I hated him from the time I was old enough to know anything about the world and my place in it. He was everyone’s hero, the man who slew giants and defeated Philistines, the “sweet singer of Israel”, the golden king. He was also the man who stole the throne that had belonged to my family, the usurper, the destroyer. My grandfather, King Saul had died in battle, so had my father, and it was said that David the usurper had mourned for them. But how could I believe that when the same man had so happily and willingly taken their throne, the throne that should have come to me as the only surviving heir. They said that God had given the throne to David, but what did that make God if he could just take the throne from one family and give it to another, without any just cause?
So I hated him, but, even more, I feared him, for if I hated him, how much more must he hate me, the only living heir to the house of Saul. Admittedly, I probably wasn’t much of a threat to him, since I am a cripple, and the mere thought of my leading Israel into battle would make us a laughing stock amongst the nations, but still, everyone knows that to be a successful king you must destroy all your rivals.
The day came when I was summoned to the house of David. “This is it,” I thought, “he has waited until I am old enough to care about, and now he will surely have me killed.” But I was determined not to shame my lineage, so I obeyed the summons and came. I tried to silence my maddening fear by telling myself that if I could just look into his eyes I would know the truth about his heart. Surely it would be easier to die if I could go to my death scorning the one who sent me there?
How ignorant I was! I came into his presence and bowed low, doing homage to the throne of Israel even while I resented the one who sat on it. But who is fool enough to antagonise a king? “Mephibosheth,” he said, identifying me by name.
“I am your servant,” I replied formulaically, but I was curious now. There was no condemnation in his tone at all. What was going on?
Then he turned my world upside down and inside out. For sake of my father Jonathan, he was going to restore to me all the lands that had belonged to Saul, and I was to eat at his table like an honoured member of his own family! A man does not go to the house of his enemy and find there his greatest benefactor. A man does not rise in the morning expecting to be condemned to death and finish the day rejoicing in riches and honour.
And I am left pondering. If David is such a man who would lavish love and generosity upon one who was born to be his enemy, in fact, take that enemy into his family like a beloved child, what does that say about the God whom David serves with all his heart?