Mephibosheth, or the Kindness of God

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Men are very slow in comprehending the character of God. Even if they accept a salvation, they do not often find the God in all His own blessedness, who gives the salvation, and reveals Himself in it. He always gives in consistency with Himself. It is very helpful for us to see that the majesty of the throne of God, and all that might be called the severer attributes of His character, do not lose, but gain by the salvation of a sinner.
Parts of His ways, however, such as His government, are more developed in the Old Testament than in the New; for in the Old it was God governing, in the New it is God saving. Both in governing and saving He is perfectly harmonious. He is just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus. “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Our chapter opens with a display of the grace of David’s heart just after a beautiful narration (in part a prophecy 2 Sam. 7) of the promises of God to him and to his successors. Then (chap. 8.) we have the victories of David over, and the subjugation of the surrounding nations; and lastly, comes the ordering of his own government and household. All this must be done before he has leisure to think of other matters, and now his heart turns to his old intimacies with the house of Saul. “Is there not yet any of the house of Saul that I may shew the kindness of God to him I” That is, deal with them as God has dealt with me; for he had been dealt with in the richest and fullest grace. God had taken him from the sheepcotes and made him king over His own people Israel. He had brought down the self-willed Saul, and set up David, the man after His own heart, in his stead.
Is it not certain that Jesus, raised up to God’s throne in glory, has, ere this took place, settled the whole question of sin in God’s favor? That by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus the throne of God is firmly settled, and, to speak after the manner of men, He is at leisure in perfect consistency with His own majesty, to show mercy to sinners? Had not sin disorganized everything? Was not Adam a traitor to his trust when he, or rather Eve, beguiled by the serpent in the garden of Eden, ate the forbidden fruit and so fell, and did not the whole creation become subject to vanity with him? (Rom. 8) Did not sin enter, and death by sin? How was all this to be effectually remedied? How were the rights of the Creator to be met by this breach in the creature? Was sin a light matter? Upon what basis shall the throne of God stand? Could grace reign on the part of God towards man, without a suitable adjustment of His claims on man as a sinner? How were. God’s rights and a sinner’s salvation to be reconciled? Let us proceed with our history.
David was, we say, at leisure, God having firmly set him on the throne to think of mercy. There was no longer danger in so doing. He hears of this poor lame man, a grandson of Saul; he was a long way from Jerusalem, in the more northern parts of the land, hiding himself away from a just fear, perhaps, of the wrath of the king, as sinners ignorant of the gospel do in these days. David sends and fetches him from Lo-debar, said to mean “no pasture.” There is finding and fetching grace. Poor Mephibosheth had neither the means to come, for he was lame, nor the mind, for he could only suppose antipathy on the part of David to him. But David sends and brings him right up to the city of solemnities into his presence and calls him by name. “Art thou Mephibosheth? “This poor man came without claim or title to be noticed, nay, as rather expecting sentence of death. He could only fall on his face and do reverence. Is it thus with you, my poor sinful friend! Have you realized your condition if called upon by God in such words as, “Who art thou?” or “Where art thou?” Have you, like Mephibosheth, lost all claim to be thought anything? Have you yet realized the fact that although once by the title of your forefather, an heir of Eden, you are now an outcast, and cannot upon any claims of your own win a place there again? Do you know that your existence, as by the old nature, is forfeited? Now, how did David, out of the mercy and grace that was in his own heart act to Mephibosheth? Did he begin with reviling his grandfather, Saul, or by looking suspiciously upon him as a plotter against his throne? No; his words were, “Fear not, for I will surely shew thee kindness,.... and will restore thee all the land of Saul, thy father.” Is not this the way in which God deals, nay, must deal with a sinner if He is to gain that sinner’s heart? The attitude of Mephibosheth upon the ground before him showed that he had accepted the place of abasement, and there was nothing now but to show him mercy. But this was not all. It was something to have all the property of his house restored to him. This might have contented Mephibosheth, but it did not content David. He must have this adopted child always before him, and so whilst Ziba was to take care of all his land, and till it for him, David must have him to eat bread before him at his table continually. Was not all this according to David’s heart?
Oh! my poor friend, are these your thoughts about the love of God? Do you know that He wishes to restore you back to more than the place which your father Adam had before he fell, and which he forfeited in that fall? He lost his position before God, and death, too, came in. By the reception of Christ you get more than a restoration; you get life and righteousness—the life an eternal life, and the righteousness a standing before God in the person of Christ. This is the way in which God would begin with you. He does not ask anything from you. In fact, you are a beggar—you have nothing to offer. But in the greatness of His love, and because of the work of Christ, which has harmonized. all His attributes, He is able thus, in consistency with all His perfections, to give you everything you need, and more than you lost in Adam. He bestows everything according to the love which He has to that Son who died, and whom He has raised from the dead. But more than this, not satisfied with restoring you to His image, He would have you very near Him, and where you may be acquainted with all His counsels, as Mephibosheth must have heard everything that went on at David’s table. Less would satisfy us, but less will not satisfy Him. So there David and Mephibosheth sat day by day; the one looking with delight at the object of his mercy, the other wondering at that grace which, finding him so low, had raised him so high.
But it was also true that all this time Mephibosheth was lame on both his feet, and knew it—until the day of his death he was lame. Yet he still enjoyed the king’s presence, and ate of all the good things at his table.
Dear reader, can you apply this history to yourself? In your natural state, is it not a fact that you are “far off” from God? But I can affirm that, notwithstanding that you are “alienated in your mind by wicked works,” His heart is towards you. Has His love in the gospel yet found you out? Have you received the message of pardon and the gift of righteousness yet from His hand. It is through death that Christ has reached the throne— “The throne is established by righteousness.” The sword that awoke against Him (Zech. 13:77Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. (Zechariah 13:7)) when it was a question of sin on the cross, is now sheathed, and the favor of God is extended to all those who believe on Him. Nay, we are made the righteousness of God in Him. All that you have to put down is your own stubborn heart, and to accept the position of a “dead dog.” Moreover, do you believe that you may enter into the presence of God and realize your acceptance, and yet feel sin as Mephibosheth felt his lame feet? Oh, how often sinners stumble at this! They refuse to believe their sins forgiven, because they still feel sin in their members, as if the lame feet of Mephibosheth made his presence at the king’s table less real! Oh my reader, the Holy Ghost has been sent down from the ascended Christ, with the very same truthful realities to be made known to us, with sin still in us (1 John 1:88If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)), which we shall enjoy in glorified bodies when Jesus Himself comes to fetch us. They are made known to us by the Holy Ghost, for our full enjoyment and food now, according to grace, as they will be hereafter in a state of glory.
Oh! may you have the will to come for pardon, righteousness, and eternal life at the hands of Jesus, and be received into His household by faith, as you will hereafter be personally received into glory. —W. W.