2 Samuel 9 begins with David asking, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” King Saul was dead; so was Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s best friend. David was intent on honoring his promise to show kindness to all of Jonathan’s descendants. What transpires in 2 Samuel 9 is a beautiful picture of David’s provision for one who could not provide for himself. David was introduced to the sole survivor of Saul’s line—Jonathan’s son who was “crippled in both feet.” (2 Samuel 9:3) David took the orphaned Mephibosheth into his household to care for him and every day, for the rest of his life, Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table. Mephibosheth knew he had done nothing to deserve such kindness. In fact, he refers to himself as a “dead dog”. This tender chapter of Scripture expanded my thinking about the “special needs” of people we encounter every day.
Mephibosheth’s special needs were obvious; he couldn’t walk. Unlike Mephibosheth’s crippled feet, many special needs are invisible, like those of our kids. To the casual observer, our children do not look like they have special needs but all three have multiple neurological and physical special needs resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol. Consequently, most people expect normal development and interact with Todd and me as though our children are at least smack dab in the middle of the bell curve cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Nothing could be further from the truth. We work with numerous specialists to help us provide the care our kids need to grow and flourish. We advocate for our children constantly with people who do not recognize our needs as a family.
I see David at his best in 2 Samuel 9. His heart and his actions toward Mephibosheth closely parallel God’s covenant with all of us “dead dogs”. David kept his covenant with Jonathan—going against every worldly expectation of a new king toward a former king—by searching for Saul’s offspring, not to destroy but to bless. In His mercy, God not only refrains from giving us what we deserve and/or expect He seeks us to show us His loving kindness through His plan of salvation in Jesus. Even more, though most of us would be grateful for such a God to sustain us with crumbs, He insists on bringing us up from the floor and seating us with Himself at His table, where the choicest nourishment is to be found in relationship with Him, next to the King of Kings. Amazing! But that’s the God I see in this passage of Scripture. To me, this passage is one of the most vivid descriptions of God’s love and care for all of us “cripples” who are helpless and hopeless without Him. Whether the world designates us as “special needs” or not, this passage reminds us that we all fall into the “special needs” category before our Maker. How wonderful to have such a loving provider!