“Ziba answered the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.'” (2 Samuel 9:3b NIV)
“So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.” (2 Samuel 9:11b NIV)
As the mother of a child with a severe disability, I am always inspired by Scriptures that have a message regarding the handicapped. 2 Samuel 9:1-13 tells a story that reveals the tender heart and generous spirit of King David towards a disabled man who was the son of his friend Jonathan and the grandson of his bitter enemy, Saul.
This passage of Scripture particularly touched my heart as I observed that David and his servants paid no special attention to Mephibosheth’s handicap when welcoming him as a member of the family. Mephibosheth must have been understandably uneasy when he was brought before the king without knowing what kind of treatment he was going to receive. Out of compassion and loyalty, though, David restored Mephibosheth’s inheritance, giving him a permanent place of honour at the king’s table. Mephibosheth was treated no differently than one of David’s own royal sons!
In reading a poem entitled “Inside My Heart”, written by a disabled person who suffers from cerebral palsy, I realized that many people must feel awkward and uncomfortable around the handicapped. It then occurred to me, reminiscing about the years of raising my son who has autism, that there was seldom a time in public when I didn’t feel that he was being noticed because of his handicap. There have also been times when even church and family members were unable to see beyond my son’s disability. In contemplating this, I realized that some of his struggles are really not very different from yours or mine. Spiritually speaking, we are all disabled and in need of God’s healing power and grace.
Jesus commissions us, “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” (Luke 14:13-14a) Therefore, as Christians, let us be accepting of one another, recognizing the God-given value in each of us. Let us also take advantage of the opportunities God gives us to minister to others and to reach out to those in need, including those with disabilities. David, truly a man after God’s own heart, provides a beautiful model for us of God’s mercy and love. This is the heart of the gospel. This is our calling in Christ Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, help us to follow David’s example in treating all people with respect, and in reaching out to those in need with compassion and love. Amen.
(To access the entire “Lessons From Handicaps” mini-series, please click here.)