man himself.
Surely as he surveyed the kingdom in private moments, thoughts of his deceased friend, Jonathan, with whom he had hoped to share the kingdom, came often to his mind. To his dying day, David missed the best friend he’d ever had. As this chapter opens, the king asks, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Can you hear the loneliness in his voice?
Ziba, a servant from the house of Saul who now worked in David’s palace responded: “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.” 2 Samuel 9:3
In an earlier chapter the boy, Mephibosheth, had been mentioned briefly. He was a young child when his father and grandfather were killed on Mt. Gilboa. When the news was relayed of their deaths, the nurse holding the toddler had dropped him causing serious injury to the child’s feet so that he was crippled from that day forward. Given the culture of the day where physical deformities were considered a source of shame, the response of the servant, Ziba, conveys the idea that though a son of Jonathan, this Mephibosheth deserves no recognition. However, the King thought otherwise.
David had Mephibosheth brought immediately to him and on his arrival said: “I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather, Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed low before the king and replied: “What is your servant that you should notice a dead dog like me?” 2 Samuel 9:7-8
Try to picture this scene. David is in the throne room, dressed in his royal robes. A servant enters the room, followed by a crippled man, poorly attired and unable to walk. Mephibosheth may well have had to drag himself along on the floor towards the king until he was right in front of him, then bowed with his head to the floor as was the custom. He had no idea why he was there and was most probably afraid. I doubt it crossed his mind that the King was simply looking for someone to bless!
Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” 2 Sam. 9:9-10
This is one of the most poignant scenes in all of Scripture that manifests the love of God in action through one of His people. In the encounter between Mephibosheth and King David we come face to face with several characteristics of God Himself.
The Bible says that God shows loving kindness and compassion towards those who fear him and to their descendants. The compassion of God is beyond description and His love is boundless. It is always His desire to manifest that love towards us. Imagine how different Mephibosheth’s life would have been from that day forward if he had refused the kindness of the king. He would have died a crippled pauper, never knowing the love and provision the King desired to give him.
As a man after God’s own heart, David displayed God’s kind of love to a deformed cripple who did nothing to “deserve” such an outpouring of love and compassion. What an amazing example of God’s love for you and me.
Psalm 139 says “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” vs. 16-17
Before Mephibosheth was formed in the womb of his mother, God had already ordained that this day of encounter with King David would come about.
Do you realize that He has decreed a plan for your life as well? And that, not in generalities but specifics: ‘in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me…’
This is not just some poetic fantasy. This is the Word of God. Should we not, with all our hearts, desire to fulfill those days He has ordained for us in keeping with His good plan for our lives?
Notice also: it was King David that initiated this encounter. David went looking for someone to bless. Mephibosheth did not go looking for an audience with the King. The King came looking for him! And…the King accepted him just the way he was – crippled feet and all.
I’ve met people – and perhaps you have,too – who say that they’ll turn towards God after they straighten out their lives. Wrong! God calls us to Himself just as we are and then by learning His Word and applying it to our lives, He is the One who straightens out our thinking, helps us change our behaviors and directs us in the path He has chosen for us.
By decreeing that Mephibosheth would eat at his table from that day forward, King David made the cripple a part of his own family. Having crawled with difficulty across the floor to bow before his king, In a matter of minutes, Mephibosheth is transformed from a poverty stricken, disabled subject into a son of the King.
How life can change in a moment!
You and I – we are each a Mephibosheth. God Himself calls us to come to Him, crippled feet and all. God Himself decrees that we ‘sit at His table’ – that is, eat from His bounty for we read in Deuteronomy, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Deut. 8:3
There have been more than enough scandals in religious history to prove that outward religious observances alone are not enough to make anyone ‘holy as I am holy.’ Lev. 19:2 Unless we individually respond to God’s invitation to draw near to Him, to sit at His table, to ‘eat’ of His food, we will never know the overwhelming love of God. We will never have our own Mephibosheth moment!