Do you ever feel that you have been struggling your whole life? Maybe you have always been poor and struggling financially. Maybe you have a disadvantage such as a physical handicap. Or, maybe you feel like your life has been one rejection after another. Maybe you were kicked to the curb by a parent, a friend, or a mate. Maybe you have been kicked out of school or a job. Maybe you even feel rejected by God, or you can’t see how God can possibly love someone like you. If you have experienced any of this, then you need the story of Mephibosheth.
Now, who in the world is Mephibosheth, and how can he help me, you may ask? Well, if you know a little about the Old Testament, you know that Israel’s first king was named Saul, and Saul had a son named Jonathan, who in turn had a son named Mephibosheth. Keep reading to see why Mephibosheth may offer you hope for your struggles.
The following is based on II Samuel 4:4 and 9:1-13
1. Dropped and disadvantaged
“Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame 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 it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.” (II Samuel 4:4)
He was once a prince, an heir to the throne of Israel, but from an early age, Mephibosheth’s bright and promising future was suddenly and forever disabled when his nurse dropped him in her frantic rush to flee.
For many centuries in history, when a king died, it was customary to kill off the former king’s descendants because they were seen as enemies of the state and a threat to the new regime. So, when word got out that King Saul and his son, Jonathan, were dead, and David was crowned king in their stead, Mephibosheth’s nurse feared for the young boy’s life. Now, because he was dropped and made lame in both his legs, Mephibosheth is destined to live out his life at the mercy of others. He will have to live his life depending on others to help him with everything. He is destined to a life of struggle.
In a way, we have all been dropped, crippled, and destined to a life of struggle as well. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, it caused all of mankind to fall and become crippled. Ever since, we have all struggled with the weakness to sin instead of living faithful to God.
Because of sin, we all suffer physical pain and death. We also suffer spiritual pain because we know we fail God and we can not seem to ever measure up to His goodness no matter how hard we try. So, we struggle every day.
We also struggle with the pain from the sins of others. Loved ones fail us, cheat us, betray us, and reject us.
We might wonder when will the struggling ever end, or will it? Keep reading, because the story of Mephibosheth offers great hope and a happy ending, and we all want a happy ending for our lives.
2. The King is looking for you
“Then the king said, ‘Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?’ And Ziba said to the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.'” (II Samuel 9:3)
So, King David sent out servants to go and look for Mephibosheth, to bring him back to the king’s palace. Notice, in all these years, Mephibosheth never looked for the king. It is the king who is looking for Mephibosheth. In the same token, God our King is looking for us even when we are not looking for Him.
Listen to what Jesus says: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (John 19:10)
3. The King wants to bring you out of your life of struggle
When the servant Ziba told King David about Mephibosheth, David asked, “Where is he?” Ziba replied that he was living in Lo Debar. Meaning “no place of bread” or “no place of pasture,” Lo Debar was a barren land, a place where one would want to live. Evidently, he was hiding out here all his life, always living in fear that one day he would be found and killed by King David. Many people today live in a figurative Lo Debar. We might call it the “wrong side of the tracks,” the “ghetto,” or the “wrong side of town.” Modern day Lo Debar is the figurative place or situation where disadvantaged people live. It’s a place of constant struggle, where no matter how hard you try, you can never get ahead. It’s a place inhabited by people who have made terrible mistakes, and they are hiding out in shame or fear of being discovered. Maybe you feel like you are living in a modern day Lo Debar.
Well, guess what? The King is looking for you, and He does not want to punish or kill you just like David had no intention of harming Mephibosheth. David’s only intention was to do him good. As he said, he wanted to show the “kindness of God” to him.
Our King also wants to show kindness, mercy, and goodness to us. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Jesus said He was the bread of life and the fountain of living water. (John 6:48 and John 4:14) He is a place of fulfillment. Jesus is looking for you in your Lo Debar, in your life of struggle and emptiness, to give you a better way of life.
Think about the parable of the shepherd who left his 99 sheep to go looking in the mountains for the one lost sheep. (Matt 18:12-14) If you feel like a lost sheep, you should know that Jesus is looking for you and wants to bring you back to a place of good pasture, a place of fulfillment, love, and peace.
4. The King loved you before you ever knew Him
When Mephibosheth was found and brought to King David, he fell down before him in great fear. Mephibosheth was at the total mercy of the king, who had the authority to kill him. But, listen to what David says to him:
“So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake…'” (II Samuel 9:7)
You see, up until this moment, David had never met Mephibosheth, but yet he loved him anyway. How can this be, you might ask? Well, there are a couple of reasons.
For one, David had once made a promise to his beloved friend, Jonathan, that no matter what happened, he would take care of his family members. (I Samuel 20:14-17) David had obligated himself to loving Mephibosheth because of this promise.
Secondly, when you love someone, you also often love others who are important to the person you love. For example, I have a daughter. She is dear to me. She recently married a young man that I had not previously known, but now, I have a love for him simply because he belongs to her. My daughter also has a child now who is my first grandchild. This child is precious to me because he belongs to the daughter that I love so much.
Like King David and Mephibosheth, God loves each one of for these two same reasons.
First, He made a promise from the very beginning that He would love us and save us from a life of sin and struggle. (Ephesians 1:3-10)
Secondly, God is committed to loving us simply for the sake of His Son, Jesus. (I John 4:9)
We don’t have to earn God’s love because He has already loved us first. (I John 4:10)
God does not love us because of who are, but because of who He is. God does not love us because of what we have done, but because of what Christ has done!
God does not love us because of anything that we can do for Him. What could Mephibosheth do for King David as a crippled man? He couldn’t fight in David’s army. He probably couldn’t fetch him the daily newspaper. David didn’t love Mephibosheth because of anything that he could do for him, but only because he had promised to love him and because he belonged to Jonathan.
Likewise, God wants to show you love and kindness simply because He loved you first and because of the promise He made by His Son, Jesus.
5. The King wants to restore you at your rightful place at His table
In addition to showing kindness for Jonathan’s sake, look what else King David says to Mephibosheth:
“‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.'”
It would seem like enough to Mephibosheth that David would spare his life, but the king wants to do more than just save him. The king wants to put him at his table in the palace and let him eat here “continually.” This means he would never again have to live a life of constant struggle. Not only would he have the things he needed, but they would be the best of things. Only the best food, and clothing are in the king’s palace.
This reminds me of the illustration Jesus gave in Luke 12:36-37. Jesus is teaching here that a person who serves God faithfully will not only get to eat at God’s table, but that God Himself will come and serve him His food. What an incredible concept, that the God of the universe loves you so much, He wants to save you and bring you to His table, and serve you His food!
6. The King wants to make you an heir to His kingdom
So, King David wants to bring Mephibosheth out of the Lo Debar, the land of constant struggle, and feed him at his table continually. But, wait, there is more. It is hard to believe, but the king wants to do even more for Mephibosheth.
Look what verse, II Samuel 9:11 says: “‘As for Mephibosheth,’ said the king, ‘he shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.'”
David wants to make Mephibosheth equal to his own royal sons. Mephibosheth was once a prince, a royal heir to the throne, and now David wants to restore this status to him.
God your King wants to make you an heir of His kingdom as well. God sent forth His Son Jesus to redeem us and bring us back to Him so that we could be His children and heirs.
“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son, into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:1-7)
Also, Revelation 5:10 says that Jesus died and redeemed us with His blood, “and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”
If you are living in the land of constant struggle, please know that Jesus your King is looking for you. He loves you and does not wish for you to struggle any longer. He wants you to come to Him, eat at His table, experience fulfillment, and live the life He intended for you, as one of His heirs!