When I first read the story of Mephibosheth, I quickly scanned it without much thought at all. I was asked to teach this small chapter in the Bible to a group of children at a Bible club. The week of the Bible club I decided to give the story a little more thought before trying to teach the kids. What profound truths could come out of this, Lord? Some obscure Bible character finds favor with King David… that’s nice. I read it a few more times and thought, okay, it is sweet because even though he’s crippled David is nice to him. I began to have more of an appreciation for the ancient story, but still hadn’t seen the amazing truths it held until one serene summer night in a small chapel on a college campus. One of my friends and I walked in to pray together. Between prayers I told her it had been on my heart to meditate on the story of Mephibosheth as I prepared to teach it. We opened up to 2 Samuel 9 and as I softly read, it almost felt as if a light were illuminating on the pages. I am Mephibosheth! We, Christians, are Mephibosheth!
So here’s the story in a nutshell…
Israel looked around at other nations and saw that they had kings. Their covetous hearts longed for a physical king, so God finally gave them one in the form of Saul. Saul was tall, handsome, strong…but ungodly. He wanted his own glory, and was willing to do whatever it took to get it. Meanwhile, there was a boy named David who would not fit the description of a king due to his weak, small stature and lowly occupation as a shepherd boy…but he loved the Lord. He was not perfect, but the theme of his life was wanting God’s glory rather than his own. The Lord blessed him in all his endeavors. He defeated a giant named Goliath, and all his battles were successful. The women of the city would shout, “Saul has killed thousands, but David ten-thousands!”. Saul was furious and wanted to kill David who was now seen as a threat to his kingdom. Though he hated David, Saul’s son Jonathan loved David. His love for David was intense too–the Bible describes it, “…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself”. Because Jonathan’s father wanted to kill David, they had to part ways as David went into hiding. But before leaving, David made a covenant with Jonathan to always show kindness to his family.
Fast-forward past many attempts made by Saul to kill David, and you come to the Battle at Gilboa where both Jonathan and King Saul die on the battlefield. When David gets word back he is devistated and rips his clothes and mourns. David then becomes King over Judah and eventually over all of Israel. As he sits on his throne in his high position, given to him by His merciful Father who so richly has blessed him, he has time to think. What will be his next move? Most kings would immediately begin scouting out any threats to their kingdom and eliminate them. Isn’t that what Saul spent the bulk of his kingship doing? Hunting David down to murder him? Well, this is where the heart of David shines, as he quickly remembers that promise made to his dearest friend. “Then David said, ‘Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’” David was showing a heart of trust and integrity. He stayed true to his word, and he trusted the Lord with his life, instead of seeking to keep his position on his own.
And that’s where Mephibosheth comes into the picture. One of Saul’s former servants, Ziba, lets David know that Jonathan had had a son named Mephibosheth who was living in Lo-Debar. Lo-Debar means no pasture. This was a place for outcasts and the poor of society. Why would Jonathan’s son, once heir to the throne, be living there? Because now he would be considered a threat to King David, of course! He was in hiding, and to make it more pitiful, he was crippled. How did he become this way? A few chapters back (ch. 4) we’re told that once Saul and Jonathan died, their nurse picked the boy up and ran to find a place of safety so that he would not be killed. However, in the haste she fell and dropped him, crippling him at the young age of 5. So that’s what we know about this wordy-named Bible character. He’s just this crippled orphan hiding from King David.
So the day Mephibosheth gets summoned to see the king, his heart must have dropped. It was probably the day he had been dreading most of his life. In his mind, this must have been a death sentence. When he comes before the King, he prostrates himself and shouts, “Here is your servant!”. All he can do is plea for mercy at this point. But David responds, “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly”. I cannot imagine this sinking into Mephibosheth’s brain right away. He asks David why he would show regard for a dead dog like himself. He knew his rightful position. You see, Mephibosheth wasn’t only considered lowly because he was lame, but because of the very blood that flowed through his vains. He had the blood of the enemy! Of Saul! But this story shows how the blood of another trumped the blood of the enemy… the blood of David’s beloved friend Jonathan.
Sound familiar? We have the blood of Adam. Because of Adam, we’re all born into sin and rebel against God willingly. It’s our nature to be sinful because we are born under a sinner. But the blood of Jesus trumps the blood of the enemy. 1 Corinthians 15:22 says “For as in Adam all die, so all who are in Christ will be made alive”. As Mephibosheth benefited from the virtue of his father, so we benefit from the virtue of Christ. How wonderful that is! We bring nothing to the table when it comes to our salvation. We’re crippled enemies of God. So how are we saved? By Christ! By trusting the merit of Jesus. His blood covers our sins. But it would have been enough for God to just not kills us as He rightfully could. Just simply allowing us to live should be enough! But even further, God adopts us and makes us heirs in his kingdom and we sit at his table!! What an amazing thing to meditate on. I’m sure you have read Ephesians 2 and been amazed at all that God has done for us, but have you ever read these verses in light of the old story of Mephibosheth?
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast… 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.