Articles

Lame in Both Feet

2 Samuel 1

1  Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had stayed two days in Ziklag, 2 on the third day, behold, it happened that a man came from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. So it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the ground and prostrated himself.
3 And David said to him, “Where have you come from?”
So he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.”
4 Then David said to him,”How did the matter go? Please tell me.”
And he answered, “The people have fled from the battle, many of the people are fallen and dead, and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.”
5 So David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and Jonathan his son are dead?”
6 Then the young man who told him said, “As I happened by chance to be on Mount Gilboa, there was Saul, leaning on his spear; and indeed the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. 7 Now when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8 And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9 He said to me again, ‘Please stand over me and kill me, for anguish has come upon me, but my life still remains in me.’ 10 So I stood over him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord.”
11 Therefore David took hold of his own clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son, for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
13 Then David said to the young man who told him, “Where are you from?”
And he answered, “I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite.”
14 So David said to him, “How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” 15 Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go near, and execute him!” And he struck him so that he died. 16 So David said to him,”Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.'”

17 The Song of the Bow

Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son, 18 and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written in the Book of Jasher:
19 “The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath,Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon
“” Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
21 “O mountains of Gilboa,
Let there be no dew nor rain upon you,
Nor fields of offerings.
For the shield of the mighty is cast away there!
The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
22 From the blood of the slain,
From the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
And the sword of Saul did not return empty.
23 “Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives,
And in their death they were not divided;
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
24 “O daughters of Israel,
weep over Saul,
Who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury;
Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan was slain in your high places.
26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me;
Your love to me was wonderful,
Surpassing the love of women.
27 “How the mighty have fallen,
And the weapons of war perished!”

What a story!  I might add to the end of this Song the editorial comment:  “So passes Saul, the first King of Israel.”

His was a reign that had begun with such promise.  Saul, the man who stood a head taller than every man in Israel looked the part of the king.  He even delivered Israel from the hands of its enemies.  He was, indeed, a mighty warrior.  But he repeatedly disobeyed the command of God.

His disobedience by our standards would seem very small.  He offered a sacrifice before Samuel arrived in 1 Samuel 13.  Come on, the people are getting tired of waiting for Samuel.  But Saul was not a Levite.  Then he let his men keep the sheep and cattle of the Amalekites  in 1 Sam 15 and Saul spared their king.  But God had commanded that the Amalekites and all their livestock be utterly destroyed.  God commanded it.  It is both an amusing and gruesome story in 1 Sam 15 when Samuel arrives and Agag, King of the Amalekites, thinks he’s safe.  Samuel didn’t give him long to be relieved as he literally hacked the king to death.  Samuel didn’t hesitate to carry out God’s commands faithfully.

You see, God demands our complete obedience.  What was convenient or seemed “right” in Saul’s eyes was against the direct commandment of the Lord.  God is not only God when we allow God to be so-called “Lord of our Lives”¦.”  He is God always and everywhere for all people whether they rebel against Him or not.  I wish we would just remove that language from our speech.  It is very unbiblical.  God is God and we are not.

Anyhow, from that moment on God determined to remove the kingdom from Saul and give it to another.  You will recall that Samuel, right after this event, took a trip to Bethlehem shortly after the event with the Amalekites and he anointed David as King of Israel.  But David was not to inherit the kingdom immediately.  In fact, he went back to tending his sheep.  Until one day a dude named Goliath came on the scene.

Shortly thereafter, David became a bit of a celebrity in Israel and an incredible military leader.  He became the protector of Israel under Saul’s command.  Then one day, Saul heard some women singing a song about Saul killing his thousands and David his tens of thousands.  From that moment on, Saul and David had a “strained” relationship.”  Even though David was his son-in-law and was a faithful servant, Saul repeatedly tried to kill David.  He perceived David as a threat to his throne.  This was the way of the Ancient Near East and the way of many monarchies.  Kings maintain power by killing off those who are gaining too much influence.  Of course God had different plans.

So began literally years and years of Saul pursuing David all over Israel.  David spent many years hiding in caves and living outside of Israel’s borders.  David had at least two opportunities to kill Saul as, in one instance, Saul literally stopped for a “pit stop” in the cave that David was hiding in.

But David was a man who loved his God and he would not lift his hand against God’s anointed.
And so we come to this story we have just read in 2 Samuel 1 and we can appreciate why the man running to bring the news of Saul’s death would think he was the bearer of happy news for David.  Saul is dead.  David has long known he would ascend the throne and the man who has been pursuing his life is now dead.

So we react with maybe a little bit of a surprise at how David reacts to the news:

2 Samuel 1:11

Therefore David took hold of his own clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son, for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

David has just been brought the crown and scepter of Saul and, instead of rejoicing, he mourns.  Beloved, that is faith.  That is a man after God’s own heart.  What a tragic story Saul is.  A man who once prophesied and had received the Spirit in power.  David had seen Saul slowly degenerate and go mad over years as he had rejected God and God had rejected him.  David knew that, apart from God’s grace, so might he walk.  We also find this interesting note:

2 Samuel 1:13-16

13 Then David said to the young man who told him, “Where are you from?”
And he answered, “I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite.”
14 So David said to him, “How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” 15 Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go near, and execute him!” And he struck him so that he died. 16 So David said to him,”Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.'”

