The King’s Table


 Sometimes I wake up already knowing what I want to write about. Sometimes I have a couple of ideas. Sometimes I have no idea. This morning I had no idea, so God put this story in my reading plan.
It’s the story of Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan. Jonathan and King David had shared a special bond, much to the chagrin of Jonathan’s father, King Saul. David, of course, had been anointed King of Israel by the prophet Samuel at the age of 15. Problem was, Israel already had King Saul.  


David was content to wait on the throne, wanting nothing to do with deposing an anointed King from power. But Saul was paranoid about the fact that David had also been anointed, and spent much time pursuing David to kill him and secure his family’s claim to the crown (which would have meant Jonathan should succeed Saul).  
But Jonathan and David became great friends, and Jonathan would warn David when his father was coming after him. It was during one of these periods, when David was sent into exile by Saul, that David and Jonathan made a covenant before God – “Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.'” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭20:42‬ ‭ESV‬‬
Fast forward several years. Saul and Jonathan are both killed battle. David ascends to they throne Samuel anointed him for, first over just Judah, then seven years later he is anointed again, this time King over all Israel. All is going well, David has had great military success. He is, as we say, kicking ass and taking names (and plunder. Lots and lots of plunder. To the victor go the spoils…)
Which brings us to Mephibosheth. “And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” David remembers his covenant with Jonathan, and how Jonathan had showed him kindness, mercy and love by tipping him off that his father was coming after him, saving David’s life.  

Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”
I can almost feel the good cheer and magnanimous attitude King David has here. Things are going so well for him, it just seems so random that he is seeking out anyone from the family line of Saul to show kindness to, and fulfill the covenant he had made before God with Jonathan. As far as David knows, there is no one left.   All Saul’s sons were killed, and he was probably in exile running for his life when Jonathan’s son was born. But, he did make the covenant before God, so maybe he just wants to keep his conscience clear, keep his accounts short so to speak.

 Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.”
Well, not just someone from the line of Saul, but the very son of Jonathan!

The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage.
Well then – bring him here!! Poor Mephibosheth, he probably thinks David is going to kill him. He is a descendant of Saul, which would make him a natural born rival of David for the throne, just as David was a rival of his father Jonathan. Upon seeing the King, all he can do is throw himself down before him, giving due respect to the King – all while fearing God his life.



And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” 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.”
Do not fear. Don’t be afraid. David knows that Mephibosheth is thinking he is going to kill him. In this society, as the heir of a king, David would have been expected to kill him. But just as Jesus, the “son of David” (Matthew 1:1) tells us, so David tells Mephibosheth, don’t be afraid.   

And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
I can’t help but relate this to a story of Jesus – “He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.” ‭Matthew‬ ‭15:26-28‬ ‭NIV‬. Like this Gentiles woman talking to Jesus, Mephibosheth had no claim, no right, to expect anything from King David. But like the son of David, the King offers anyway.


Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.”
Not only is he not going to be killed – now Mephibosheth is being restored all the wealth that came from the house of Saul. It would have gone to Jonathan, but actually came rightfully to David because he had married Saul’s daughter Michal. Again, when I read this I am reminded of a great story of Jesus – the beloved story of the prodigal son. Just as that son expected nothing from his father except scorn and rejection, Mephibosheth expected nothing but death upon coming to King David. But, just as the prodigal received full restoration into the family, so the son of Jonathan was fully restored all that his family line had to offer. Just as the prodigal received grace and mercy, so King David showed grace and mercy a thousand years before,
So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. And again, I’m relating this to the son of David, Jesus Christ. Just as Mephibosheth would be reminded daily of the grace showed him through dining at the king’s table, aren’t we reminded of the grace and mercy showed us every time we come to the Lord’s table? Like the disciples on the Emmaus road, we see him in the breaking of the bread. It is at the Lord’s (our King) table that we are reminded of the sacrifice made. Mephibosheth had done nothing to earn or deserve what David did for him – but it was the honoring of the covenant made between David and Jonathan. We don’t deserve what was done for us, but that was also the honoring of a covenants made long before between God and Abraham, God and Isaac, and God and David himself.

“And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” 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.” And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.”

‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭9:1-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/2sa.9.1-13.esv
“Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.'” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.”

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭20:42‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.”

‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/2sa.4.4.esv





John Lewis

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