BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“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?’”(2 Samuel 9:2 New King James Version).
Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes Lo-debar as a town in Gilead not far from Mahanaim, north of the Jabbok. It notes that Lo-debar is probably identical with Debir (Joshua 13:26).
Lo-debar is also described by Nave’s Topical Bible as a city in the territory of the tribe of Manasseh. According to the Online Bible Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Lo-debar was a town in Manasseh in Gilead east of the Jordan River. Lo-debar was the native place of Machir, the son of Ammiel,
Lo-debar is a combination of two words – Lo and debar. Some have translated Lo and debar. to mean “nothing” and “pasture” respectively therefore the combination could mean “no pasture”, “not a pasture”, “without pasture” or “pastureless”. But others have translated the Lo-debar to mean “no word” or “no communication.”
It was in Lo-debar –“no pasture”, “not a pasture”, “pastureless”, “nothing”, “pastureless” or “no communication” that Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, David’s friend, was living at the time David was asking if there was anyone in the house of Saul that he might show him kindness (2 Samuel 9:2). Mephibosheth, a grandchild of King Saul, who, expectedly, used to live in luxury in the palace, suffered a setback in fortune and had to be living in “nothing” (Lo-debar). He was living in “no communication” (Lo-debar) – forgotten – until David, his father’s friend, sent a communication to him.
Because of the Covenant
David, who took over kingship from the house of Saul, Jonathan’s father, asked if there was still anyone left of the house of Saul so that he might show him kindness. Ordinarily, he wasn’t supposed to, but he had to for Jonathan’s sake because of the covenant between David and Jonathan.
1 Samuel 18:1-4 talks about this covenant. “Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt” (1 Samuel 18:1-4 New King James Version). That incident happened after David was brought before Saul following his heroic exploit of killing Goliath.
The relationship between Jonathan and David waxed stronger thereafter and Jonathan later made David swear to an oath to be kind to his household. “And you shall not only show me the kindness of the LORD while I still live, that I may not die; but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the LORD has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth” (1 Samuel 20:14-15 NKJV).
Verses 16-17 go further to say, “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘Let the LORD require it at the hand of David’s enemies.’ Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul” (New King James Version).
Unfortunately, David and Jonathan were separated after David fled from Saul who was determined to kill him. Tragically, Jonathan, David’s bosom friend, died with his father in a war with the Philistines. David became king over the tribe of Judah for seven and a half years before he eventually took over as king of the entire nation of Israel following the assassination of Saul’s son, Ishbosheth, by Rechab and Baanah, captains of his troops (2 Samuel 4:1-4).
After consolidating himself on the throne, David made enquiry that we read in 2 Samuel 9:2 so as to fulfill his vow to Jonathan. Ziba, King Saul’s servant, told David that Jonathan had a son who was lame and was in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.
To be lame is to be disabled which may render someone ineffective, and, therefore, depending on others. Everybody is lame in one area or the other in life – we are incapable of doing certain things, but God is our sufficiency. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5 New King James Version). We must realize our need for God in our lives and depend on Him. The greatest lame person however is the sinner, and Jesus is the solution to such lameness.
So Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was lame and was living in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar. Machir means “sold.” It was as if life’s setback ‘sold’ Mephibosheth, someone raised with a silver spoon to be living in ‘pastureless’ land, abandoned and forgotten (no communication). May that not be your portion in life.
But your condition may be similar to this in a way. You may not be lame physically but you know you’re not where you ought to be in life; you’re ineffective; you’re at the mercy of some people who are like your Machir. The Lord who remembered Mephibosheth will remember you and change your story. If you’ve lost your place, the Lord will restore you and even elevate you.
Mephibosheth was living in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar. Machir must have been a very compassionate and generous man because later we also read about how he and two others brought provisions and supplies to David after Absalom had rebelled against his father and David had to flee Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 17:27-28 says, “Now it happened, when David had come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the people of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds and basins, earthen vessels and wheat, barley and flour, parched grain and beans, lentils and parched seeds” (New King James Version).
Dwelling in Lo-debar
As I’ve said, Machir means “sold.” Ammiel means “God is my kinsman” or “my kinsman is God.” It could also mean “kinsman of God”, “people of God” or “one of the people of God.” In your times of trial, do you have a relationship with God, or do you fellowship with Him? Are you associating with the people of God or the enemies of God? The Bible says we should not neglect meeting together as some people do but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (New Living Translation).
End of shame
Mephibosheth, on the other hand, means “exterminating the idol”, “exterminator of shame” (i.e idols), “dispeller of shame” or “shame destroyer.” But until David sent for Mephibosheth, it appeared his life was that of shame. Whatever represents shame in your life, the Lord shall deliver you from it.
Actually, the original name Mephibosheth was Meribaal – “opponent of Baal” or “contender with Baal”, but copyists changed it to Mephibosheth in order to avoid writing the name of a pagan god. We find the old name mentioned in 1 Chronicles 8:34 – “The son of Jonathan was Merib-Baal, and Merib-Baal begot Micah” (New King James Version).
How did Mephibosheth become lame and come about living in Lo-debar – pastureless? In the Old Testament, it was the practice for new kings to kill the surviving relations of their predecessors in order to secure or consolidate their position on the throne. Jehu did it (2 Kings 10:6). And Athaliah did it (2 Kings 11:1). Mephibosheth became lame following an accident as his nurse was fleeing with him to safety after the death of Saul and Jonathan in battle (2 Samuel 4:4).
