Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Image from the Jordon Times Palestinian child's leg amputated after he was shot by Israeli sniper April, 2018

And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.
2 Samuel 9:3

David has been king of Judah for around fifteen years, and king of all Israel for eight, strengthening his kingship year upon year, So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people.1 It is during this period that we hear the story of Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son and the only surviving member of the house of Saul.

Mephibosheth was introduced in an earlier chapter, And Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.1 His story is left hanging until now, when it is woven back into the main narrative of king David. The story is an example of David's judgment and justice, and tells us how his predecessor Saul, to David still God's chosen, remains much on his mind. It must have meant a lot to David that the sole survivor of the line was the son of his beloved friend Jonathan, he whose love David described as wonderful, surpassing the love of women.3

The crippled Mephibosheth is provided with every kindness and privilege David has to offer. This small, personal story, standing alone as it does, unconnected to the greater history playing out around David and his kingship is perhaps intended as a metaphorical encapsulation of the kindness of David's rule, and by extension of God's own rule. Mephibosheth is Israel, crippled and imperfect, yet still connected to God through divine lineage. It takes a king like David—compassionate and personal as well as ruthless and objective as context determines—to govern God's people.

Biblical story-telling tends to be both spiralled and nested, repeating themes from different perspectives to reinforce a point of learning and understanding. Taking Mephibosheth as a metaphor for Israel, the last verse of this chapter in particular, offers a moving, beautiful and poetic portrait of the nation's relationship with God over the coming generations, perhaps even until this day.

So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet.4

Mephibosheth 5 Mephibosheth 6

1 1 Chronicles 18:14
2 2 Samuel 4:4
3 2 Samuel 1:26
4 2 Samuel 9:13
5 Photograph by Adi Nes, used in Lame In Both Feet While Sitting at the King's Table
6 Image in public domain