The news spread rapidly. Israel had suffered a devastating defeat. King Saul and Jonathan had been slain in battle by the Philistines. Terrified, a nurse scooped up a five year old prince to whisk him to safety. (It was common in regime changes to execute all of the royal family to eliminate any heirs to the throne.) In her haste she stumbled, dropped the boy, breaking his legs. Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was lame the rest of his life. He is a fitting type of the human race—he was of a royal line but crippled by a fall.
Years after David was crowned king, he wondered, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Sam. 9:1). He was told Mephibosheth was living like a pauper in an obscure town called Lodebar, meaning “without pasture or barren place.” That describes our spiritual condition before we met our heavenly King. Life without God is a barren wilderness. Nothing can satisfy the hole in our soul that only He can fill. David, a type of Christ, gave this maimed man four things which God has also given to us:
1. Unmerited Affection: David welcomed the lame prince to his palace, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake…and you shall eat bread at my table continually” (2 Sam. 9:7). Years prior, David and Jonathan made a pact to take care of each other (1 Sam. 18:1-4). Mephibosheth became the recipient of David’s love and favor which he did absolutely nothing to deserve. Sounds a lot like grace—“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). We are the beneficiaries of the covenant God and Christ made at the cross. God’s affection is ours due to the atonement Christ made as our substitute.
2. Unconditional Acceptance: “As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons” (2 Sam 9:11). The name Mephibosheth means “destroying shame.” David restored his dignity and accepted him as his own son. He was probably raised to believe David was his enemy. Instead, David was his benevolent benefactor. Many people wrongly assume God is their enemy when, in fact, He’s the best friend they’ll ever have. He’s looking for opportunities to bless them. Notice Mephibosheth’s response to David’s generosity, “What is your servant that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” (2 Sam. 9:8). On face value it sounds like he had low self-esteem, but he was expressing his sense of unworthiness, “I don’t belong here, I don’t deserve all this kindness.” The truth is, we are all unworthy of God’s goodness, but Jesus’ blood has made us worthy. God accepts us unconditionally as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. Society accepts or rejects people based on their appearance, intelligence, money, personality, or talent. God accepts us because He created us, we have an eternal soul, Christ died for us as a personal favor, and He has an eternal plan for us. When a married couple adopts a child, they tend to choose the healthiest, smartest, prettiest, most well behaved child. When God adopts He chooses the neediest child—and that child was you and me!
3. Unlimited Access: “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table” (2 Sam. 9:13). This lame prince was granted unlimited access to the palace. In Old Testament times, access to God was restricted. Only priests could enter the Holy Place in the Temple and only the High Priest was allowed in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. When Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was torn in two, exposing God’s presence and granting all believers unlimited access to Him. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:13). In Christ the unapproachable God is approachable. We’ve been given a seat at the King’s table. Unfortunately, many Christians are dumpster divers, dining at the tabloid trough of carnality. Eventually, the Prodigal Son got tired of swine feed and decided to return to his father’s table. Can you hear the Master calling “come and dine”?
4. Unwavering Allegiance: Loyalty is tested in the absence of those we love. Absalom’s coup against his father’s throne forced David to flee Jerusalem for six months. Mephibosheth, tricked by his servant Ziba, was left behind. “And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace” (2 Sam. 19:24). No, he was not a slob. He simply lived in self-denial during the king’s absence. Ziba slandered him in order to gain more of Saul’s inheritance. Finally reunited with David, “Mephibosheth said…let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house” (2 Sam. 19:30). The King’s kindness should produce an unwavering allegiance in us too—“You can take this whole world, just give me Jesus!”
After David reclaimed his throne, a three year famine ensued. God sent it as a penalty for Saul’s unjust brutality against the Gibeonites. When David sought to make amends, the Gibeonites demanded seven descendants of Saul to be hung in order to satisfy justice. Guess who was eligible? Mephibosheth! “But the king spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the Lord’s oath that was between them…” (2 Sam. 21:7). Mephibosheth was spared in a time of judgment. When judgment falls on this prodigal planet, those loyal to Christ will be spared. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Th. 5:9).
There are many cripples in the castle, including you and me! We were all lame princes living like paupers. Now, thanks to the cross, we have a permanent seat at the King’s table.