I am Mephibosheth, sort of

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The news stunned him. Acid began contorting his stomach into a paroxysmal attack.  Ziba had just come back from the palace, dropping this bombshell, one he had been fearing ever since his dad and grandpa had been killed in battle.

Now that Israel’s true hero David, the one who had slain Goliath without hesitation, reigned in King Saul’s place, Mephibosheth had known this day would arrive.  He had expected it weeks, even months ago.  Everyone knew that new kings wiped out any and all people connected with previous rulers. The only explanation for his delayed execution was that David had more pressing enemies.

“Defeating the Philistines is keeping the new king busy.  Maybe he’ll….forget about me?  After all, what threat do I, a man who can’t even walk, pose.  It’s humiliating enough that my steward Ziba assigns men to carry me from my bed to the bathroom to the table to the veranda.  There is no way I could stage an overthrow to take back what is rightfully mine.”

Yes, Mephibosheth was the rightful heir to Saul’s throne as the only surviving male in the dynasty.  But his dad Jonathan had in effect given up the right to succeed Saul when he took off his ‘heir apparent’ cloak and placed it on his most trusted, beloved friend and comrade, David.  Jonathan had announced to Mephibosheth and little grandson Mica that David would be the next king, not he. Never had Mephibosheth pictured that his dad and his uncles would die in battle WITH the king.  He had trusted Jonathan’s friendship with David.  But all changed when Dad died.

Resigning himself to the inevitable execution in the next week days, Mephibosheth prepared his heart. If this summons meant an audience first with the King before dying, then he knew in what manner he would face David.

Little did he know David’s true intent:

2 Samuel 9:1: David asked,”Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

Someone recalled Ziba, chief over all the attendants serving Saul’s household and family. Messengers located Ziba and then escorted him to the palace in Jerusalem.  From Ziba David learned that Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, survived.  Apparently, Mephibosheth maintained what he thought was a low profile up north in Makir’s house.  Ziba directed his men to transport this crippled former heir to dead King Saul.

Let’s pick up with the dramatic tête-à-tête:

2 Sam 9:6  When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. 

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“Your servant,” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him,”for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.  I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

Mephibosheth bowed down and said,”What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?

Reading Mephibosheth’s response stunned me. His self-description ‘dead dog like me’ accurately reflected his status.  He was dead meat, for sure, no better than a ‘dog’. Contemporary culture at the time despised canines, often categorizing their heathen enemies as dogs.

So, what was it that startled me enough to think deeply about this vignette in David’s life?

I am Mephibosheth….in some ways.  Seeing Mephibosheth’s self-assessment reflects my true status. What is that? Simply that apart from God’s grace toward me, I remain an enemy by nature and deserving execution.  Like Jonathan’s son,  I am also a cripple, incapable and resistant to being in the King’s presence.

But here is how we differ:

  • I don’t REALLY believe that I am like a dead dog, and all that expression carried back then.
  • Therefore, I am unconscious most of the time of what my life would look like were it not for God’s grace.

Here’s my question for myself:

“If this news stunned the humble and honest Mephibosheth, what will it take for you, Maria, to SEE the unimaginable kindness of King Jesus toward you? Why don’t you wake up every morning, pinching yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming, that your new status as friend of the King is REAL and SECURE ?  Where is your daily mirth, your transparent joy?  Does your face or any words or actions even hint at the enormity of this life-altering gift?”

I have no answer or excuse.  But I thank God for gently shining His light through His Word on my unholy responses to Him.

 

Being more kind than we think necessary

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Kindness is more than they deserve

It wasn’t until I got married that I learned of my poor sense of  judgment.

What I mean, is that I invariably pull out a container far too small to hold dinner’s leftovers.  Mike chalks it up to a false sense of economy.  He has me nailed correctly.  For this is how my flawed thinking goes:  “If all this will fit into a smaller pot/bowl/storage unit, then there will be LESS to clean (I’m lazy!)

I have learned, over the years, NOT to trust my judgment, but to automatically select a receptacle LARGER than I think necessary.  I’m sure you can point to similar circumstances where you have learned not to trust your intuition, but to go with your training.  Pilots routinely navigate this way.

Picture an airplane that has to crab into the wind, in order to fly straight.  This means that the pilot POINTS the nose off-center (not in the direction she wants to go), so that the body of the plane will actually TRACK in the intended direction.

crabbing into the wind

So it was with a sense of recognition for this principle of purposeful über- sizing that I read the following quote:

In this world, you must be a bit too kind to be kind enough.

Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux, dramatist and novelist (1688-1763)

I suppose we should not be surprised.  It’s like when you SMILE for a photo, and you think you have pasted on a cheesy monkeyish grin.  But in seeing the picture, you just look…well..happy!  I don’t think we are very good judges of what IS enough!  After all, ‘they’ say it takes 10 deposits into a student’s ‘LOVE BANK’ to balance out 1 correction.

Compliments are hard to come by

And the Bible affirms that what draws ANYONE to us is not how smart we are, how together we look, how neat our homes are, how successful we are in business, school or raising kids.  What attracts others to you is your kindness:

Prov 19:22  – What is desirable in a man is his kindness.

Wow!  God through Solomon,  the King who was known for his wisdom, is instructing us about the most desirable character trait.  This kindness or ‘chesed’ is also translated as MERCY.   Mercy is when you don’t give someone what they deserve; instead you give them something they don’t deserve, like grace.  And in order to do that, it’s going to cost YOU a lot. For God to give us mercy when we deserved punishment, He submitted His Son to our sentence.

The price you and I are going to have to pay to be kind enough and merciful enough is far more than we think we should or even for which we can SEE we have the resources. (But God is more than happy to supply us!) And just like in my silly but frequent misjudging of the large-enough storage container, we will have to be MORE kind than we think necessary.

What a thought: that the only thing someone will really remember about me, if they remember me at all, is that I was kind to them.  And for them to notice kindness, it’s going to have to be MORE than I think I should have to GIVE.

Kindess is wisdom

What were the circumstances of someone’s extravagant  kindness to you?

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