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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Green

Shattered Shame

The other day I was in a conversation about names. We were discussing whether or not we liked our names, the way old names are coming back around to little babies, and the way so many people try to have really unique names. My friends and I were laughing that our parents had happened to choose some really popular names at the time. Brittany was the third most popular name in 1990, followed by Amanda in fourth – which is what I was supposed to be named. With a last minute decision, my dad chose to switch to Brittany. They luckily spelled Brittany correctly, changing it about an hour after I was born to the correct spelling (All those Brittney, Britni, Brittnies out there – sorry about ya, only my spelling is the third most popular!). My middle name, Nicole, also makes the top 15! So you have to ask yourselves, as a kid born in April were my parents trendsetters, just trendy, or really basic? I’d like to think they were setting the Brittany trend; had it been Ashley, maybe they’d have been followers.

Thank goodness, I truly like my name. I was never that person that was ashamed to let others know my middle name, like several of my friends were in middle and high school. What I’ve noticed is that names matter. People take it very personally when you spell their name wrong. And they’re typically outspoken when they dislike their names – or they change it to a nickname so you never really know that your friend from college, Paige, was really Hannah until freshmen year.

Names matter. And in Scripture, we see a lot of significance to names. They not only allow us to identify someone, but they tend to say something about them. they hold significance over who the person and what God has done in that person’s life. The same can be said of places in the Bible.

Last week I taught our middle and high school students on a Sunday morning. We’ve been going through a series on the life of Daniel, hitting the highlights of his life. The Sunday that I was assigned landed on David and Mephibosheth…yes, that’s a real guy’s name! Can you imagine having a name no one can pronounce?? Just humor me and sound it out - muh · fi · buh · sheth. (In my mind you’re all saying it out loud in your car and it’s pretty funny in my head, so you’re welcome for that!)

What happened as I went to study the life of Mephibosheth is that I found myself in a few rabbit holes for names in this story. I had never really studied this passage of Scripture, so I was learning a lot. You can find Mephibosheth’s interaction with David in 2 Samuel 9, but I’ll give you a summary.

Mephibosheth was the only surviving son of Jonathan, son of King Saul. Jonathan was also David’s best friend. Way back in the day, Jonathan and David made a pact when Saul was set on killing David that they would remain loyal to each other. Jonathan begged David to show covenant kindness and loyalty to him and his descendants – the Hebrew word for that covenantal kindness is hesed. It’s more than just being kind, but bond or a pact that can’t be broken.

So years later, when David becomes king he asks if there are any of Saul’s descendants left, as most of them had been killed in a battle against a neighboring nation. Typically a king would ask this so he could eliminate the threat of the old regime, but not David. He was a different type of king. He was told that Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, was still alive, so he told his people to bring Mephibosheth in.

Now, Mephibosheth was not only the grandson of David’s enemy, King Saul, he was also cripple in both feet. He had been dropped when he was about five years old and never healed properly. At the time, people who were crippled would have been considered outcasts. So, he has a lot against him: his name is hard to say, he was a descendant of the king’s enemy, and he’s crippled. Great!

Where do they find him? In a vastly deserted place north of Jerusalem called Lo Debar. Because names matter, this place means, “no pasture.” It was no good. For a guy who technically should have been king, he would have had all the riches in the kingdom, everything at his disposal. But he was living in the wasteland. Sounds like a Scar/Mufasa situation from Lion King.

David invites Mephibosheth to the table! There is no hidden plan to eliminate his family, only hesed, complete kindness. Because of the covenant with Jonathan, David honors his son and brings him to the table. He brings him to a table which was the finest banquet feast every night and declares that Mephibosheth and his family would eat at the King’s table every day. That’s grace.

In the same way, Jesus’ invitation for us to come to His table is one of grace. Mephibosheth had no way to fix his own feet, change his own circumstance. But he came to the table anyway! And that tablecloth of grace covered his broken feet; it put him on even ground with every other guest and all of David’s family.

Here’s where the names and this story gets interesting! Mephibosheth walks, or limps in, to this banquet. Maybe hesitant about what’s about to happen, maybe he doesn’t feel worthy to be there, and maybe he’s ashamed of every reason to be discounted from the king’s table. Since he was five, perhaps he has felt unworthy, discounted, and shameful.

I did some digging into his name. the second part of his name in Hebrew – the “Bo’sheth” part – literally means “shame!” What are the odds that this guy, named at birth in the palace, would be walking in that part of his name.

He most likely feels ashamed. He is angry. He is lonely. And here’s the deal for you and I, shame is the root of so many negative feelings that the Lord doesn’t want for us. BUT, the King’s tablecloths covers the crippled feet. No one sees that. It is covered by the King’s tablecloth. Shame has no place at the King’s table because Jesus took that for us on the cross. The tablecloth of Jesus is one of complete grace.

Had Mephibosheth stayed in his shame, he would have missed the king’s blessings. He could have stayed in the place of no pasture, no goodness, and ultimately stayed in his fear, shame, and everything that stemmed from those feelings.

But instead, he got up. He looked up to Jerusalem and chose a different way. He chose to accept the invitation to the king’s table. And what happened? He was honored and cared for! He was given back much of Saul’s land.

Do you see how we fit into this? We can accept our King’s invitation to His table – the table of grace and peace and love. We can leave shame and loneliness behind.

Mephibosheth didn’t sit in the last part of his name. Perhaps it was because he knew his full name. the first root word of his name in Hebrew is “pā'â”, which means to break into pieces or shatter. This guy who had every opportunity to stay down and be bummed the rest of his days chose to live out his name that Shame is Shattered!

For you and I, shame is shattered. For those hard days when we don’t feel like we’re enough, shame is shattered. We get to walk as children of the one true King knowing that he takes our shame and shatters it.

Zephiniah 3:19 says, “I will change their shame into praise.”

And so, because names matter – what is it that you’re speaking to yourself? My name does not have nearly as much meaning behind it as Mephibosheth’s does. It just means a region in France… although the Brittany spaniels dog breed are very cute! Our names can hold weight, but what matters more is what you are saying about yourself. What voice are you listening to as you go throughout your day.

Is it telling you that you aren’t enough, that you’re a liar, weak, a failure, alone? Or are you listening to the voice of Jesus that says “when I am weak He is strong”, and “therefore we can boast all the more gladly” because of who He is? Or that voice that says we are surrounded by a host of witnesses, that we have a community of believers called the Church, and that the Holy Spirit is always with us – therefore we are not alone. Scripture has so many more things to say about us, so spend time in His Word!

What we say to ourselves matters. Sitting in our shame and staying in the desert place is not what God wants for us. So let’s get up, remind ourselves of the Truth, and take a seat at the table!

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