“So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9)
Most of us who know our Bibles remember the story of Mephibosheth and King David. It is one of those accounts in the Old Testament that teaches us about the redeeming love of God. Mephibosheth was King Saul’s Grandson who had had been crippled from birth. He was Jonathan’s son. Jonathan was King Saul’s son. Now Jonathan had a strong covenant with King David and they were best friends. Jonathan knew that his father reign was over and also knew he would die on Mt Gilboa at the hands of the Philistines along with his brothers and his father King Saul. Knowing this he asked David to show mercy to his family members. Jonathan also knew he had cut a covenant with David and that it was a covenant that bound them together that was unbreakable. Jonathan went to war and he, his brothers and their father King Saul were all killed. David was now King of Israel. And so we pick up the story of King David and Mephibosheth. Let’s now look at 2 Samuel Chapter 9.
(Vs.1) “David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
King David was willing to show mercy to Saul’s family members and was holding out the sceptre of underserved and unmerited favour to those who had rebelled against him. They had been a family of rebels except Jonathan of course. David was doing this act of redeeming love for Jonathan’s sake who had been his closest friend.
(Vs.2-3) “Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, ‘Are you Ziba?’ ‘At your service,’ he replied.” “The king asked, ‘Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?’ Ziba answered the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”
Ziba was the king’s servant. His will was the will of the king. He only ever did what the king told him to do. Mephibosheth was a member of a rebellious family and he was lame in both feet so he could not come into the presence of the king by himself. He would need help. David in his loving kindness wanted to show mercy to any of Saul’s family that remained alive.
(Vs.4-5) “Where is he?’ the king asked. Ziba answered, ‘He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” “So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.”
Now Lo Debar means “pastureless” and was a dry dusty and barren place and it was like that in the heart of Mephibosheth. Ziba was sent to Lo Debar and his task was to bring Mephibosheth into the king’s presence.
(Vs. 6) “When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honour. David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’ ‘At your service,’ he replied.”
Mephibosheth was totally at the mercy of the king. He knew he was a rebel and part of a family of rebels and knew that David could have him killed for his rebellion. He realised he had nothing to offer the king and was part of a rebellious family. He had been stripped of all self-sufficiency and realised he owed a great debt to the king that he could never repay. He was afraid but knew he was guilty as charged and offered no excuses for his treachery against the king.
(Vs.7) “Don’t be afraid,’ David said to him, ‘for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.’ Mephibosheth bowed down and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
The king was bestowing his undeserved favour and mercy upon this rebel and extended towards Mephibosheth the royal sceptre of mercy and forgiveness. David was showing him mercy for Jonathan’s sake, who had been David’s best and closest friend. David was offering this rebel a place of fellowship in his presence and inviting Mephibosheth to eat continuously at his table. Mephibosheth was thoroughly repentant, knowing full well he had been a rebel and part of a family of rebels against the king. He knew he had nothing to offer the king and threw himself on the king’s mercy. Mephibosheth felt like a dead dog and could hardly fathom how the king could look favourably upon him, but this was the reality, the king was extending mercy and loving kindness towards him and this filled Mephibosheth’s heart with gratitude towards the king.
(Vss. 9-11) “Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, ‘I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.’ (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, ‘Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.’ So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.”
Ziba had the resources needed to look after Mephibosheth and was quick to do whatever the king commanded him to do. As for Mephibosheth he was now family, all acts of rebellion forgotten, all offences forgiven and that freely by the king. From that moment on he would be treated as if he had always one of the kings own sons. He would now be treated as royalty and everything he would need for the future would be supplied out of the king’s abundant provision. Mephibosheth had been transferred from the place of a pastureless wilderness into a fruitful green pasture where every need he would ever have would be abundantly supplied by the king. The king no longer treated him like a rebel but as a son of the king.
(Vs.12) “Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.”
