Last Thursday, many of us were fortunate enough to gather around a table and share a meal with people we love. Some of those folks we chose and others we inherited. While most meals aren’t as memorable as Thanksgiving, each meal is pregnant with possibilities.
The table is a prominent image for people of faith. I believe the significance, impact, and power of table scenes is wired into us. Some of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever heard about connection and belonging are centered around a table. Unfortunately, some of the most horrific stories of rejection and exclusion have also transpired at a table.
One of my favorite table scenes in scripture comes from the life of David, the man after God’s own heart. Why was he called that?
Was it because of…
- His faithful service to his father over the family’s flocks? Defending them and guiding them to safe pastures?
- His bravery – stepping out to fight Goliath with only a sling and a handful of stones?
- His loyalty to Saul – serving the spiraling king?
- His patience – waiting for God’s timing to coronate him as king even though Saul was trying to kill him?
- His passion as a songwriter and worshiper?
- His prowess as a leader and warrior?
- His confession and humility after his utter failure?
Those probably have something to do with it, but I contend there is something else. Consider 2 Samuel 9:1 –
“David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
This was very unusual in the ancient world. New kings were notorious for wiping out anyone related to the previous king who might have a claim to the throne. A servant named Ziba had an answer for the king. Yes, there was someone – Mephibosheth – a son of Jonathan.
There was an accident when Mephibosheth was five (2 Sam 4) rendering him “lame in both feet.” It would be safe to assume that he, because of his handicap, was always out of sight. It is improbable that he ever experienced the life of being the king’s grandson or dined at the king’s table.
When David came to power, Mephibosheth went into hiding. Imagine his fear when David’s men knocked on his door. He was gathered up and taken to the royal palace. When he arrived he couldn’t believe what he heard.
Instead of, “Off with his head,” he heard, “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” David doesn’t even seem to acknowledge the comment but restores everything to him and repeats it, you will always eat at my table. In fact he says it four times from verses 7-12, So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons…And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.
The table was the place where David removed the ache of Mephibosheth’s rejection. The table became a symbol of belonging and inclusion. Maybe that’s why he was called the man after God’s heart.
I can’t help but to skip ahead in God’s unfolding story to Jesus, the Messiah, who came from the line of David. He had room at his table too. He ate with anyone…the Pharisees or the marginalized. He was always making room to share a table with someone. It was a place of acceptance, relationship, and influence.
I challenge you to find some time this week to…
- Examine the meaningful table scenes in your life and thank God for what He has done in you through them.
- Sit in silence, paying attention to who God may be stirring you to share a table with.
- Block time on your calendar to have lunch with someone on your team each week.