WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS
© by Ross Cochrane
The court was filled with people. Looking somewhere into the distance David repeated under his breath, “Jonathan’s son, still alive.”
When Mephibosheth was brought in, Absalom was there with other members of the king’s family and officials. Such contrast. Absalom, very good looking, tall and strong. Mephibosheth, so ugly in the way he stumbled towards David and fell prostrate before him, expecting the worst.
Absalom had no idea of how Mephibosheth felt that day. Here was a man grovelling at the feet of David like a dead dog, totally at his mercy. All he could do was to express his allegiance pathetically to David by saying, “I am your servant!”
What is the worthless, crippled object of pity doing in this court? thought Absalom. He is a pathetic waste of human life and a drain on others for his very existence. And being a grandson of Saul did not endear Mephibosheth to those faithful to king David.
There was silence as David rose. To everyone’s amazement, he stepped toward Mephibosheth and helped him to his feet.
“I loved your father Jonathan as my friend.” he said, “You are welcome in this place, not as a servant but as a son.” He hugged Mephibosheth who almost fell to the floor again.
Despised by many in the community because of his disability, Mephibosheth would be respected in the court of David. King Saul, God’s delegated authority, had sinned rebelliously against God, but David intended to show his people an example of what it meant to respect the call that God places on leadership.
David would show Mephibosheth favour. God has blessed me, after all. He wanted to express God’s kindness to Jonathan’s son. Surely, this is how it is with one who understands God’s grace.
As one of the king’s advisors, Absalom had suggested to David to rid himself of all possible opposition associated with the previous kingdom of Saul. His advice had obviously been rejected.
Are you mad! Absalom thought, as the proceedings of court continued and he heard that David intended to give a crippled man all the land that had belonged to Saul. This was extensive and prime farming land. Why?
Perhaps David’s extreme generosity was because Mephibosheth’s father, Jonathan, had been David’s loved and respected friend. Absalom knew what it was like to lose a friend. Years ago, he had also lost a good friend in Uzzah. But such a gesture makes no sense. Saul tried to kill you, father. Why should you now return Saul’s land to a member of the same family?
Overcome at being spared, Mephibosheth said, “Who is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?” Absalom was thinking the same thing! What are you doing? How is a crippled grandson of a fallen king going to manage this huge amount of land?
David called Saul’s servant, Ziba. Ziba had looked after Saul’s property before he died and so David asked him to cultivate the land for Mephibosheth and provide him with food to eat.
Absalom was even more astounded when his father invited Mephibosheth to eat at the family table. This cripple is being given an incredible amount of attention. Or is he just trying to keep an eye on the remainder of Saul’s family? He already has Michal, Saul’s daughter, as his wife, and now he has the grandson of Saul in court as well. Outrage began to give way to intrigue as Absalom tried to fathom the depths of his father’s strange behaviour.
So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table as one of the king’s sons. Absalom reluctantly sat down with him and spoke with this man. Mephibosheth was older and so took a place nearer to the head of the table. With his smooth tongue, Absalom made him feel quite welcome. They appeared to have known each other for years before the meal was complete.