The Effect of Grace in Mephibosheth

The touching account of Mephibosheth, King Saul’s crippled grandson who is first seen in II Samuel 4:4 and then more fully introduced in chapter 9, has been enjoyed down through the centuries by believers and used effectively in the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God to sinners. What worshiping soul who has an appreciation of the grace of God toward helpless sinners can fail to see himself or herself through the eyes of this pathetic character, raised up from a seemingly hopeless existence to such great enjoyment and blessing!

King David was not constrained to act upon a merely humane or utilitarian motive in his own mind, nor was he persuaded by human influence, when he invited Mephibosheth into his own house and to his table, where there would be both abundance and fellowship to enjoy together. David was a man after God’s own heart, and because of that, he enjoyed the grace of God in his own soul more than most of his contemporaries did. It was out of that wellspring of enjoyment that David reached out – reached down – to the house of Saul in order to show “the kindness of God” to a self-described “dead dog” and descendant of his envious and hateful predecessor. By that act of mercy crowned with grace, David brought Mephibosheth into the circle of undeserved favor that he himself knew in the presence of Jehovah, and that the lame man came to enjoy for himself.

How can we tell the extent to which Mephibosheth appreciated the position of grace into which he was brought at the king’s table? We perceive it by his earnest response to David in II Samuel 19, when he is finally able to come out to meet the king upon his return from exile. It is clear that Mephibosheth deeply felt and mourned David’s absence, having neglected his personal care and grooming during the time he was deprived of fellowship. No doubt his sustenance had been provided while the king was gone, but it was the lack of communion with his “lord the king” that broke his heart and depressed his spirit.

Adding to his grief over David’s exile was the opportunistic treachery of Ziba, notable servant of the house of Saul, who apparently lied to the king about Mephibosheth’s motives. Ziba did in fact profit from the slight and dishonor he did to his crippled master, and we may wonder at the haste of David in assigning to Ziba all that belonged to Mephibosheth. If David is a type of Christ in the matter of showing such undeserved favor at an earlier time, how then could David fail in his discernment of Ziba’s accusations against his master’s son?1 And why does David not fully rectify the matter and restore Mephibosheth’s possessions in full when he finally appears and provides a legitimate answer to his inquiry: “Why didst thou not go with me, Mephibosheth?”

There may come a time in our lives when we believe we have been treated unjustly or dishonored in some way by others, whether we have a close relationship with them or a merely casual one. We may be found complaining to the Lord in our hearts about the slander or slight, and we may think we deserve vindication, but this will only serve to hinder our communion with Him who orders all things for our good and blessing. We can learn from Mephibosheth in such situations. Perhaps he was much grieved by the wrong done to himself, while he was missing the fellowship of the king, but when once he was restored to the enjoyment of the presence of that one who had lavished such grace upon him and set him at his table, peripheral things just faded away as unimportant.

We may not understand the ways of God in withholding benefits from us that we hoped to enjoy, or when He removes in part some of those objects with natural appeal that we once valued, while allowing others to possess them. We may also spend much time wishing for vindication and restored honor among peers, along with other natural advantages that may be coveted and partaken of apart from communion with Christ. But may it rather be that we learn the lesson that the story of Mephibosheth would teach our hearts by the Spirit, which I suggest to be this: an appreciation of the grace shown us by God our Savior, in daily communion with the Lord Jesus and with a desire for His honor, will cause the appeal of peripheral things and interests to dim to the point that we are content with the way He administers matters among His servants. This surely is the path to fullness of joy and blessing.

“. . . My lord the king is as an angel of God;2 do therefore what is good in thy sight. For all my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king; and thou didst set thy servant among them that eat at thine own table. What further right therefore have I? and for what should I cry any more to the king?” And the king said to him, “Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said [or: decided], Thou and Ziba divide the land.” And Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him even take all, since my lord the king is come again in peace to his own house.”

1 II Samuel 16:4 2 II Samuel 19:24-30

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s