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From Lo-debar to the King’s Table

From Lo-debar to the King’s Table

| On 08, May 2013

KEY TEXT

2 Samuel 9:1-8, 13 (RSV)

V1- And David said, “Is there still any one left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

V2- Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David; and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “Your servant is he.”

V3- And the king said, “Is there not still some one of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.”

V4- The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”

V5- Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.

V6- And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David, and fell on his face and did obeisance. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, your servant.”

V7- And David said to him, “Do not fear; for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul you father; and you shall eat at my table always.”

V8- And he did obeisance, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I?”

V13- So Mephibosheth dwelth in Jerusalem; for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

Nothing cripples us more physically, emotionally and spiritually than to be dropped by someone who is supposed to care for us.

The Bible tells us in 2 Samuel 4:4 that Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan being killed in the battlefield, came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled; and as she fled in her haste, he fell, and became lame.

The little boy, Mephibosheth was supposed to be cared by his nurse but due to pressing circumstance of flight and fear, she dropped him and thus crippling him.

From the age of 5 years to about maybe 10 to 15 years more, the Bible tells us that Mephibosheth stayed in the house of Machir at Lo-debar.

This morning, I would like to share a sermon entitled, “FROM LO-DEBAR TO THE KING’S TABLE”.

 

(I) THE STORY OF 2 SAMUEL 9

First, allow me to tell you the story of our key text.

Chapter 9 records the story of Mephibosheth. He is the son of Jonathan and the grandson of Saul. It is important at this point to recall some of the background of Saul. Saul had been the pitiless foe and bitter enemy of David. At the death of Saul, David began to marshal his forces. According to oriental custom of that day, a new king would naturally put to death all contenders to the throne of a former dynasty. Any claimant would be removed by execution. That would protect the new king from any threat. According to the code of that day, David would have been justified in putting to death any of the offspring of Saul.

When Saul and Jonathan had been killed in the same battle, a little son of Jonathan was hidden, lest David find him and kill him. The name of this boy was Mephibosheth. David could more firmly establish his throne by slaying this boy, thus removing the last vestige of danger. But David did not.

Instead, David made a search to find out if anyone was still left of the house of Saul to whom he could show kindness for Jonathan’s sake. David remembered the covenant he made with Jonathan – to maintain loyalty towards his family.

At that time the foremost authority on Saul’s family was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba, the well-to-do manager of the former king’s estate. From Ziba, who lived only a few miles north of Jerusalem in the village of Gibeah, David learned there was still a son of Jonathan, an individual who was crippled in both feet due to an injury sustained in childhood.

Mephibosheth was not living anywhere near his family estate at that time. Instead he was living in exile east of the Jordan River. He was staying in that relatively remote area at the house of Makir in Lo-Debar. When David learned the whereabouts of Mephibosheth, he had him brought from Lo-Debar.

When Mephibosheth arrived in Jerusalem, he was brought before David, the one who had once warred against Mephibosheth’s uncle, Ishbosheth. The experience was probably a frightening one for him and he approached David with respect and humility. He bowed down and declared himself as David’s servant, but the king set his mind at ease by making him three noble promises.

First, the king would show Mephibosheth kindness for the sake of his father Jonathan.

Second, David would make him rich: he would restore all the land that belonged to his grandfather Saul.

Third, he would extend to Mephibosheth the high privilege of living at the royal palace. As David had once eaten at King Saul’s table, so now Mephibosheth would always eat at David’s table.

Mephibosheth continued to express his sense of unworthiness in David’s presence as once again he referred to himself as a servant and then called himself a dead dog – an expression of insult or in self-deprecation. He was amazed that Israel’s most powerful king would extend such privileges to the lame grandson of a man who had tried repeatedly to kill David.

Ignoring Mephibosheth’s words, David started the process of making good on his promise. Ziba, along with his fifteen sons and twenty servants, would work for Mephibosheth. They were to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so Mephibosheth would be provided for. David himself would serve as the permanent host and caretaker for Mephibosheth, who would henceforth always eat the king’s table just like one of the king’s sons. This arrangement allowed David to keep his promise to Jonathan and Saul and it helped him keep his eye on the heir to the throne of King Saul.

(II) LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

Mephibosheth is a picture of us – the fallen human race.

