A CURSE TURNED
INTO BLESSING: MEPHIBOSHETH'S STORY.
(c) Copyright 2004 Rev. Bill Versteeg
One of the wonderful themes of the scriptures is that God has chosen to turn our curses into Blessings. And he has done that through Jesus who became a curse for us that we might inherit the blessings of Abraham. This comes true in our lives. Many of us as parents may be able to relate to this. As we journey through difficult times in our lives, God often by his grace turns those difficult times into blessings that come in our future. His promise to us is that all things will work together for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. This theme comes to us in a number of different places in the scriptures. One of the powerful ways it comes out is in the story of Mephibosheth. This evening, I am not going to read all the differing passages that describe the life of Mephibosheth, my intent is to tell his story to the children.
There was a knock on the front door. Makir went to answer the door. There stood Ziba with an authoritative look on his face in his gardening cloths. He told Makir the news bluntly: "David wants to see Mephibosheth NOW!"
Middle aged Mephibosheth trembled, sitting on his mat in the corner of the room by the cool breeze of a window. Even in the heat of the day, he felt a cold chill run through his arms and back. Now finally, after all of these years, king David had gotten to him, found him, now his life too was going to end to! His fear was mixed with an overwhelming emotion: "It's not fair, It's not fair!" And he was deeply concerned for Mica, his own son for whom all this definitely was not fair!
Mephibosheth was right. His life had not been fair. It had started out great. His father was prince Jonathan, and his grandfather was King Saul, the first great king of Israel and Judah. He was royalty and royalty had many privileges. When he was young, everything seemed to come his way - the gifts, the friends, the fun - all because he was royalty. Back then he even had a royal name "Mirab Baal" meaning "opponent of Baal." Baal was a false god. But now his name was different. Mephibosheth meant "Son of Shame" all because that one day when everything changed. When he was a little boy, just 5 years old, a man, bloodied and exhausted man ran into the palace gates and yelled out:
"King Saul and his sons are dead!"
The same cold chill ran through his body that day, many years before. Back then he did not understand it all. Suddenly the palace became a place of panic. Wives wept, servants were white with fear. Mephibosheth remembered how his nurse came running up to him with a few things in her had and she yelled:
"RUN Mirab Baal - Run for your life! RUN!"
He didn't understand. He ran with her as hard as he could but his five year old legs could only go so far. He had to stop. In desperation, his nurse picked him up and with Mirab Baal in her arms, she ran, and ran. But she didn't notice the chariot rut just in front of her and as her ankle buckled and she fell Mirab Baal flew out of her hands and landed with a hard smack on his back. Mirab Baal didn't feel the pain in his back right away and his nurse, weeping, seeing that he looked OK picked him up and kept on hobbling on her sore ankle. She had to get young prince Mirab Baal into hiding.
It was a short while later that she discovered that Mirab Baal was hurt bad. In exhaustion she put him to the ground hoping that he would walk or even run for a way but all he did was fall to the ground. She begged him to stand up but he couldn't. His back was broken, his feet, his legs were useless!
On the day that his dad Prince Jonathan died, and his grandpa King Saul died in battle, on that day, Mirab Baal's life went terribly wrong. His nurse took him to Lo Dabar, a city far away from the palace, his name was changed from Mirab Baal to Mephibosheth, after all who would be interested in a person with a name like that - "Son of Shame." And he had to learn how to live without his legs. Oh, they were still there but they did nothing. He had to learn to sit again. He had to learn to be carried by others. He had to learn to be cared for by others. And he always had to pay special attention to his feet, they quickly developed sores and then they took a long time to heal because they had poor circulation due to lack of exercise. His nurse continued to care for him but living in secret, without his dad, without his grandpa, was hard, very hard, very very hard for a long long time.
It wasn't fair! He heard his grandpa had badly disobeyed God. King Saul again and again had tried to kill David whom God had chosen to be king. King Saul had even gone to a witch to see if he could get some spiritual advice! As a result Grandpa Saul died, and so did his dad Prince Jonathan, and Mirab Baal now "Mephibosheth" for years was left to fend for himself.
And now Ziba was at the door: "King David wants to see Mephibosheth NOW!"
A flash of anger ripped through Mephibosheth's fear. How did King David hear that he was here anyways? There was only one answer - Ziba! Ziba was in charge of taking care of his property. Mephibosheth couldn't take care of his property, crippled as he was. Ziba wanted that property for himself! What better way than to turn Mephibosheth in so that the new king would eliminate him and then all the property would belong to Ziba. When the call had gone out from the king for any member of Saul's household to be found, Ziba had been quick to answer for his own benefit!
But there was nothing Mephibosheth could do. His legs did not work. He could not run. He could not fight. He could only face the end of his life with honor and go to see King David.
He felt like he was cursed, just because of his grandfather everything went wrong for him. At times he wished he had never been born a prince but there was no way of changing that. Ziba was at the door.
"King David wants to see Mephibosheth - NOW!"
Soldiers, the kings soldiers, forced their way into the door past Makir, they picked Mephibosheth up by the arms and placed him on the muddy floor of a chariot and the race began across country all the way to the city of Jerusalem. Without legs to cushion the shock of the rough cross country ride to Jerusalem, Mephibosheth's entire body ached. But again, with no words of explanation, and no sensitivity to his pain, the soldiers hoisted him on their shoulders and carried him to the palace, through the gates, through door after door, some of these doors he remembered from when he was young, and finally into the kings chamber, where the throne was.
They put him on the floor, down the steps from the throne where King David was sitting. Mephibosheth stretched out his hands and put his face to the ground not daring to even look at the king, hoping that the sword would fall quickly to end his life.
"Mephibosheth!" (accent at end)
"Mephibosheth!" David's voice didn't sound angry
Without even daring to look up - Mephibosheth answered "Your servant..."
"Don't be afraid" King David said "for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table."
Mephibosheth couldn't believe what he was hearing! He glanced up to see if in fact this was King David speaking! And it was! He quickly put his face to the ground again and said: "Who am I that you should notice a dead dog like me?" Dead dog - that was a fitting name! It seemed anyone who opposed King David, the king chosen by God, was a dead dog. To oppose him was to oppose God. Just like Goliath was a dead dog. Mephibosheth could not expect anything different.
But as Mephibosheth waited face down, waited for the sword to cut through his body, waited for the curse to do its worst, nothing happened! He heard King David making Ziba Mephibosheth's servant, and not only Ziba, but all of Ziba's family his servants. And all that belonged to his grandfather Saul now belonged to him. Mephibosheth was to be given a position of honor with king David at his dinner table.
He didn't understand why. That took a while. He found out that King David and Jonathan, Mephibosheth's father, had been very good friends before Jonathan was killed. He also discovered something very special about David! David had God's love in his heart. And he wanted to show God's love and God's kindness to others, even to Mephibosheth. It was God's love that brought him back to a position of honor in the kings palace. It was the love of God that made him a prince again.
In a strange way, Mephibosheth's curse was a blessing. Because of his broken back and useless legs, he could never fight David as his brother Isa Bosheth had. His brother died opposing the Lord's anointed King. All Mephibosheth could do was hide and now the king looked on him with favor, with God's love. The King made him a prince again. He was part of the royal family.
The Lord made the promise to his children that he would turn their curses into blessings. Mephibosheth, the Son of Shame, discovered that the day he met the love of God in King David.
Scripture passage on which this story is based.
2 Samuel 4:4
2 Samuel 16:1-4
2 Samuel 19:24-30
2 Samuel 21:7
(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.