Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 8:1-18, 2 Samuel 9:1-13, 2 Samuel 10:1-19, Acts 4:24-28
When I was 20 years old, I spent a semester by myself in Chile. I was an intern there—not part of a full study abroad program with tons of other college students. I lived with a host family and worked with other Americans, but there was no one else there in the same position. I found myself pretty much alone.
One day, my Spanish teacher invited me to an “asado” at her house. A Chilean asado is a backyard barbecue on steroids: hours and hours of food, drink, laughter, stories, and family. It’s a feast for the stomach and the heart. I didn’t have much going on during the weekends, so I went. I’ll never forget the feeling of overwhelming acceptance washing over me that day. I felt known and welcomed there. For one afternoon, I was completely enveloped into their family.
I’ve never been in David’s shoes—a newly-crowned king looking to gain and maintain power. But I have been in Mephibosheth’s, feeling like the lonely outcast. Mephibosheth was the crippled grandson of the fallen king; all tradition and expectation would have been for David to ignore him at best, and kill him at worst.
But the victorious and powerful King David, remembering his promise to Jonathan and Saul, instead seeks Mephibosheth out and honors him. He restores the family land to Mephibosheth, and invites him to feast at his table. Even Mephibosheth can’t believe it. “What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?” (2 Samuel 9:8).
David’s kindness is not spur of the moment, either. He seeks out Mephibosheth to offer him “hesed,” the Hebrew word for lovingkindness. This word is found all over the Old Testament, used to describe God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to His people. In Exodus 34, God Himself uses hesed to describe His own character: “The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth” (v.6).
What we see David give to Mephibosheth is the same lovingkindness that God offers us through His Son. David invited Mephibosheth to be “like one of the king’s sons.”
It’s impossible to read this story and not see myself—crippled in spirit, with nothing to give, and yet completely welcomed into Christ’s family because of God’s lovingkindness to me. I am Mephibosheth, Joseph’s brothers, Job, and the prodigal son all rolled into one. And God seeks me out, the way David seeks out Mephibosheth.
Jesus invites us to a feast far greater than King David’s, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). May we answer His invitation with thankful hearts, filled with the unsurpassed joy that comes from knowing our Father loves us with perfect, steadfast love.
Melanie Rainer is the director of content for JellyTelly, where she writes and edits family spiritual formation resources. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, a passionate home baker, and makes her always-messy home with her husband, Price, and their delightful daughter, Ellie, near historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee.