𝕺𝖓𝖊 of the most moving Bible stories you’ll ever hear is about a cripple named Mephibohseth (pronounced “ma-fib-a-sheth”)
Mephibosheth is a cripple. He is “lame in both feet” (II Samuel 9:3).
King David wished to show kindness to Mephibosheth “for Jonathan’s sake” (II Samuel 9:7).. Reflect for a moment on the kindness and grace of Israel’s king toward this cripple because of another person’s goodness.
You’ll never fully grasp the Good News of God’s kindness toward you until you know His favor for you is because of another Person’s merits, not yours.
Lost in Lodebar
Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father, had died at the hand of the wicked Philistines on the battlefield. The nurse caring for the infant Mephibosheth at the palace heard the Philistines approaching and picked up the young prince to run away.
But the nurse fell, and the fall broke Mephibosheth’s vertebrate. The boy who would be king of Israel became a cripple (see II Samuel 4:4).
Mephibosheth is like us. Due to a tragic fall, he was no longer the person he was born to be. Adam carried us all in his loins, and in his fall, we became cripples.
Crippled and broken, Mephibosheth grew up hiding in the little city of Lodebar. The name Lodebar means “no pasture” in Hebrew. It was located “on the other side of the Jordan River” in a land filled with pagan worship.
Mephibosheth changed his name to Marib-baal, possibly reflecting his personal shame and a desire for cultural fame. Baal was the god of culture in Canaan, and somehow, the son of Jonathan found himself lost in Lodebar, following the gods of Canaan.
Most of our problems in life can be sourced from those times we are lost in Lodebar. Addiction, immoral behavior, paganism, and living a life so different from what we were created to live result from being lost in Lodebar.
Yet King David, in sovereign grace and affection for a cripple, reached out and “fetched” Mephibosheth from his dark place “for the sake of Jonathan.”
“You used to live in sin (lost in Lodebar), just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. The devil is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ (for the sake of Christ), for by sovereign grace are you saved” (Ephesians 2:1-5).
King David is a picture of our heavenly Father who shows kindness to crippled sinners “for Jesus’ sake.”
Religion tells you that God is kind to saints for their religious performances. Christianity tells you God is kind to cripples “for Christ’s sake.” God reconciled the world to Himself in Christ (II Corinthians 5:19).
So the story of Mephibosheth is the story of grace. David fetched Mephibosheth from Lodebar, “and he sat at King David’s table like one of the king’s sons” (II Samuel 9:11).
So too, when God saves us by His grace for Christ’s sake, He fetches us in our dark and shameful hiding places, brings us to His table, and feeds us with the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus. God is gracious to broken sinners for our eternal good and His eternal glory (Philippians 4:19).
Lame to the End
What strikes me in this fascinating story of grace is the description of Mephibosheth at the beginning of the story (II Samuel 9:3) and the end of the story (II Samuel 9:13). At both the beginning and the end, Mephibosheth is described in this manner:
“He was lame in both feet.”
One might think Mephibosheth’s story of grace should end like this: “And God healed Mephibosheth of his lameness and he sat at the table of the king as one of his sons.”
No. That’s not how the story ends.
Mephibosheth’s story begins with lameness, and Mephibosheth’s story ends with lameness.
However, two Hebrew words in II Samuel 9 are translated as lameness.
The first word, which begins Mephibosheth’s story, is nakeh in Hebrew, which means stricken or smitten. This word is used in the Bible for lameness in man’s body and soul. It is the word that describes a broken spirit.
In other words, while hiding in shame in Lodebar, Mephibosheth became a broken man in spirit. His inside condition paralleled his outside condition.
The best way to illustrate nakeh is with what I’ve seen in hundreds of suicides. It’s been my job during the years of my work with police departments to go to scenes of suicide, take the left-behind note and inform the next of kin of their loved one’s death. These suicide notes are filled with nakeh. Broken spirits write them.
Nakeh describes Mephibosheth before he experienced the king’s table.
The second word translated lame in II Samuel 9 is the Hebrew word pisseach. It is ONLY used in Scripture to refer to physical lameness.
When we first meet Mephibosheth in II Samuel 9, he is a broken man in body and spirit, living in Lodebar. At the end of II Samuel 9, after experiencing the king’s grace, Mephibosheth is only broken in body, not spirit. Mephibosheth remains lame under the king’s roof, but he’s learned “to be content regardless of his circumstances” (Philippians 4:12), because “he’s learned he who is by the grace of God” (I Corinthians 15:10).
God’s grace may not cure your cancer, but God’s grace will cure your lack of contentment. God’s grace may not heal your body, but God’s grace will heal your soul. You will sit at the King’s Table and learn contentment because of Christ.
God, in His grace, teaches those at His table how to have contentment in Jesus Christ.
God Looks with Favor on Those with a Broken Spirit
I am often asked what I think about lesbians, gays, and transgendered people. I sometimes wonder why I’m not asked how I feel about gossipers, over-eaters, egotistical, and controlling people. It’s amazing how we tend to categorize sins, talking freely about those with which we don’t struggle.
But let me respond.
Do I love people who practice homosexuality, lesbianism, gossiping, adultery, over-eating, thievery, lying, etc.., ? Of course!
Will God treat all these sinners with favor? Answer; It depends.
“I bless those who have humble and contrite (nakeh) hearts, those who tremble at My Word.“
God is gracious and shows kindness “for Jesus’ sake” to the one crippled in spirit and realizes nothing good is deserved from God. Those broken in spirit realize “we have fallen and we can’t get up.”
“But I know my destiny was the palace of the King. I am ashamed that I am lost in Lodebar. I am broken over my sins. ‘Help me, God! Have mercy on me. O Sovereign King!'”
To boast and brag about our sins and demand that GOD accept and love us while we take pride in our sins is not a spirit of brokenness and contriteness.
God never sits a proud sinner at His table. God never blesses a proud person at all. He will crush them because of their pride. The theme of the Bible is the LORD brings down the proud cripple, but He sits at His table the humble cripple.
There is no Savior for anyone who feels they have no sin.
God looks on the broken in spirit with Divine favor. God changed Merib-Baal’s name back to Mephibosheth as His adopted son sat at King David’s table. Do you know what Mephibosheth’s name in Hebrew means? It means “dispeller of shame.” God took Marib-Baal’s contrite and broken spirit because of the shame over his sins, which God dispelled.
The lameness didn’t leave. The shame did. Mephibosheth was no longer lost in Lodebar.
That’s why we who sit at the King’s table remain lame.
We have nothing to boast of but Him. He has fetched us out of the pride and comfort we took in our sins, and by His grace, He has sat us at His table to learn of His eternal riches in Jesus Christ.
Remain dependent on the King, and…