2 Samuel 8-9, 1 Chronicles 18: David and Mephibosheth

Aside from having one of the coolest names in Scripture, Mephibosheth is someone with whom we should be well acquainted. His story is so much like our own, and his attitude of humility is one we should emulate.

Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, David’s closest friend, and the only survivor of the house of Saul. He was dropped as a child by his fleeing nurse and grew up crippled, without the use of his legs. Years later, David asked this question:

“Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may ishow him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

When he discovers that Mephibosheth is alive, he sends for him, restores to him all the fortunes of Saul, gives him a seat at the kings table, and essentially adopts him as his own son. There are many parallels to the gospel in this story, but the one that affects me most profoundly is his response to all of this. Mephibosheth says to David:

“What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”

There is an old hymn written by Isaac Watts called Alas and Did My Savior Bleed. In the opening stanza, he writes these words:

Alas and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die
Would He devote that sacred head
to such a worm as I

Over the years, that last line has been changed to “sinners such as I” in order to lighten the impact of calling ourselves worms. But the Bible has no problem with that word. The Psalmists use it several times to refer to their own sinfulness. But Mephibosheth goes further still; he calls himself a dead dog.

Is there anything more revolting than that? Maybe a dead rat? (or some other dead, rotting, furry animal) This is one of those times when there is not much cultural adaptation necessary. We know what a dead dog lying in a ditch on the side of the road looks like. And that is exactly what Mephibosheth calls himself. And it is exactly what we are without Christ. We had nothing worthy of love within us when Christ died on that tree. We were not saved because of how righteous we were. We were revolting, dead and rotting corpses of sin, the exact opposite of anything lovely, until God stepped in. He gave us worth and transformed us into his beloved children, heirs to every blessing in Christ.

Let us never forget where we came from. We were dead dogs, all of us. But Christ has brought us great hope. This truth should produce nothing in us but joy and humility.

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