The Bare Soul - March 3, 2013
Legs to Stand On

II Samuel 9:8 - Again he prostrated himself and said, “What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?”

Possibly no other scripture passage gives us a clearer picture of redemption than that of the story of David and Mephibosheth. To understand this story's significance, it is first essential to understand the importance of the covenant between David and the house of Saul. Not only was David bound in loyalty to King Saul, but the covenant and promise he entered into with his son Jonathan was a binding oath of fealty. Jonathan's stripping himself of his armor and giving it to David was an ancient practice of humility that symbolized complete trust and loyalty to the other. David understood the importance of his oath to Jonathan and therefore sought to honor his solemn promise after his friend's death. Therefore, after the kingdom was firmly established in David's hands, we find chapter nine of the second book of Samuel devoted to this covenant trust. David sought out the remaining posterity of Jonathan to bestow the same kindness he experienced from Saul's son as David fled imminent death. David's merciful attitude does not necessarily respect the strength of the man he inevitably helps. Instead, it reveals both the character of King David and also the King of Kings (II Samuel 9:1-7).

Those familiar with this story know that Mephibosheth's handicap further demonstrates King David's kindness. We are told a few chapters earlier how the lad's nurse had heard of Saul and Jonathan's death and was hurrying to retreat from the conquering Philistines. In her haste, she fell with the child and crippled him for life (II Samuel 4:4). Now in his teens or early twenties, Mephibosheth was granted a reprieve by the reigning king. He may have possibly heard stories from his father regarding his great friend, David. Yet, for years after his father's death, he may have heard nothing that would have given him any hope of kindness springing from the covenant between Jonathan and David. But then came that extraordinary day when the king called for him to appear before the royal court. Would he be killed? His thoughts were possibly running rampant as he drew near to Jerusalem. Once there, we read how the king's desire was to extend kindness to him for his father Jonathan's sake. The first thing he tells him is to not be afraid. David promises to restore all the fortunes of Saul's house to the young man (II Samuel 9:7). Mephibosheth's response is classic middle eastern as he prostrates himself before his benefactor: "What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?”

One might look at David's act of kindness as extraordinary, for truly it was. Conversely, the response of Mephibosheth was both complimentary of David's kindness and his understanding of the king's covenant obligation to Jonathan. Even though David knew his legal obligation to Jonathan's covenant, David's character was demonstrative of his love toward his old friend. The restoring of property and title are one thing. However, granting Mephibosheth a seat at the king's table placed the young man in a place of honor and respect not unlike any of the king's sons.

While the parallels and similarities between this redemption story and the one Jesus Christ wrought for us are obvious to most, they still bear mentioning over and over again. Have not all of us who have tasted of the kindness of God been crippled by sin? Has he not sought us out as David sought out Mephibosheth to restore to him his royal fortunes? Often, I have heard God's great gift of salvation referred to as "religion" and as a "crutch" for those too weak to stand on their own. Tragically, those who say such things are those who do not see they are dragging themselves through life, unable to stand as they imagine. When you know you are a cripple, a crutch is a wonderful thing! I shudder to consider our state if God had not sought us out in our lameness and restored to us a place of honor at his table. While we may feast on God's goodness here on earth, there will be a day when we will forever be at His great banquet table. There we will know that we were once crippled by sin and that our Great King redeemed us --- not on our own merits but through his love and kindness as our Creator.

Heavenly Father, our gracious God ... allow us to understand what You have done by seeking us out and inviting us to Your royal table. May we feast upon Your wisdom and Your love, knowing You have not withheld anything from us as sons and daughters of the Most High. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

 

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