Summary: Does God care when we are unable to compete as others compete? Does it matter to Him when we are handicapped? A study of the life of an obscure man provides hope and instruction for each of us to look to God even when we are handicapped.
“David said, ‘Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, ‘Are you Ziba?’ And he said, ‘I am your servant.’ And the king said, ‘Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?’ Ziba said to the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.’ The king said to him, ‘Where is he?’ And Ziba said to the king, ‘He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.’ Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’ And he answered, ‘Behold, I am your servant.’ And David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.’ And he paid homage and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?’
“Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, ‘All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.’ Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, ‘According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.’ So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.”
Lynda was nearly in tears. Our middle daughter was serving as a volunteer coach for Special Olympics, and the community in which we lived was hosting a track and field meet for the Special Olympians. Lynda and I encouraged our daughter in this labour of love. Accordingly, when opportunity was presented, we went to cheer on her eager athletes.
Reflecting on what it meant to live in a nation that demonstrated compassion for those who were not able in areas that we often take for granted left Lynda in a reflective mood. As we talked about the uniqueness of our Canadian experience contrasted to the sweep of human history, we swelled with pride for our nation and found ourselves giving thanks to God who had shown this nation such mercy. The evidence of divine mercy is the heritage of compassion demonstrated by national consensus. However, that kindness was not accidental.
If you doubt that assertion, ask yourself how many charities exist worldwide that were not initiated by Christians. In lands dominated by secularism, or dominated by any of a number of other religions, the least within society are seldom treated with compassion—they are cast aside or shunned. However, wherever the Christian Faith has prevailed, inevitably various charitable institutions are found, often preceding even the establishment of congregations for worship. Hospitals, hospices, orphanages, rescue missions and a multitude of other, specialised ministries of compassion give evidence of the presence of the followers of Christ.
This charitable heritage for our nation is neither impulsive nor merely a lucky break; rather it is part of the cultural DNA that is woven into the warp and woof of the fabric of the Faith. It is natural that those who have discovered the love of God will themselves reveal that love. Take it as a given that when you do not see grace and mercy in an individual’s life, it is likely because that individual has never known the love of God. One instance of kindness that stands out, among the many that are presented in the Word of God, is that which is recorded of David who sought out the last living descendant of his friend Jonathan. That man, whom David sought out, and David’s kindness toward him, serve as the focus of our study for this day.
THE STORY BEGINS WITH A MEMORY OF KINDNESS. The text indicates that the immediate genesis of the story was an act of kindness that was shown to David before he ascended to the throne. However, undergirding the kindness David sought to demonstrate was the prompting of the True and Living God. Let’s go back into the historical record to refresh our memories.