2 Samuel 16:1-4; 19:24-30
I have to admit that yesterday, when I read what Mephibosheth said to Ziba, I was disappointed in Jonathan’s son. You remember that, because David and Jonathan had a close friendship, David promised to take care of Jonathan’s crippled son, even though Mephibosheth was the grandson of David’s enemy Saul, and according to custom, the rightful heir to the throne.
David took Mephibosheth under his wing, invited him to eat at the king’s table for the rest of his life, and treated him like a son. Now, when David’s son Absalom is posed to take the throne by force from his father, Mephibosheth thinks it’s his chance to step in and regain the throne for himself. I mean, I heard it straight from Ziba who says he heard Mephibosheth say that. (2 Sam 16:3) It must be true. Even David believed it.
Ungrateful, power hungry, back-biting Mephibosheth. That’s what I thought. But was I right to think that? Is that what was really going on here?
2 Samuel 19 throws a different light on the subject. Mephibosheth himself tells David that Ziba slandered him by telling David a lie. He tells David he never refused to leave Jerusalem or follow David. Ziba had deceived Mephibosheth. And Ziba deceived David. Ziba deceived me, too.
Here is why I believe Mephibosheth’s account can be trusted:
All my relatives and I could expect only death from you, my lord, but instead you have honored me by allowing me to eat at you own table. What more can I ask? (vs 28)
Doesn’t sound like a man who wanted to overthrow David, does it?
In fact, when David said he’d give half of Saul’s land back to Mephibosheth, Mephibosheth told David to let Ziba have it all.
I am content to have you safely back again, my lord and king! (vs 30)
So what I’d heard “about” Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 16, that which disappointed me about Jonathan’s son, wasn’t even true. My disappointment was misplaced because I had listened to gossip. It wasn’t until I actually heard from Mephibosheth himself, that I got my story straight.
A family in my neighborhood lost their daughter this week in a tragic accident. The paper did not give details about the accident, and I don’t know these people well enough to knock on their door and ask. Was she driving too fast, had she been drinking, did she swerve to miss a deer, was she texting at the time? I don’t know. So therefore I am not going to even try to guess.
But there was a woman standing in line at the grocery, loudly talking on her phone, making sure everyone in the area could hear her. She was obviously talking about the accident and said, “I heard she was drunk.”
People, LISTEN TO ME! We’ve all heard people say things like that: second, third hand accounts. And we’ve probably all repeated what we heard at some time or another.
That is gossip, and gossip is a sin. Is our need to come across as someone “in the know” more important than our responsibility to be compassionate and kind to those who are hurting, to those who are facing hardship, trials, and loss?
Shame on us.
Whatever caused the accident is unimportant next to the one fact we know for sure: that family lost their daughter, their sister, grandchild, niece, cousin, and many young people lost a friend. Should they grieve less if this young woman had been drinking? What does it matter how she died? The fact is she died.
You can’t control what you hear. But you can control what you do with what you hear. Let the gossip die with you! Don’t jump to conclusions or make a judgment based on what somebody said somebody said…
Don’t pass it on!
Will you pray with me for this family? Their pain cuts deep, and will for the rest of their lives. May God wrap His arms around them, strengthen them, give them peace. And may God be glorified even in this.