I had read this surprising story before. But for the first time I realized there was more meaning in it for me — for us — than I could have imagined. It’s a true story, of a king compelled by kindness and a pauper crippled by shame.
Years before he came into power, the king of Israel, David, had made a covenant with the ruling king’s son, Jonathan. They stood in a field so no one could hear their conversation. At Jonathan’s urging, David promised to show lovingkindness to Jonathan’s family, as Jonathan prophesied, when “the Lord cuts off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth” (1 Samuel 20:15).
Before long Jonathan and his father die in battle. David becomes king, and God grants him favor on every side. Years pass, and David wants to fulfill his promise to his beloved friend. He learns that Jonathan had a son, Mephibosheth, who is crippled.
Though grandson of a king and son of a prince, Mephibosheth is a man who owns nothing. He lives with a benefactor; because of his disability, he cannot care for himself. His name even means “from the mouth of the shameful thing.”
What really mattered to the king
When Mephibosheth comes to see David, he falls on his face before him. He fears that David will have him killed — a common practice of kings with the descendants of their predecessor.
David’s response is the last thing Mephibosheth expected.
“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (2 Samuel 9:7-8)
In that brief meeting with David, Mephibosheth’s shame is wiped away. His crippled, outcast condition is unimportant to the king. What matters to David is heaping love and honor on his friend’s son. David not only restores Mephibosheth’s ancestral lands, but puts servants in place so he and his family would always be provided for.
On top of this, David invites Mephibosheth to eat regularly at his table, with his own sons. The fearful enemy is placed on the same footing as the princes of the kingdom.
There is a bigger message
Somehow I had never seen that David and Mephibosheth were prototypes of Jesus — and us. We were spiritually destitute, twisted by the world, shameful and sinful. But our King, Jesus, rescues us. He is the complete fulfillment of God’s covenant promises toward us.
When we come to Him, He wipes our shame away. He restores our right standing with Him. He provides for us. He wants us at His table — forever. I celebrate that today, 47 years since I asked Him to be my Lord. What an incredible change He has made in my life.
Sometimes, though, our enemy whispers to us that we still aren’t worthy. And sadly, there have been days, and years, when I have believed him.
As a missionary, I had dreamed of leading a Bible study of influential ladies I had led to Christ myself — ladies who could make a difference in the society around them. In one of my assignments, my dream came true. I loved meeting with this group of ladies to study the Bible.
One day I talked with them about a crucial biblical doctrine that contrasted with what they had been taught previously. I foolishly joked about how obvious this truth was. They were silent. I learned that a leader from their background had been talking with them, and they now doubted what I had to say. They did not want to meet with me any longer. There were tears as we said goodbye.
What really mattered to the King
I had been taught that all God wants is our availability, and He will use us. But I was available. It seemed He didn’t want to use me. Something must be wrong with me. I struggled with these thoughts for years.
One day at an office retreat, my teammates and I selected Soularium® cards that represented how we felt. I chose a picture of dry brown weeds. We spent the day studying Scripture and journaling. I met with a spiritual director in the afternoon and described to him why I had chosen that card to represent my life.
Suddenly I could see myself with Jesus, telling Him how I felt. He didn’t talk to me at all about what I had said. He only held me next to His heart and said, “I love you.” I had never felt His love so intensely before. I didn’t need to talk about my feelings. It was all right.
This experience, so precious to me, helped me understand what mattered to Jesus: He loved me. Not my fruitfulness or success. He simply loved me.
Just as He had washed my sins away years before when I had come to know Him, this time He washed my wrong beliefs away and gave me peace. I still want to introduce people to Him and help them grow in their faith. But I know nothing I do matters compared to the vastness of His love for me.
Throughout the Bible, we see how God wipes away the shame of those who turn to Him, and lifts them up. Mephibosheth was one of those who discovered that God had a good plan for them after all.
What about your story?
Friend, have you understood the story He is writing in your life? He loves you. If you have never come to know Jesus in a personal way, He is waiting for you. Tell Him you want to leave your sin with Him and ask Him to make you clean. He will do it.
And if you’re like I was, knowing you belong to Him but doubting your worth for any reason at all, come into His arms. He wants you to know the one thing that matters: He loves you.
Every intention in His heart toward you is compelled by love. You don’t have to be crippled by fears or doubts or shame. The King loves you. He will take care of you, and He will honor you. It’s all right.
Pray with me?
If you’d like to ask Jesus to be your own Lord and Savior:
Lord Jesus, thank You that Your love is greater than anything we could imagine. I give myself to You today. Wash away my sins and make me a new person. Help me love as lavishly as You have loved me. Help me believe the truth and see myself as You see me — dearly loved, always. Thank You for saving me and making me Yours.
If you belong to Jesus already:
Lord Jesus, please forgive me for any lies I have believed about myself, like (fill in the blank). Help me walk in the truth of Your vast love for me, every day. Help me love as lavishly as You have loved me. Thank You for making me more like You, as I continually yield myself to You. Thank You for saving me and making me Yours. I love You.
If you haven’t discovered life in Christ, don’t hesitate to check it out. Life is too short to miss His love and perfect plan for you. Read About “The Nearness of God” or see everyperson.com for more information. You can also read my story of coming to faith in Christ in: How My Song Began.