David is a picture of King Jesus.

What are the lessons we can learn from this story of David and Mephibosheth?

  1. 1.                   LIKE MEPHIBOSHETH, WE ARE ALL CRIPPLED IN THE EYES OF GOD

We are told in Romans 3:15-16: “Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways.”

That is the report from God’s clinic on the human race. OUR FEET LEAD US ASTRAY

Isaiah 53:6- All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Our feet get us into trouble. Whether it was the faulty feet of the nurse that carried little Mephibosheth that dropped him in their flight or if it was the weak feet of a 5-year old boy running in haste, it was the feet that caused the severe fall that consequently crippled Mephibosheth for the rest of his life.

Application: It is our weak and fallen sinful nature that always causes us to walk contrary to God’s way. Therefore in God’s eyes, the fall of Adam and Eve has crippled all of us. We are all dropped from the favor of God and banished from the Garden of Eden because our forefathers walked contrary to God’s command. We have been crippled severely due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience. We were dropped from the grace of God.

Question: Have you been dropped severely in life to the point it cripples you? Today like Mephibosheth, you may have been dropped by:

1)       Your parents – they abandon you; they reject you; they play you out in their promise to you.

2)       Your spouse – marital vows broken and adultery committed

3)       Your lover – you have been dumped

4)       Your employer – you have been dismissed

5)       Your society – the system of society drops you. If you aren’t the best you are the rest. You have been dropped from the ladder of a higher echelon.

6)       Your education – your degree that you work so hard for cannot land you any job. [Pas Toh Nee shared with me this story of a Ph D graduate from Stamford University in UK who worked in A Star for 8 years. Under him, he made some discoveries and groomed many graduates under him. After working 8 years for them, A Star just dropped him for no reason and today he has to be a taxi-driver – the highest qualified taxi driver in Spore)

7)       Your family – no relatives care for you

8)       Your God –your prayers do not come true. It seems the word of God fails you. You feel God drops you.

Our crippled state speaks of our wounded-ness, brokenness and our inability to carry life as per normal.

Today, are you in a crippled state? Has sin in your life crippled you that you cannot come near to Jesus?

Today, have you been dropped in anyway –whether ruthlessly or accidentally by people, by life or by God? Do you feel you have been abandoned, forsaken, forgotten, wounded and disappointed?

If so, you are the Mephibosheth - that crippled child.

  1. 2.                   IN OUR CRIPPLED STATE, WE LIVE IN LO-DEBAR

Mephibosheth lived in fear and in hiding. He dared not lived near Jerusalem but he chose a very far place away from the palace called Lo-Debar. He always remembered he was the descendant of the wicked king Saul who tried to kill the present king. He knew David had the right to kill him in order to preserve his own throne.

Lo-Debar is the name of a town in the area called Gilead in Manasseh.

The name Lo-Debar obviously consists of two parts. The Lo-part is a common particle of negation: NO. It is also used in names like Lo-Ammi (not my people) and Lo-Ruhamah (no mercy).

The Debar-part is of the fruitful and much applied DABAR – stock. The word “Dabar” is commonly translated with WORD, but it may also mean PASTURE. The word Dabar is common used as Dabar Yahweh, meaning Word of God.

Therefore the name Lo-Debar means WITHOUT PASTURE; WITHOUT THE WORD OF GOD. It denotes poverty; wilderness wandering [desert wandering; barrenness] lack of enlightenment or even stupidity.

The name Mephibosheth means “shame”.

Can you imagine Mephibosheth, the prince, living in Lo-Debar, a place with no pasture, no word of God and no enlightenment? It is a place that makes you feel stupid and shameful.

That is how our crippled state will lead us to. It will cause us to live in “no pasture”. You may have been a believer for some time but because of circumstances and people, you feel now like you are in a place of “no pasture”, filled with fears and anxieties, perhaps trapped in the shame [bosheth = shame) of past (forgiven) sins, haunted by thoughts that have virtually “crippled” your walk of faith.

Application: We are hiding, poor, weak, lame and fearful before our King Jesus comes to us. We are separated from our King because of our wicked ancestors. We are separated from our King Jesus too because of our deliberate actions. We separated ourselves from the king because we don’t know our king or His love for us. We have no spiritual enlightenment - we thought our King Jesus is angry with us and wants to kill us just like Mephibosheth  thought David was angry with him and wanted to kill him.

