Do you have a favorite Bible story? One of mine comes from the life of David and his care for a guy named Mephibosheth. (Who would name their baby that? And if you preach this story, you’re going to want to practice saying his name). Mephibosheth actually means “shame.” He had a tough life. When he was five, both his dad, Jonathan, and his granddad, King Saul, were killed in a battle with the Philistines. His nurse, panicked by the news, took the boy to run away. She tripped and Mephibosheth was disabled for life. (See 2 Samuel 4:4)
If you have a chance, read the entire chapter of 2 Samuel 9. It’s only 13 verses long. King David’s relationship with Mephibosheth offers us three principles about how to really care for others.
Real Caring requires a Choice
David made a deliberate choice to care for Mephibosheth. Caring is always a choice. One day, David found himself thinking about Jonathan, his best friend, Saul’s oldest son, and asked his servants, “Is anyone left in Saul’s family?… Where is he?” 2 Samuel 9:3,4 (NCV)
To care for others means we look for the needs around us.
David was given a name, Mephibosheth and was told he could be found “In Lo-debar . . . at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.” We know that names in Hebrew often have great significance. It’s all too true here as Lo-debar means “without pasture” or “a deserted place.” …David sent for Mephibosheth.
Real Caring requires Compassion
When Mephibosheth was brought before David, he was nervous. It’s an understatement to say that David had a difficult relationship with his grandfather Saul. He could easily have held a grudge. David said, “Don’t be afraid, 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.”
To care for others means we empathize with other’s hurts—to show kindness. We can’t fake that.
Kindness is an important word in Hebrew. It means “compassionate mercy.” David, here, gives us a picture of how God treats us.
It’s interesting to see how Mephibosheth responds: “Shuffling and stammering, not looking him in the eye, Mephibosheth said, ‘Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me?’” 2 Samuel 9:8 (The Message)
Do you think about the people in your circle that need some compassion? Paul reminds us that “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” 1 Corinthians 12:22 (NIV)
Real Caring requires Consistency
David’s deliberate choice to show compassion toward Mephibosheth was not a one-time event. After David restored all of the land that had belonged to his grandfather, Saul, he told Mephibosheth, “You will always eat at my table.” 2 Samuel 9:7 (NIV)
To care for others means we continue to connect with others. The greatest gift we can give others is our time.
The story of Mephibosheth is a picture of God’s grace. This is a fact: All of us have disabilities and challenges. The first step to grow spiritually is admitting our inadequacies.
This is a fact: All of us have disabilities and challenges.
To the Corinthian church, Paul passed along a message he received from God: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)
BEFORE YOU GO…
Who do you know that needs compassion? We all know someone. So what stops us? It might be our schedule or responsibilities. I need to care for others more. Too often I’m too busy doing what I need to get done. I need to slow down and let God open my eyes to the “Mephibosheths” around me. Let’s make a difference! What steps will we take toward compassion today?