Mephibosheth, a Covenant Story by Judy DuCharme
The dust billowed as the young messenger raced to the palace. Mephibosheth wondered what news he would deliver. His father Jonathan and grandfather King Saul remained in battle. Perhaps news of victory would sound throughout the halls.
Though only five years old, Mephibosheth knew the importance of this battle and that Grandfather Saul must always win. Grandfather reigned as King, and what a good king he was. Sheth, as everyone affectionately called him, hoped he too would reign as a great king one day. First, though, that rascal David must be stopped. Daddy never thought David was a threat, but Grandfather knew David couldn’t be trusted. Grandfather said David only wanted to steal away the kingdom, and since he was King, he must be right.
The messenger reached the palace gate and Sheth waited to hear the shouts of victory. Instead, cries of agony rose to his ears. Servants and family alike threw themselves to the ground and covered themselves with dust.
Sheth’s nursemaid ran into his room. “We must go at once or we’ll all be killed.” Her eyes were large with fright.
“But why? What has happened? What is the news?” Fear crept through Sheth’s little body..
Nursemaid threw his things in a bag and did not answer. He could see her shoulders heaving as if her whole insides were about to break loose.
“Nursemaid,” Sheth struggled to get the words out. He felt a choking deep within as if he, too, were about to burst.
Nursemaid turned, kneeled, and with eyes red from tears, looked deep into Sheth’s own big blue eyes. “Sheth, dear Sheth, we have received the worst news.” She paused.
Sheth trembled, so afraid to hear her words.
She continued as if she had to force each stubborn word out of her mouth. “Your . . . grandfather and father have . . . both been . . . have been . . . killed in battle. Sheth, they are no more.” She hugged the boy tightly. “David’s men killed them and now David will be king. He will kill us all if we stay. I know your daddy told you David is a kind man, but their friendship was long ago. David has long tried to steal the Kingship from your grandfather and now he’s done it. He’s a terrible man and we must flee or we too shall die.”
Sheth could not move. What did this mean? Daddy and Grandfather could not be gone. They would arrive home soon. He looked at Nursemaid again. She told the truth. David’s a terrible man. He’d taken away what meant the most to Sheth.
Nursemaid picked him up. “We must go now or David’s soldiers will be here.” She carried him down the narrow stairs. The steepness of the steps proved difficult to maneuver. Tears streamed down Nursemaid’s face, and Sheth felt a a deep trembling within as a volcano of sobs threatened to erupt.
At a sharp turn in the stairs, Nursemaid stumbled, blinded by her tears. She fought to regain her balance, but instead fell headlong down the steps. Sheth could not jump free for she held him too tightly. She landed full force on his little legs, making a terrible crunch.
“My God, my God, why this curse upon our household?” Nursemaid covered her face with her hands.
“I can’t move! My legs won’t work!” Sheth cried and reached out to Nursemaid. “They hurt. They hurt. Please help me.”
Again through the midst of tears, Nursemaid picked up the little boy and carried him to join the rest of Saul’s household.
From the palace they fled to Lodebar, a dry desert place, and took up residence there. They told no one they were of the household of King Saul. The years went by, and Mephibosheth grew to a young man. He barely remembered the days of living in the palace where life was good. Now, life was very hard. He married and had a son, but because he was crippled, no one hired him for any type of work. Sheth considered himself a burden to everyone around him.
From time to time, news came of continued wars between King David and those who were former followers of Saul. Sheth often wished he could join them in battle and avenge the death of his linage. Fear and anger would grip him at times and others would say, “Sheth, if David ever finds you, you’ll be dead. He’s a terrible man. You should be king, Sheth, not him . . . but what good could you do with those crippled legs?”
One day, a messenger from the King’s palace arrived. “King David has called for Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, grandson of Saul.” Sheth knew that life was over now. It hadn’t been a good life, but he did not want to die. He said goodbye to his family and his own young son with great emotion, for he knew he’d never return.
Upon arriving at the palace, he bowed before David in fear and trembling.
“Fear not, Mephibosheth.” David smiled. “I seek to show you great kindness. I have been searching for you many years for just this purpose.”
“And why should the King want a dead dog such as I?” Sheth fell to the ground before David.
