mephiboshethCarried to the Table | The Story of Mephibosheth

“But my God shall supply all your need.”
(Philippians 4:19)

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.

6 thoughts

  1. Very good illustration and gives a clear understanding I don’t know the story that much but after reading this article I have understood it very well God bless you.

  2. Consider the story in 2 Sam.5:6-8, making the implication of this story even deeper. Mephibosheth being crippled at both feet, must have triggered a lot of bad memories in David’s mind as the inhabitants of Jerusalem mocked David, using the blind and the lame as being enough to hold back this young king. Resulting in “the lame and the blind” being David’s enemies or being hated by him (depends on which translation you use).
    I also think that the kindness of God shown to David in chapter 7 (He is given the promise of an everlasting kingdom) is what triggered David to show this kindness to this “death dog”.
    Isn’t this the perfect example of what we should do? Having been given grace and mercy by God (the forgiveness of our sins), we are to give grace and mercy at the people around us, even when at some point it will ask us to swallow our pride and our hurt, as I’m sure David had to do with Mephiboseth (conflicted between the love for and the promise made to Jonathan and his hatred towards the blind and the lame because of the Jebusites).

  3. Have you heard the song “Carried to the Table” by Leeland?
    Most people think it’s based on the story of Mephibosheth and it seems to be, although I’ve not read any explicit confirmation of that from the songwriters.
    In any case, it pretty much uses all the ideas from the M-sheth story to create a song about every person’s salvation.
    It works as both a first-person, somewhat literal narrative of an actual Bible story, and a slightly more vague, but true testimony for any Christian.

    1. Yes, I’ve heard that song. Actually, I’ve seen Leeland in concert a few times and one time he actually shared the story of Mephibosheth before performing this song.

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