Monday, March 5, 2012

Crippled

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”


The king asked, “Is there no one still left of 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 crippled in both feet.”
2 Samuel 1, 3


Mephibosheth is an interesting character. Most of his story is about what he isn’t and doesn’t have, not about what he is or does have. Beyond that it isn’t even so much about who he is, as much as it is about his father, Jonathan, another interesting character. Jonathan is David’s best friend. He befriends and protects David’s life at risk to his own. Due to their deep friendship David has a covenant of protection for Jonathan and any and all members of his family. Now settled into his role as king, he asks for any member of Saul’s house that he can care for to honor Jonathan. Turns out there is, Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son. Perfect right? Yes, except that poor Mephib is crippled. The Scripture says that he is crippled in both feet. The other day as I read those words, that odd expression that refers to a clumsy person as having two left feet, popped into my head.

Ziba, the servant David is asking for help is reluctant to bring a cripple into the home of the king. The guy has two left feet. He’s useless as far as Ziba can see. David doesn’t care. It isn’t about Mephibosheth and what he can or cannot do. It’s about his parentage. It is about the fact that David dearly loved his father.
When Mephibosheth is brought to David he seems to share Ziba’s concern. He’s terrified. David reassures him. He wants to bless him, not harm him. It’s about loyalty, commitment, covenants. Mephibosheth settles into a place at David’s table. He receives all the things that belonged to Saul, his grandfather. David treats him like family, i.e. like royalty. Later on in their story Mephibosheth will betray David. He’ll try to pass it off as help but it looks a lot like betrayal. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Jonathan in befriending David, protecting him, loving him, has paid the price for Mephibosheth. He has secured Mephibosheth’s safety and comfort. Mephibosheth hasn’t done a thing to earn his position with David and there’s nothing he can do to lose it. Does that sound familiar?

David’s treatment of Mephibosheth is a glimpse of the way Jesus treats us. All of us have two left feet. We all come to the throne of grace with nothing to offer but our sad, broken, crippled selves. Our Father in heaven does not turn us away. Neither does he give us what we deserve. No, He treats us with love and kindness not because we’re such great little kids but because Jesus asked Him to, see John 17:15-26. He pleads for us to be welcome at a table that none of us deserve to even see.

So many times we try so hard to earn our place in God’s heart, which of course we can’t do. Grace is free. It is the only thing I know that truly is free. My relationship with Jesus is one that is constant whether I nurture it or not. Jesus, unlike most people, is willing to wait, wait until I’m in a better mood, wait until I’m not distracted, wait until I finish watching the movie, and wait until I remember just how much I need him. I live too many of my moments with some version of two left feet, although to be fair most of my sin finds its home in my tongue. I know I need a benefactor, just like Mephibosheth before me.

Mephibosheth did nothing to earn his blessing but he was happy to accept it. I have done nothing to earn or deserve the grace of God, the love of my Father, the guidance of the Holy Spirit or the sacrifice of my brother Jesus. And like Mephibosheth and David, no one can take the love of God away from me.

Am I crippled? Absolutely! Do I have a benefactor? I suppose, but better than that I have a Savior, which makes me, never forgotten, never forsaken and never alone. Crippled still but blessed.