Compassion for the Disabled
David’s generosity to Jonathon’s son doesn’t really surprise us. But his action must have been radical in his own time: (1) Any survivor of an earlier regime would have been considered a lifelong threat. (2) The disabled Mephibosheth was a self-proclaimed “dead dog” (2Sa 9:8)–in his own culturally based estimation, he was less than worthless. The status of a live dog in Israelite society is clear from Ecclesiastes 9:4: “Anyone who is among the living has hope–even a live dog is better than a dead lion!”
Before we congratulate ourselves on our own enlightened civility, we do well to acknowledge that modern humans don’t have an enviable track record either. There are, of course, many exceptions, and it may well be true that Christians are leading the way. John Nunes, pastor, theologian and president of a denominational relief agency, points to Psalm 41:1 as a beatitude of brotherly love:
“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak.” In any society, there will be those who are too weak to “make it”–those who aren’t strong or resilient enough, who aren’t skilled or tough-willed, who lack the “right stuff” or the right connections. Such individuals often are marginalized. We see, all too clearly, where they stand. The question is, Where do we stand? Do we stand with them?
This author pints out elsewhere that “how we live together and how we preserve the inherent holiness of human life is fundamental to our confession of faith. It is also a bottom-line principle of diversity. Treating some people as ostensibly dispensable is contrary to the will of God.”
The following are excerpts from evangelical leader Charles Colson on this issue:
Nearly every young couple having a baby today receives information about the potential health care needs of their unborn child. Ultrasounds, amniocentesis, and other tests are informing parents of a growing list of medical conditions–some 450 at this writing–in their unborn children. Doctors are afraid not to perform such tests lest they face suits for not fully informing parents of an unborn child’s medical problems while the unborn child may still be aborted.
That’s really at the heart of the issue in the raging global debate over embryonic stem cell research. An embryo, after all, is a life. If we can take a life that isn’t worth living, then why shouldn’t we use those embryos to find cures for the most feared diseases Americans experience. But if it’s okay to take the embryo, why should we not use the body parts of a disabled infant who would otherwise be killed? Why waste them? Wouldn’t we be contributing to the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, maximizing human pleasure by helping people to achieve a better quality of life? The logic is precisely the same.
2 Samuel 9:1-13 NKJV
Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” And there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba. So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, “ Are you Ziba?” He said, “At your service!” Then the king said, “ Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.” So the king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.” Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar. Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, “Mephibosheth?” And he answered, “Here is your servant!” So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” Then he bowed himself, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” And the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master’s son may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat bread at my table always.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king has commanded his servant, so will your servant do.” “As for Mephibosheth,” said the king, “he shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.” Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants of Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet.
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