Read His Words Before Ours!
2 Samuel 4:1-4
2 Samuel 9:1-13
Fire crackled in the enormous fireplace as heat poured from it, taking the chill from the stone room, and my body. The inviting scent of roasting meat mingled deliciously with the burning embers.
A table was laid before us, plates and goblets arrayed with royal flare awaiting the bounty of fastidious delicacies. My mouth watered expectantly, though I was keenly aware of my unworthiness to be seated here. Self-consciously, I tucked my twisted hand closer to my abdomen. My ratty cloak stank of body odor as it served for my pillow, blanket, and sole protection against wind, rain, and chill.
“I was five years old,” began the man, interrupting my thoughts. He wore bristly whiskers and wispy white hair. His arms were strong and his chest wide. Images of my own deformity leapt to mind in sharp contrast, and I sank into myself.
“Why did this man send slaves into the rain to bring me inside today?”, I wondered. We were strangers and I certainly had nothing to offer.
One moment, I was huddled in the downpour, my poor cloak shielding my eyes, as my one good hand held out my bowl, begging for alms.
The next, I was picked up, literally carried, by two strong men who wrapped me in a warm blanket.
I was ushered into this ornate hall, flooded with warmth, and seated at this fine table. Flabbergasted at this strange turn of events, I wrestled with the idea of opening my mouth to apologize. Surely, this kind, wealthy man, had mistaken me for someone else. But the smell of hot food overwhelmed my conscious, so I sat still, waiting for the food, or for the man to find me out.
“It was the age of wooden swords and giants and gleeful discoveries at every turn,” continued the man. His eyes danced with boyish wonder, as if he was looking at the belly of a bug again for the very first time. “Most of my afternoons were spent wandering the royal gardens or teasing the kitchen servants so they would give me extra snacks.”
The man laughed with delight, and the sound of it warmed my insides as I felt my body relaxing and a faint smile lifting my cracked lips.
A servant arrived, bowing slightly, “Lord Mephibosheth, the meal is ready.”
With a kind nod from the man, the servant departed, and Mephibosheth lifted twinkling eyes to me again. “I hope you are famished!”
Words failed me, at the wonder of it all, but I managed a nod, realizing my reticence reflected me as a fool. Mephibosheth, however, returned to his story, as if I was a devoted friend. He told of his beloved father, how tall and brave and kind he was, how they wrestled playfully in the evenings, and of their hunting trips.
Then he told me of the dark day his father died on the battlefield; the same day his grandfather was killed. Though he’d surely told this story often, deep emotion saturated Mephibosheth’s voice. The depth of tragic loss was like dark waters. How well I, too, knew those waters.
Servants continued piling food onto my plate no matter how much I ate, and my goblet was never dry. As food and wine poured from the kitchen, Mephibosheth’s story continued pouring from his heart. There was bad blood between his grandfather, King Saul, and the next anointed king, David. So when his nursemaid learned of both the deaths of Mephibosheth’s father and grandfather, she feared for his life and literally ran from the palace, carrying five-year-old Mephibosheth.
The royal grandson was now on the run, finding shelter in Lo-Debar, literally meaning “no pasture land”. In the span of a single day, the young boy had lost his home, his father, his grandfather, and, shockingly, his mobility. The nurse had fallen as she ran with the little boy, crushing his feet.
With sudden awareness, I clutched my handicapped hand closely as I watched this stately man of strength and honor push back from the table, revealing twisted feet attached to lifeless legs. My jaw fell slack.
What had happened between the events of that tragic day and now to transform a broken little boy into this giant of a man, full of kindness instead of bitterness?!
Mephibosheth, his gaze lingering over my own deformity, asked the question I couldn’t. His gray eyebrows furrowed, “You want to know why I’m not bitter and angry, don’t you?’”
I dipped my head. Hatred was a heavy burden; I knew, because I carried it.
Mephibosheth extended his hand towards me as if to offer an embrace, were it not for his mangled feet keeping him at his seat. “Undeserved mercy. That’s what happened, my friend.”
My head lifted and my confused eyes met his gentle gaze. “David became king in my grandfather’s place as he was already anointed by God, and he ruled Israel well. I continued hiding in Lo-Debar, keeping my distance, accepting my reality as an outcast.”
I rubbed my arm as Mephibosheth momentarily looked down at his feet, but his voice carried on with vitality, “I married a beautiful woman and after little Micah was born, a royal messenger came from King David. One of my clearest memories of my father, Jonathon, is how much he loved David. Always his stories were of their adventures together. David was closer than a brother to my father, and on the day the King’s servants found me in Lo-Debar, it was to bring me, the outcast, back home.”
Tears streamed down my face as I saw them glistening in Mephibosheth’s gray eyes;
the outcast had been brought home.
“More than that, my friend,” Mephibosheth continued as he cast his arm across the display of rich food, “David brought me to his table and declared I would always have a seat with him as long as I lived. I was deformed and living in a place of defeat, but I was shown mercy. This is why you are here tonight. Mercy is not for the keeping,” Mephibosheth explained with a wide smile, “it’s for the giving!”
In the same way Mephibosheth experienced the kind mercy of King David, so Jesus Christ demonstrates His kindness to each of us. He sends out His own servants to the streets of the world, inviting one and all to come and eat with Him so we might all experience the fullness of life. Come to His table, then extend mercy to others. We are all undeserving!
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