Time, chance, and Coping with misunderstanding – the tale of Mephibosheth
Have you ever been really misunderstood? I mean, like impure motives slapped on you, and no way to disprove them? Circumstances that are too complex, with too many players, and it doesn’t matter what you do or say, people look suspiciously at you?
Then you go along to church, and some preacher goes on about Gods blessing if only we follow His word – you sit there seething in the middle of your misunderstanding …. and you wonder how realistic those words are.
This is a story of Mephibosheth, a character in the Old Testament, (or Hebrew Bible if you are chic and Religiously Rebellious) whose life of ups and downs was driven by circumstance, chance, luck and misunderstandings. I think God placed the story there as one of many showing His empathy for our circumstances. At least those of us who have been through such experiences.
Here is the story in a nutshell if you can’t recall. Mephibosheth is a tough name to type in all the time, so we will nickname him Mephy.
- Mephy is born to Jonathan in the dying days of his father Sauls kingdom.
- Saul’s kingdom falls, and the nurse runs off in a panic with five year old Mephy, dropping him and crippling him for life.
- Poor young blighter – time and chance one
- Years later, King David inquires whether his friend Jonathan had any offspring and Mephy is re-discovered living in the boonies. Mephy is brought to David in fear and trembling.
- David restores all his families former properties to this last remaining son, and promotes him to a life of wealth in Jerusalem.
- Lucky blighter – time and chance two.
- Years later King David is temporarily driven from Jerusalem by his errant son Absalom.
- Mephy is not found among those fleeing with David, but his servant Ziba is. Ziba tells David Mephy thought he would be pronounced King in Davids place, so he stayed in Jerusalem.
- David is somewhat put out, and promises Mephys lands to Ziba.
- After Absaloms rebellion, David returns and is met by Mephy, coming out of the city despite his crippled state, and not having washed since the day David left – (an ancient and hard to understand strategy to show how sorry you are)
- David quizzes him and Mephy says Ziba left him behind, and lied to David. David brushes away the issue and tells them they can have half the land each.
- Poor blighter? Cunning blighter? Lucky blighter? Lying sod? – time and chance three.
If you type ‘Mephibosheth’ into a search engine, you will read every type of interpretation imaginable about this character. But you will not find any references to time and chance happening to him. It seems the major lesson to me though. Simply put, Mephy goes through three phases;
- Very fortunate
- Under the shadow of suspicion
His tale is the story for most of us, at some stage in our lives, even if we won’t hear it from the pulpits. Circumstances outside his control cripple him, send him to the back of beyond, restore him to favour, and then we are left wondering whether he was crooked, or simply wronged. The Bible doesn’t even tell us the answer. It is left hanging.
Like it is for us. You and me. Events strike us, good luck, bad luck, and imputed motives.
Well, you say, that’s not very encouraging. Give me a story with hope and blessing in it.
Not on this site. Our theme here is Coping with life or Christianity, or Post Modern Christianity, or your neighbour, or his rowdy dogs … or kids.
We all want to be justified, to appear well in the eyes of others. Why is this so? I could give you a good answer, but I won’t. I think mostly our drive for self respect is ego driven. And if you choose to follow Christ, then you will be knocked around.
You will have bad motives imputed to you, and no chance to redress them, to give the truthful state of affairs. Your ego and reputation will take a belting.
The real point is, how do you cope with such things happening to you, John and Jane Average?
Uh oh, I nearly gave some advice away. It’s even tempting to provide an opinion, an answer, or some guidance. Some deep insights into how one should cope with the vicissitudes, the slings and arrows of Shakespeares’ outrageous fortune.
We just ask questions here. However answers can be found in the Bible, in yourself, or in interactive open discussions with close, truly interested friends.