We saw in Part 1 that the story of David and Mephibosheth is a reflection of God's grace to us as we, like Mephibosheth, are invited to dine at the King's table, to be treated as the King's sons (and daughters). This was not a fairytale ending moment because it was not the end of the story for Mephibosheth and David. There is more treachery to come and a couple more lessons that we can learn from the King and the cripple.
Treachery All Around...
David’s children were a troubled lot of kids to say the least. Absalom was the one who possibly caused David the most problems and eventually led an almost-successful rebellion against the King, forcing David to leave the throne of Jerusalem and go into hiding because Absalom had turned the people against him. It is whilst he is hiding and trying to rally his own strong men to hunt for Absalom that David meets Ziba, now described as servant to Mephibosheth.
Ziba brings David and his men 2 donkeys carrying 200 loaves of bread, raisins, fruit and wine. When David asks Ziba where Mephibosheth is Ziba tells David that Mephibosheth is in Jerusalem and waiting to take his place on the throne, that His kingdom will be restored.
The idea is that Mephibosheth is biding his time in Jerusalem, waiting and plotting. While Absalom and David kill each other in battle they will leave a power vacuum. Mephibosheth can then swoop in as the last remaining person of Saul’s bloodline is in Jerusalem and take power.
In response, possibly a rash one, but understandable, David grants all the lands of Saul that he had given to Mephibosheth to Ziba.
The Triumphant Return
Eventually Absalom is killed and David goes into great mourning over his son, before his adviser Joab gives him a right royal kick up the backside and David returns to Jerusalem. On his way to Jerusalem a whole load of people swarm across to join the King and aid him back to his throne including Ziba, his sons and his servants and eventually Mephibosheth plods up on a Donkey
And now we find out the other side of the story of Mephibosheth.
Ziba had schemed to use the situation to his advantage and disappointingly he never seems to get his come-uppance. Instead it would seem that despite his treachery against his master he ends up, potentially with all of Sauls lands.
Stealing Your Inheritance?
The reflection for us here is, is there someone trying to trick you and steal your inheritance? Now I’m not talking about some prosperity message where we all get healthy and wealthy, but there are some very real inheritances of the Kingdom that we are promised here and now.
Peace, a light burden, a lack of fear and worry, and an assurance of our eternal destination...these are our inheritance. Yet perhaps the servant of our deposed father is trying to steal these from us? Sometimes I know that he can do a really good job at getting me to question some of these things.
The thing is, we didn’t earn them, they are a gift that is freely given and when we get flustered and loose our grip on these things we just have to reach out again and accept them.
The Final Lesson
Mephibosheth still has something more to teach us.
It says that while David had been away that Mephibosheth had not trimmed his beard or looked after his feet. This to me speaks of great sorrow, it certainly has the outward appearance that he was in mourning. It seems that David seeing him in this state believes that Mephibosheth was not plotting against him. Mephibosheth did not, at that moment, look like someone that had been preparing to limp out onto a balcony and declare himself as rightful king. He was dirty, smelly and hadn’t cared to look after his damaged feet at all. These are not the actions of an usurper to the throne!
He was tricked into staying in Jerusalem by the counsel of the slippery Ziba who then slipped off to meet David and steal the land.
To me it is the last part of this conversation though that holds the deepest understanding of Mephibosheth, and this is the second treasure of this story...
All the land and inheritance was worthless to him if He couldn’t be with the King. The ONLY thing that mattered was to be in the presence of the King.
When Did You Last?
Sometimes we get very hung up on the inheritance that can be ours. It’s like we want God for what He can do for us. We want the gifts, but we don’t always acknowledge the giver. We pray for the things that we need Him to put right and Jesus himself told us that it is right to do so, because we should ask Him for what we need and He loves to give us good gifts. How often though do we seek out His presence, just to sit in wonder and know that at that moment when we sit before him that we already have everything we need?
Although I have always been a non-conformist there are things that can be learnt from liturgy – things we would do well to remember. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks as its first question “What is the chief end of man?”
The answer “Man’s Chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
As we saw earlier our salvation and adoption cost us nothing. We didn’t earn it, it was granted to us as a hard-won prize of Jesus sacrifice.
Do we like Mephibosheth want to remain close to the King, no matter what the cost?
When I was a teenager, I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation and it’s spin-off series Deep Space Nine and Voyager. It wasn’t just an enjoyment, it was an obsession. I used to have a small bedroom, there were posters from Star Trek Monthly on the walls, when I ran out of room on the walls I put them on the ceiling. I watched it whenever it was on TV, but the BBC was always behind Sky TV, but my parents wouldn’t pay out for Sky. Possibly one of the best times of my young adult life was when I broke my leg, I couldn’t go to school for weeks. So I borrowed the videos off an older friend from church and watched them one after another while resting my foot.
Now I know I was younger and had more time, but I don’t do this with my time with God. I say that I am busy, too busy to pray, too busy to sit and read the Bible, but I still find time to watch my favourite TV programmes or a movie, or to randomly surf the internet, not looking for anything in particular. Mephibosheth would allow it to cost him everything he had to stay close to the King, but I find excuses to put it off. TV or Internet may not be where you spend your 'free' time, perhaps it's coffee with friends, social media, or something else that you can identify you spend too much time on? There is nothing wrong with these things, and this isn't a guilt trip, but could you spend some of that time in a different way?
My challenge to myself today and your mission should you decide to accept it, is to develop a habit of replacing ‘me time’ with Him time.
Deep down I want to spend quality time with God, I am quite happy to sing “take the world but give me Jesus” and similar songs, but these turn into empty words when I put him last on my to do list. And actually if the world is taken and just Jesus is left I'm OK with that, but what about when the choice is mine to surrender these things? That can be much harder.
Perhaps you have done the same? Together as a church we need to get closer to God, not to ask him anything, but just to “Be Still and know that He is God” and to be in his presence.