  1. 3.                   THE KING CAME IN KINDNESS

David took the initiative to look for any descendants of Saul.

He asked, “Is there still any one left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (verse 1)

David’s question showed a great love because Saul made himself an enemy of David. Yet David went against the principle of revenge and against the principle of self-preservation and asked what he could do for the family of his enemy.

V4 (KJV)- And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-Debar.

V5- Then King David sent and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lo-Debar.

KJV says David “fetched Mephibosheth”. David did not just send for him and tell him to pick up his crutches and make his way to Jerusalem. David made a way for him and provided the means for him to come. That’s the loving kindness of God through David on behalf of the covenant cut with his father. Jonathan. It is a picture of the loving kindness [Hebrew word: hesed] of God to those who have been crippled by the fall to come to his Throne Room through the New Covenant of His Son.

David did not know the boy. He did what he did FOR THE SAKE OF JONATHAN whom he loved. When David looked upon this boy, he did not see a cripple; he saw Jonathan. He had made a covenant with Jonathan. THE KINDNESS, MERCY AND GRACE EXTENDED TO A HELPLESS PERSON WERE FOR THE SAKE OF ANOTHER.

Application: We are all children of the enemies. Yet Jesus like David came to seek and save the lost; yes even those who did not seek Him and who were His inveterate (firmly established) enemies, hostile and alienated towards Him. Jesus follows us to our Lo-Debar – our empty wanderings, comes near to our spiritual poverty and helplessness and calls us by His Word, His Providence and His Spirit. Our King sought us out before we sought Him. Do you remember the time when the King first called for you by name and brought you into His presence?

 God has saved you and me because of Another – the Lord Jesus Christ. The King’s kindness is based on covenant. When we accept Jesus Christ as Savior, we are “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). When God sees you and me in Christ, He accepts us and saves us, just as David accepts Mephibosheth.

David said nothing about the lame feet of Mephibosheth. There is no record that David ever mentioned it or made an allusion to it. He never said to him, “It is too bad you are crippled.” He treated him like a prince.

Application: My friends, God forgets our sin because it is blotted out by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the only way God can forgive our sins. Hebrews 10:17- And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

 4)  THE KING CAME TO RESTORE

V5- Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.

V6- And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David, and fell on his face and did obeisance. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, your servant.”

V7- And David said to him, “Do not fear; for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul you father; and you shall eat at my table always.”

V8- And he did obeisance, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I?”

 David sought out Mephibosheth, found him in Lo-Debar and brought him to his palace to show him his kindness. Mephibosheth received David’s kindness in humility (verse 8).

Application: When Jesus comes to your crippled condition at your Lo-Debar, you must accept His loving kindness in humility.

Once Mephibosheth accepted David’s kindness, David restored all the estates of Saul to him.

V9-Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s son.

Given that Saul was king, this is no small gift David bestowed on Mephibosheth. David could have given Mephibosheth a few acres in proximity to the Holy City and that would have been grace (unmerited favor). But this is not the generous heart of David, who goes far beyond the letter of the law, even as the Greater David has done to those who believe in Him.

John 1:16-17- For of His (Jesus’) fullness we have all received grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Application: The King returns to us what we lost in hiding from Him.  How often we forget this truth which speaks of waves of God’s amazing grace that continually break over our heads, washing us clean, strengthening us for the good fight, the worthy walk. Grace piled upon grace. Overflowing. Abundant. Never ending. Amazing!

5.THE KING CAME TO CARRY US TO HIS TABLE

V7- and you shall eat at my table always.

V8- And he did obesisance, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I?”

V10-…but Mephibosheth your master’s son shall always eat at my table.

V11- So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons.

V13- So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem; for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

“You will always eat at my table”- What an incredible declaration from the King to one whose very name means something like “shameful thing.” An invitation to dine with the King. And not just once, not just occasionally, but REGULARLY (implying the rest of his life).

Does this not remind us of our Lord Jesus about whom it was recorded in Luke 15:2- “…both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble saying, “This man receives sinner and eats with them.”

