By grace, God’s table has become yours, and it is abundant with blessings.
BREAKING NEWS: You’ve been Mephibosheth-ed. Mephibo . . . what?
A Bible story will answer your question much better than I can. Read 2 Samuel 9:1-13. Mephibosheth’s story is an illustration of a person who receives something he did not deserve. It is a moving story of a promise kept and the untold kindness that goes with it. It’s a riveting account of unexpected graciousness, of undeserved love.
And it’s a vivid example of something that happened to you: Grace. This is not someone else’s story—it’s yours.
A story of kindness
In this story, we meet a man with a not-so-common handle—Mephibosheth—living in a place with a not-so-familiar name—Lo Debar.
The combined words “Lo Debar” have a variety of meanings, one being “no pasture.” It seems Lo Debar was an unimaginable, barren, desolate place. It’s not a place that shepherds bring their sheep for rich pasture, but it was a perfect location for a man like Mephibosheth, a man on the lam.
Mephibosheth was hiding because he was the grandchild of the former King Saul. Mephibosheth knew that Grandpa Saul became an enemy of young David. After all, this shepherd boy was a threat to him. Saul was consumed by anger and jealousy to the point that he attempted to kill the giant-killer (1 Samuel 18:8-19).
But Saul died, and David became king. This meant danger for anyone in Saul’s family line. It was common practice that when a new king assumed the throne, he’d cut off all the members of the previously reigning royal dynasty. How do you reduce the chance of a revolt by anyone in the ousted family? Exterminate them.
David wasn’t about to do that, but Mephibosheth didn’t know that. For all Mephibosheth knew, he had a target on his back. By tucking himself away in Lo Debar, he put some distance between himself and the palace of the new king.
One day a representative of King David knocked on Mephibosheth’s door. One minute Mephibosheth was safely secluded in Lo Debar, the next minute he was face down in fear in front of the most powerful man in the land. But Mephibosheth was knocked for a loop. He was struck—but get this—not with a honed blade of a sword or even a harsh word of judgment but with an astonishing message of grace: “Don’t be afraid . . . I will surely show you kindness . . . you will always eat at my table.”
Like a bolt of lightning, King David’s grace-packed message struck quickly and stunned completely. Had Mephibosheth not already been bowed low on the floor, the news would have buckled his knees and thrown him down to the ground. Did he hear what he thought he heard? Would he really be shown kindness? Would he really eat at the king’s table? Always?
Yes, that’s what was said, and that’s what happened. “Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11). He didn’t deserve the kindness but received it anyway.
Our story of grace
Haven’t we also been shown incomparable kindness? Haven’t we been stunned by grace?
Like Mephibosheth, we were all in Lo Debar—not the town in Old Testament Gilead but in a spiritually barren place. Apart from God and his love because of sin, our existence was dry and parched—no spiritually green pastures, no quiet waters, no fellowship with our Creator. We were trying to hide not only our sins from God but also ourselves from him.
And then the Servant came. He showed up even though we never invited him. He found us in a wilderness of insignificance and barrenness and ushered us into a palace of royalty and plenty. God’s message to us is as shocking as it is humbling: “I will show you kindness . . . you will eat at my table. Always.”
We’ve been Mephibosheth-ed.
We are not just the readers of a heartwarming story of kindness but the recipients of it. It truly is our story. What has happened to us? In a word: Grace. Found by it. Saved by it. Blessed by it. Seated at the King’s table because of it.
To really appreciate what happened, it is vital to understand what the Servant actually did. He was cruelly betrayed, unjustly treated, and unlovingly denied. He was spit upon, slapped, blindfolded, and beaten. And then Jesus experienced the most extreme desolation, isolation, and separation while on the cross. He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Apart from the Father, there are no spiritually green pastures, no life-giving waters, no soul-refreshing fellowship. There is no wilderness more barren.
Why would he exchange his robe of righteousness for our filthy clothes of sin? Why would he pay such a high price? Why did Jesus ultimately spend time in his own Lo Debar?
So that we wouldn’t have to spend eternity there. Jesus gave up his own place at the table of glory and love so you and I would have a place there. Always.
And that table can’t be outdone. It’s piled with much more than turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie. Spread before us are abundant gifts: sins forgiven and fellowship with God, answers to prayer and assurances of God’s favor. There’s the promise that in all things he works for our good. There are comfort, joy, and peace knowing that each one of us has a place in the family and an inheritance that goes with it. There’s the assurance of a glorified body and an eternal home in heaven. There at the table is even the King’s delight! He delights in us! God’s table is mounded with goodness, and it testifies to God’s unparalleled kindness and abundant love.
Is it any wonder that Christians find the table a great place to gather and an honor to be at? Is it any wonder why the people seated at the table respond with thanksgiving?
This Thanksgiving, I don’t know if your table will be piled high with your favorite foods or if it will be sparser than in years before, but either way, you are seated at another table: God’s. His table has become yours, and it is abundant with blessings. I don’t know if the chairs around your table will be occupied or empty, but around God’s table there is an entire family of believers: the likes of Paul and Matthew and Zacchaeus and Rahab and Samson and Abraham and Gideon and Joshua. Imagine all of them telling their personal stories of how God brought them from their own Lo Debars—their own places of isolation and desolation—to the palace of the King.
And you know what? You have your own story to tell. Your story is really God’s story of Jesus seeking you, finding you, and bringing you to the palace of the King. It’s good news that leaves you dripping with thankfulness.
You’ve been . . . Mephibosheth-ed.
Author: John Holtz
Volume 109, Number 11
Issue: November 2022