Did you catch what race the man was?  An Amalekite, that’s right.  What race was Saul supposed to wipe out in 1 Sam 15?  The Amalekites.  How ironic.  This kid should have showed Saul just a bit of gratitude.  Saul lost his kingship because he disobeyed God by not wiping this kid out!   How very ironic.  Well, David had him executed for killing Saul.  If you recall, this was at Saul’s request.  He wanted to be put out of his misery.  But you just don’t lift your hand against the God’s anointed.

And so David sings a beautiful song of tribute to Saul.  He actually curses  the mountains of Gilboa and asks that no rain fall on them.  One morning the mountain wakes up, a battle takes place on its heights and a king dies.  Next moment it’s being cursed for being a mountain.

And so David continues his beautiful lament for Saul and his son Jonathan who were slain on the mountain.  He laments that the death of Saul will give God’s enemies a chance to dance in the streets.  The rejoicing of the wicked is always so short-lived isn’t it?  One minute they’re dancing at a victory.  They’re only looking immediately in front of them and not at the judgment to come.
Finally, at the end of the lament, called the Song of the Bow, David sings of his love for Saul’s son Jonathan:

2 Samuel 1:25-26

25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan was slain in your high places.
26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me;
Your love to me was wonderful,
Surpassing the love of women.

Do you know Jonathan?  What a man!  What an incredible Biblical figure.  He and David were closer than brothers.  When I read this passage I always think:  “Poor Jonathan.  Saul deserved to die but not him.  Poor Jonathan.”

Usually the Scriptures have a predictable pattern:  Dad becomes unfaithful to God and the son ends up worse.  Not here.  Jonathan is one of the most faithful people you’ll ever find in the Scriptures.  He was a man’s man too.  In 1 Samuel 13 he took on an entire Philistine garrison ““ just he and his armor bearer against dozens of men.  He reasoned this way:  “Well if God shows me that I will defeat these men then I’ll defeat them.”  God showed him he would prevail and he took them on.  What faith!

Jonathan had every right to ascend to the throne after his father died.  He had every right in the eyes of men.  He was the son of the king and he was a warrior.  He was brave.  He was faithful in all things.  Jonathan had succeeded in everything he did and had every confidence in the flesh to take the throne after his father died.

But one day Jonathan was at war with his father and he saw a tall man named Goliath.  A man that towered 9 feet tall and bore spear and shield that weighed hundreds of pounds.  He watched as all the men of Israel cowered before this big man.  As he was looking out over the field and heard the big man Goliath heaping insults on the Army of Israel and blaspheming God he saw a teenage boy step out of the crowd wearing nothing but his normal clothes.  No armor.  He had nothing in his hand but a sling and some stones.  No shield.  No sword.  Who is this kid?!

He watched as the big Philistine laughed and called the teenager a dog and that he would kill the boy and feed him to the birds.  I’m sure he could just barely hear the words as the young boy told Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:45-47

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

“What’s happening?”, thinks Jonathan,  “He’s running toward the Philistine!  What faith!”

And you know the rest of the story.  By the way, we like to think of David and Goliath as the great story of the Underdog.  Just remember who is the Underdog when God is on your side!

Well, shortly after this incredible event, the boy is talking to Jonathan’s father Saul in 1 Sam 18 and he finds out that the boy’s name is David.  1 Sam 18 reports the following:

1 Samuel 18:1-4

1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

Wow!  That’s just incredible.  Jonathan meets a young man that has a love for God.  As a man who loves God Himself, Jonathan is immediately knit to David and they love each other in the Lord.  This is something you can only understand if you are a believer.  He who shares Christ with me is my brother.  I love my immediate family ““ my mother, father, brothers, and sister a great deal.  But they don’t serve the Lord.  The Saints of God are more dear to me because we share Christ.

And so Jonathan loves David that very day.  He even chooses sides for the future.  How?  He gives David his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.  He’s essentially telling David:  “Every claim I have to the throne is yours.  I know God has given the kingdom to you.  That’s OK.  I trust God.  God has anointed you King and far be it from me to ever try to take it.”  THAT is faith!  That’s why I always lament that Jonathan died.  What a man of faith he was.

Eventually Jonathan must even side with David against his own father who is determined to kill him.  He protects David and even lies to his father about knowing where David is.  This is just very strange activity for a Jewish son because family loyalty is everything in that culture.  But Jonathan put no confidence in the flesh but had faith in God’s anointed.

