My wife’s father was a cripple. It surprised me sometimes to hear him comment on American football games and if someone dropped a catch he’d call them a ‘cripple’. There was an irony there that I think that he intended, but still it showed the tendency in our ‘enlightened’ times to look down on those who are physically disabled. In David’s time in the Bible, people would have shunned cripples so that they were seen as dogs – little more than animals. It was often thought that cripples were cursed by God.
David shows his loyalty and kindness by reaching out to Mephibosheth. He is the crippled heir of Saul’s line. No-one seriously considered him for king and he hadobviously been left out of the social spotlight. David welcomes him into the heart of the kingdom and gives him great honour. This shows how a godly person does not focus on physical ability and is not afraid to honour rivals. How do you treat the physically disabled? How do you treat your rivals and their families?
2 Samuel 9
1David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
2Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
“At your service,” he replied.
3The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”
4“Where is he?” the king asked.
Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
5So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.
6When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“At your service,” he replied.
7“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.”
8Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s[a]table like one of the king’s sons.
12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.
- How is Mephibosheth related to Saul?
- What does David do for him?
- What does this show about David’s character and God’s character?
- Who are your rivals? How do you treat them?
- Do you reach out to the disabled? How could this be done?