Mephibosheth. No, that’s not a Hebrew curse word though the meaning of the name could be just as offensive. The young man whose name means “from the mouth of shame” was the son of Jonathan, grandson of King Saul, Israel’s first king. Mephibosheth doesn’t make many headlines in the saga of King David’s reign and dysfunctional family, but in his infrequent cameo appearances, he reminds us of God’s incredible kindness and steadfast loyalty.
One of my last points from this past weekend was that Mephibosheth loved the King more than the table. (I love the play on words that the mouth of shame gets to eat at the table of the king!) I have a tendency to get so caught up with the provisions of God that I forget the joy of knowing God. John Piper says it another way: we can get so enamored with the gifts that we forget the Giver.
Here are some of the things that happen when we forget the King in view of the table:
- We won’t endure suffering. When our perspective becomes myopically consumed with only the table blessings of God, we have no way to deal with Job’s question, “shall we receive good from God and not disaster?” Life will bring its share of hardships, and the promise of God is to be with us through it all. We’re not promised the table necessarily, but the King of the table.
- We won’t take faith-filled risks. If our lives are fashioned around enjoying the table instead of the King, we won’t step out of our comfort zones in obedience to the King. We won’t take risks in order to experience and have more of the King. Our life with God will be safe and comfortable.
- We won’t be able to comfort the afflicted. We’ve all experienced the well-intentioned, but unhelpful encouragement to just look on the brighter side of things, to be more positive. When the table is our only joy, the only comfort we can give to the afflicted is a pep-talk like, “rain showers can bring rainbows”, don’t worry – you’ll sit at the table one day. What people in the valley of the shadow of death need to know is that the Lord is their shepherd.
Be vigilant to pay attention and redirect your heart and vision to the King, not just his table. By spending unhurried time with him, by applying the Gospel to our lives in our relationships, and by the disciplines of fasting and simplicity, we can stoke a longing to have more of God. The amazing thing is that our hunger for God can never be satisfied, it can only grow in appetite. So come to the table today not for a solo fast food meal, but to dine with him.
After all, the table is only precious because of the One who has invited us to sit with him!