David and Mephibosheth
We come to a third typological reflection of grand themes in salvation: Reconciliation. The backdrop is a settled but bloody civil war where David’s regime assumes the throne. All of Israel and especially Saul’s tribe has voluntarily bowed to David’s majesty (cf. 2 Sam 3:17–20, 5:1–4). Only one person is left from Saul’s royal line who was maimed as a child and became an indirect casualty of war (2 Sam 4:4). His name, Mephibosheth, was inglorious for it meant “from the mouth of [the] shame, which perhaps was a name change from an idolatrous title (“Merib–baal”) and now simply reflected his disabled condition. His home added further disgrace for Lo Debar was known for its lack of agricultural sustenance (2 Sam 9:4).. Whether it was his identity or his heritage or his stature or his residence, Mephibosheth was not a desirable man. Finally, he was a cripple of the grandfather who repetitively attempted to assassinate the now King David. The drama exudes with all varieties of reasons to at least shun Mephibosheth and at the worst to have him executed as an enemy of the state.
However, David has within his soul a kind streak because of his relationship with Mephibosheth’s father, Jonathan. Due to their closeness and mutual love, David desired to exercise benevolence to anyone left from the house of Saul and Jonathan. Indeed, this forecasts with precision our favor we have with God the Father due to our association with his Son. The words of Jesus are clear: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23; cf. John 15:16). His apostle, John, extends the concept noting that abiding in Christ creates an irrevocable union with the Father and the Son (1 John 2:24b).
The king invited Mephibosheth to the royal palace. Undoubtedly, our handicapped friend was fearing for his life (2 Sam 9:7a). Afterall, when you come from Saul’s radical lineage, there would be no other explanation for such a summons except for execution. Mephibosheth knew he was but a despised canine on the palace floor and should be treated as such (2 Sam 9:8). David, however, greets him with statements that chase away any fear. He tells the son of Jonathan of his intentions to show kindness by restoring the properties he forfeited due to the civil war and guarantee a place at the king’s table forevermore (2 Sam 9:7b). All was offered due to the loving arrangement he had with Mephibosheth’s father. All ills from Saul were erased so that this man would have peace with the king for the rest of his life.
Such permanent reconciliation of peace is played forward in our salvation. It was not only while we were antagonistic as sinners to God (Rom 5:8), but when we were outright enemies against God that he made us acceptable enough to permanently be in his presence (Col 1:21; 2 Cor 5:18). We were as good as dead when he removed the legal barrier that barred us from God’s royal court (Col 2:13–14). In and through the Son of God, we now have peace at his table through the blood of his cross (Col 1:20). We are the Mephibosheths of today: Crippled by sin and unable to carry ourselves into God’s holy presence, but due to the kind advocacy of his Son, we are awarded a secure place at the banquet of heaven.
Once again, events of David’s life spring off the pages of historical record to rebound in the grand themes of God’s salvific plan. We find ourselves in the center of the feature of his splendid drama of redemption. We, though previous enemies of the heavenly state, are given a permanent seat at his feasting table. We are reconciled to God!
David and his Literature
King David, a prolific writer, used his poetry to also typify Christ. Although there are numerous Psalms or portions of Psalms that fall into this category (e.g. Ps 2, 8, 16, 34, 35, 40, 41, 68, 69, 109, 110, 118), it is Psalm 22 that gathers our attention. David’s moments of agony that produced this prose are unknown. By comparison, what is also unknown is the agony of the distressed humanity of a crucified Savior which is revealed by several Psalmist elements. For example, the writer opens (Ps 22:1–3) with an anguished call to God concerning the sentiment of desertion (Ps 22:1). Christ cites these very words in one of the seven statements of the cross experience (Matt 27:46). King David elaborates on the emotional side of isolation due to the deafening silence of heaven (Ps 22:2). Such, oppressive quietness coincides well with the repressive darkness at the time of crucifixion (Luke 23:44). The question remains: Why should there be such agony of the Savior? The answer is given in Psalm 22:3 which names the holiness of God as the reason. We now understand how holiness of a holy God cannot look upon such sin. This was the case during the tragedy of taking one who did not know sin and make him be sin so that the rightful sinner may be regarded as righteous (2 Cor 5:21). God in his holiness had to turn away from such sin.
In the second paragraph (Ps 22:4–11), the Psalmist begins a comparison with ancient saints who found solace and deliverance when they cried out to God (Ps 22:5). By contrast, the author of the Psalm experiences no such escape (Ps 22:5), which parallels the shame that Christ endured (Heb 12:2). The author references the status of a worm whose only function was to be crushed so that royal garments might by dyed with its scarlet color. Our Savior was equally crushed (cf. Is 53:10) to provide us with garments of righteousness (Rev 4:4). Christ, when “made like unto man who was lower than angels” (Heb 2:7; cf. Ps 8:4–6), then lowered himself even further by identifying with an organism that existed for the beauty and worth of others (cf. Phil 2:7). This motif is extended when David mentions his own chiding which forecasts the ridicule Christ received even down to the very words of derision. Notice the similarity: Psalm 22:8, “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” and compare it to the Gospel record, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him” (Matt 27:43). Clearly, the prism of Psalm 22 opens the typological rainbow of the agony of Christ.
The last selected example is in the next paragraph (Ps 22:12–18), where the author specifically notes the piercing of his extremities (Ps 22:16) and the division of his clothes (Ps 22:18). These two poetic points project poignantly to the sufferings of Christ. For example, the impaled scars of the Lords’ hands and feet are used as evidence to validate his resurrected body to his disciples (Luke 24:39) and specifically Thomas (John 20:27). However, the reference to gambling for one’s clothes, before the completed demise of the victim is fraught with cruelty and inhumanness. Yet, this is what was done to the Lord Jesus as all four Gospel writers highlight (Matt 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24).
Thus, it is with a note of soberness we consider the typology reflected in our poet’s art. We are allowed a glimpse into the very suffering soul of our great Savior. His agonizing separation from God, his merciless derision by man, and his extreme physical torture are pointed references to the torment of his being. All such was done when the sin of mankind was meted out for the procurement of our justification.
It is with these four facets that we gaze typologically into the themes of salvation and the sufferings of Christ. We are able to witness the release from our chains of death through the death blow victory of Christ, much like David’s conquest over Goliath. We perceive the theme of Christ’s substitution through the interception of Abigail who made her underserving husband’s wrongs her own. We examined the theme of reconciliation unto peace through the interaction David had with a crippled and condemned Mephibosheth. Finally, we looked at David’s poetry to allow our eyes a peak over the windowsill of the heart of Christ in order to witness his distraught tortured soul for our sins. The resemblances and touch points are uncanny and illuminating for the lover of Christ to behold.
Dr. Price wears many hats including a doctor, husband, father of 9 children, elder, speaker, and writer. He is a core team member of Renew In Knowledge. You can follow some of his writings and life probing meditations on the blog Shepherdinghisflock.
 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 435.
 William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 546.