Read: 2 Samuel 9:1-13; Galatians 5:1
One of my husband's family members was describing her yard and how it looks because they have had so little rain. She described how the grass crunches when she walks on it and how most everyone who lives around her no longer even tries to water their lawns. We remember years of drought like that. During those times, I didn't enjoy being outside. Even the rosebuds were scorched prior to their opening. I stayed indoors more than not.
Thinking about that kind of barrenness came to mind as I once again read 1 Samuel 9 this week where we meet Methibosheth the man who lived in Lo-debar. Lo-debar means a place of no pasture, and I love this story of the man who has the hard name who lived in a place where there was a lack of fruitfulness. Then came that special day when everything changed for him, oh that is, everything except his name. How did Methibosheth end up in Lo-debar? In 2 Samuel 4, we discover the answer.
He was only five years old when both his father Jonathan and his grandfather Saul who was Judah's king, died in battle. That meant that a new king would be ruling Judah, and that usually brought terror to anyone in the family of the former king. Because of that, little Methibosheth's nurse was fleeing with the little guy in her arms. In her haste, she dropped him, resulting in his becoming lame in both feet. Their flight took them all to way to Lo-debar, and as 2 Samuel 9 opens, they have probably been there about
15 years. That's when Methibosheth was summoned before King David. We know by his reaction as he was brought before Judah's monarch that he was afraid. Was this the time David would exact revenge on the remaining members of Saul's family?
No, instead of that he experienced a pouring out of grace. He not only would not die. Methibosheth would receive everything that belonged to Saul, and the land would be worked for him by Saul's servant and his sons. There was even more unmerited favor for this young man. He was taken from Lo-debar to actually sitting at David's table like one of the king's sons. Methibosheth would enjoy an on-going relationship with Judah's king. Think of the contrast. This man from the place of no pasture would now live and enjoy the blessings of being with King David and have an honored position at his table. No more fear or wondering if David might come after him or his little family. Now he belonged with the king's sons because of the love that David had for Jonathan and the faithfulness of the king to keep the promise he had made.
With this in mind, can you imagine Methibosheth's ever longing to return to Lo-debar? Would he desire to return to his former place? I can't imagine that it ever crossed his mind. Surely, he would never want to exchange joy, abundance and peace for fear and lack. Yet, the scriptures say that this could happen to us who belong to Jesus.
I remember Lo-debar. In my case, it was a place of wondering and wandering. I wondered if I could do enough to be certain that I would, one day, be in heaven. I didn't know the answer, but I was afraid that I wouldn't be good enough, and I was right about that, Romans 3:10; Romans 3:23. That was a barren place for me. Then I learned the most precious truth anyone can discover. Jesus had lived the life I could never live, and on the cross, He had paid the penalty for my sins. I could actually exchange my sinfulness for His righteousness, 2 Corinthians 5:21. There was even more. Not only could I receive His atoning work on my behalf, I could also become His daughter. There would be a growing relationship with the Lord as I got to know Him. Amazingly, that would mean that the Lord would actually live in and through me, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Galatians 2:20. What an incredible gift God holds out to all of us. We have all lived in the emptiness of Lo-debar with all of its uncertainties. Surely if we have received this lavish provision of grace, we would never return to the place of barrenness, or would we?
Galatians 5:1 indicates that the people Paul wrote to were doing just that. They had received God's grace resulting in their freedom and salvation. However, they were exchanging their sweet freedom for man-made rules. Paul was shocked by the fact that the people of Galatia had begun so well and then turned to a man centered system of righteousness, Galatians 3:1-3. Who would return to that after having tasted God's unmerited favor? How could they return to Lo-debar? Instead of leaning on the Holy Spirit for everything they needed and resting at Jesus' table, they were beginning to choose trying to please God through their own works. Rather than being continually filled up by the resources the Lord offered, some of the Galatians were wandering back to the place of barrenness, not resting in God's gift of grace, Galatians 5:6. They had forgotten that no ceremony or good work could enhance their walk with Jesus, the One Who had finished all that needed to be done to secure our salvation, John 19:30.
What about us? Do we ever forget that we always have a seat at Jesus' table? After all, He is the One Who has called us to come to Him to learn and find rest, Matthew 11:28-30. There is nothing in Lo-debar for us and no need to return to what used to be a part of our lives. Yet, if we are back in Lo-debar again, having gone back into emptiness, the Lord continues to call us back home. He will welcome us back. The table is set, and the Lord is there.