The Song of Mephibosheth
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Mephibosheth — What became of him? Mephibosheth had grown and had a son of his own when King David inquired of his whereabouts. King David and Jonathan had been very close friends and became as brothers. Because of their relationship and an oath David made to Jonathan 1 Samuel ; 42 , he wanted to honor it by finding and caring for Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was summoned to appear before the King. Though afraid, Mephibosheth came not knowing if he would be killed or what might happen to him. He was a cripple, had lost his heritage, and lived in a desolate place named Lo Debar.
Mephibosheth had been reduced to having nothing. The young man humbly bowed and David told him to not be afraid. Thus Mephibosheth lived a quiet and peaceful life among his friends at Lo-debar; and when he grew to manhood, he married and had a son. Had it been so, and seeing that the inquiry arose out of his tender regard for the memory of his friend, he would surely rather have inquired whether Jonathan himself had any children remaining.
The obscurity in which Mephibosheth had been kept, is further shown by the fact that those of whom the king inquired were unable to give him the information he desired. They knew, however, of one Ziba, an old and trusted servant of Saul, now a prosperous man with fifteen sons and twenty servants, and supposed that he could acquaint the king with that which he desired to know.
This man was sent for. What more could David do for one incapacitated by his infirmity for the employments of active life? A less noble mind might have shrunk from thus keeping before the public eye, in connection with himself, the true heir of the house of Saul; especially as, though lame himself, Mephibosheth had a son who would eventually inherit whatever claims his father might be supposed to possess. But in the large heart of David there was found no room for such low suspicions and mean misgivings. God had promised to perpetuate the royal power in his house,—and what had he to fear?
It is to be observed that the estate now made over to Mephibosheth, was assigned for cultivation to Ziba, who, with his sons and servants, was to devote himself to it, and was to retain one half the produce in recompense for his expense and labor, paying the other money as rent to the owner of the land.
The numerous land-owners in Israel so generally cultivated their own grounds, that there is scarcely another instance which enables us to see on what terms farming was conducted. It was probably on some plan like this, which is indeed a very common one in the East. It is found to be in most soils a very equitable arrangement, especially when, as is usually the case, the land-owner supplies the seed.
As men do not sit down at table with their wives and children in the East, this constant dining at court was a distinction unaccompanied by any of the drawbacks it would bring to us. On account of its various unclean habits, the dog was abhorred by the Hebrews, and became the type of all that was low, mean, and degraded—although, by reason of its usefulness, its presence was endured in certain capacities—chiefly in the care of flocks and in hunting. To be called a dog, was therefore the height of ignominious reproach and insult, and for a man to call himself a dog, was the depth of humiliation and self-abasement.
The reader will call to mind many instances of this, which it is therefore not needful to point out. And who is it that uses this expression? One who was by his birth a prince, of whom we know nothing but what is good—whose sentiments, whenever they appear, are just, generous, and pious—whose private character appears to have been blameless, and his public conduct without spot.
Allowing for the hyperbole, it may thus seem that Mephibosheth abused himself far more than he needed, and confessed himself to be that which he really was not. This raises a question of wider meaning than the particular instance involves, and which concerns us very deeply. It touches upon one of the things that are foolishness to the wisdom of the world, and which its philosophy cannot apprehend, because it is spiritually discerned. How does this matter really stand? The obligations of truth are superior to all others. He has no more right to utter untruths to his own disparagements than to his own praise.
Truth is absolute. It is obligatory under all circumstances, and in all relations. There is nothing in heaven or on earth that can modify the obligation to observe it. Yet such is the tendency to think well of ourselves, that although it is counted ignominious and contemptible for a man to utter a falsehood, or even a truth, to magnify himself, it is not observed to be in the same degree dishonorable for him to speak in his own disparagement. Perhaps it might be so, were it supposed that be spoke the truth, or what he believed to be true; for so intense is the degree of self-love, for which men give each other credit, that perhaps no man is ever believed to be sincere in whatever he says to his own disadvantage; and it is because nobody believes him—because it is concluded that he either deceives himself, or says what he knows to be untrue, that self-disparagement is not regarded as dishonorable in the same degree with self-praise.
