Even in our modern era of world history, we have seen instances around the globe where former dictators or presidents of countries would be ousted, only to return later or to have one of their family come back and claim rights to governmental leadership.
In Haiti, former President Jean-Claude Duvalier – known as “Baby Doc,” being the son of his life-president father “Papa Doc” Francois Duvalier – returned after years of exile in France with hopes of regaining the presidency. It created a mess in the country until he died last year.
In the Philippines in the 1980s, strong-man President Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown by Corazon Aquino – the wife of slain Benigno Aquino, opposition leader. She restored democracy to the land, and the Marcos family was exiled with their billions of dollars stolen from the country. Imelda Marcos, the wife of the late Ferdinand, has now returned to the country and in her mid-80s has even been elected to government, inciting much controversy.
This would have never happened in antiquity. If you were part of the family of the overthrown regime, you were simply eliminated, thus there would be no possibility of any return to “the good old days.”
When Israel was routed by the Philistines in battle on the day that Jonathan and Saul would die, the lone surviving member of that dynasty was Mephibosheth, the infant son of Jonathan. In the haste of running from the Philistines, his nurse fell on him and he was lame in both feet.
Largely forgotten, he grew up in obscurity, which was certainly just fine with him. But David sought out information about any of Saul’s surviving family, and a servant of Saul knew of the location of Mephibosheth. David sent for him; and as he came in before the king, he must surely have expected the worst. The following is the story of what really happened …
David and Mephibosheth
9:1 David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
2 Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
“At your service,” he replied.
3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”
4 “Where is he?” the king asked.
Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.
6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“At your service,” he replied.
7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “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.”
8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.
What a turn of events! What an unexpected outcome, and what grace was shown by David.
But the story of Mephibosheth is our story. Because of sin we are exiles and far from God. There was no way we could stand in the king’s presence. But the true and greater David paid the price for us that we may be reconciled and brought near – adopted as it were into the new royal family as a child of the king. We have access with him, and we may come and eat at his table, even forever.
As it says in Ephesians chapter 2 …
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. … For he himself is our peace … Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.