Mephibosheth.

2 Samuel 9:1-5
1 Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
2 And there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba. So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
He said, “At your service!”
3 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.”
4 So the king said to him, “Where is he?”
And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.”
5 Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar.”

Mephibosheth.  What a sad name with an equally sad story to go along with it.
In Hebrew it means, “From the mouth of shame.”  How’d you like to have that for a handle? Not very complimentary. 😕  As if his name wasn’t sad enough, he had a pretty serious accident when he was five years old:  His nurse dropped him and he ended up lame in both feet!  Talk about misfortune! 🤯
Who was this character, why the strange name, and why is his story recorded for us? The Holy Spirit is drawing beautiful pictures of Jesus for us and has a very important message to impart!  We’ll need to back up a few years to find our answers; back to when Jonathan, his father, first met David.  Let’s find out what’s on our Daddy’s mind!
The Back Story.
Jonathan was the son of King Saul.  At one point during his father’s 40-year reign, they faced the Philistines and their giant champion, Goliath.  39 days into the confrontation, David came on the scene and, with God’s help, he knocked the giant out with a small, smooth stone from his sling.  He then ran over, grabbed his huge sword, and killed him with it, cutting off his head!  He was 17 years old at the time. 😮

As a result, the Philistines, were terrified and demoralized. They turned tail and fled!  It was a GREAT VICTORY for Israel that day!

 

Well, that sure got the King’s attention!  He asked his commander, Abner, who the young man was, but he didn’t know.  So he brought young David over to meet King Saul.  Let’s follow the story:
1 Samuel 17:55-58, 18:1-3
“When Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, (Goliath) he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?”And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” So the king said, “Inquire whose son this young man is.”
Then, as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” So David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.” 💕

Verse 4 says, ” Then Jonathan and David made (cut) a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword, his bow, and his belt.”

Here was David, a seventeen-year-old kid, standing in front of the King holding Goliath’s giant, bloody head in his hand.  And who was there at the King’s side?  The crown prince of Israel:  Jonathan. This was their first meeting.

As David spoke to the King, the soul of Jonathan was “knit” to David’s and he loved him as his own soul.  They immediately became such great friends that they decided to “cut a covenant” with each other.

King Saul, also impressed by this young man on whom was great favor from God, took him that day and would not let him return to his own house anymore.  WOW! 😮

Covenants.

A covenant is far more than simply an agreement between two parties.  It was a very serious matter in those days.  In Hebrew, it is the word, “berít.” There are secrets in the Hebrew letters for this word which we will not go into here.  You may follow the link below to read all about it:

In that culture, when two people “cut a covenant,” it was for life, literally, until death ended it.  It’s much more binding than a contract that is merely put on paper. They called it Cutting, not making, a covenant,” because it always involved the shedding of blood.   And if either party went back on their word, the penalty was death!

 (God cuts a covenant with Abram.)
Initially, what they did was to take an animal, like a bullock or a ram, cut it in half and place the two pieces opposite each other.  Abram did exactly that in Genesis 15 when God cut a covenant with him with a little bit of a twist.
For that whole story, you may follow the link below:
Obviously there was blood everywhere.  The two parties walked barefoot between the pieces on the bloody ground in between the hewn animals.  This was known as, “The walk of death.”  It’s a vow to honor their Covenant “Till death do us part.”
Sound familiar?  It should!  Most marriage ceremonies include this phrase. That’s because marriage is a covenant, not a contract.  

Similarly, in David’s day, a covenant declared that, “So be it unto me if I fail to keep my word, I shall be as this animal.”  In other words, “cut me in half!”  They then exchanged their outer garments and weapons signifying that “I take on you and you take on me, indicating a change of position.  The exchange of weapons declared, “My enemies are now your enemies and your enemies are now my enemies.”  Jonathan also gave David his belt, which signifies strength.  When you are in covenant with God, now your “loins are girded with strength!”

