My life has always been a little different than the others: the first few years of my life were spent in the palace, I was the grandson to Yahweh’s anointed King Saul, which obviously made me a little different than the other children roaming around the halls and gardens. He was King for some time, but even at 5 years of age I could see that his reign wasn’t going too well. He spent much of his time chasing after David, a shepherd boy, afraid he would steal his throne, his paranoia had become too much for people in the court yard, and I could hear as the servants would discuss his ways, and challenge his authority, though never openly for the fear of what he would do to them or their families.
Then came that fateful day, the servants were in a scurry, flurrying around our home, when my nurse came to get me, she grabbed what she could and told me to run outside with no reasoning, but she was my nurse and so I obeyed. I was running through the halls, passing servants carrying what they could, chariots being lined up with horses also startled by the commotion, I had no clue as to why until I overheard one servant say to another, “the King is dead, along with his sons.” I stopped in my tracks, scared, unsure, waiting to ask my nurse was it true, when I felt her heave me up shouting “Faster darling faster… we need to get you to safety.” I tried to ask, but her main concern was me, we got to the final door about to head down the steps when she must have tripped but the next thing I felt was the ground and the pain, no longer safe in her arms, but lying before her. I think she hoped I would be fine, but her shocked expression was hard to hide. At 5 years of age I was hardly light enough for her to carry but once again she scooped me up and popped me into the chariot next to what possessions we could gather. She climbed in and cuddled me until we reached a place that I had never been to before let alone heard of. The place was called Lo Debar.
My normal life living in the kingdom from this day was over, and my every day would never be the same. My legs were damaged and so I had to learn to be dependent upon others. Oh the frustration that would cause me, but eventually I grew used to it. I married a wonderful woman, she didn’t just know and understand the challenges I had faced in my past but she also understood the challenges that I could face if David ever found me.
Years on from this alarming day, my son Micah was born, the joy that filled my soul to see him grow was beyond comparable. He blessed my life so much that at one point I even forgot that I was a fugitive in hiding. Then that fateful day happened, the door knocked, and I was demanded to travel to the king. My heart felt as though it would never beat again, I began sweating and as though out of the blue my mind raced back to that day where it all commenced. My immediate concern was for my wife, my son and his little family. How on earth did he find me after all these years?
I had contemplated running, but when I can barely walk down my own garden path without pain, running and hiding from the King would be impossible, so begrudgingly, and expecting the worst to happen I got helped into the chariot and in a blur, I found myself in the throne room. How familiar it all was. The smells, the doors, the corridors, and even some of the staff I remembered so well from being a young boy. Now I stand here taking what will be the last breaths I will breathe.
I heard a door open and footsteps enter the room. The silence from the Soldiers told me it was King David, in my defence I bowed low, I was almost prostrate touching the floor with my head, when I heard in a kind tone “Mephibosheth?! Mephibosheth?!” My heart stopped, I awaited a sword to cut of my head, a Jury to sentence me to death, a death that I didn’t deserve of my own doing but due to my familial connections was expected. I waited, and yet there was nothing, I peeked up from the floor attempting not to make eye contact when I was greeted with an outstretched and open hand. The hand of King David reaching down to help me up, and he spoke, not words of hostility, or hate, or annoyance, instead his tone was tender, and he said: “Don’t be afraid, for 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.”
I can still hear the silence, my heart pounding in my chest, thinking this is a cruel joke. I responded to him saying the first thing that came to my mind “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
Immediately the King summoned Ziba, my grandfather Saul’s steward and said: “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.”
You cannot begin to believe the shock when I realised all of this, it was real. I had spent my entire life so far in hiding, fearing for my life, for my family. I had spent every day struggling because we believed King David would kill me and in the first moment I meet him he not only welcomes me in but gives me back the years that had been lost. He gives to me the home my Grandfather had built, the land that had been due to me, and honours my father in an oath they once took as boys, when my father had tried to save his life.
Of course, I am no simple man, I knew the gravity of what was being offered, life instead of death, but not just any life an abundant life in the Kings household, with land and produce I could never have imagined, servants to assist us in our everyday, and a home filled with safety and no fear in the tomorrows.
