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Mephibosheth and Me

2 Samuel 9:6-8 – And Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself. And David said, “Mephibosheth.” And he said, “Here is your servant!” 7And David said to him, “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.” 8Again he prostrated himself and said, “What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?”

Read the whole story in 2 Samuel 9.

What do I have in common with Mephibosheth? As to culture, time in history and names, we are worlds apart! However, there is some common ground between Mephibosheth and me. In fact, there is something in common between Mephibosheth and all true believers. You see, all of us have had a similar experience—the experience of being given undeserved VIP treatment by a king, instead of being exiled as we deserved. This similar experience is certainly one of the reasons why God included the story of Mephibosheth in His Word. The relationship between David and Mephibosheth is meant to portray a picture of the relationship between God and us.

The story of David’s care and provision for Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9 is one of the most heart-warming accounts in all the Bible. The love and mercy which King David showed to poor crippled Mephibosheth went far beyond the call of duty. There was nothing that required David to take care of Mephibosheth, but David was very concerned about his condition and reached out to him in grace—with no strings attached. David’s unconditional love for Mephibosheth is a great illustration of the unconditional love that God has for us. The verbal picture which God has painted for us in this chapter of His Word, could be entitled “Mephibosheth and Me.” In it we see ourselves in the figure of Mephibosheth—the “me” that’s been overwhelmed by the love of One greater than David, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Mephibosheth was a grandson of King Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul was the king who started out well but then turned away from the Lord. He not only stopped following the Lord, but he plotted to get rid of David, the Lord’s anointed king. Thus there was alienation and enmity between David and the dynasty of Saul. As a member of the deposed house of Saul, Mephibosheth deserved nothing from King David. In those days when a new dynasty came into power, the king would quickly put to death any possible rival threats to the throne. The best Mephibosheth could hope for was exile! But David not only showed mercy to Mephibosheth, he treated him as a prince and member of his own household. Even the “embarrassment” of having a crippled member of a deposed dynasty in the royal courts did not in any way affect David’s gracious treatment of Mephibosheth. Wha

t a fascinating picture of the undeserved mercy and over-whelming grace which God has shown us.

The fallen dynasty of Saul is a picture of fallen mankind. Man was created by God and given a kingly position in God’s creation. But, like Saul, man turned away from the Lord in disobedience and fell from his royal position into sin. Thus, as Romans 5:12 states, sin and its penalty of death was passed on to all mankind. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” We, like Mephibosheth, were born into a fallen dynasty. Like Mephibosheth, we were by lineage under the sentence of exile and death. And, like Mephibosheth, we could do nothing to help ourselves out of our predicament. The fact that Mephibosheth was lame in both feet further adds to the picture of helplessness. Perhaps the fall which caused Mephibosheth’s handicap is also intended by God to be part of the picture of our fallen state. (See 2 Samuel 4:4.) Even Mephibosheth’s name adds to the portrayal of fallen man. His name means “shameful speech from my mouth.” As we look back over our lives, all of us must admit that this name is a fitting description of “me.”

The alienation and enmity that separated Mephibosheth from David because of Mephibosheth’s connection with the fallen dynasty of Saul were overcome completely by David. In the same way that David reached across all the barriers that separated himself from Mephibosheth, so God has overcome all obstacles to reconcile us to Himself. He has extended His love to us in spite of the alienating barriers of enmity and hostility which we erected as members of the fallen human race. Colossians 1:21-22 captures this truth precisely. “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”

Notice that David took the initiative in searching out Mephibosheth. How characteristic of our sovereign Lord. He took the initiative and found us, not vice versa. As members of the fallen human race we were not seeking God. We may have been groping after our idea of “goodness” (or some kind of god “created in our own image!”), but we certainly were not actively searching for the infinitely holy and righteous God of the Bible! Until He began to work in our hearts, our idea of God and our attitude towards Him were probably similar to that of Mephibosheth’s toward David—someone to fear and hide from so as to avoid confrontation. But Mephibosheth came to know and appreciate the love and kindness of the king who sought and found him. In the same way, we have come to know and experience the love and compassion of the King who came to “seek and to save those who were lost” (Luke 19:10).

We read in verses 1 and 7 that David looked for Mephibosheth so he could show kindness to him for the sake of Jonathan. Jonathan was Mephibosheth’s father and the son of former king Saul. Although Jonathan was part of the dynasty of Saul, he and David were the best of friends and made a covenant of friendship together. (See 1 Samuel 20.) David covenanted with Jonathan that when he became king he would never cut off his kindness from the family of Jonathan.

In the beautiful picture that God has given to us in this account, the covenant between David and Jonathan reminds us of the covenant of loyal love that God has made with the “fallen dynasty of mankind.” In fact, even Jonathan’s name (which means “the Lord has given”) serves to emphasize this part of the picture. Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s unconditional commitment to His covenantal love which is given to sinful man. Right after the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God covenanted to send a Redeemer to rescue fallen man. In Genesis 3:15, the first promise of the coming Redeemer was given when God promised that the seed of the woman would crush Satan’s head. God’s loyal and steadfast love for mankind is certainly seen when He preserved the human race at the time of Noah and again when He promised to bless all the families of the earth through the seed of Abraham.

The promise of a Redeemer for the fallen race is repeated throughout the Old Testament, and the incredible preservation of the nation of Israel, who would bring forth the Redeemer, speak volumes about God”s loyal love for sinful man. Ultimately, of course, we see God’s covenantal love for man focused in the giving of His own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As Jonathan, a member of the house of Saul, was the link between David’s love and Mephibosheth’s need, so the Lord Jesus, a Member of the human race, was the necessary link between God’s love and our great need. We read in Hebrews 2:17 that “He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

In verse 7 we are told that all the crown properties that once belonged to Saul and his dynasty would be returned to Mephibosheth by royal decree. This is one more detail of the picture that highlights God’s love for fallen man. As part of the fallen sinful human race we had lost everything and were under the sentence of death, but in Christ we have regained our status of righteousness—and so much more! We have been brought into the family of God and given every blessing heaven has to offer. The extent of God’s generosity to us is clearly stated in Ephesians 1:3-6. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

Mephibosheth’s attitude in response to David’s discovery of him is very significant in the picture of “Mephibosheth and Me.” Even before Mephibosheth knew what David had planned, he prostrated himself and said, “Here is your servant.” He didn’t try to justify himself or make excuses for his connection with Saul or throw the blame for his situation on others. In the same way, we had to come before God with a “dead dog” attitude in order to benefit from His mercy. There was not much lower in the Hebrew culture than a dead dog. Many people today are unwilling to assume such a humble attitude. Their humanistic pride and arrogance keep them from experiencing the love and blessings of the King. Let us, the Mephibosheths who are now eating at the King’s table, reach out to them in love and compassion with the King’s official invitation. He wants them to join us in the picture of “Mephibosheth and Me.”
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