Longer than normal post this morning, but it’s one of my favorite stories in all of Scripture. Every year when I encounter it as part of my reading plan it has a special feel about it . . . igniting a wonder and joy and a bit of an annual celebration. This morning as I reflect on it, it’s somewhat appropriate that on the day my reading plan takes me to Galatians in the New Testament it also allows me to replay the story of Mephibosheth in the Old. Having read Paul’s introductory thoughts as to the importance of grace as the basis for the good news, that I get to relive a demonstration of grace that foreshadows that good news. Basking in amazing grace this morning. In fresh awe that I have a place at the table.
Rerunning some thoughts I penned in 2009, spruced up in 2011, and have tweaked this morning . . .
Undoubtedly his father had great hopes for him. Envisioned him to be a great man of God. As was the norm, dad named him in accordance with that aspiration. The boy would be called “Exterminator of Idols” or “Dispeller of Shame.” His name would be built around a verb. He would be a man of action, a godly man of action. Just as his father had bravely withstood the Philistines and repelled their aggression and their gods, so too, the boy would stand fast and stand firm for the things of God. His father saw him as a mighty warrior and a “dispeller of shame.”
But how things change. That day was absolute chaos. The boy’s father and his grandfather had gone up to battle against the Philistines and both were killed on the battlefield. The army of Israel was falling like flies before the enemy. The enemy was advancing. A mandatory evacuation edict was announced. The people had to flee.
The boy, now five years old, was taken up by his nurse and she ran for their lives (2Sam. 4:4). But as she ran, she tripped. The boy flew out of her arms . And crashing to the earth he broke both his ankles. There was no treating the broken joints. No setting them back in place so that they would heal properly. The damage was done . . . it would be permanent. The boy once destined for action was now a cripple, lame in both feet.
Once the grandson of a mighty king of Israel, once the hope of his father’s legacy, he was now an orphan and a descendant of the “ex-line of kings.” What’s more, he was unable to walk. Unable to care for himself much less be a “dispeller of shame.” In fact, his life, it seemed, would be lived in shame. The boy’s name was Mephibosheth.
Years later the boy is now a young man. A crippled young man. And then a king enters into the young man’s life. A king determined to show kindness to the man, the kindness of God (2Sam. 9:3). Not that the man deserved it, not that he could repay anyone for any kindness shown him, but it was kindness to be shown for the sake of another (2Sam. 9:1).
The young man wasn’t aware that he had a benefactor. He wasn’t looking for a savior. Instead, it was the king who sent for the young man (2Sam 9:5). When he arrived, he did what men should do before a king, he bowed down (2Sam. 9:6). But more than that, with fear and trembling he prostrated himself before the king as a natural enemy of the king. He was of an opposing line of kings, his grandfather having been on mission to take the king’s life before losing his own. He was facedown before him who had the power–and just cause–to destroy this descendant of Saul.
And 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.”
(2Samuel 9:7 ESV)
Oh, what marvelous grace! God’s grace shown through the king. Kindness shown not because of his worthiness but for the sake of another. The land restored and great wealth given to one unable to earn even a day’s wage.
But beyond the wealth, there was gifted a place at the king’s table. Four times that fact is mentioned. The man lame in both feet would have that shame covered as those feet were placed under the king’s table. He would sit at the place of honor and he would eat at the table “like one of the king’s sons” (2Sam. 9:11). Not just once, not only when he found favor in the king’s sight, but “he ate always at the kings table” (9:13). This was to be his place continually. The deal was done, the sovereign decree of the king was final and forever. What restoration! What exaltation! What amazing grace!
And, each time I come across this story of amazing grace, I can’t help but see in that man with the deformed ankles, this man sitting in this chair. I can’t help but identify with this one who was once of a lineage in opposition to the King. I can’t help but envision myself facedown before the mighty King only to hear, “Do not fear, I am going to show you God’s kindness. Not because You deserve it . . . but for the sake of Another, the One who has purchased your freedom. I will bless you with spiritual wealth beyond your understanding, every blessing in heavenly places will be deposited to your account. And beyond that, I have reserved a place for you at My table. As a son and heir you have been given full rights to dine at My table. Your defects will be covered. Your lame feet forever hidden. As far as the east is from the west it will be remembered no more. In My sight, and in My presence, you are whole and you are wholly accepted.”
Can’t help but marvel afresh that I have a place at the table!
All glory to the King!!!