Mephibosheth (meh-FIB-oh-sheth) is King Saul’s grandson and Jonathan’s son, yet David not only spared his life, but blessed him. Typically, when a new king takes a throne, they destroy the old king’s entire family line to avoid anyone trying to overthrow this new king in the old king’s name. David set about destroying the line of Saul, but soon he decided to seek out any remaining survivors to show them mercy. Who he found was Mephibosheth.
When Saul and Jonathan were killed, Mephibosheth was only 5 years old, and his nurse snatched him up and ran to save his life. As she ran with him, he fell and hurt both of his feet causing him to be crippled for the rest of his life. When David asks the Saul family servant named Ziba, he tells David about Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth is brought to the king, the family lands are restored along with servants to work the land, and given a place at the king’s table. This is an incredible gift.
God grants us a similar gift. Though belonging to God’s enemy, we are brought into God’s presence and given a new life as His adopted children. We are given a place at His table. This is the good news. Not because we are worthy (spiritually, we are as lame as Mephibosheth) but out of God’s abundant mercy, we are now His children.
But today’s reading has another lesson for us. That is not the end of the story of Mephibosheth. When Absalom overthrows David in a coup, who do we read about but Mephibosheth again. He has apparently not learned the lesson of God’s mercy from David. It is reported by Ziba that instead of following David in response to David’s mercy, he is in Jerusalem hoping that Absalom will restore the kingdom to Saul’s family line.
How often do we receive God’s mercy, only to turn back to our old ways as soon as the offer seems better? And how often is the offer actually better? We need to learn both lessons from Mephibosheth: accept God’s mercy when it comes, and then having received it don’t turn back… ever.
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