The story of the restoration of Mephibosheth is the fulfilment of the covenant which David had made with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3). This is a reflection of the covenant made between God and us through Jesus Christ before creation (John 17:24). Mephibosheth had been mentioned in (2 Samuel 4:4) and in that chapter alone we would have surmised that the house of Saul has been entirely cut off. Yet this is far from true – in the same way that we are lame in our feet (v.13; c.f. Genesis 3) because of the fall, that our movement is stunted (Romans 10:15), yet it is purely by the grace of David’s call that we are given an opportunity to respond and to eat at the king’s table in Jerusalem (v.13).
So the crux of this chapter lies not primarily in the happy reunion of the House of Saul and the House of David; rather, the primary focus should be the first verse: “Is there anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” It is here that the role of David switches to that of the Father in heaven, and Jonathan being the type of Christ – for it is Jonathan, and not David, who initiated the covenant of love (1 Samuel 18:3). It is Jonathan’s love with David, this brotherly love, that plays a twofold witness of that of John the Baptist paving the path for the Messiah (Luke 3), and that of Jesus and the Father in each others’ arms. Is this not the same call which the Father makes to the entire world? “Is there anyone left in the fallen house, the house which was once filled with glory but have been left to its godless devices? Is there anyone left that I may show him kindness for my son Jesus Christ’s sake?” (Romans 10:8)
The establishment of Mephibosheth’s blessing is therefore entirely vicarious; his salvation is imputed; and his ascension to the king’s table is entirely a reason extra nos. It is also important for us not to overlook how the narrator of 2 Samuel chose to end this chapter with an emphasis on his physical disability. Mephibosheth is nothing like the glory of Saul’s household (1 Samuel 31:2 – all of Saul’s sons at war) and is instead the true rendition of the value of Saul’s work. Saul is the alpha-male, he is the man chosen by men (1 Samuel 12:13); yet before David, what is left of Saul’s line is Mephibosheth – resident of the house of Machir (sold) the son of Ammiel (my kinsman is God) at Lo-debar (pastureless)(v.5). Even Mephibosheth is less wealthy than Saul’s servant Ziba (statue) whose wealth is deliberately described as far more luxurious (v.10-11) in comparison to the remnant of Saul’s offspring, as summarised by Mephibosheth in three words – “a dead dog” (v.8). Yet, this is the remnant of Jonathan’s house, this lame man sold in the embrace of God’s kinsman, yet unlike Ziba – is not surrounded with servants and pastures of his own.
Yet, is it not the dead dog who shall inherit Ziba’s service, who shall never go hungry again and so much so that he should fellowship with the king himself? (Matthew 15:27) Is this not the true picture of the gospel, that we are all Mephibosheths and that the Father will arrange, on our Christ’s behalf, for us to dine with him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12) where we have absolutely nothing to offer except our stench, our lameness, our weakness? And this is the true gospel – that the Son has exchanged his righteousness for our sinfulness, he who had no sin to be filled with the sin of mankind (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Now, we are lame in both of our feet – but our true Jonathan has already entered into a loving covenant on our behalf. Will we respond to the call of the Father – “is there still anyone left of the house of Adam, that I may show him kindness for Jesus’ sake” (v.2, my rendition)?