Scripture 2 Samuel 9.1-9
David asked, "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?" 2 Now there was a servant of Saul's household named Ziba. They called him to appear before David, and the king said to him, "Are you Ziba?" "Your servant," he replied. 3 The king asked, "Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?" Ziba answered the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet." (:1-3, NIV)
King David has just finished battling to secure his throne. Saul, the former king and his son Jonathan had been killed by the Philistines. You may remember David killing Goliath or David’s anointing by Samuel. He had been brought to the palace to play his harp when Saul would be taken by a fit of madness. And David and Jonathan became fast friends. They made a covenant, or more accurately they cut a covenant. You see, a covenant required the shedding of blood. They would have cut their arms and sprinkled crushed rock in the wound so it wouldn’t heal cleanly. It would leave a mark that would be a reminder of their pledge to look out for each other. As Saul watched the friendship blossom, his madness drove him to seek David’s life. David became a fugitive.
But now Saul was dead, and Jonathan with him. As David sat back in the throne for the first time in a long while, he catches his reflection in one of the finely polished bronze mirrors that hung on one of the palace walls. In that mirror he catches a glimpse of the mark on his forearm, and the tears begin to flow down David’s cheeks as he morns for Jonathan. He calls for Ziba, the servant of Saul’s household. “Is there no one left of Jonathan’s family?” Ziba replied, “There is one . . .”
When news reached the capital of Saul’s death and David’s rise to power, a panic swept the city. The boys nanny grabbed the boy and fled from the palace, but in her haste, she fell, crushing the legs of little Mephibosheth. He was a cripple . . .
Where is he? Lo Debar- the howling wilderness, the most decrepit of the Samaritan slums. It was a place where the rejected of society came to live and where the outlaws hide. The boys name means despised one. Can you see him? People mocking him--this Jewish prince on his crutches. His name became painful in his own ears as people mocked him. I can see some of the men, as they would kick his crutches out from under his feet and laugh as he crashed to the filthy street. When they passed the boy would haul himself back up onto his crutches. Children would shout as he made his way slowly down the dirty street, “Here comes the king.” At first he would fight back, but over the years, his pride had been crushed, his will so defeated that he wanted nothing more than to die in the howling wilderness.
So David sent for him. His royal guard rode out of the palace, out of the city and into the howling wilderness of Lo Debar. It was like and episode of COPS. People stuck their heads out the door to watch the horsemen thunder down the street, and the whispers started. Who have they come for this time? Whose life would be forfeit? Who was it that they had come hunting? And the answer followed . . .it’s that little cripple boy, Mephibosheth.
The captain of the guard reined in his horse and swung down off his horse. His men kicked in the door of the little hovel. His boots seemed to resound on the hardened dirt floor as he searched the house. He looked around the room . . . a simple cot and a dirty pile of straw in the corner for a bed, a crude table and stool, no cripple, and then he looked under the table. There was the crippled, downtrodden little man with his withered legs pulled under him and his crude wooden crutches clutched tight against his chest. He knew it was the end.
But instead of reaching for his sword, the guard reached under the table and pulled the boy to his feet. “Stand up, boy. The king desires an audience!” Mephibosheth’s heart dropped even lower. They had decided to have some sport and humiliate him before he died. As they through him across the horse, the boy searched his mind for a way out, knowing full well that he was helpless.
They rode into the palace and hurried him before the king. Mephibosheth did the only thing he could think of. He threw himself to the floor, in his tattered rags, and cried out for mercy. “Behold your servant Mephibosheth”.
David replied, “Don’t be afraid . . .” Mephibosheth didn’t even wait for the king to finish. He bowed down and said, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?" (:9, NIV) Not a dog, friends, but a dead dog. He was so defeated that he saw himself as being of no earthly worth.
But David persisted” Don’t be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table." (:8, NIV)
You see, Church, it wasn’t who he was; it was who his daddy was. It was about a blood covenant cut before Mephibosheth was even a thought in Jonathan’s mind! The church is often like Mephibosheth. The world is full of people telling us to get to the back of the bus. They don’t like the Church because our standards (or rather God’s standards set forth in the Bible) make them uncomfortable. They want to knock us down and to get us to hide under the table. They say, “You’re nobody! I know what you used to do! I know where you’ve been! And you call yourself a Christian?”
I got news for you. We have a covenant. God didn’t cut one with you or me, because He wanted a covenant that would be incorruptible. So He sent his only son to die on a hill called Mt. Calvary. The blood covenant was cut before I was even a twinkle in my mother’s eye. And the king is sending His Holy Spirit to bring me to Him so I can live in the blessings of my Father’s table. There’s no place like the King’s table to hide a pair of sin-crippled legs.
There are some here today who have been in Lo-debar. You’ve been battling in the howling wilderness, you may even be hiding under the table praying that the problem will pass you by, but God through His Spirit wants to bring you out of the howling wilderness. God wants to pour His blessings out upon us, but we have to choose to come out from under the table. Stand up and be bold in the covenant that Jesus cut for you! Don’t be afraid, for God will surely show kindness for the sake of His son, Jesus. He will restore that which Satan had plotted to steal from you, and He invites you to feast at His table on the blessings of God. Will you come out from under the table? Are you ready to come out of Lo Debar?
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Coming out of Lo Debar
Scripture 2 Samuel 9.1-9