As I was growing up my parents would always let me stay with my Nana on the last Wednesday night of November. She would pick me up for mid-week Bible class earlier that day and then afterwards, I would get to stay the night with her in anticipation of thanksgiving the next day. She would let me “help” her make the dressing and finish up some of the other dishes in preparation for the big family meal. One of the jobs I would do would be to set up the kids table for all the grandchildren that would be coming in the next day. Of all the jobs I helped with on those evenings, I always dreaded that job the most. As I set the table up each year, I secretly hoped this would be the year where my name wouldn’t be placed on that table. I love my cousins and enjoy eating with them, don’t get me wrong, but all the food was placed at the adult table! The juicy thanksgiving turkey (and ham at our house), the warm dressing helped with, my aunt’s mystery item we called “pink fluffy stuff” that was delicious – all of it sat at the big table! As kids our plates we’re made for us and if we wanted anything extra, we went and asked. I dreamed that when I made it to the big table, I could skip some of the less desired dishes and only focus on the things I wanted! I’ll never forget the year when leading up to thanksgiving I went over to Nana’s house on a Sunday and there was new dining room table, big enough to fit the whole family on the big day! I counted down the days to Thanksgiving lunch that year and when it finally came, the big table was all I ever dreamed. Although, I still had to eat some dishes I could’ve done without.
In 2 Samuel 9 we see a similar situation unfolding where an invitation to dine at the “big table” is being offered to one that is seen as small and lowly. Leading up this chapter, and extending all the way back to 1 Samuel, we have the context of the story between the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David. We are probably familiar with the back-and-forth nature of their relationship. Saul grows jealous of David and seeks to kill him, David runs for his life (often by the help of others), the pair share a moment together and there is a moment of sober mindedness where Saul recognizes his folly and repents. Then the process would start all over again. Although this process would go on for years, David having to live away from his home through-out, one relationship was always maintained and even grew stronger – David and Saul’s son Jonathan. We see the two become closest of friends back in 1 Samuel 18:1-5 where Samuel writes, “that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.” Later Jonathan would show this friendship by these bold actions, “Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.” They may not be a better example of friendship in all the Bible. Unfortunately, at the end of 1 Samuel Jonathan would lose his life on the same day of his farther, leaving David to not only take the throne from Saul but grieve the loss of a close friend at the same time.
Often in that day and age, in the situation where a new king (from a new bloodline) takes the throne his first job is to go about eradicating the former King’s family. No one wants a forgotten uncle or newly grown nephew showing up 10 years later claiming rights to the throne! Therefore in 2 Samuel 4 we see mention of Jonathan’s family leaving their place of home in such a manic manner when David takes the throne. In the chaos of fleeing Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth is dropped a child and becomes lame in his feet, 2 Samuel 4:4-5.
Now, finally turning to 2 Samuel 9, we can fully appreciate what David is doing and how it even applies to us. In verses 1-5 of 2 Samuel 9 we see David looking for a way to honor the family of Jonathan instead of killing this family line. He finds out that Mephibosheth is hiding out in a far-off distant land and has him brought in. Their conversation goes as follows, “Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself. And David said, “Mephibosheth.” And he said, “Here is your servant!” David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly.” Again he prostrated himself and said, “What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?” Then the king called Saul’s servant Ziba and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. You and your sons and your servants shall cultivate the land for him, and you shall bring in the produce so that your master’s grandson may have food; nevertheless, Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall eat at my table regularly.” 2 Samuel 9:6-10.
What an amazing thing David does for this lost and lowly member of Saul’s family! He restores everything he lost when his family ceased from being royalty and invites him to dine at HIS table every night thereon. A man crippled by life and associated with the sins of his grandfather is now invited to dine with the King every night he chooses. This story should not sound unfamiliar to all of us who are called Christians. Paul would write about a similar situation in Ephesians 2:1-10 (please take time to go read, I ran out of room to print quote it within the article). This year, as you sit down at the table with your family and enjoy a great meal, take a moment to reflect at the other table that awaits us one day. The “big table” that our Father has set and prepared for us to gather around on the glorious day when we are all called home!