Yet it is not less the fact, that if self-disparagement be knowingly untrue, it is not less culpable than self-praise. Nevertheless, Mephibosheth was a worthy man—and there were far more foolish men than Agur—far greater sinners than Paul. What, then, did they lie? By no means. The more advanced he is in spiritual life the more clear is the perception which he realizes of the holiness of God, the more distinctly he feels how abhorrent all sin, of thought, word, or action, must be to Him, and how it separates the soul from Him. He knows not the heart of others, and he does not judge them.
He reasons also that if he, with eyes blinded by self-love, is able to see so much of the plague of his own heart, what must be the sight presented to the view of the pure and holy God, who sees far more of defilement in the best of our duties, than we ever saw in the worst of our sins. This is his Beloved; this is his Friend. All is well. Mephibosheth—II Samuel 9 Knowing, as we do know, that Jonathan had left a son, it is not without some misgiving that, we have beheld him so long neglected by David, who owed so much to his father.
Four times in this chapter we are told of the lame man eating bread at the royal table. But what are these facts recorded and repeated for, save to accentuate the infinite blessings which come to us through the Divine love? Mephibosheth had done nothing to merit the royal favor. Not a word is said of his being well-favored and attractive.
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So far from that, he was lame on both his feet, and probably a sickly invalid. In his own judgment he was worthless as a dead dog. In these respects there are many analogies to our own condition in the sight of God. We are lame indeed; and, so far as we are concerned, it is quite impossible that we should ever win the Divine regard, or sit at His table among His sons.
But between David and Jonathan a covenant had been struck, which had provided for the children of the ill-fated Jonathan 1 Samuel — It was because of this sacred obligation that Mephibosheth fared as he did. Look away, child of God, to the covenant struck between God and thy representative, the Son of His love.
Carried to the Table | The Story of Mephibosheth
While mercy is the withholding of what is deserved e. Third, that kindness was neither deserved nor earned by Mephibosheth, who could do little for himself, much less do anything for the king of Judah and Israel. We in turn deserved nothing but death, and there are not enough works in the universe to save a single soul Eph.
Fourth, Mephibosheth was sought by the king 2Sa , 5 , again picturing unmerited favor. Likewise, not a single person has ever "[sought] after God" by his own power Rom. A dead man can do nothing, so "no man can come to [Christ], except the Father which hath sent [Him] draw him" John ; 65; Acts , Fifth, David ordered and empowered servants to fetch Mephibosheth 2Sa , a graphic picture of evangelism. God has likewise called and empowered each of us as witnesses Acts ; Matt. Sixth, a result of all this was that Mephibosheth reverenced the king 2 Sam.
Seventh, he became a servant of the king v. Eighth, he was given riches and security v. Ninth, he was made a king's son v. And tenth, his physical condition was hidden from view when he sat at the king's table v. We, too, have been sanctified by Christ Heb. Scriptures for Study: If you haven't already done so, read this wonderful account and rejoice in God's mercy and grace. One man's name was David, and the other man's name was Jonathan.
Jonathan was the son of King Saul. King Saul was the first king of Israel, and Jonathan was his son, a prince. David, you know, later became the king of Israel, and, at this particular time, he was just sort of a young man. And, that's the time when this episode takes place. David has just slain Goliath of Gath. And, I begin reading in 1 Samuel "And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul,"—that is, David is finished talking to Saul—"that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
As we would say, they're very tight. David loved Jonathan, and Jonathan loved David, as his own soul. Now, notice verse 2: "And Saul took him that day,"—that is, David—"and would let him go no more home to his father's house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant,"—do you see that? Now, actually, remember that the word covenant here means, "to cut. And, there is a sharing of persons.
Now, watch it, in verse 4: "And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David,"—there is the sharing of possessions. Remember, now, that Jonathan is the prince, and he takes the robe off of him, and he puts it on David. It's his way of saying, "David, now all that I have belongs to you. The girdle was the thing they held the weapons on. And so, what he's saying now is, "I'm going to give you my bow, and I give you my sword, and I give you my girdle that I hold my weapons on.
Your enemies are my enemies. They have entered into a blood covenant. Now, I want you to see what happens as a result of the blood covenant that Jonathan and David enter into. This has so much to do with you, and your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the covenant that Malachi was talking about. Now, at first, Saul was very proud of David, because David was such a handsome and young warrior. But, after a while, the young maidens were saying, "Saul has slain his thousands, but David has slain his tens of thousands" 1 Samuel All of the young maidens, and everything, were praising David.
