|Restored To the King's Table|
In Old Testament times, it was not uncommon for a new king to kill any surviving relative who might claim to be an heir to the throne. God's commandments were against this, but unfortunately many of the kings of Israel and Judah sank to the level of world in practicing this custom. The worst of these may have been the wicked Queen Athaliah, who actually killed her own grandchildren so that she could secure the throne of Judah.
"When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs." 2Kings 11:1 (NKJV)
King David, however, whom God called "a man after His own heart," and who in many instances represents a type of Christ in Scripture, reacted in an entirely different manner. It was extremely unusual for David to ascend to the throne since he was not one of King Saul's heirs, for the normal progression of kings is through the bloodline. (This also speaks to us of Christ becoming king of the human race, but not through the fallen bloodline.) Therefore, in the natural realm, King David had a compelling reason to attempt to destroy Saul's descendants. Nevertheless, instead David honored the covenant he had made years before with Jonathan, who was Saul's son, and David's exceedingly loyal and honorable friend.
"…but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the Lord has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth." 1Samuel 20:15 (NKJV)
And so, when David finally became king, he sought to help Jonathan's relatives. The destructive war with the Philistines had killed Jonathan and most of Saul's progeny, and David was not aware of who had survived.
"Then the king said, 'Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?' And Ziba said to the king, 'There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.' So the king said to him, 'Where is he?' And Ziba said to the king, 'Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar." 2Samuel 9:3-4 (NKJV)
Mephibosheth was his name, and David sent for him immediately. One might well understand the fear and trepidation with which he answered the king's call to come to the palace, and note with interest the way that King David blessed him. Nevertheless, the story is also symbolic, and is a rich revelation of the blessings received when one becomes a Christian. Like the many colors of a rainbow, shades of meaning that we may be unaware of are revealed through stories such as this one.
The Fallen State Revealed
Mephibosheth is the offspring of Saul, who speaks to us of Adam. Saul was brought up from nothing to be the King of Israel, and was endowed with tremendous authority and gifts. Adam also had authority over all of God's creation and was a type of king before the Fall, but when he sinned through disobedience he lost his position, eventually causing God regret.
"And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." Genesis 6:6 (NKJV)
Similarly, God regretted giving Saul his kingly position, for we read in 1Samuel 15:35, that "the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel." Mephibosheth, then, can be thought of as a child from the fallen race. His name is made up of two Hebrew words, paah, which means "to break into pieces, or shatter," and bosheth, which means "greatly ashamed, shameful thing" and "confusion. Does this not speak clearly to us of our condition before salvation, in which we suffered from a shattered spirit, and were confused about why we were alive? Moreover, were we not a shameful thing, whether we realized it or not? And did not the realization that we should be greatly ashamed for our sinful, perverted deeds dawn on us before we could comprehend our need for forgiveness?
However, had we died as young children, we know we would have gone to heaven because we were beneath the age of accountability. God does not send a child to hell who lacks the ability to make a decision for or against salvation, and this is revealed by the Apostle Paul when he says that, "I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died." Romans 7:9. David also spoke of the death of his infant son, and said he would some day go to him (2Samuel 12:23). And here we see a "type" fulfilled by Mephibosheth. In Second Samuel 4:4, we read that "…his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame." Can we not here see how this parallels the spiritual death of a child born into a home without Christ? The youngster, without guidance for salvation, is eventually "stricken or smitten" in spirit, which is one of meanings for the Hebrew word nakeh which is used here for lame.
Coming from Lo Debar
'Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar." 2Samuel 9:4
Mephibosheth was living in Lo Debar, which consists of two interesting Hebrew words, lo, which means "nothing" and dober which means "no pasture." Also the root word of dober is debar, which means "no promise." So we see that this man was in a place with no pasture - nothing to satisfy his soul and spirit. And he lacked that pasture because he lacked the promise which only God can give, which represents the promise of eternal life. In the natural understanding, Mephibosheth feared for his earthly life, for he probably believed that because he was a descendant of Saul, who hunted David for years, David would seek retribution against him. In the same manner, those of us who were saved later in life realize that we were at enmity with God before conversion, mocking Christians and the things of Spirit, and were enemies of the Cross. Fortunately for us, in spite of our rebellion, we are accepted through repentance because of a "type" of David's covenant with Jonathan - the covenant made by the Blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses us from sin.
That fact that Mephibosheth was in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel also has relevance for us. The word in Hebrew for house here is bayith, which can mean "prison". And the name Machir is makar in Hebrew and it means "to be sold, to sell oneself" and "to be given over to death." Ammiel comes from the root word amam, which means "to darken, or to be held in darkness." We see then that Mephibosheth, as a type of a lost person, was a prisoner to sin, even sold to it, as we read in Romans 7:14, "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin." In a state of spiritual death, dwelling in darkness and confusion, he is brought before the king, whom he has good reason to fear, particularly because of the ancestral sin in his family.