“Years ago, your father Jonathan and I made a covenant promise to one another. We became as brothers forever. How deeply I grieved at the death of your father for it was as if my own family had died. For a long time now I have sought to find anyone left of Jonathan’s seed that I might render to him according to the covenant between us. At last, I found Ziba, one of Saul’s servants, and he told me of you. I will now restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you shall live here with me in the palace.”
Mephibosheth slowly lifted his head. He couldn’t believe his ears. Surely this was a dream. This couldn’t be King David. He’d been told all his life David wanted to kill him.
David summoned Ziba. “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. Now, you and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him and produce food for his family. He will live here with me as my son and eat at my table for the sake of my covenant with his father Jonathan”.
So Mephibosheth and his family moved to Jerusalem, and there they lived in the palace with King David. And Mephibosheth ate daily at the King’s table.
David and Jonathan made a blood covenant with each other when they were young men. This is recorded in 1 Samuel 18: 1-4. A blood covenant could not be broken. Since the beginning of time it has been the strongest commitment that could exist between two people, families, or nations.
A blood covenant basically said, “Everything that is mine belongs to you, and everything of yours belongs to me.” It was a forever promise – from generation to generation. That is why David sought out Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for covenant is ‘berith’ which means ‘to cut’. To establish a covenant they would cut their wrists and rub soil into the cut so it would leave a mark. Usually there would be an exchange of coats which represented their promise to care for each other. Weapons would be exchanged meaning they would share their strength and protection. Each would recite to the other the blessings of their covenant as well as the curses if the covenant was ever broken.
The story of Mephibosheth is taken from 2 Samuel 9. Let’s look at what it means to us:
The name David means ‘one who loves’. David in this story is like our Father God who always loves us no matter where we are.
The name Saul means ‘one who asks demandingly’ – one who is selfish and always wants for himself. Saul is like all men, the human race. Man is basically selfish and only thinks of himself.
The name Jonathan means ‘God gives’. God gave Jesus, so Jonathan in this story represents Jesus.
The name Mephibosheth means ‘One who gets rid of shame’. Sheth represents men who have let Jesus become their Lord and live in their hearts, putting away the shame of living in sin without God.
David looked for Sheth. God looks for us.
Saul hated David. Man often hates God and tells likes about him.
Jonathan was the son of Saul. Jesus was born and lived as a man – he was the Son of God.
Sheth was raised by Saul’s family but ended up in the house of David. We were part of the world but Jesus has saved us and made us whole.
Matthew 18:11 says, The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
The word ‘save’ means: to make whole, to protect, to rescue, to heal, to cure, to preserve, to deliver.
Jesus came to heal and protect and make whole every part of our lives.
Mephibosheth was in a dry desert place, crippled and without hope. He thought David wanted to kill him. When we don’t know Jesus, this world we live in is dry and without hope. We feel helpless and angry.
Sheth was always meant to be in the palace, but he didn’t know it. Everyone you know is meant to be in the palace, in God’s house, eating at his table and surrounded by His love and provision.
Sheth was told that David was cruel and could not be trusted. A lot of people feel that way about God, that He’s going to get them if they’re not careful. They don’t know the truth of His love and the good things He has for them.
Because of His love for Jonathan, David sought for Sheth and brought him to his house.
Because of Jesus, God searches for us and brings us to Him. He wants us to live with Him and have all that He has for us. He wants us to have wholeness in every area of our lives. He is the King of everything, and when we live with Him, we have the King’s authority over sickness and all the work of the devil.
The blood covenant left a mark on the wrist. Jesus had a mark on His wrist from where the nails held Him to the cross. He took those marks to establish God’s covenant promises to us. When we ask Jesus into our hearts to live with us He makes a change in our hearts. Our hearts instead of our wrists have a ‘mark’ because they become new. God loved us so much that He gave Jesus to die for our sins and then raised Him from the dead so we could live without sin, live in the palace, in the house of the Lord forever.
The Son of Man, Jesus, has come to save thoroughly, rescue, heal, protect, cure, preserve, and deliver that which was lost.
2 Samuel 4 and 9
Joshua 2, 6:23
Book of Ruth