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THE STORY OF MEPHIBOSHETH
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward” ([1 Corinthians:3:14]).
The Little Lame Prince
In our lesson today we are studying about a little lame prince, who was born in a palace in the land of Israel many years ago. His name was Mephibosheth .
When Mephibosheth was only five years old there was war in Israel, and in one of the fierce battles his father and grandfather were killed. Mephibosheth’s nurse became frightened when she saw the soldiers of Israel’s army fleeing before the Philistines, and she wondered if the enemy might come to plunder the palace and take the little prince captive. She loved the little boy, so she picked him up and started to run for a hiding place; but, in her excitement and haste, she dropped him. Mephibosheth was so badly injured by the fall that he remained a cripple all his life.
All through the years that Mephibosheth was growing up he lived away from the palace, and he was never captured. His father’s brothers had also been killed in battle, so he lived alone far from home.
In the Line of Saul
The lame prince’s father was Jonathan, and his grandfather was King Saul, Israel’s first king. When Jonathan was still a boy his father had called David to come and play the harp in the palace, and for years David lived in the king’s house. Jonathan and David played together and became very good friends. In fact, Jonathan loved David so much that he was willing to give up the throne in favour of his friend. When King Saul heard that, he was very angry and tried to kill David. Jonathan heard of his father’s wicked plot, and warned David to run from the king’s court.
God had said that David should be the next king because Saul had not been faithful to God and had not obeyed Him in everything. But David knew it was not yet God’s time for him to take the throne, SO he did not fight back against Saul, but went away out of reach of the angry king.
David and Jonathan’s Covenant
That day, when David and Jonathan said good‑by, they felt that they might never meet again. They made a covenant before God that they would always love each other and be good to the family of the other in years to come.
Many years followed in which David was a fugitive from Saul’s army in the wilderness. David assembled his own army, and again and again their armies clashed, but David always showed only kindness to Saul.
Love for Enemies
Jesus taught: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” ([Matthew:5:44]). David had the love of God in his heart, and in his time did just as Jesus later said a Christian should do. Saul had tried to kill him, and had been very angry when God said David should have the throne. Yet David had never hated Saul, and had been careful not to hurt him in battle.
If Jonathan had been jealous, he could have considered David his enemy, too, for being appointed to rule Israel in Jonathan’s place. But he had the love of God in his heart, and loved David instead of considering him an enemy.
After the death of Saul, and Jonathan and his brothers, nothing more was heard of the royal family. But after Israel had settled down to peacetime living, David remembered his covenant with Jonathan and wondered if any of his family might still be alive. There was an elderly servant living in the palace who had once waited upon Saul, and he knew where Mephibosheth had been in seclusion through the years. David asked that the lame prince be brought before him.
Mephibosheth came in fear, and knelt low before the king. He did not know whether he would be accepted as a friend or as a prisoner of war. David said: “Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually“ ([2 Samuel:9:7]). How surprised Mephibosheth must have been! He had come in fear, and now was accepted as a son. Not only would he live in the palace and eat at the king’s table but all the land that had once belonged to his father and grandfather would be his.
Mephibosheth was lame and could not take care of his own land; but the old servant, Ziba, had many sons and servants who were willing to work for the grandson of their old master, and they took charge of all Mephibosheth’s farms.
And so was the kindness that Jonathan had showed to David rewarded. David did not treat Mephibosheth as a prisoner of war, nor keep the land he had conquered as his by right of conquest. He treated Mephibosheth as he would have liked to have his own children treated.
David’s kindness to Mephibosheth must have taken away all fear and any dislike he might have had for the king who had taken the kingdom from his family. He remained in the palace of the king, enjoying peace and prosperity.
There came a time when the old servant, Ziba, plotted to take Mephibosheth’s inheritance. David had gone into battle, and when he returned and learned that he had been tricked into giving the servant the inheritance of Mephibosheth, he said that it should be divided between them. But Mephibosheth was so grateful to David for sparing his life and giving him a home (“For all of my fathers house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table”) that he did not care about owning great plots of land ([2 Samuel:19:28]). The fact that David had returned home safe from battle was enough to make the lame man happy. He was content to spend the rest of his days in the presence of David, the man of God, not desiring any honour for himself.
- What was the name of the little lame prince?
- Who was his father?
- When have we studied about the father before?
- What was the covenant made between David and Jonathan?
- Why did David not remain at King Saul’s court?
- What happened to Saul and Jonathan?
- Why did David think about Saul’s family?
- Who was the only one of Saul’s sons left alive?
- How does the story end?