What happens when God invites a “dead dog” to His table?

I bet you never thought you’d ponder this subject, huh? Inviting a “dead dog” to the table seems a bit morbid, if not downright absurd. The table is place of dining, conversation, and even thanksgiving; but never a place for a “dead dog.” Believe it or not, there is an occasion in Scripture when God did just that-invited a “dead dog” to His table, and there’s an important lesson to be learned as a result.

Here’s the back story that creates a mental picture hard to ignore. In 2 Samuel 9:1-13, we read the story of King Davidhaving a conversation with one of Saul’s servants. At this point in the story, Saul, Israel’s first King, had died in disgrace and David, his successor, was seeking out whether any of Saul’s leftover servants were worthy of redemption. When he discusses this with a man named Ziba, he discovers that one of Johnathan’s sons was still alive, and worthy of a shot at grace. Johnathan, or course, was Saul’s son, but more importantly, had been a treasured friend of David. They literally grew up together.

Mephibosheth, the servant in question and grandson of Saul, was exactly the kind of servant David was inquiring about. David’s desire was to find someone, anyone, from Saul’s reign worthy of receiving God’s mercy. Mephibosheth was just such a servant, but there was a catch. He was crippled in both of his legs.

When called by King David to appear before him, Mephibosheth posed this odd question: “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” What an odd thing to say, don’t you think? Perhaps his self-deprecating image of a “dead dog” referred to his lack of usefulness to the King because of his disability,” or, that his position as a forgotten servant of a dead King rendered him useless, or “dead?” There are many truths to derive from this encounter.

First, there is always room at the table of God’s provision for more. Second, despite a person’s past, they are still worthy of fellowship at the table of God’s mercy. Third, despite possessing a low spiritual self-esteem, individuals can find a warm welcome among others at the table of grace.

All of these lessons are important, but how to they relate to you? Is there any comfort in this encounter? Is there any grace left after so much water has passed under the bridge?

I suppose it’s fair to say that most everyone feels a bit like a useless “dead dog” when invited to the Lord’s table of grace and mercy. Our past, our circumstances, even our physical limitations, conspire to keep away from the table altogether. We may even ask ourselves, “why me, Lord?”

To which the Lord replies, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (Hebrews 12:12-13, NIV). “Dead dogs” are invited to the table because they matter to God, and most importantly, they find healing in Him. Abba Father, give us the grace of receiving… grace!

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