And, Saul became insane with jealousy. And now, no longer does he love David; he fears David, and wants to kill David. And so, he sends out a word that David is to be killed. Poor David, he was just a little boy; but now, this mighty king is after him. David has to flee for his life, and he's hunted like a partridge on the mountains of Israel. And, all of the desires of the kingdom and the ambition of the kingdom are brought into this focus: kill David, kill David, kill David.
Now, Jonathan doesn't help to kill David. Even though he's Saul's son, he is David's friend, and he is now closer to David than he is to his own father, King Saul. Jonathan helped protect David, and save David's life. Finally, both Jonathan and Saul are slain in battle, and David does become the king of Israel. Now, when David became king of Israel, there was blind panic in the household of Saul, because there's a change of rulership, there's a new regime.
And, all of those who have been part of Saul's kingdom say, "Oh, David is now king. David has that unlimited power. David is going to come, and he's going to purge the kingdom. He's going to put many of us to death, especially those who are relatives of Saul. There was a nurse who had this all figured out, and she said, "There's a little child who is in great danger.
And, the nurse said, "Little Mephibosheth is in danger, because Mephibosheth is Saul's grandson, Jonathan's son. As she runs out, she trips and falls. She's carrying that baby, and the weight of that heavy nurse falls on that little baby. His little legs get twisted beneath the weight of that body, and his legs are mangled. There's not an orthopedic surgeon anywhere like that. She doesn't have time, and she doesn't know anything about how to bandage or straighten the legs. She does the best she can, but she just takes the little baby and, blind panic, she runs.
That little baby is crippled the rest of his life, because of that accident, that fall. She takes that baby, and hides that baby in a place called Lodebar. And, it's a Hebrew word, which simply means "the place of no pasture. She goes out there, saying, "I've got to keep this little baby, this little grandson of Saul, out here. I've got to keep him, because, if I don't keep him out here, David will find him and kill him.
He is a grandson of a king. He is a prince. But, he's living in exile. He's living in fear. If he were to ask his nurse, "Why are we out here? If David ever finds you, he's going to kill you. You were fleeing from David.
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And, you'd better hope that David never catches you. You'd better hope that David never finds out where you are. He is dragging his dead limbs behind him, drinking from a tin cup, breathing dust, eating dust, hating David, and fearing David. There's where he is. Now, you've got all of that in mind. Remember that David has a covenant with Jonathan, and Mephibosheth is Jonathan's son. So, keep that in mind, and I want you to turn to another place in the Word of God.
This time, I want you to turn with me to 2 Samuel 9, and the story takes up there—begin in verse 1: "And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul? Now, when he said that, I imagine people said, "Yeah, it's wasted, the purge has started. David is going to track down every relative of the house of Saul, and David is going to do him in. Listen to it. What I said, kindness is a blood covenant word—"That I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?
And verse 2: "And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. And the king said unto him, Where is he? Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar.
And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. And he"—Mephibosheth—"bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am? Now, here's the story. David says, "Well, there's little Mephibosheth. I'm going to show him kindness for Jonathan's sake" 2 Samuel And, he calls his servants and he says, "Go get Mephibosheth and bring him to me.
He sees the king's entourage come out in front. There are the king's horses and the king's guards. He says, "Oh no, they've found me, they've found me.
They put him in the carriage, and they carry him there to the royal palace. He comes there to the palace, and there upon the throne is David. He falls on his face, and he's quivering, trembling, like a bird in a trap. And, he's saying in his heart, "I'm certain. David, go ahead and let the blow fall. Get it with, David; go ahead and do it. I've been told that you hate me. I've been told that you want to kill me. Please, be merciful. David says, "Mephibosheth, don't be afraid.
Fear not, Mephibosheth. I want to restore your fortune. I want you at my table. Mephibosheth, I want you to be like my very own son. Mephibosheth can't take it in. He said, "I don't understand this. That doesn't make sense. Why should you treat me that way? I am a dead dog. I know what I deserve. I've been on the other side. I've been your enemy. Why should you show me this kind of respect, to a dead dog like me?
I'm doing it for Jonathan.
