A Place At the Table
In 2 Samuel 9 you find a story that’s not a story we think about to often. You could say it’s a minor story in comparison to other stories like David & Goliath, the flood, the exodus out of Egypt, and others like them. While it’s not as well-known per say it has tremendous power and application.
David’s kingdom is flourishing during this time. He’s finally out from underneath the shadow and persecution of Saul. David’s rule over Israel still has some difficulties with Abner establishing Ish-bosheth as king but by 2 Samuel 5 David is now truly king over all Israel.
Everything that David sets out to do is blessed by the Lord. David continually defeats the Philistines in battle. David brings the Ark to Jerusalem (Uzzah didn’t survive the trip). The Lord makes a covenant with David in regards to the future building of the temple. 2 Samuel 8 is just a highlight reel of David’s victories and how much of a name he was making for himself.
David Remembers His Promise
David says in 2 Samuel 9:1 “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” They find Ziba, a former servant of the house of Saul, and David asks him the same question to which Ziba tells him of Mephibosheth. David was recalling the covenant that he and Jonathan had made back in 1 Samuel 20:14-17.
I think that it says something of David’s character in that given the time that had gone by and all the things that had happened, both good and bad, David is still mindful of that covenant. How often do we get so caught up in our endeavors that we aren’t as mindful of promises and covenants we’ve made?
David Sought To Keep the Covenant
David not only remembered this covenant but sought to keep it. In 2 Samuel 9:1-3 David is inquiring to find out if there is anyone left. Couldn’t you see someone in that position rationalizing all the reasons they had fulfilled the covenant and that if they didn’t have knowledge of anyone else then their part was done?
While we most likely haven’t made the same type of covenant as David and Jonathan we did make a covenant with our Heavenly Father, through the blood of His Son, to be committed to His work and to the ministry of His saints, to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith, didn’t we?
How often do we say to brethren; If you have any needs let me know, I’m always here if you need to talk, If your faith is weak I’m always here to help you? While that does have some practical application to it how often is that really just a cop-out? Maybe we should seek to be more like David in that as we stay mindful of the covenant we made with our Father that we are seeking opportunities to lift up, encourage, help, listen, etc.
Ziba answers David’s question by telling him about Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9:3-8. Mephibosheth’s name means “great shame.” He was crippled in both of his feet. 2 Samuel 4:4 records that he was dropped while his nurse was fleeing in haste and from that he became crippled. All disabilities are difficult to cope with in many different ways no matter your social class. In these days princes were expected to be great military leaders with agility and skill and all those things. Mephibosheth’s name became his character and heart.
After hearing David’s words of kindness Mephibosheth says to David in 2 Samuel 9:8 “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” He viewed himself as a worthless, shameful, dead dog. I don’t think that it was because he was just so depressed and down on himself but rather he is trying to express to David how unworthy and undeserving of being in the king’s presence much less accepting such kindness.
Have you ever found yourself feeling that way in regards to our King? On the one hand we understand that God doesn’t want us moping around all day depressed and looking like complete shame. We’re to be lights in this dark world and to show others Christ in our lives. Who would want to be like that? One the other hand God doesn’t want us to walk around like we own the place either. Self-confidence can be taken too far and while we’re proud to be called sons of God it is pride that deceives us. “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Jas 4:6)
A Man After God’s Own Heart
There have been times that while I knew God referred to David as a man after His own heart I couldn’t really see why. I mean how can you get past the account of Bathsheba and Uriah? How can you get past the census that David demanded be taken and as a result 70,000 people lost their lives? But the more I Study David I see all the more clearer why.
David Accepted the Humble Regardless of Shame
David told Ziba and Mephibosheth both that Mephibosheth would now come and dwell in Jerusalem and eat at David’s table always. 2 Samuel 9:11 says that “Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons.”
The reality is those types of people were kept out of the presence of the king. In those days you didn’t do or say anything to dampen the mood of the king without being severly punished if not killed. Mephibosheth is the image of shame, living in a place of no value, Lo-debar (no pasture). These two classes of people didn’t converse much less spend some time together or even more so share in the intimate setting of breaking bread across a table from one another.
Despite Mephibosheth’s shame David took him in and showed him kindness. “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Jas 4:6) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not you own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8)
David Restored Honor To the Fallen
In addition to that David restored honor and privileges to Mephibosheth. Typically during these times the exact opposite would happen. As a new king took the throne anyone from the previous regime would be completely exiled if not put to death to prevent any future competition or uprising. David restored possessions and more importantly honor to his name.
“For as the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psa 84:11) “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Pt 5:10)
David Treated the Lame As Family
Again in 2 Samuel 9:11 it says that Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. It’s one thing to be brought in to have a conversation with the king. Many would have given up a lot just to have that opportunity. It’s another thing to meet the king and have him give you some possessions and blessings and send you on your way happily. It’s a whole other thing to bring someone like this in and treat them as family, in all that treating someone like family entails.
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom 8:12-17)
I think we can all see that in a lot of ways we are Mephibosheth. Not that you’re all lame dogs but that like Mephibosheth we to are undeserving and rightly full of shame. (Titus 3:3-7) It’s not that we are constantly overwhelmed with that shame but it is about perspective. I think we call all see that David reflects the character and nature of our heavenly Father and because of that we should stive to be imitators of such character. (Eph 5:1)
On one hand I couldn’t help but think about as children of God we too gather each Lord’s day to gather around a similar table and participate, commune (1 Cor 10) in a supper together. On the other hand how great it will be to one day be with our Father in the new Jerusalem and eat always at the King’s table.