(Jesus took on human flesh.)
 –
The Greatest Covenant Of All.
This is what happened at Christmas.  God had to send His Son to take on human flesh” so He could qualify to cut a covenant with the Father on our behalf.”  He walked the walk of death in our stead, died the death we deserved, and forever sealed  the covenant.  And you and I benefit!
And what do we exchange with God?  He gives us His robe of righteousness, we give Him our filth.  He gives us His strength, we give Him our weaknesses.  He gives us His health, we give Him our disease.  And He fights for us!
Doesn’t sound like an very equal deal, does it?  You’re absolutely right:  It isn’t.  God is unfairly good on our behalf.  But that’s ok…..I’LL TAKE IT!

Jonathan and David.
Jonathan, as the crown prince of Israel, took off his princely robe and placed it on David. David took off his outer garment and handed it to Jonathan.  He also handed him his armor, his sword, his bow and his belt.  His robe was a symbol of his higher position.  You see, it is always the higher, more prominent, more powerful that covers the weaker, lesser person of low position.  At this point, David was a shepherd boy.  This indicates an exchange of position.
Jonathan also gave him four other items:  Armor, sword, bow and belt.  Being a warrior culture, he gave David his armor and weapons indicating that David’s enemies have now become Jonathan’s. Whoever tried to harm him in any way, Jonathan would come to the rescue.  His belt is a symbol of his authority.  All of this was conferred on David.
Who knew that the enemy from who he would need protection would be Jonathan’s own father, King Saul, !  Time after time he sought to kill David and who came to his rescue?  Jonathan!
Finally, they sealed the deal by mingling their blood.  Each made a cut on their wrist, joined his to the other and spoke the terms of their agreement and walked the walk of death.  Thus, they became blood brothers.  The scar would remain as a reminder of their covenant.
 

This is why, though he had many opportunities to kill him, David never laid a hand on Saul.  He was, in effect, through Jonathan, in Covenant with his entire family.  The day both Saul and Jonathan fell, that Covenant remained in effect.

Mephiboshet.
“Mephi” was the sole surviving member of King Saul’s family.  Jonathan somewhere along the way, had a child of which, apparently, David was unaware.  That’s quite surprising considering how close these two men were.

When his Grandfather, King Saul, and his father, Jonathan, were both killed that fateful day on Mt. Gilboa, the palace inhabitants, upon hearing the news, were thrown into a panic.  You see, they all knew that Saul hated David and had hunted him for years.  They naturally assumed that David also had no love for the king either. Terrified that he was going to come and kill all of them, they fled for their lives.

However, upon hearing the news of their deaths, Davis was so distraught that he cursed Mt. Gilboa. He said, “O mountains of Gilboa, Let there be no dew nor rain upon you…”  He cursed that place because his dearest friend died there.  To this day, the top of the mount is bare.  Nothing will grow on it.

(Note the bare spot on top of Mt. Gilboa.)
You see, everyone knew David was anointed by Samuel, the prophet.  He was going to be the next king of Israel, not Saul’s son, Jonathan.  That’s why he was so jealous of David.  Undoubtedly he poisoned the minds of his entire household over the years against him to the point where they all hated and feared him.  For years he relentlessly pursued David, seeking to kill him.
Naturally they thought that when Saul and Jonathan were killed, he would come after them, seeking his revenge!  Had they known about the covenant between Jonathan and David, they would not have been afraid.  Far from thoughts of harming them, he sought for ways to bless his family.

King David Seeks To Bless The House Of Saul.

Mephibosheth probably heard nothing but awful things, too, about David as he was growing up, very likely from his nurse.  “Don’t you let David know where you are or he’ll kill you.  You know how your grandfather hates him.”  When Saul and Jonathan fell that day, his terrified nurse no doubt picked him up and ran in a effort to protect him.  It isn’t clear exactly what happened but somehow she dropped the boy in her haste.  His legs were crushed leaving him lame for the rest of his life. 😓

They hid in the furthest place they could find away from the palace.  No one would think to look for them there.  It was a place called, “Lo  Debar.”

Secrets In The Hebrew Language.

“Lo,” in Hebrew means, “No.”  “Debar” means “pasture.”  It comes from the root word, “Davar,” which means, “word.”  It’s actually a play on words!  This was a dry, dusty, desert town where there was no pasture land.  In other words, “no word of God:”  It was isolated, remote, desolate.

