In the busyness and general sparkly jolliness of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that many, many people do not feel particularly merry. It could be they are missing a loved one, it could be they are struggling with addiction or besetting sin, it could be depression or illness, it could be stress at work or financial burdens at home. The list, unfortunately, goes on.
In the book of 2 Samuel, we read the story of Mephibosheth, the grandson of King Saul, who was having a rough time. In fact, he was having a rough life. He was five when his father and grandfather were killed on the battlefield, and shortly afterward he was injured and left crippled.
It was customary in those days for the entire family of a defeated ruler to be killed so there would be no one left with a claim to the throne, but somehow Mephibosheth survived. We don’t know what happened to him in the intervening years, but we next see him in 2 Samuel 9 living in a town called Lo-debar. Lo-debar was considered a low place, a barren place. It’s name means “no pasture,” “no word,” or “no communication.” It was basically Nowheresville. Are we surprised then that Mephibosheth, whose name essentially means “shame,” was hiding out there?
Year later, mighty King David asks if there are any living descendants of King Saul, not so that he could put them to death but so that he could show them kindness. Kindness is somewhat lacking translation of the Hebrew word hesed, which you may have seen translated in other places in the Bible as lovingkindness or steadfast love. This is the same word that is used to describe God’s attitude toward his people. We see hesed in Psalm 86:5, “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” We see it in Joel 2:13, “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” We see it in Micah 7:18, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.”
King David sends for Mephibosheth, who must be certain at this point that he is going to be killed. But he invites Mephibosheth in to see him. Mephibosheth falls flat on his face in front of David and cries, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” Ouch. But don’t miss what David does next, because it is very much in keeping with the character of God. He calls Mephibosheth by his name, and then he says, “Do not fear.” David restores to Mephibosheth the inheritance left to him by his grandfather Saul, and he invites Mephibosheth to sit and eat with him at the king’s banqueting table. This is hesed.
I love the image of Mephibosheth seated at the table with the king, before him spread like endlessly rolling hills the piles of roasted meat and fish, fresh fragrant bread, dishes of lentils and olives, figs and pomegranates, honeyed desserts, decanters of wine. He has come quite a long way from Nowheresville. The elaborate silk brocade tablecloth tumbles from the table over Mephibosheth’s lap, covering his broken feet so that he is like one made new.
You are Mephibosheth and so am I. Every single one of us is broken and spiritually lame. We have no right to sit at the table at the marriage supper of the Lamb. We are not worthy.
But Jesus is worthy, and he has bought our spot for us at great cost. He is the perfect king that David could not be, the one who frees us from our shame for all time. It’s time to come out of Lo-debar and join the king at his table. His hesed is abundant. His grace is sufficient. He is calling your name.
Written By: Jess Upshaw Glass