Things Are Not What They Seem
“Don’t Forget Who You Are in Lo-Debar”
New Hope Missionary Baptist Church
August 1, 2004
2 Samuel 9:1-13
Background about David:
David had prayed before God and acknowledged the Greatness of the Lord his God. David then went into battle, again, defeating the Philistines and taking their land. He defeated Moab and they became his servants. He defeated the son of Rehob king of Zobah, capturing 1700 horsemen and 20,000-foot soldiers. He killed 22, 000 Arameans of Damascus. The Bible says that the Lord helped David wherever he went. All of the gold, silver and bronze David took he brought to Jerusalem and dedicated them to the Lord. He sat up a system of government and administered justice for all of the people. He made a name for himself, and the Lord helped him wherever he went.
Now David had time to reflect and he remembered a promise that he had made to an old friend. He remembered how he promised Jonathan to always show kindness to his house because Jonathan had promised to warn David of Saul’s intentions towards him.
We can see in the text here today a type of Christ in the actions of David. There is a parallel and contrast between their actions for through David we are reminded of how God will:
1. Find you out
2. Seek you out
3. Build you out
David began to inquire about Saul’s family. He wanted to know if there were any survivors, anyone left. His motives were pure. He meant them no harm, but on the contrary, well. He wanted to show the kindness of God to someone in Saul’s family.
David finds out that there is a son of Jonathan still live. A son described as being crippled in both feet. Crippled in both feet and in more ways than one. You will remember that when this son, Mephibosheth, was 5 years old, his nurse thought that he would be killed as a potential heir to King Saul, so she set out to hide him. In her haste, she fell and landed on top of him, injuring both of his feet. So, yes, he was lame, he walked with a wretched limp and without sport. His feet looked disfigured from years of an untreated condition, and no one wanted to give him foot rubs.
But Mephibosheth was crippled in other ways, as the word in the original language suggests. He was crippled in life. He was a most unhappy fellow; miserable, pitiful, pathetic and always down; depressed and dejected. He was a measly little man.
Have you ever been around a person like that? Unless you are in the same condition, you don’t want to be around them too long. They are always whining or feeling sorry for himself or herself. They are full of doom and gloom; always pessimistic. You know, the “glass is half empty” folk? Surely all of his life he’d heard what had happened to him because of his nurse. He’d heard how he could have been king. He’d heard how David was mighty in war. He’d heard about the relationships between David and his grandfather and his father Jonathan.
And on top of all of that, he had come to live in Lo-Debar. A place with a name that means “no pasture”. There was no grazing land, no meadow, and no enclosure. There were no attachments. He had a young son, but he did not know affection. There was no tenderness, no warmth, no love and no regard for his person. He just existed without hope. But David would find him out. He inquired about someone to show kindness.
David then proceeded to seek him out. He sent and brought him from Lo-debar, the place of no pasture, unrest, and sadness to Jerusalem, the place of the teaching of peace.
Oh, yes, there was one other characteristic that Mephibosheth had. He was contrite in spirit. He was a humble man, mainly because of his lowly position in life, but contrite and repentive nonetheless. When Mephibosheth came into the presence of the king, he fell on his face and prostrated himself.
He didn’t just come up into the king’s face like he was owed something, or like he was deserving of anything. No, he was meek and lowly in spirit. Too often today people seem to have the idea that God owes them something. I believe many of them get that idea from home. Young people in our neighborhoods grow up getting everything they can fix their lips to ask for, so when they get grown they just naturally expect everything to go their way. I find parents explaining to little kids why they can’t have a thing just now. Psychologists and even ministry persons now believe and teach that parents should explain, negotiate decisions, and consider the matter with their children; that it is just unacceptable to tell your kids, the ones you gave life to, the ones looking for their next meal from your labor, the ones privileged to depend on you for everything, don’t say no, because I said so! I guess I just got it wrong as I learned it form my parents because not only did I say no, but added to it with “and don’t ask me about anymore”. I’ve heard some well meaning ministers say that God gives reasons and explains His actions. Well, yes, if He wants to He can, but I believe He said that He causes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust, and that He is God and can do As He pleases!
But Mephibosheth was humble. He asked no questions and had no expectations. He had a healthy fear of the king. We are told to come boldly to the throne of grace, but we are not encouraged to come disrespectfully and demanding.
