Carried to the Table | The Story of Mephibosheth
“But my God shall supply all your need.”
The Biblical story of Mephibosheth doesn’t get a lot of attention. Chances are he wasn’t on any of your Sunday school coloring pages as a child, and unless you’ve recently completed a study of 2 Samuel, the name probably isn’t ringing a bell. So allow me to introduce you.
Mephibosheth’s life is a series of disasters, disappointments, and anxieties.
Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, and grandson of the notoriously wicked king Saul. We first read about him in 2 Samuel 4:4, where in a moment of great haste, a tragic fall left Mephibosheth crippled at only five years old. Both his father and grandfather had recently been killed in battle, his mother was nowhere to be found, and his homeland was in political turmoil. He eventually ended up living in the land of Lo Debar, which literally means “without pasture.” According to the ISB Encyclopedia, “[Mephibosheth’s] life is a series of disasters, disappointments, and anxieties. It is a weary, broken, dispirited soul that speaks in all his utterances.” Maybe that’s why he never made it onto your Sunday school coloring page.
Fast forward many years later and we find David settling into his new role as king of Israel. He’d just completed a successful campaign against the Philistines, but his celebration was cut short when he remembered the covenant he’d made with his late friend Jonathan years earlier. In one of their last conversations, Jonathan sealed their friendship with these words:
“Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘May the Lord be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’” (1 Sam. 20:42)
With this in mind, David began an investigation to see if Jonathan had any living descendants. The answer quickly came back from a former servant of king Saul, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet” (2 Sam. 9:3). Notice Mephibosheth’s name wasn’t even used. His handicap not only consumed him; it defined him. To the rest of the world, he was merely the crippled son of Jonathan.
But that didn’t matter to David, who immediately “sent and brought him…from Lo Debar” (2 Sam. 9:5). As Mephibosheth trembled in the presence of the king, David’s words sounded almost unbelievable:
“Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake…and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” (2 Sam. 9:7)
For the first time in his life, Mephibosheth didn’t see his brokenness when he looked down; he only saw provision.
A life previously characterized by heartache and disappointment could now be enjoyed worry-free. For the first time in his life, Mephibosheth didn’t see his brokenness when he looked down; he only saw provision, “for he ate continually at the king’s table” (2 Sam. 9:13). He’d been told his name meant “dispeller of shame,” and at last his shame had been dispelled. Yes he was still a cripple, but everything he needed was now within arm’s reach.
Just like Mephibosheth, humanity suffered a great fall. As a result of sin, we were spiritually paralyzed, completely incapable of reconciling ourselves to God (Ps. 51:5; Jer. 13:23). But just when all hope seemed lost, God “remembered us in our low estate,” and has graciously invited us to be “partakers of the Lord’s table” (Ps. 136:23; 1 Cor. 10:21).
Admittedly, we’re still broken and without strength to sustain ourselves, but our brokenness is perfectly concealed at the table of the Lord. And the best part isn’t even what’s on the menu. It’s that the King Himself is seated next to us.