Mephibosheth. What a name! What a mouthful to pronounce! Did he have a nickname?
Mephibosheth. Who was he? What do we know about him?
(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet.
He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan
came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled,
but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled.
His name was Mephibosheth.)
II Samuel 4:4
In this one verse of the Bible, we learn that Mephibosheth was a crippled son of Saul. When Mephibosheth is introduced in scripture, it is in a parenthetical statement which makes me wonder about his importance. Is this information about him an afterthought just for clarification? Why am I even bringing up his name in this blog?
I think we all can identify with Mephi in one way or another. Have you ever felt insignificant? Most of us will answer “yes” to that question – maybe we have felt shoved in a corner while everyone else was having a good time. Have you ever felt like you were dropped? Most of us will again have to admit that we have experienced discouragement when something we thought was important was dropped from an agenda and not acted upon by the majority of people. Are you crippled? Most of us have experienced a time when we have felt incapable of moving forward because we have been wounded and disabled by negative words spoken about us. Yes, in a sense, I believe we are all Methibosheths.
The king said, “Is there not yet anyone 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 crippled in both feet.”
So the king said to him, “Where is he?”
II Samuel 9:3-4
Wait a minute! Here is King David inquiring about Methibosheth. Why would he want to meet Methi? We need to remember that Johnathan, Mephibosheth’s father, and David, now king, were close friends. In a previous scriptural account, David made a covenant with Jonathan that he would always care for any living relative of Jonathan. David wanted to fulfill this covenant so he inquired to see if there was a living qualified person. When David found Mephibosheth, he restored all the land that had once belonged to Methi’s grandfather Saul and invited him into his home. David knew the significance of a covenant. We, too, would do well to remember the importance of a covenant we have made with the Lord.
So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
II Samuel 9:11
The king assured Mephi that he would always eat at his table. King David even calls him a son! He is not referred to as a cripple but he is defined as a son. How wonderful this must have felt to Mephibosheth! In his book Cast of Characters, Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God, Max Lucado makes the comparison of Methibotheth’s place at David’s table to our place with Christ. Lucado writes, “We are children of royalty, crippled by the fall, permanently marred by sin.” Ephesians 1:5 says “He (God) predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ.” Like Mephi, we may be crippled but God sees us as sons and daughters and bases His relationship with us upon the covenant we have made with Him rather than upon the label of any of our disabilities or shortcomings. Each time we partake of the sacrament of Communion, we are seated at the Lord’s table.
Mephibosheth. It is still a strange name and a hard name to pronounce, but it is also a name with which we can identify. I do not want to conclude this blog without thinking about the meaning of this name. Mephibosheth means “he who scatters shame.” When I hear this phrase, I think of two possible interpretations. “He who scatters shame” could refer to those who are crippled by shame and spread it on to those who surround them. Or, “He who scatters shame” could refer to those who break up shame so that it no longer can be an influence upon oneself or anyone else. I believe that at the beginning of our story about Mephibosheth, he felt like his condition negatively influenced not only himself but also those around him. However, by the end of the biblical account, Mephibosheth’s shame had been scattered to the wind and it no longer identified who he was. He was now a son and he lived with the king. Yes, we too can be like Mephibosheth! We are part of the family of God, forgiven of all that once crippled us.
Be proud to be a Mephibosheth!