i don’t have a good title for this blog post
Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan and the grandson of King Saul. I wrote about him in January, but here’s a brief recap:
After David became king he wished to honour someone in Saul’s family. After learning about Mephibosheth David invited him into the palace, to his own table, and into his home. The story is an example of deliberate welcome for us today, and was an example, albeit perhaps inadvertent, for the people of Israel at the time.
But that’s not the last we read of Mephibosheth. He is mentioned three other times in 2 Samuel (chapters 16, 19 and 21). First, in 2 Samuel 16. Absalom, David’s son, had made a move to overtake the throne. So David fled. Ziba, Mephibosheth’s servant, met him and brought him two donkeys loaded with supplies. David asked about his “master, Saul’s grandson”.
Ziba then betrayed his master by saying “He said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom’”.
David believed Ziba. He immediately transferred all of Mephibosheth’s property to Ziba. At first I wondered why David was so quick to believe Ziba, but I figure David was in the midst of having his kingdom taken away – so to think Mephibosheth was also against him wasn’t a stretch. Whatever the reason, Ziba took full advantage of the situation for his own personal gain.
Dwayne’s lesson – Ziba is an awful human being. But he was doing what most everyone was doing in that day, and the thing for which God judged the people of Israel for at that time – they didn’t defend the defenseless, or give homes to orphans, or help the poor, or welcome people with disabilities. And unfortunately, Ziba isn’t the last person who has done something like this.
Next, in 2 Samuel 19. David is restored to the throne and Mephibosheth goes to see him. The account is best shared verbatim rather than paraphrased by me (2 Sam. 19:24-30, GWT).
Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, went to meet the king. He had not tended to his feet, trimmed his mustache, or washed his clothes from the day the king left until he came home safely. When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?”
He answered, “My servant deceived me, Your Majesty. Since I am disabled, I said, ‘Saddle the donkey for me, and I’ll ride on it and go with the king.’ He told you lies about me, Your Majesty. However, you are like God’s Messenger. Do what you think is right. You could have killed anyone in my entire family, Your Majesty. Instead, you’ve seated me with those who eat at your table. So I no longer have the right to complain to the king.”
The king asked him, “Why do you keep talking about it? I’ve said that you and Ziba should divide the land.”
“Let him take it all,” Mephibosheth told the king. “It’s enough for me that you’ve come home safely.”
Dwayne’s lesson – This is the first time on the record that David called Mephibosheth by name – “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?” I think it was because David had been humbled – he almost lost the throne and now Mephibosheth is in front of him, his appearance showing his support for the King. I think David realized that depth and sincerity of Mephibosheth’s love for him, and that David hadn’t behaved the same way.
Frankly, it still takes a long time for people in positions and places of power to pause long enough to understand the depth of relationship that can happen with someone like Mephibosheth. And remember this, if you and I are not in positions of dependence when it comes to disability (like Mephibosheth), then we hold the power.
And then David lied. He had given it all to Ziba. I think this was an act of mercy toward Ziba, which might seem unjust to Mephibosheth. But mercy is mercy – and sometimes it’s hard to accept mercy bestowed upon someone else. But Mephibosheth reciprocated – he showed mercy to David by allowing him not to go back on his unfortunate commitment to Ziba.
Finally, Samuel includes one more story about Mephibosheth. In short, David makes an agreement in penance for crimes committed by Saul. It means he permits the execution of seven of Saul’s descendants. Samuel says, “But the king spared Mephibosheth” (vs. 7).
Dwayne’s lesson – I. Can’t. Even.
Thank God I live in Canada and in this era of time. Everything about this is wrong. Except that Mephibosheth was shown mercy once again.
And that’s the story of Mephibosheth, at least from my perspective. He was a nameless person with a disability who was shown mercy. He became a named person who was shown mercy and who showed mercy, even though his world around him was beyond chaotic.
What does Mephibosheth’s story say to you?
And what would make a good title for this post?