Monday, December 21, 2009

A cripple

Long time no write, eh? Sorry about that; school's been a bit busy here for the writers of OWU. Hopefully we'll be able to write more frequently in the future.

About to change gears. Get ready for an abrupt switch, because I don't feel like thinking up a nice transition at the moment. And no, this isn't a Christmas post, strictly speaking.

We all know the story of David out of the Bible. Goliath, Saul, Jonathon, Bathsheba... those are the stories that normally come to mind when his name is mentioned. I think one story that's frequently overlooked is that of Mephibosheth, and it's jam packed with grace and foreshadowing.
The story of Mephibosheth (what a name!) is found in II Samuel 9. His background is found in chapter 4 of the same book. He was the son of Jonathon, son of Saul. He was five when the news came that Jonathon had been killed in battle, and Saul had been murdered. (He actually killed himself; a man wanting some glory told David that he had killed him. See II Sam. 2) Upon hearing the news of these deaths, Mephibosheth's nurse flips out. She takes the young prince and runs, and accidentally drops him, making him lame in both his feet.
Fast forward a few years. David has been anointed and crowned king of Israel and Judah, and defeated many of the surrounding nations. He apparently in all this remembers Saul and Jonathon, because he asks whether there's anybody alive from Sauls' house. Take a look for yourself (bit of a long passage, but it's good.)

And David said, "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?" Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, "Are you Ziba?" And he said, "I am your servant." And the king said, "Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?" Ziba said to the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet." The king said to him, "Where is he?" And Ziba said to the king, "He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar." Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, "Mephibosheth!" And he answered, "Behold, I am your servant." And David said to him, "Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always." And he paid homage and said, "What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?" Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, "All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table." ... So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. ... And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet. (II Sam. 9:1-13)

Notice David's grace here. Remember that Saul tried to kill him multiple times, regardless of promises to spare David's life. Saul was a king who did not always fear God. David could well have disposed of Mephibosheth without a qualm. Why did he have pity on Mephibosheth? Why did he even ask whether any of Saul's relatives were alive? The answer is in the text: "I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan..."
This story would be pretty cool if it consisted only of a king being nice to a random crippled prince from an opposing dynasty. But there's more to it than that. This story is a huge red arrow pointing straight to Calvary.
We are spiritual cripples by nature. We're lost in our sins, separated from God. We are of a lineage that doesn't make us look so great. The human race has murdered, stolen, adulterated, lied, cheated, idolized, coveted, and that's just a start to the list. Yet the King calls us into his court, and tells us that we can sit at his table. Why? We're absolutely not worthy. We deserve death and hell, eternal condemnation. So why on earth would God let us into his family? "I will show you kindness for the sake of my son Jesus." God's favour toward us is not a result of anything we have done, but the result of the righteousness of Another which is credited to us.

Now, like I said earlier, this isn't strictly a Christmas post. That is, there's no manger, no star, no angels shouting their heads off. But this is the reason that Christmas is celebrated. There wouldn't be such a big fuss over Christmas if Jesus was just a good moral teacher. We celebrate His birth because of the love He showed us in laying down His life for wicked sinners, for cripples.
Happy Christmas everyone!


The Ordinary said...

eye opening

Dave said...

Awesome post E!

The Scribbler said...

Wow. This used to be one of my favorite Bible stories as a kid, but I never looked at it in this light before. Thanks so much!