I was listening to “Carbon Ribs”
“Cause I’m a dead man now with a ghost who lives
Within the confines of these carbon ribs
And one day when I’m free I will sit
The cripple at your table
The cripple by your side.”
Then I came across an interesting story from the Old Testament. Perhaps this is where John Mark got his inspiration for the song or perhaps not, but either way it tied things together nicely for me.
In 2 Samuel 9, David who had become King of Israel wanted to show kindness to Saul’s (the former king) family for the sake of Jonathan, Saul’s son, who had been David’s best friend. Come to find out there is only one relative of the family still living. Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, and if spelling his name wasn’t difficult enough, we also find out that he was crippled in both of his feet and living at someone else’s house because he couldn’t take care of himself. David instructed that Mephibosheth be brought to the palace, and I can guess that Mephibosheth was quite fearful when he heard that King David wanted to see him. Generally speaking in those days when a new king came into power he killed any relatives of the old king to make sure no one would try to usurp his power. David, as we know, had much different intentions. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” (2 Samuel 9:7 NIV, emphasis mine) I can only imagine what Mephibosheth was thinking… “Wait, what? The family land was very generous of David to give back, but did he just say I will always eat at his table? The Kings table? Where all of the his sons eat? Is he aware that I am the grandson of the man who tried to kill him over and over and that I am crippled?” Mephibosheth had nothing that he could offer, no merit with which to earn this privilege, but David bestowed it on him anyway. WOW, what a change, he goes from living in someone else’s house because he can’t support himself, to having his own land and eating at the kings table. So the story ends “And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the King’s table, and he was crippled in both feet.” (2 Samuel 9:13 NIV) The story begins and ends with the fact that he was crippled in both his feet. Mephibosheth didn’t do anything to merit the kindness David showed to him, and he was never healed of his crippled condition… but regardless he ate at the King’s table always.
I was struck by this. This is our condition, we are crippled by sin in more than just our feet. We are crippled by sin all throughout our bodies, and even worse in our hearts. We cannot change our condition any more than Mephibosheth could change his. And we can’t earn the God’s favor any more than he could earn the right to sit at David’s table, he was wholly dependent on David to sustain him, and we are wholly dependent on God to sustain us for this life and the life to come. It really puts things into perspective and makes me thankful that in my crippled condition God has brought me to Him and I have the honor of being the cripple at His table.