Included or Invited?

I came across a story in 2 Samuel with a profound message. But it was one of those stories you had to dig into, learn the setting and understand the timeline of events to fully grasp the level of depth found in it.

In 2 Samuel 9, David had been anointed King of Israel for a few years now and decided to seek someone from Saul’s family to bless them (vs. 1). He wanted to do this in honor of his great friend, and King Saul’s son, Jonathan. In that time, common practice was hostility to the previous king’s family and lineage. Oftentimes, a new king would set out to eliminate the lineage of the previous king to ensure there is no coup or struggle for power from the anointed king.

This is not what we see David did in this story.

He sought out someone, anyone really, from King Saul’s lineage (and if you don’t know Saul’s story, read 1 Samuel and see his hatred for David play out) to show kindness to and bless. This act was an amazing display of honor and peace.

David summons the one remaining kin from Saul’s line (vs. 5, 6), a son of Jonathan named Mephibosheth (good luck on the pronunciation). Mephibosheth understood what could become of him when he is summoned to the king and most likely expected the worst. Not only was he from the line of Saul, Mephibosheth was crippled (vs. 3).

Being lame and crippled in that time, you were looked down upon because you were unable to provide for yourself or your family and relied on the kindness of others. Anyone who was crippled was a burden and were often outcast because of it.

Mephibosheth was brought before the king in fear, and instead of his expectations coming to fruition, he was blessed and restored. King David gave back land from Saul’s reign and, even greater, was invited to dine at the table of King David (vs. 7).

What an incredible honor for this man.

And what an even greater story of grace, mercy and honor for King David.

King David had every right, as a human, to cast this man out, make sure his life never got better and make him live poor and homeless forever. But David showed compassion and honor and went above and beyond anything standard or normal in that day.

So, why is this story important? Why does this story matter to where we are at today? And why do the details of this story matter?

We are currently living in a time of divisiveness. A time of “I’m right, you’re wrong” and “If you don’t agree with me, you’re against me”.

Need examples? Simply check nearly any conversation happening on social media.

This story is important because we have trained ourselves to demonize anyone who is not like us, think like us or act the same we do. It is far too prevalent and, in all honesty, is a very scary way of life.

This story of King David and Mephibosheth needs to become our standard of interaction with those whom others would consider “your enemy”.

King David didn’t just ‘invite’ Mephibosheth, he included him!

You may be asking, “what is the difference?

How I see it, an invitation is the bare minimum. Takes little effort and, usually, costs you little. How many times have you received an invitation that seemed more like an imposition?

King David included Mephibosheth! He sat at his table, dined with him and was able to have conversation with the King of Israel! Including someone takes much more effort and sacrifice. And it is not something that can be done without care and intention. King David made it a point to welcome someone normally considered his enemy, as well as someone who would need extra help and care because of their physical condition. King David did not simply do a nice deed for Mephibosheth, he restored him!

Want to know what Mephibosheth’s name means?

Dispeller of shame. To blow away shame and disappointment.

Without a doubt, Mephibosheth felt shame from his family. His grandfather, while king, pursued the current king, seeking to kill him. He led poorly which led to the demise of himself and his sons. And also, he was ashamed of his lameness.

Shame was heavy on Mephibosheth. And David took an active role in “blowing away his shame”.

Wow. Amazing story. Of forgiveness. Grace. Mercy. Honor. Respect. Redemption.

This story is applicable to our lives right now! In this unusual, straining time in the life of our country, and world. And I would like to offer up a challenge for you.

Who do you think God wants you to invite to your table? Perhaps a more clarifying question, who does the world say is your enemy? Those two questions could quite possibly yield the same answer for you.

The story of King David and Mephibosheth is powerful and relevant to us and there are some things we need to learn, relearn and put into practice, immediately!

As Christians, we need to be dispellers of shame! And that comes from intentionality, submitting to God’s will and showing unmerited favor and grace. Sound familiar? (Hint: what Jesus did for each of us!)

When you look at the people you interact with at work, home, church and in the community, there are most likely some people who are not like you. Maybe even some people you would consider an enemy. But if we are to be “dispellers of shame”, we must live a life of including others.

It will take work. Sacrifice. Dying to yourself. Laying down your life and picking up the Cross. We were all once enemies of God. But because of Jesus’ work on the Cross, He has prepared a way for us to sit at His table and commune with Him.

Not sure about you, but I want to be seen as someone who does this. I want to not only invite, but include those who, by worldly standards, would be considered my enemies.

If we want something in this world we don’t have, we need to do things we aren’t doing.

I want unity. I want peace. I want understanding. I want respect. I want shame to be eliminated.

To attain these, we must start doing things that will seem like nonsense to the world: Include.

As you are reading this right now, who is God placing in your mind to include in your life?

My suggestion, be obedient quickly!

Ask them to coffee. Take a walk with them. Have a conversation over a meal. Go to each other’s house. Meet each other’s families. What you will find is, you have quite a bit in common with the person the world says is your enemy.

Doing this will be the beginning of healing and restoration. And we must do this, because it is the very thing God needs us to do as His children.

I want to honor Him, and to do that, I need to do what I can to live at peace with everyone. What is He asking of you?

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. (emphasis added)

Romans 12:8 NASB

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