How very sad!  Here he was, a prince of Israel, of the royal house of King Saul, living in shame and poverty in a desert town, far from the palace, which was his rightful place.

There are amazing secrets in the Hebrew letters of the word, “Davar,” itself.  For more on that topic, you may follow the link below:  

https://emmausroadministries.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/speak-%D7%93%D6%B8%D6%BC%D7%91%D6%B7%D7%A8-gods-word/

David Rememberers His Covenant.
I’ll bet you that one day, after David had been King for a while, he looked down at the scar on his wrist and remembered the covenant he had made with his beloved Jonathan.  In the opening scripture, he is voicing a desire to his staff to bless the house of Saul for his dear friend’s sake.

Among his staff was a servant named “Ziba, formerly of the palace staff of King Saul.  He not only knew of the existence of Jonathan’s son, he knew the town, the “address,” and the family with whom he was staying!
Elated, David sent his best men to go and fetch the boy, who was most likely was a teenager or a young man by this time.
Having heard nothing but bad about David all his life, you can imagine his reaction when he heard that the Kings men had found him.  He probably thought, “Oh boy. This is it.  I’m a dead man!”  
Imagine his surprise being treated with honor and respect.  Let’s follow the story.

2 Samuel 9:5-7
“Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar.   Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, “Mephibosheth?”
And he answered, “Here is your servant!”   So David said to him, “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.”
That wasn’t quite what he was expecting!  Poor kid was probably terrified 😮…..until he heard the king’s words, “Do not fear.”  Then he was puzzled. 🤔  So he said in verses 8-10, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?”

 And the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master’s son may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread at my table always.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.”

Wow!  If he was puzzled before, now he was stunned! 😳

The Hebrew word for “kindness” here and in the opening Scripture is “Hesed.”  Hesed means “GRACE!”  He wanted to shower the boy with Grace!   Raised from poverty to wealth, from obscurity in the dryest of places to being seated at the king’s table, waited on by his servants!  And now, eating at the King’s table FOREVER, with 35 people to work his land for him, adding blessing and prosperity upon him that can only be described as “OVER THE TOP!” 🤯
“So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet.”

Imperfect Walk.

His story ends by reiterating that “he was lame in both feet.”  Why?
Feet in Bible typology depicts “walking.”   This young man obviously was unable to walk well. David, in this part of his story, is a type of our Heavenly Father.  Like Mephiboshet, you and I were terrified of God before we come to Christ.  We were far from Him in a dry, deserted, desert place where there is no word of God, only lies about Him.  Just like him, we think that God, like he thought of David, is angry and out to get us.  Unbeknownst to us, NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.

The only things we’ve heard about God are also things that aren’t true, whispered in our ears by the devil.  He says things like “Don’t you dare go to Church.  If you believe in God, He could put sickness or cancer on you!  You have to clean up your act before you approach Him.  After all, He’s a ho-o-o-ly God!”

But just like in this story, the truth is, God loves us!  He wants to shower us with GRACE!!! Like David and Jonathan, He cut a covenant with the human race.
Typologies.

Saul, in this story, is a typology of Adam’s race.  Though it was David, a type of the Father, and Jonathan, a type of Christ, who were the actual participants in the covenant, that same covenant was for the benefit of Saul and his entire family, a depiction of the human race.

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  He is the Guarantor of the covenant between His Father and us.  There was a shedding of blood to seal the deal; the blood of the sinless Lamb of God!

Jesus says to you and I, “Fear not!”  He is calling us to come just as we are:  Lame, imperfect, lacking, depressed, sick.  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!”

He asks, “Is there anyone from the line of Adam to whom I may show kindness; on whom I may shower blessings? ”

He has invited us to come, sit at His table, and eat…..forever! He wants to pour out on us so many blessings, we will not have room to receive them all!  It matters not that your walk, Church, is imperfect.  At rest, seated at His table, eating from the bread of life, no one will be looking at your feet:  They’re all under the table!


And guess what?  Everyone else sitting at His table is just as imperfect in their walk.  They are lame in their feet.

So fear not. Rest. Eat. Be refreshed.  Take comfort in the story of Mephibosheth.

2 thoughts on “Mephibosheth.

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