Mephibosheth did not only fall physically, he fell from grace to grass. He vacated the palace and was no longer living in Jerusalem but in Lo-debar in the home of Michar. Life was no longer the same for him.
It was in this lowly condition that he was – living in obscurity – when David sent for him. He must have thought about the worst. He probably could have thought the time for him to be killed had come. But no, the time for shame to end had come; the season for his story to change had come. The time for his promotion, the time to leave the place of no pasture for the place of abundance had come. “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’” (2 Samuel 9:7 New King James Version). And David gave an order to that effect.
Verses 9-10 say, “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” (New King James Version).
Mephibosheth was back to honour, wealth, and luxury! “‘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” (verses11-13 New King James Version). What a turnaround! What a restoration! Your time of restoration, promotion, and enlargement has come in Jesus’ name. This season, shame shall be destroyed in your life; your shame shall end. Things will turn around in your favour. “You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come” (Psalm 102:13 New King James Version).
Whether Ziba liked it or not, he and his sons, and servants must serve Mephibosheth lame or no lame. But I’m not sure he was pleased with the arrangement because he later worked against Mephibosheth’s interest. He deceived him during Absalom’s revolt against David. He took some provisions to David and lied to David that Mephibosheth was in support of the revolt, which prompted David to transfer to Ziba all that belonged to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 16:1-4). But later when David was restored to the throne, Mephibosheth debunked Ziba’s lie.
Mephibosheth told David, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go to the king,’ because your servant is lame. And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is like the angel of God. Therefore do what is good in your eyes. For all my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?” (2 Samuel 19:26-28 New King James Version).
After hearing this, David said to Mephibosheth, “Why do you speak anymore of your matters? I have said, ‘You and Ziba divide the land’” (verse 29 New King James Version). Some Bible scholars see this decision by David as a reversal of his rash decision to the original arrangement. However, others consider it a new arrangement where both Mephibosheth and Ziba would benefit, as David, probably, did not know who between the two was saying the truth. Nevertheless, Mephibosheth said, “Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house” (verse 30 New King James Version). Ziba’s deceit is a lesson in treachery, and David’s hasty decision is a lesson in impatience, especially in leadership. “If you act too quickly, you might make a mistake” (Proverbs 19:2 New Century Version).
But back to Mephibosheth’s recall from Lo-debar, the restoration of his family property and his honour and dignity to him, and the special privilege given him to eat at the king’s table. Mephibosheth was so dazed that he bowed himself, and told David, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” (2 Samuel 9:8 New King James Version). To be eating at the king’s table was the least he had expected. But God, using David, had prepared a table before Mephibosheth. His days of enjoying the king’s delicacies were not over yet.
This is your season of restoration
Mephibosheth was lame and dwelling far away from the king, but David’s kindness bought him close to him to be eating at the king’s table. Every sinner is lame, dwelling far away from God, but it is the mercy of God that brings the sinner close to God. In Matthew 22, Jesus told the parable of the wedding dinner. The king’s wedding dinner is similar to the king’s table. David’s kindness restored Mephibosheth to the king’s table He could say bye-bye to Lo-debar. He could bid shame farewell. Your season of shame has ended in Jesus’ name. “Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs” (Isaiah 61:7 New King James Version).
God will restore you; He will restore the dignity you’ve lost. He’ll restore your honour; He’ll restore the position you’ve lost. He’ll give you double. “Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you” (Zechariah 9:12 New King James Version). He’ll lift you up from obscurity to prominence. Joel 2:25 says God will restore all the years the locust have eaten in your life – the wasted years.
When the Shunammite woman appeared before the king after seven years of famine, he ordered that everything she had lost be restored to her, including the value of any crops that had been harvested during her absence (2 Kings 8:6).
All you’ve lost shall be restored to you. From the dunghill of Lo-debar to the dining table in the King’s palace! This season, God will lift you up and take you to where you rightly belong. You may have considered yourself ‘a dog’ but what, in your opinion, you don’t deserve, God will do for you, and you’ll say bye-bye to Lo-debar. In the name of Jesus, this shall happen as if you’re dreaming. “When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’ The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad” (Psalm 126:1-3 NewKing James Version).
Delivered from death
Not only was Mephibosheth restored to honour and glory, but his life was also spared. In 2 Samuel 21, the Bible says that there was a famine in the days of David for three years, which upon David’s enquiry from the Lord he was told that it was because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house – he killed the Gibeonites contrary to the covenant Joshua made with them that Israel would protect them (Joshua 9:15-20).
As atonement for this sin of Israel against them, the Gibeonites requested that seven men of Saul’s descendants be delivered to them to hang before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul. So as to bring the famine to an end, David acceded to their request. 2 Samuel 21:7 says, “But the king spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the LORD’s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul” (NKJV). Any other descendant of Saul could die, but not Mephibosheth!
You shall not die, but you shall live and declare the works of God. The Lord shall exempt you from evil. “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked” (Psalm 91:7-8 New King James Version). The Lord shall be with you in trouble; He will deliver you and honour you; with long life, He will satisfy you, and show him you His salvation (verses 15-16).
Bye-bye to Lo-debar; farewell to shame. That shall be your story in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and was raised on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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