Falling Before the Throne
"Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar. Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, 'Mephibosheth?' And he answered, "Here is your servant!'" 2Samuel 9:5-6 (NKJV)
Can we not imagine Mephibosheth falling before the feet of David, trembling with fear as he drops on his face before the throne? And does this not remind us of the words of Paul, when he tells us to "…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…" Philippians 2:12? Let us also consider the manner in which Mephibosheth presents himself before the king, saying, "Here is your servant!" Although rarely spoken of today when an altar call is given, is this not also a major part of the make-up of a true Christian? For surely we must come as a servant of God, if we are to share in His ineffable goodness. And was not the prodigal son of a like mind, returning to his father with the notion of only seeking to be his servant? Nevertheless, what did the gracious father bestow on this wayward son, even though he had squandered his "substance" on the perversions of the flesh? Was he not restored in a like manner?
Restoration By the King
"So David said to him, 'Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father's sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.' Then he bowed himself, and said, 'What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?'" 2Samuel 9:7-8 (NKJV)
First let us note how Mephibosheth answers the king. He calls himself a "dead dog." In the Semitic culture even in current times, to call someone a dog is a terrible insult, comparable to cursing someone in Western culture. And in the Hebrew this word is keleb, which not only means dog, but also means "contempt or abasement." But Mephibosheth goes even further, also referring to himself as "dead." Surely as we come to Christ we must realize our lost condition, and know that we are spiritually dead. Only when we are able to admit our true state of failure, may we then avail ourselves of the miracle of His victory on the Cross. Moreover, we are reminded in James 4:6 that "…God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
Evidently it was hard for Mephibosheth to comprehend the graciousness of King David. Summoned for what he probably thought was judgment, he instead is invited to eat daily at the king's table, along with receiving all of the land once owned by his grandfather, King Saul. One can only imagine how great these land holdings were - for there is no doubt that Saul, having been the king, was immensely wealthy. What a type this is of the blessings that God gives us! No, not the materialistic things of this world, but the treasure of spiritual riches we receive when we are brought into the kingdom!
"…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:7 (NKJV)
These riches also speak to us of a supernatural restoration of our lives that only God can perform, even as He promised in Joel 2:25, saying, "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…". And in Psalm 80:3 we read, "Restore us, O God; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!"
The Incomparable King's Table
In all the land there would be no repast, no delicacies, no feast that could compare to what was served at the king's table. The best chefs were employed by the king, and only the finest of food, the cream of the crop, was accepted into the royal kitchen. One can only imagine how painstakingly and meticulously the food was prepared, how beautiful the settings of solid gold must have been, how fresh and beautiful the flowers, how ornate the decorations. Nothing was too fine or too costly for the king and his guests, nor would any detail be left unattended. Every desire for any type of food would be satisfied, every thirst quenched. To be honored to sit at just one of these magnificent meals was an event one might remember for a long time, and perhaps tell one's children and friends about, but to feast there on a regular basis was indeed wondrous.
What a promise from God for us! And we see this promise also in Christ's words in Revelation 3:20, when He tells us, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." And in John 6:51 where He states, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."
Indeed, if we can only leave our worldly way of thinking and cast our foolish cares upon Him, we shall surely find that He has given us so much more than we realize. We know from Revelation 1:6 that "He has made us kings and priests…", and surely He has not done so without also inviting us to His incomparable table. For He has promised us, even as He promised Israel, a spiritual sustenance also mentioned in Psalms. However, Israel did not believe Him and they missed the blessing He wanted to bestow on them.
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me…He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat; and with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you." Psalm 81:10,11,16 (NKJV)
When we pray "give us this day our daily bread," is it food we are praying for? America is drowning in food, and a thousand other preoccupations, and yet we have a most depressed and unhappy populace. More anti-depression drugs are dispensed here than anywhere else in the world and yet we are by far the most prosperous materially. Unfortunately, many Christians here are as sad as unbelievers, and are looking for something in their lives to change so that they may have joy in the Lord.
But that change will only come when we apprehend the fact that God is feeding us with His Word and His presence, and that Jesus is explaining this clearly to us when He says, "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed." John 6:55. If the "food of the world," the ungodly diversions which the world revels in, the buying of trinkets and gadgets and clothing, the bondage to sports and other entertainment, and the lust for wealth could satisfy our hungry souls, then He would not have said that He was our food.
Shall we then perpetuate the deception that what the world dishes up is best, or shall we disdain it, quit feeding on it, and say with Jesus, "I have food to eat of which you do not know," John 4:32? Is it not a fact that God has provided spiritual sustenance for us, and we may appropriate that provision by faith, which is strengthened as we meditate on and believe His eternal promises? For surely he has given us the same promise Mephibosheth had, but with an added, divine meaning - a promise no commoner would consider lightly. "As for Mephibosheth," said the king, "he shall eat at my table like one of the king's sons." 2Samuel 9:11 (NKJV)