Not only did David find out about Mephibosheth; not only did he seek out Mephibosheth; but he also built him out. David gave to Mephibosheth all that had been lost, all that had belonged to his grandfather Saul. He gave him land and cattle and riches. Not only did he give them to him, but also he assigned people to tend to them, to cultivate the land so that it would not become futile. Someone to plant, water, seed and help the land to grow and produce. He goes even further and assigns the same people to take care of Mephibosheth and his son and to serve their needs. He goes further still and redeems for Mephibosheth the honor to eat at the king’s table, not occasionally, but regularly. In other words, David made Mephebosheth part of his household, one of his sons.
And David did all of this for the sake of Jonathan. Any new king would secure his throne by slaying any and all living relatives of the prior regime. But David had a stellar spirit. His thoughts were higher than that. Kind of like what God means when He says that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His way higher than our ways. Sometimes, in fact most times, we just can’t explain or make logical sense of His goodness towards us. Even when I know I’ve been wrong, He’s still good. When I don’t come before Him, and prostrate myself, He’s still good. When I don’t feel like praising Him, He’s still good. He still woke me up this morning, caused me to witness the sunshine of a new day; allowed my limbs to move and function; blessed me with food to eat, a bed indoors, and some clothes to wear. He’s still good.
Mephobisheth called himself a dead dog. He thought himself one to be despised and dejected. He thought himself as one without hope and only existing to take up space and air. He saw himself as unnecessary and insignificant. He had no goals, no future, and no family except a young son, no attachments, no promises. He didn’t work because of his disability so he did not socialize even with the people at work. He was on no one’s list of invitees. He was along in a crowd and dependent upon others to help him maintain his wretched, god- forsaken life. But bless God, when Mephibosheth came into the presence of David, the king, he was able to say: Things are not what they seem. He looked like one who was hopeless, detached and forgotten to others. He even looked that way to himself. He even lived in a town that was without pasture. There was no life for him there, or so it seemed. There was nothing growing, nothing on the horizon, no enclosed area where he could feel secure. Everything was wide open. It was just one big free for all, for all that is except Mephibosheth, but Things are not what they seem. Let me illustrate what I mean.
Looking through some old notes the other day, I was reminded of an old movie that I enjoyed. Maybe you’re familiar with it, “The Karate Kid”?
It’s a story about a single mom and her teenage son who moved to California. Unfortunately, her son has to deal with several bullies who use karate to abuse other kids. Her son, Daniel, enlists the aid of Pat Morita’s character [Mr. Miyagi] to teach him karate. Daniel must promise, however, to do everything Mr. Miyagi asks without question.
At the crack of dawn on successive mornings, Daniel washes and waxes Mr. Miyagi’s collection of antique cars; paints his fence and the side of his home, and sands his deck with a hand-held sander. All the time, he explains to Daniel the slow, rhythmic circular and vertical hand motions needed to do each task.
In frustration one evening, Daniel rebels. He tells Mr. Miyagi that he is tired of being his personal slave and that he has not lived up to his end of their bargain. “I’ve done everything you’ve asked,” Daniel says, “but you have not taught me one thing about karate.” Daniel turns and starts to walk away when Mr. Miyagi call out, “Daniel, wait.” Daniel stops and turns to face him, and Mr. Miyagi tells him “Things are not what they seem.” Daniel appears momentarily puzzled when Mr. Miyagi suddenly lashes out with his arms and Daniel instinctively uses his hands to defend himself against this unexpected attack. The hand motions he used were the exact ones he had practiced each time while doing the chores. Daniel had obviously learned a great deal from Mr. Miyagi without even knowing it. He learned obedience, discipline, the need to focus on a task, and to respect authority. Along the way he also learned some rudimentary movements in karate.
Now the point of this story is not that one may not understand certain things at the time they are happening, but they will bye and bye. No, the point is Mr. Miyagi’s teaching style was explicitly planned to introduce Daniel to karate. It was not something he pulled out of a hat and secretly hoped that it would produce results. His approach to teaching was deliberate, thoughtful, and designed to produce certain outcomes in the learner.
The real moral or message is this: sometimes you may feel like you’re in Lo-debar. You may feel like you just can’t make it. You may feel like you are in a situation with no way out, but you have two things to remember: 1) Whose you are and 2) Things are not what they seem. You see, like King David, God has inquired about you. You may be His child already, or you may be outside of His family and the arch or safety, but He has inquired about you. He has wondered if there is anybody out there who is living in Lo-debar; Anybody unable to find a way out. He wants you to know: Things are not what they seem.