Ziba was always available to Mephibosheth any time of the day or night and there to help him in whatever way he needed to be helped. Ziba had all the resources at his disposal to meet Mephibosheth’s every need. Mephibosheth would always eat at the kings’ table and his lameness would be a constant reminder of where he had been before the king’s favour had been bestowed upon him. Four times we are told that “Mephibosheth always ate at the kings table” and had the favour of the king restored to him unconditionally. Having looked at this Biblical account of King David’s act of redeeming loving kindness to a rebel teaches us about God’s mercy to sinners because of the blood covenant cut with the Lord Jesus at the cross. There are three things we can learn from this story…
1. King David teaches us about God’s mercy towards sinners.
The Lord Jesus is the one who has the authority to forgive sin and because He died for sin and for sinners God holds out the sceptre of mercy and pardon because the blood of the Lord Jesus has fully and forever atoned for sin. On the basis of the shed blood of His dear Son God can and will pardon, cleanse and forgive all and every sin to those who come into His presence with a willingness to turn from their sin and seeking His mercy and favour and wanting to have fellowship with Him.
2. Mephibosheth teaches us that we are all sinners in God’s sight.
We are by birth and by nature great rebels and sinners in God’s sight and violators of His laws and commandments. (Psalm 51:5) (Ephesians 2:3) We are all spiritually crippled and unable to walk in the path of right living God requires. (Romans 9-18) We are incapable of coming to God by our own efforts and are citizens of a sinful and spiritually barren world and have no hope apart from God’s mercy. We need to thoroughly repent and that without offering excuses and by faith throwing ourselves entirely upon the mercy & favour of God and see our wretched spiritual condition before God. All we can do is to fall at the feet of Jesus and ask His forgiveness and cleansing from all past and present sin and He will do it. We have the assurance that His blood will wash us clean of all sin. (1 John 1:7-9) Only when we repent in this way will we be able to approach God and He in turn will extend towards us His sceptre of righteousness. (Romans 3:21-24; 5:1) When we see Mephibosheth lame in both feet it signifies that we must never forget that once we were spiritually crippled and unable to come to God but now we have received mercy and pardon and have been brought into the kings palace.
3. Ziba teaches us about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit that draws us to the Lord Jesus and He has all of the spiritual resources we will ever need for life and godly living in this present evil age in which we live. He always has our own best interests at heart and does only the will of God at all times. Only the blessed Holy Spirit can give us spiritual sight and bring about in us the New Birth. He alone can bring us into the presence of the King, being God the Father and God the Son our Lord Jesus who sits at His Father’s right hand where He ever lives to make intercession for us before the throne of His Father. (Hebrews 7:25) The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts us of our sin and the need of God’s pardon and the only one who can put within us the indestructible life of the Lord Jesus. (John 16:8-10) (Hebrews 7:16) (Colossians 1:27) Added to this the blessed Holy Spirit Himself also intercedes for us according to the will of God. (Romans 8:34)
To Sum up:
What a privilege we have as believers to enter into the very throne room of God Himself and to stand in His presence anytime of the day or night to have fellowship with Him. Even though we do not deserve His favour in His redeeming love God has always pursued us when we have strayed and by His blessed Holy Spirit wooed us back to Himself and to His Son our Lord Jesus. The blessed Holy Spirit also brings us to that atoning blood of our Messiah which cleanses from all and every sin and redeems us from its power and consequences in our lives. (1 John 1:7-9) (Ephesians 1:7)
What a blessed High priest we have in the Lord Jesus who can sympathise with all and every weakness we have and who invites us to come boldly to the throne of God’s unmerited favour to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16) What a loving, sensitive and divine friend we have in the blessed Holy Spirit who brings us into the God’s presence so that He can empower us to live and to serve the Lord. What a privilege we have to be called sons and daughters of the living God, to have everything we will ever need in abundance for life and godliness through knowing the Lord Jesus personally, not only in this present age, but also in the age to come. (2 Peter 1:3)
God wants us to eat continuously at His table of delights and to enjoy fellowship with Him for which we were created. The story of Mephibosheth reminds us of this privilege we have to eat at God’s royal table where every need we will ever have has been provided for and that in abundance. (Romans 8:32) And so we read; “So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.” From the moment he was pardoned he was royalty and always ate at the kings table.