When I was a little girl, probably around 10 or 11 years old, I heard a sermon about a man named Mephibosheth from the Old Testament. Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan and grandson to King Saul. His story is about promise. But before the promise comes to fruition, tragedy struck.
Sitting on a wooden pew at First Southern Baptist Church, my attention was stirred…and that story would never be forgotten.
Mephibosheth’s story was significant for me as a young girl because I had already concluded there were people in this world who were not kind…not compassionate…not safe…
Mephibosheth’s story lit a spark of hope somewhere deep in my young soul.
I remember feeling tender towards the thought that this young five year old boy, in an attempt to being rescued, was dropped and as a result was crippled. No fault of his own and with good intentions from his rescuer, he landed hard enough that he would never walk again.
Not only crippled but forgotten. Hidden in the land of Lo-debar. Mephibosheth lived in a land that meant “No Pasture, no hope, no future…”
Mephibosheth most likely grew up with fear as a close companion and the shame of feeling helpless and dependent. His fate in life was unfair. I can only imagine the questions he replayed over and over in his mind….I wonder what he thought of before he went to sleep at night?
Was he bitter? Was he depressed? Did he want revenge? Was he consumed with what could have been?
We really don’t know….we can only assume he struggled with unanswered questions, like we all do.
Then one ordinary day, Mephibosheth’s life took a turn. He was summoned…to come to King David, who had made a covenant with his dad, Jonathan. This covenant was a promise to do good to one another as long as they lived. Jonathan was already dead but King David was very much alive and was looking for someone who he could show kindness towards…someone from Jonathan’s family. It turns out, Mephibosheth was not forgotten. There happen to be a servant who was once in the house of Saul and he knew about Mephibosheth.
King David found Mephibosheth and restored him to a place of honor, sitting with him regularly at the King’s table.
Mephibosheth’s response to King David’s kindness does something to me….still today. It seems to indicate that even if Mephibosheth battled with varying emotions about his lot in life, underneath was a fortified shame. We see it in this one question with some clarity, “What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?” He wanted to know why King David was showing him kindness.
Yes, I know…this could have been a pity statement…but I don’t believe that to be true. I believe Mephibosheth was sincerely saying, “I have nothing to offer you…why would you bring me to your table? There are others who are more qualified. There are others who have a proven track record of winning battles…of conquering kingdoms…of being useful, but not me. The only thing I have to offer you is my need.”
I believe Mephibosheth’s response was intertwined with a tenacious hope and a longing to be free from shame but King David didn’t even answer Mephibosheth’s question. He didn’t need to. Mephibosheth had already lived a life of unanswered questions. There is no recording of an emotional conversational exchange of these two men, except King David seemed to be saying with his actions, “You are going to be blessed whether you like it or not.”
If I can identify with Mephibosheth’s story even a little, I believe it could have taken some time for him to lift up his head at the dinner table…I can picture King David saying, “It’s time to lift up your head, Mephibosheth!” Not in an arrogant, it’s about time, way, but from a life that’s been redeemed, honored and now full of gratitude way. There is a difference and knowing that difference separates entitled hearts and thankful hearts.
A few days ago we had a stray dog wander into our yard. A dog who looked very much like our family dog of 15 years who passed away a few weeks ago. So much like our other dog, our four year old granddaughter ran into the house saying, “Amy Jo is back!” Of course it wasn’t Amy Jo but a dog who had been severely neglected, dumped and apart from being rescued might have died soon. She had sores all over her body. We told our grandchildren they couldn’t touch the dog until we knew what was wrong with her and she was healed. The next morning I took our unnamed guest to the vet. As we were waiting for the vet to come in, my five year old granddaughter asked if she could touch her. I told her she could only touch her after her wounds were healed. And then God spoke, “But Yaya, I want to touch her wounds.” Yep, I lost it…okay, not in a loud, obnoxious way (I only do that in private) but in quiet tears as I saw Jesus carrying us to the table of His healing love, touching EVERY SINGLE ONE of our wounds and feeding us Himself…His very life…the Bread of Life…the Living Water…Communion.
GRATEFULNESS took a hold of me once again as Jesus revealed His promise to come back and take us to His Father’s eternal table of love where everyone gets to lift up their head and marvel in receiving the honor that Jesus purchased for us on the Cross. For those who have said YES to His invitation to come and have trusted that Jesus carries us to His Father, we will dine with our Savior face to face.
And for the dog, we named her Hope. As I was loving on her this morning, I had a hunch that maybe Hope was sent to us…to remind us that we often come to God with sores all over our body… inside and out…and He’s not afraid to touch us…or to get what we have but to give us what we need. I cup Hope’s snout in my hands everyday and say to her, “Hope, it’s time to lift up your head.” It’s only been a few days now of consistent love and food for her….she still cowers and she is still fearful but that will change. It will click…maybe fast, maybe slow, but she will begin to trust and only being six months old, she will start chewing on shoes like all happy puppies do. 🙂
This song came on my Pandora today and I took it as a writing prompt…I pray it reminds you of God’s rescuing love in Jesus and that He restores all of us to complete wholeness, sometimes now but always after our death. (Carried To The Table-Leeland)