And so in 1 Samuel 20, Jonathan comes to the stark realization that Saul is trying to kill his beloved friend David and it breaks his heart.  He meets David in the field to tell him to flee and they embrace each other and weep over their parting.  It was to be the last time they would see each other.  And 2 Samuel 20:42 reports:

2 Samuel 20:42

42 Then Jonathan said to David,”Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.'” So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

And so we understand all the more why David is weeping over his friend Jonathan’s death in 2 Samuel 1.   It’s just so sad.  But sorrow for the House of Saul and Jonathan is not over.  Right after Saul and Jonathan’s death, Saul’s son Ishbosheth contends for the throne of Israel.  A Civil War ensues and David eventually rises to the throne of Israel.  At the end of reporting all the details of the Civil War, 2 Sam 4:4 reports this sad event:

2 Samuel 4:4

4 Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.

As if things couldn’t be more sorrowful for the House of Jonathan, his only son, Mephibosheth, who is only 5 years old at his death, is dropped by his nurse as she hurries away upon learning of his death.  Poor kid.  He was a normal child but his nurse drops him and from that moment on he is lame in both feet.  He walks around only with great difficulty.  Something we could probably heal with modern medicine but he was a cripple for the rest of his life.

My goodness!  If you don’t feel bad for Jonathan after all of that then you’ve got a heart of stone.  He dies on the mountain with an unfaithful father even though he was faithful.  He never gets to live out his days with his friend David as the King.  To make matters worse, his only son becomes lame after being dropped by his nurse.

But God is rich in mercy.

Many years later, David has firmly established himself on the throne and has defeated the Philistines.  He is on his throne one day and probably finally has a brief moment to think and he starts to remember his beloved friend Jonathan:

2 Samuel 9

1Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
2And 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!”
3Then 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.”
4So 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.”
5Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar.
6Now 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!”
7So 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.”
8Then he bowed himself, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?”
9And 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. 10You 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.
11Then 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.” 12Mephibosheth  had a young son whose name was Micha. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants of Mephibosheth . 13So Mephibosheth  dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet.

They found Mephibosheth!  I just love this story.  Mephibosheth limps into the king’s chambers and falls on his face before David.  David speaks his name:  “Mephibosheth?”

“Here is your servant.”

“Don’t fear Mephibosheth.”

I’m sure the young man thought he was at risk because it was the custom of kings to remove threats to the throne.  Mephibosheth was the last remaining person alive from the House of Saul.

But David tells him:  “I knew your father.  I loved him.  I’m going to show you kindness for his sake!”

And Mephibosheth answers very humbly, it’s even sad to read the way he refers to himself:  “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?”

Can you imagine growing up lame in both feet with a father like Jonathan.  Songs were probably sung of his exploits:  “Remember the time that Jonathan killed an entire Philistine garrison with just his armor bearer?!”  But Mephibosheth would never do anything like that.

It would be a great insult to call anyone a dog in the Near East but Mephibosheth calls himself a “dead dog”.  “Why are you showing me such favor?  I don’t deserve this kind of love from you.”

But David was a man after God’s own heart.  David kept his promises even if he was a little slow in getting to them.  Remember that he had promised with Jonathan to be good to his descendants?

And so he restores the lands of Saul, everything, to Mephibosheth.  He tells Ziba to care for the lands but Mephibosheth isn’t just going to receive the blessing of land.  No.

“As for Mephibosheth,” said the kind, “he shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons.”

David adopted him and loved him as a son.  He loved him for Jonathan’s sake.  And the story concludes about the young man:  “And he was lame in both feet.”

I just love the Word of God.  This story is such a powerful picture of our redemption and shows these beautiful strands of God’s redemption that have been woven throughout redemptive history.  King David the Great was the forefather, in the flesh, of Christ to come.

Have we not all been made Spiritually lame and worthless in the flesh by a Fall.  We have received an invitation to the King’s chamber.  We have every reason to fear.  In Mephibosheth’s case he feared just because he was the grandson of Saul.  In our case, we are summoned knowing we have sinned against a Holy and Righteous God.  We enter with fear and trembling.

But the Father’s Son loved us and died for us.  He re-creates us and causes us to love Him in return.  And so we enter the chamber and the King announces:  “You are to eat at my table continually.”

“Who am I, God, that you should look upon this dead dog and show me such favor?”

But God love His Son and, for His sake, I am beloved by Him, and I am going to eat at His table continually as one of His sons.

We love Him because He first loved us and poured Himself out for us.  The King’s table is available for all who would call on the name of Jesus Christ.  Unless you see your unworthiness to be in the King’s presence, you cannot gain entry through the door of Christ’s death and resurrection.  It’s all grace.  Christ died so that all who believe in Him might say to Him:

“I am wretched.  Take my sin away.  I deserve death but I believe.”

And through the foolishness of that simple faith, Christ does take away our sin and becomes our righteousness.  We enter the throne room of Grace boldly then, as Sons, and gladly take our seats at the great wedding feast that knows no end.

The feast is available to all who believe.  Believe and live.  Enter and feast, you are a son of God!

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