What To Do With A Dead Dog
Read 2 Samuel 9
Mephibosheth means exterminator of shame. Crippled by a fall around 5 years of age from the hands of his nursemaid, Mephibosheth knew of the history of his father, King Saul. He knew who his mother was, a concubine named Rizpah. He also knew all about David. Most likely, David knew all about him as well. Mephibosheth had been born about the time Jonathan and David were hanging out together. There did not seem to be any contempt toward David based on his response to him in this passage. He obviously did not seem to care about what could have been if his father were still alive, nor did he seem to have any expectation that he would or should receive anything from David. When he was brought to King David, he responded by immediately falling on his face and giving the king his due reverence. His response to the king was an interesting one. He asks in verse 8, "What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I?" Why did he call himself a dead dog?
A "dead dog" was a phrase that was used toward those in that day who were considered contemptible and useless. No doubt, Mephibosheth felt that he was useless based on his crippled condition. His family was all gone, and all the glory that was once given to them was also gone. Mephibosheth lived under the care of Machir, a son of Ammiel. Ammiel was a descendant of Manasseh. One day, out of no where, the life of Mephibosheth completely changed. He is summoned to the great King David and given countless riches and a position at the king's table. Quite an honor for a crippled son of a fallen and sinful king.
I see some things in this story that tell us a lot about our God. First, we are so unworthy to be serving the Lord in our positions of ministry. I was just a dead dog too, so unworthy, helpless, sinful, and unusable. Yet, God in His mercy, chose me and placed me in a position of authority. He takes people who are unworthy and makes them worthy.
David, in this passage, is a type of Christ. His grace and mercy are extended to Mephibosheth. Note, however, the extent of David's grace. David did not just give him a little because he felt sorry for him. Nor did he just give him a little to show kindness to him. He restored all the land of his father to him plus so much more (vs. 7-13). The grace of David, in this instance, was unbelievable. Why would David extend grace to anyone from the house of Saul? This was the king who tried to kill David repeatedly. David had been on the run for a period of about ten years. Yet David extended mercy when there was no apparent reason to extend mercy. It goes beyond human understanding.
That is a picture of the grace and mercy of our God. The placing of Mephibosheth at the king's table is also noteworthy. Reserved only for invited and special guests of the king, this eastern custom was to also have a permanent place at the royal table on public days. Mephibosheth was made presentable to the kingdom. He now had a favored position and would never have to want for anything ever again. In a similar way, we have been placed in a favored position. Our permanent position is not for the time we live on this earth alone, but for all of eternity.
This story demonstrates a picture of the mercy and grace of God. When we realize God's grace working in our lives and in the lives of others, it should humble is. Let us not forget where we came from and where God has brought us. As we minister to others who are also unworthy, let us remember the story of Mephibosheth and David. There are plenty of dead dogs around. What we do with them, or rather, what God does with them, will be something to see. Maybe God will use us as he used David to bless and influence someone today or this week for His glory.
copyright 2007, Alan J. Hodak
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