I’ve been working last week and this week on 2 Samuel 9 for my classes. I’ll spend the next two weeks after this continuing to work on it. Don’t glaze over; I’m about to tell you just how amazing and beautiful this incredible story is! It’s the beginning of the story of David and Mephibosheth (yeah, try saying that 5 times fast – or even 2 times fast!).
Here’s a little context for you: Mephie is the grandson of King Saul (David’s archenemy for the first half of his life) and the son of Jonathan (David’s best friend). About 15 or 20 years before this story takes place, Jonathan makes a covenant with David. Knowing that David would become king (taking over Jonathan’s rightful throne, in that day and age), Jonathan decides not to kill David (which would have done away with any inconvenient usurpings), but rather to love and bless David. He calls on the Lord to subdue David’s enemies and establish his kingdom. That’s some serious humility right there. In turn, he asks David to always remember him and to show kindness to any of his descendents.
It is helpful to understand here that the word hesed is the Hebrew word used for “kindness,” and it’s a term used primarily for God’s faithful, enduring, loyal, steadfast love and kindness towards His people. We are about to see an example of this concept in flesh and blood.
So… sure enough, Saul and Jonathan get killed in battle, and David wipes out all his other enemies, builds a palace in Jerusalem, and establishes his kingdom. Time to be faithful to his covenant. So here’s the story:
1And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
2Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” 3And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” 4The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”
5Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.
6And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” 7And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” 8And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
9Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. 10And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. 11Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.”
So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. 12And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. 13So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.
Now, there’s a lot to be said about the story itself, but I’ll just say this: Mephie was part of the old regime. The political pattern of that day was to kill off everyone from the old regime. Didn’t want anybody trying to steal the throne back! So David’s treatment of Mephie was quite unexpected to Mephie himself, and it was very counter-cultural. He should have killed Mephie, not restored him to wealth and the honor of being a king’s son, even eating at the king’s table! But I’d like to peel back the layers and see something really cool.
David and Mephibosheth illustrate hesed love in a beautiful way, but even they are just a shadow of the great beauty of God’s hesed love in Christ.
Mephibosheth is poor and crippled and is passively born into the wrong family; I am poor and needy and have actively made myself God’s enemy.
David is generous as king, withholding death; Christ is sacrificial as King, dying in my place.
David makes partial (though still generous and far beyond expectation) restoration to Mephibosheth, restoring wealth and honor and inviting him into the family but withholding the crown; Christ makes full restoration and then some to me, inviting me not just to know God and co-rule with Christ (restoring wealth and honor, as it was in the Garden of Eden before the fall), but even to be adopted into God’s family (eating at His table).
David provides people to do Mephibosheth’s work while Mephibosheth stays in the presence of the king; God gives me His very Spirit to allow me to be a part of His great work (in on the action!) – even while I’m in the Presence of the King!
Mephibosheth sees the reality of living in the newly-established Jerusalem (where God dwells) and eating at the king’s table; one day I, too, will see the reality of living in a newly-established Jerusalem (seeing Him face to face!) and eating at the King’s table!
Did you catch all that?? Creation, Fall, Redemption, Sanctification (being made like Christ through power of the Holy Spirit in us), and Glorification (when all is made right in heaven). This is big story of the whole Bible. All of these are echoed in this story of David and Mephibosheth.
God’s a pretty good storyteller, huh?