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I am in a blood covenant with your father. And, if you want to ratify the covenant, if you want to accept the terms of the covenant, then that's up to you, because you may. And, I'm offering you the same covenant that I had with Jonathan. How about it, Mephibosheth? Do you want to be part of the family? This moment, Mephibosheth has a decision he must make. He can choose the judgment that is due to him, or he can receive the mercy that's offered to him. He must change his mind about David.
He must see David no longer as the enemy, but he must see David as the friend. There must be a change of kings, and there must be a change of attitude. Mephibosheth says, "Well, since you explained it that way, I believe I'd rather have it your way, David. I just believe I'd rather be your friend. I'd rather have the king's fortune, and the king's fellowship.
Ziba, bring a robe, put it on him, take care of him, and give him everything. Till the land for him, serve him, feed him, bathe him, and take care of him. Now, dear friend, what a transformation has taken place in the life of this man, Mephibosheth! Yesterday, he was an outcast. He was a rebel, hating and fearing David. Today, he's in the palace. He is in, and he's treated as the king's son. He saw a transformation, and he can't believe it. Yesterday, he slept on an empty mat.
Today, he awakens on silken sheets. Yesterday, he ate from a tin plate, and drank from a tin cup. Today, he sits at the king's table with the king's sons. He's awakened in the morning by servants. They say, "Good morning, my lord Mephibosheth. Is my lord Mephibosheth ready for his bath? Here's a robe for my lord Mephibosheth. My lord Mephibosheth, the king and his sons are waiting for you at breakfast.
And, Mephibosheth comes down for breakfast. There he sits at the king's table. It's groaning with food. He puts those shriveled legs under that white linen tablecloth. They can't even be seen at all.
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He's sitting at the right hand of the king, having fellowship with David himself. He looks around. He's never seen anything like this all of his life. He's never known anything like this. It's very hard for him to explain, but even more hard for him to deny. And, I imagine, as the food is passed, he looks down there on the wrist of David, and he sees that mark, the mark of the covenant. And, he says, "I'm not worthy of this, but it makes no difference. It's not because of me. It is because of Jonathan, my father who made a covenant with David. And, I'm not going to deny it; I'm going to enjoy it.
Pass the biscuits. Many of you are way ahead of me. Many of you have already made the application. Many of you already understand what a blood covenant, therefore, means. Because, look again, if you will, in 2 Samuel "And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?
Now, notice: "kindness for Jonathan's sake. Ephesians says—the Bible says: "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" Ephesians Do you see that? Now, friend, Jonathan represents the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two thousand years ago, on the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ entered into a blood covenant with God the Father for the sons of men.
That's the reason Jesus became a man: that He might make a blood covenant with God. A covenant is an agreement between two persons based on blood. When the Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood on the cross, he was mingling the blood of God and the blood of man.
You say, "Well, God doesn't have blood. The Bible teaches that God Himself took human blood. Acts —Paul said to those Ephesian elders, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers,"—now, listen to this—"to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" Acts —the church of God, which God purchased with His own blood.
Whose blood was shed on the cross? The blood of man? Yes, because Jesus was man. The blood of God?
David and Mephibosheth
Yes, because, in the veins of Jesus Christ was the very blood of God—Acts And, on that cross, the blood of man and the blood of God mingled. The Lord Jesus Christ was cutting a covenant between God and man—a blood covenant—that man might say, "Dear God, all that You have is now mine.
Lord God, we are one—I in You, and You in me. And then, dear friend, God takes his robe, and He puts it on us. We're dressed in His righteousness alone. And then, my dear friend, God takes not only His possessions, and gives it to us, but God gives us His mighty power and His protection.
He gives us the sword of the Spirit, and the indwelling power of the Holy Ghost comes upon us: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" Acts And, all that belongs to Heaven now belongs to you, because all that belongs to you now belongs to Him. And, there's a covenant cut between God and man. When the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Lord's Supper, that last supper, the Lord Jesus took that cup, and he held it up, and this is what he said: "This cup is the new [covenant] in my blood" Luke The word covenant and the word testament are the same word.
Jesus said, "I made a covenant with you. Mephibosheth Represents the Sinner Now, Mephibosheth represents the sinner. My dear friend, you are like Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth pictures you. And, how does Mephibosheth picture you? He was Deformed Well, first of all, he was deformed, and so are we. He was crippled by the fall, and so are we.
