Self-Interest the Parent of Ingratitude
2 Samuel 19:24-30
And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard…

In poor Mephibosheth's case, it would seem as if his early and lifelong infirmity, taken along with the hopeless loss of his brilliant prospects, had all eaten into his heart till he became the false, scheming creature that David found him out to be. Hephaeston loved Alexander, while Craterus loved the king. And Jonathan was like Hephaeston in this, that he loved David at all times, whereas his son Mephibosheth resembled Craterus in this, that he preferred David on the throne to David off the throne. Jonathan strengthened David's hand in God in the wood of Ziph; but Mephibosheth, like another classical character, fled the empty cask. How Mephibosheth's heart had overflowed with gratitude to David when the royal command came that he. was to leave Machir's house:in Lo-debar, and was henceforth to take up his quarters in the king's house in Jerusalem! All Mephibosheth's morosity and misanthropy melted off his heart that day. But such was Mephibosheth at the bottom of his heart that, as he continued to eat at David's table, Satan entered into Mephibosheth and said to him in his heart that all this was by original and Divine right his own. All this wealth, and power, and honour, and glory. But for the bad fortune of his father's royal house on Mount Gilboa, all this would to-day have been his own. "Ingratitude," says Mozley, "is not only a species of injustice, it is the highest species of injustice." And the ingratitude of Mephibosheth grew at David's table to this high injustice, that he waited for both David and Absalom to be chased out of Jerusalem, that, he might take their place. There is no baser heart than an ungrateful heart. And it was Mephibosheth's ungrateful heart that prepared him for the baseness that he was found out in both at the flight of David and at his victorious return.

"The virtues were invited once

To banquet with the Lord of All:

They came — the great ones rather grim,

And not so pleasant as the small.

They talked and chatted o'er the meal,

They even laughed with temp'rate glee;

And each one knew the other well,

And all were good as good could be.

Benevolence and Gratitude

Alone of all seemed strangers yet;

They stared when they were introduced

On earth they never once had met."Dean Milman says that the writings both of Tacitus and Dante are full of remorse. And it is, as I believe, in our own remorse that we shall find the true key to Mephibosheth's heart. When a government goes out of power, when a church is under a cloud, when religion has lost her silver slippers, and when she walks in the shadow of the street, and when any friend has lost his silver slippers — then we discover Mephibosheth in ourselves, and hate both him and ourselves like hell. And commentators have taken sides over the case of Mephibosheth very much as they have found that contemptible creature skulking in themselves, and have had bitter remorse on account of him. "I am full of self-love, fear to confess Thee, or to hazard myself, or my estate, or my peace... My perplexity continues as to whether I shall move now or not, stay or return, hold by Lauderdale, or make use of the Bishop. I went to Sir George Mushet's funeral, where I was looked at, as I thought, like a speckled bird... Die Dom. — I find great averseness in myself to suffering. I am afraid to lose life or estate. Shall I forbear to hear that honest minister, James Urquhart, for a time, seeing the stone is like to fall on me if I do so?" And then our modern Mephibosheth has the grace to add in his diary, like the book of judgment: "A grain of sound faith would easily answer all these questions: — I have before me Mr. Rutherford's letter desiring me to deny myself." And though you will not easily believe it; the author of that letter himself has enough of Jonathan's crippled and disinherited son still in himself to give a tang, and more than a tang, of remorse to some of his best letters. "Oh, if I were free of myself! Myself is another devil, and as evil as the prince of devils. Myself! Myself! Every man blames the devil for his sins, but the house and heart devil of every man is himself. I think I shall die still but minting and aiming to be a Christian man!" This, then, is the prize for finding out that enigma of motive, Mephobosheth's hidden heart. This is the first prize, to receive of God the inward eye to discover Mephibosheth in our ourselves.

(A. Whyte, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.

WEB: Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king; and he had neither groomed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came home in peace.

Regard for Personal Appearance
Top of Page
Top of Page