So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king's table. Now he was lame in both his feet.
2 Samuel 9:13
When it comes to describing the character of God, Eugene Peterson writes, “[S]ometimes, the story is better than a definition.” Surely, this is what the Scripture is—a story. A story that beautifully, richly, and tangibly puts on display the character, the heart, the Gospel of God. Each individual story serves as a part of the grander narrative through which a transcendent God makes Himself known to His people. The story before us in 2 Samuel is no exception. In the story of a crippled boy dining at the king’s table, the character of the King of Kings is set gloriously on display.
This particular story starts out with David, God’s chosen king, seated upon the throne of Israel. Though God had chosen him and anointed him while only a mere shepherd boy, it was a long road to the throne. David defeated a giant, led Saul’s army, fled for his life at the hands of one of Saul’s sons, and ruled over only two of Israel’s 12 tribe—all before he took his seat as God’s appointed king over all of Israel. Once upon the throne, God moves toward David and makes a revolutionary covenant with him. God promises this king that He will establish His kingdom forever and that ultimately one greater than David would come through his line, ruling and reigning over his people as God had always intended. God promises that His steadfast love would never depart from David and thus never depart from his people.
At this point, our story picks up: David, out of the overflow of the steadfast love that has been shown and promised him by God Himself, asks, “Is there anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1). Then he asks again, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” (9:2). The answer…there is one. Mephibosheth. He was Jonathan’s son, and he was lame in both his feet.
Mephibosheth was likely not his given name. The nickname, meaning ‘shame,’ was likely given to him as a small boy when he became crippled. As a descendent of Jonathan, he would have been near to David’s heart, but as a descendent of Saul, he was an enemy to the throne. He is a crippled enemy living in exile with absolutely nothing to offer the king, and yet David says, “Go and find him.” Why? That he may show him kindness, that he might restore to him all that belonged to his family, that he might eat at the king’s table always.
Four times it is mentioned in this short story that Mephibosheth dined at the king’s table. Thus four times the loving kindness of the king is underscored. At the king’s table, an enemy is treated as a son, dishonor is turned to dignity, shame replaced with respect. At the king’s table, emptiness is filled with overflowing bounty, covenant love ensures that while a man has nothing to offer, there will always be a seat.
What a beautiful glimpse this story gives us into the heart of King David, but what an even greater glimpse it gives us into the heart of the greater David who was to come—our Savior, Jesus, the King of Kings; the King of Kings who left the glory of the throne to enter this broken and messy world in search of those to whom He might show kindness; the King of Kings who found us as enemies in exile and brought us to His table to dine as His sons; the King of Kings who took our dishonor and shame upon Himself, hanging naked on a cross and bearing the reproach we deserve; the King of Kings who has made those who come with empty hands co-heirs in His victorious inheritance; the King of Kings who has covenanted with us that nothing can separate us from His steadfast love, that there will always be a seat at His table.
The King of Kings invites us to come, so may we come, as beggars, as exiles, as enemies with empty hands and lame feet to the table of the One who has shown us steadfast love and overflowing kindness. May we find rest and fullness at His table, and fix our eyes upon that one glorious day when we will see this King seated upon His throne, when we will live in His presence in the new Jerusalem, where we will dine at His table always, and where we will be so caught up in the glory of His presence that we fail to notice the lameness of our feet.