And so, Mephibosheth was deformed. He couldn't come. He had to be brought. He did not want to come. He had to be sought. And, that's the way we are. We are spiritually and morally crippled by sin. He was Dethroned But, not only, dear friend, was he deformed. Mephibosheth was dethroned.
You see, he was a prince. But, he was living in exile. Did you know that God made us to be kings and princes, but we've been living on the backside of nowhere, without the Lord Jesus Christ? Breathing dust, and dragging our dead limbs behind us, when we ought to be sitting enthroned with our Lord. But, here was a prince, who had lost his kingdom. He was dethroned. He was Doomed And, not only was he deformed and dethroned, but, friend, he was doomed. He knew he had the sentence of death on him. He knew that he was an enemy, and that he deserved no mercy. He said, "Why should you do this to such a dog as I am?
He realized that the sentence of death was his. And, so should we. He was Deceived That's what we were. We were deformed, dethroned, and doomed; and, I guess the worst thing, is deceived. All of this time, Mephibosheth was thinking David was his enemy, when David was his friend. Did you know that people feel that way about God? Did you know that God has to run us down in order to save us? Did you know that? We don't seek Him? We fear God. There's something—sin has put a negative attitude; the devil has done a trick on us. And, the devil says, "God's out to get him; don't let him—don't let him save you.
Oh, my dear friend, all God wants to do is to bless you, love you, and to share the blessings of the blood covenant with you. And, here's Mephibosheth, who's been told he's been deceived about David. He's been told that David was his enemy, when David was really his friend. What a picture of a lost sinner is Mephibosheth!
Jonathan pictures, my friend, the Savior, who made a blood covenant with you. Mephibosheth pictures the sinner, who needs to enter into the blood covenant. Now, I want to show you what Mephibosheth received. And, what Mephibosheth received is what you will receive, if you enter into the blood covenant. And, it's so very wonderful. There are four basic things that he received. And, I want you to see them. The King's Forgiveness Second Samuel 9—the very first thing he received is what I want to call the king's forgiveness. Look in verse 7: "And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness" 2 Samuel He deserved judgment, and he received kindness.
Friend, because of the covenant, you don't have to be afraid. You don't. You deserve Hell, but you're not going to Hell, because of the blood covenant. And so, he received the king's forgiveness. The King's Fellowship But, not only did he receive the king's forgiveness; he received the king's fellowship. Four times it is mentioned that he is to eat with the king. Look, if you will, in verse 7: "Thou shalt eat bread at my table continually" 2 Samuel Look, if you will, in verse "Thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table" 2 Samuel Look, if you will, at the last part of verse "He shall eat at my table" 2 Samuel Look, if you will, in verse "He did eat continually at the king's table" 2 Samuel Why does God say that?
Because, my dear friend, a fellowship meal is the most intimate association that you can have. Now, if you were invited to meet with the President of the United States, that would be one thing. But, friend, if you were invited to dine with the President of United States, that would be something else, wouldn't it? It's saying, "You're not just going to have a once-in-a-while meal; you're going to sit at my table continually. Do you understand that? Listen—I'm not inviting you to something bad; I'm inviting you to something wonderful.
Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him,"—and do what? The King's Fortune You see, there's the king's fellowship. But, not only the king's forgiveness, and the king's fellowship; my dear friend, there's the king's fortune. And, the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, "I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house" 2 Samuel Now, who was Saul?
Saul was the king. And, he's saying, "Mephibosheth, enough; and, you don't understand enough; and, you are not worthy. I'm going to tell you something. Don't you argue with him, because you'll lose the argument. History unfolded, Saul was killed along with Jonathan and David was made king of Israel.
In the turmoil he was dropped and crippled for life. He was discovered and brought before David. He got land, property and a place to live in the palace of the king. It is such a parable of the kingdom of God. It is truly one of the great hidden stories of the New Testament gospel nestled in the pages of the Old Testament. Read 2 Samuel 9 for yourself. For further reading, check out the wonderful book by Malcolm Smith , Spiritual Burnout. He expounds on it in dramatic fashion. He decided instantly to return the love.
How can you ignore such a great love? The lover of our souls cares about us so much. Apparently this guy did that.