Monday, November 23, 2015

All Grace

Now he had been summoned to meet the king. He trembled at the very thought. He had lived out these years in obscurity, away from the attention of the court, and , ever since he was old enough to understand such things, he had hoped that his existence was forgotten. He knew what kings did; in order to secure their throne they would routinely kill all potential rivals. To be the descendant of a previous king was to have a sentence of death hanging over you. The only chance of living out your life in peace was to be overlooked and forgotten about. He had dared to think, for a while, that he might have got away with it. Now it seemed that his only hope was to plead for mercy. What threat, after all, was a cripple to a king?

History was against him. The former king, Saul, was his grandfather, and Saul, at first kindly disposed, had become the enemy of David, the current king. How he had harried and harassed him! Once he had thrown a spear at him. More than once he had ridden out into the wilderness, pursuing David and his men, seeking to destroy them, even though David had never lifted a hand against him. Mephibosheth shuddered at the memory of the tales he had been told all his life – tales of anger and madness where the stubborn will of a desperate king sought only destruction and despair. They were only tales told, he had been only five when his grandfather, and his father, Jonathan, had died in battle. He knew that David had written a famous lament for them; but he also knew enough of the bitterness of life to know that it is easier to lament the dead than to bear with the threat of the living.

But now there was no choice. The king’s men had come to fetch him, and he must go with them. Doom and misery rode in his heart all the length of the journey, and when he was brought into the king’s presence he fell on his face in fearful homage.  “Behold, I am your servant!” he cried out, consumed by terror.

But the king was not stern at all. He had no desire to harm Mephibosheth; instead, he wished to honour him. For him there would be no grim dungeon or executioner’s sword. Instead, for the very sake of those whose connection should have been his death warrant (namely his father and grandfather), he was to receive great honour. The property of his family was restored to him, along with servants to till the land for him, and he was to eat at the king’s table all the days of his life. His eyes, which had remained dry from his determination to hide his fear, now overflowed with tears of wonder. “Who am I that you should show me such kindness?”
 He went forth in gladness, his fears stilled forever. But there was a new question in his heart. What kind of king treats his enemy as a son, and calls him to come and sit with him at his own table?

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