Tonight, my wife and I, with my family sat at the table with the King. We ate from his table and drank from his wine cellar and we will do so every day from here on in. We enjoyed ourselves without the fear of the tomorrow for the first time in so long. We relaxed, and soaked in the atmosphere, and for the first time from my accident I was no more the Mephibosheth the cripple, because all my handicaps where found below the tablecloth covering the table in which we sat. I was simply Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, husband to Eva*, and father to Micah, a man who was showed the mercy of a King, the love of my father’s friend, and the grace that God had birthed in his heart, for truly it could be said of David that He was a man after Gods own heart.
Isn’t it funny how alike we are to Mephibosheth? I love this story, I love that years on David could be found thinking of his old friend Jonathan, and that he was not only an anointed King but he was also a man of his word. Oh, how little we see of that today.
This story reveals a piece of David’s heart, a loving man who will stand by his oaths, but more than that I see David as a reflection of God, and my life is a reflection of Mephibosheth.
Firstly, God never forgets his promises to us, He may wait for the correct or best time to bring them to pass but God never forgets, He is a man of His Word. His promises stand both true and firm and you can trust Him.
Just as David did with this crippled man, God gracious calls our names, God at the right time came forward and asked us to come and sit with him so that He could bestow on us from his bountiful supply; and in us His gracious and merciful ways. How amazing to think, that just like Mephibosheth that day unaware of what was awaiting him, God calls us and awaits us. He doesn’t give us what we deserve based on our sin, He gives us what we are owed based on the death of His son. The redemptive price paid in full all those years ago.
God prepares a home for us in Heaven, just as David offers Mephibosheth a family so we are offered brothers and sisters in God. The family of God may seem like crazy cousins every so often and that’s ok, I would find it hard to believe that all who lived in the palace was best friends with Mephibosheth, but one thing we do know, is that the common denominator in it all was the grace bestowed on each of them by a God-fearing King, is the same denominator we hold today bestowed on us by a Gracious King, his name is Jesus.
God does not only give us life, but he offers us abundance, he offers a relationship with himself, he offers us the chance to sit at his table where he covers all our sins, our shame, our past and give us a future to be excited for. God offers us what David offered Mephibosheth, when Mephibosheth sat at the table he was in relationship, his handicaps were covered, and his King was giving him more than he could imagine.
Every Sunday I am reminded of this story as I sit by the Communion Table. Every time I reminded of the blood Jesus shed to cover my sins and shame. The tablecloth so to speak that allows to me to sit at the table, the tablecloth that offers me life!
I read these chapters found in 1 Samuel and I am compelled to compare myself to this cripple, to this man who came to a king with nothing, and yet left with everything. I am compelled to compare myself to this man who has fears, anxieties, shame, and stories he would rather kept hidden from prying eyes, and yet he came and his fears were met with love, his anxieties with grace, and his shame covered by the Jesus who loved me so deeply He chose to die in my place.
The next time you feel as though you are trapped in Lo Debar, (the name meaning without pasture, or barren place), the next time you feel barren, lonely, lost, sinful, shamed, inadequate, look to God where you will find the abundance in life that you cannot obtain for yourself, an abundance that can only come from a throne of Grace, and a God who loves despite our backgrounds.
We have a part to, and that part is so simple. The part we play is to sit down at the feet of God and be reverent before him, to kneel or to bow, and to humbly accept the offer that is laid out before us. Look at what happens when Mephibosheth tries to dissuade King David. The King doesn’t even stop to answer him, David hears his words but continues to bestow on him anyways. It is our role to live in this abundance, it is our role to enjoy the Kings offer, and to sit at His table building a relationship.
I often wonder what David felt like that day honouring Jonathan through Mephibosheth and his family, but I do wonder more how it felt to be Mephibosheth, standing in that place, the relief. This was a man who knew grace and who lived in it, who honoured David until the day he died. I know the bible reads ‘for those who have been forgiven much love much,’ but I feel like this passage reveals the truest definition of this verse. Because Jonathan saved his much-loved friend David, and so David saved his friends only remaining son Mephibosheth… Love is an act that just keeps giving.