No matter what may be going on in your life just now, Things are not what they seem. You may be at low ebb, unable to make ends meet and nobody even knows the struggle you’re having. Remember: Things are not what they seem. You may be without family to help you or to offer you any comfort, but: Things are not what they seem. You may be friendless this morning, having no one to really talk to, no one to offer a word of hope, but: Things are not what they seem.
You may be living in Lo-debar, but don’t forget who you are. If you are a child of God today, then you have all that you need to make it through, even in Lo-debar. Colossians 2:9,10 says “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete…” All that you need, you already have in Him. If you are in Him, you are the child of The King. You can come boldly to the throne to find grace to help in the time of need. You have been built up, in Him. Your sins have been bought and paid for, in Him. You have eternal life, in Him. You have the indwelling of the Spirit, in Him. Your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, in Him. You have the attention of God Almighty, in Him. You can partake of the Kings’ table, in Him. All your needs are met according to His riches in glory, in Him. Don’t forget who you are, even when you are in Lo-debar. You are in Him!
Like Mr. Miyagi God has made some deliberate, thoughtful, specially designed plans to seek you out. He has sent His Son, Jesus to lead you out. Jesus came in the flesh and lived among men; he was even tempted in every point of life that we are tempted so that He could have compassion with us. He never sinned but He died. He died willingly so that He could pay your sin debt to the Father in full. He died so that you could live, eternally in the presence of God.
Let me remind you what happened. One Friday morning Jesus was nailed to a cross. Even though the sun refused to shine, and even though a Centurion guard knew that something out of the ordinary had happened, and even though the earth shook so violently that many graves were opened to release their captives; the Devil began to grin. His demons were jumping in apparent victory.
Then, Jesus gave up the ghost and He died. He was taken and put into a new tomb. A very large stone was used to seal it, keeping anyone from entering and anyone from leaving. Guards were posted to keep watch so no one would “steal” the body and later claim that Jesus had risen.
But the Devil and his demons didn’t know one thing. They didn’t realize that God had planned this a long time ago and that certain outcomes were to take place. The crowds had not cried out for Barabbas to live and for Jesus to be put to death by accident or by the Devil’s design. It was all a part of God’s plan for the reconciliation of mankind to Himself.
The Devil didn’t realize that: Things are not what they seem.
OH, BUT HE QUIDKLY FOUND OUT. My Bible tells me that early on the first day of the week:
§ Somewhere between the time the stars said goodnight and before the sun had time to awake and rise
§ Before the birds went looking for their daily meal
§ Before Mary could make it to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus
§ While the dew was still clinging to the roses
§ While the stars were slightly twinkling and the morning air was just beginning to blow
Christ got up from the grave and declared, “All power in heaven and earth are in my hands.” In effect He let it be known: Things are not what they seem. And because He arose, you too can count on Him to help you to realize that: Things are not what they seem.
§ When it looks like you going to give out, remember, things . . . . ..
§ When your way gets dim and the tears of this life cloud your way, remember, things . . . . .
§ When it seems like your prayers are not being answered, just keep praying because things. . . . ..
§ When the enemy send trouble home, the kids seem like aliens and your spouse is going in the opposite direction, remember, things . . . . .
§ When you’re tempted to give up because you’ve given out; when other things in life seem sooo appealing, remember things . . . . .
§ When the grass in the other yard seems so much greener, you’d better stay in your own yard, cut it and trim it and remember, things . . . . .
§ And when Satan tries to tell you that all of your efforts are in vain, that your good just isn’t good enough, just remember whose you are and what God has promised and what He has already done, then remind Satan that things . . . . .
Because “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”
There are at least two possible scenarios that you could fall into today: You could already be a child of God but living in Lo-Debar, or know someone who is. You life may be rough right now; things may seem impossible and unending. Maybe you can’t even think about without feeling hopeless, let alone talk about it to another. You can be encouraged today because Jesus is alive and as your King He waits and longs for the opportunity to rescue you. He said it is the Father’s good pleasure to give good gifts to His children. I’m not into low self-esteem or high self-esteem, but I am into His esteem. If you trust Him, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He can help you out of Lo-Debar when no one else can. He can show you that: Things are not what they seem.
You might be walking in darkness right now and not really know it. You might think that things are going pretty well. You might think that because life seems okay and you have no real issues that there is no hurray to give your life to Jesus; that you have time to play around and enjoy some more of the life that you’ve come to love. All I can say to you is tomorrow is not promised and “Now is the acceptable time and the day of salvation.” Remember, things . . . . ..