Every person has been given two images of themselves, one from God and the other from Satan. Our sin nature feeds the image from Satan, allowing it to dominate us. God’s plan for us, however, is a completely different image and we can find it as we seek Him through His Word, prayer and by being quiet in His presence so that we may hear His voice.
One of my favorite Christian books is “Hinds’ Feet on High Places”, by English writer Hannah Hurnard. It was published in 1955. The lead character is Much Afraid, who is a yearling belonging to the Fearlings family. They live in the Valley of Humiliation. Her family had arranged for her to be married to a cousin named Craven Fear. Much Afraid is insecure, fearful and easily controlled by her family of Fearlings. The family consists of several formidable characters named Gloomy, Spiteful, Foreboding, Dismal, and of course, Craven Fear. More distant relatives are Self-pity, Bitterness and Pride. All these family members attempt to keep Much Afraid intimidated and a permanent resident in the Valley of Humiliation. This was their image for her.
The Shepherd, however, reveals himself to Much Afraid and offers her a completely different lifestyle and image of herself. He draws her to the High Places although she visibly has many afflictions, such as club feet, a crooked mouth, ugly appearance, and deformed hands. Much Afraid becomes enthralled with the notion that the Shepherd believes in her ability to abide in the cliffs and shear ledges of the High Places. She answers his call to come up higher but questions her escorts, Sorrow and Suffering, whom the Shepherd assigns to aid her as she begins her ascent upward.
Surrendered to the Shepherd, Much Afraid receives her first gift from him. He plants the “Seed of Love” within her heart. It is inserted with a slight feeling of pain, but quickly settles into a peace that strengthens her for the journey. She is surprised that her ascent upward to the High Places often leads her downward through difficult situations, trials and challenges. She soon realizes each are meant to build her stamina, increase her resolve, and reveal insight to the new image her Shepherd has for her. The book ends with a newly created hind, healed of all deformity and weakness, fear and insecurity. She is re-named Grace and Glory by the Shepherd, the lover of her soul. She becomes bold, secure in His love and sure footed. She has developed the ability to withstand those who once brought her low, and she has obtained freedom from all that made her fearful. Her transformation became a witness to all her family that lived in the Valley of Humiliation.
“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering and responsibility]!” Habakkuk 3:19.
Mephibosheth was the grandson of King Saul and the son of Jonathan, David’s friend. His name means exterminator of shame or image breaker. (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary). “Jonathan, Saul’s son had a son who was a cripple in his feet. He was five years old when the news came out of Jezreel [of the deaths] of Saul and Jonathan. And the boy’s nurse took him up and fled; and in her haste, he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.” 2 Samuel 4:4
Before King Saul became jealous of David, he and Jonathan became close friends. Jonathan made a covenant of friendship with David. “When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life…Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, even his sword, his bow, and his girdle. And David went out wherever Saul sent him, and he prospered and behaved himself wisely; and Saul set him over the men of war.” 1 Samuel 18:1-5. (Read entire chapter).
Later on, David had to flee the country because King Saul, through jealousy, sought to kill him. Rather than defending his own life, David chose to leave the kingdom. He walked in integrity refusing to hurt the king. He would not even speak against him. David was a mighty warrior and Jonathan knew he could have killed his father if he had so desired. Jonathan was caught between his father and his closest friend, David. He chose to support David, made a covenant with him, and protected him. He also decided to honor his father by standing with him in his time of need. “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, And the Lord will require that this covenant be kept at the hands of David’s enemies. And Jonathan caused David to swear again by his love for him, for Jonathan loved him as he loved his own life.” 1 Samuel 20:16-17.
Eleven years passed as David kept one step ahead of King Saul and his men, who searched the land in order to locate and kill David. David proved faithful twice by leaving evidence he had been in close enough proximity to have killed the king but chose otherwise. David had the fear of God and knew it was only God’s right to judge King Saul in His own timing. He showed great restraint as he honored the Lord and “his anointed” King Saul. Sometimes anointed vessels of the Lord do not act honorably toward others or the Lord. They may even fall into serious sin as David eventually did, but they are still the Lord’s anointed. David knew better than to be judge and executioner of a fellow son of God because only God can judge the heart of man.
King Saul’s judgement day ultimately came. He was killed by the Philistine army along with Jonathan and his other sons. David eventually became King of Israel. Mephibosheth had been hidden since the death of his father and grandfather for several years. King David inquired if there were any descendants of King Saul or Jonathan left in the land. Ziba, who had been of the house of Saul was asked by David, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the [unfailing, unsought, unlimited] mercy and kindness of God? Ziba replied, Jonathan has yet a son who is lame in his feet.” 2 Samuel 9:3. He summoned Mephibosheth to his palace and he came before King David in fear and trembling.
“And Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and did obeisance. David said to him, Fear not, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your father [grandfather], and you shall eat at my table always. And [the cripple] bowed himself and said, What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am? Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, I have given your master’s son [grandson] all that belonged to Saul and to all his house…So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table as one of the king’s sons.” 2 Samuel 9:6-11. Mephibosheth’s grandfather, King Saul had sinned against the Lord and excused his actions before the prophet Samuel instead of repenting of his sin. He brought shame and dishonor upon his family. Jonathan, however, honored his father while he also honored David who had been anointed by God to be king in Saul’s place. His actions restored honor to his household. It was through his covenant with David that Mephibosheth was cared for all the days of his life. His honor and respect was restored to the place that he once again sat at the king’s table as a son and he was given back all his inheritance for the rest of his life. Mephibosheth saw himself as a dead dog, but God had another plan. His name “image breaker” foretold of his destiny.
The Lord is calling forth the Mephibosheths in the earth. There are those who once ate at the King’s (Lord’s) table but fell, became crippled (whether at the hand of another or by their own sin) and have hidden themselves from the Lord. He is inviting them back to His table to partake of his unfailing, unsought and unlimited mercy and kindness toward them! There are those Mephibosheths who have never before eaten at the King’s table. They have family members who have prayed and interceded for their life and the Lord wants to invite them to His table of provision filled with His unfailing love, unsought, unlimited mercy and kindness. The Lord is also calling those Mephibosheths who believe they are the dead dogs, the unredeemable of society, the unwanted and filled with fear. The Lord is saying to them, come to My table of grace and mercy. Come partake of my unfailing love, my abundant grace and mercy and my healing waters. My table is for you, just come!
God’s arms are open wide to all who will respond to His call to come to His table. It is a table of healing, a table of provision, a table of restoration and a table that offers a new name, a new identity, and a new way. King David showed Mephibosheth his identity was not a dead dog, it was son of a king! The Lord is the true image breaker. He calls us to surrender to His plans and purposes for our life and removes the stigma of our old, crippled and broken life. He exterminates our shame and delivers us from fear. He clothes us in His righteousness, places a ring on our finger and sits us at the place of honor at His table. He has picked us out from among the crowd and called us to come out of the Valley of Humiliation so that He may give us hind’s feet to dwell in the high places with Him. He crowns us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5) as we become transformed to reflect the image of Christ.