It was a mark of great favor to “eat at the king’s table.” It is an honor bestowed by King David on Mephibosheth. To dine at the King’s table is an HONOR; it is to enjoy the FAVOR, PROTECTION, PROSPERITY AND POWER OF THE KING.

Isaiah 55:1-2 records a similar gracious invitation to those who are undeserving: “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good. And delight yourself in abundance.”

Application: In Isaiah 55, the Lord issues a general call to all who would call themselves by His name, to abandon the Babylons of this world and to find their satisfaction and their security in Him alone, and in that city of joy and peace He will build. This passage is a call to revival for all who have wandered far from the Lord or from that grace which is the basis for our relationship with Him. It is also a call for salvation for any who have not known Him, promising a free but abundant and eternal life that is better than money can buy. The call is issued to the thirsty and penniless – all who will recognize their need for spiritual blessing and their inability to meet the need themselves. “Waters” and “wine and milk” are symbols of ABUNDANT SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS.

Four times in this chapter 9, we are told of the crippled man EATING AT THE KING’S TABLE.

Mephibosheth had done nothing to merit the royal favor. Not a word is said of his being well favored and attractive. So far from that, he was lame on both his feet and probably a sickly invalid. In his own judgment he was worthless as a dead dog. His state was impoverished; no deed of prowess could win David’s notice; he was almost entirely at the mercy of his servant, Ziba. Yet David gave him the privilege to sit at the king’s table as one of the king’s sons.

Application: You and I are Mephibosheths too. The similarities between his life and ours are just too compelling. Before the Father drew us near by His own initiative, we spent our lives running from Him in brokenness and shame. We feared that entering His presence would bring judgment upon our heads. When finally we lay trembling at His feet, He touched us gently and said, “Don’t be afraid.” He lifted us up and said, “I’m going to give back to you everything you have lost because of sin. I’m going to give you an inheritance blessing and riches in the heavenly places. But more than that, I want you forever in My presence and I’m going to call you My child.” And when we protested, “But why would You care about a worthless loser like me? He said, “Because I know your brother, Jesus. And for His sake, I’ll do it all on your account.”

Today, we have the privilege of provision at the King’s Table. We are received as sons at the King’s table, with access to the king and fellowship with Him.

V10- And you [Ziba] and your sons and your servant shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s son may have bread to eat.

Not only that, we receive servants from the King.

V13- So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem; for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

The king’s honor does not immediately take away all our weakness and lameness, but it gives us a favor and standing that overcomes its sting and changes the way we think about ourselves.

In other words, though the grace of God blesses us with innumerable blessings, this does not mean that all our health problems will disappear, as Paul was reminded when he prayed for relief from his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7-9) when the Lord answered him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

 The lame feet also illustrate the fact that the flesh remains in us while we live on earth. However, some one has well observed that when Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, his feet would be hidden from view under the table. So long as we are honestly enjoying communion with King Jesus, the flesh will not show itself.

Have you been dropped by life, by people, by circumstance or even by God that have left you crippled emotionally, physically and even spiritually? Has your crippleness exiled you to a land of Lo-debar – a land of no pasture, a land of no Word?

Then take heart- Jesus comes! Jesus comes to your Lo-debar to fetch you in your crippled condition to his palace and above all to dine at His table always as one of His sons. He does this because of the covenant of the cross- the covenant of another. Jesus comes to you today in loving kindness – to restore all that you have lost and on top of that to give you more spiritual inheritances.

Do you want to come humbly to receive Jesus’ invitation to come and dine at his table?

Are you willing to allow Jesus to come to your Lo-debar and carry you to the King’s table?

Christ is sending out an invitation today into the highways and byways and out into the streets of your city. He is saying, “Come to my table of salvation, just as you are, crippled and I will feed you.” He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). He also says… “If any man thirst, let him come unto me an drink”(John 7:37).

Allow me to end this sermon with a poem entitled, “Grace in a “Barren Place”

I was that Mephibosheth

Crippled by my twisted pride and

Hiding from You in a barren place

Where You could not find me

Where You would not give me what I deserved.

But somehow You found me and

I don’t understand why but You

Give me what I do not deserve

You not only spared my desolate life but

You made it bountiful

And here at Your Table

I will thank You, my King.

END

PREACHED AT E-TAB 2ND ENG SV ON 5 MAY 2013 – HARVEST MTH JESUS COME

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