The Blind and the Lame
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Bible Passage: 2 Samuel 4-5
4:1 When Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, heard that Abner had died at Hebron, his courage failed, and all Israel was dismayed. 2 Now Saul’s son had two men who were captains of raiding bands; the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab,
Pause here for a moment, because the writer is about to do something very strange. He’s going to interrupt this story to tell us about something that happened years ago, when Saul died.
4 Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled 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 as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.
The writer is about to tell us the story of Ish-bosheth’s death, but first he stops to tell us about Saul’s grandson. He’s about to be the only member of Saul’s household left alive. He would never be king because of his condition, and he had no claim to the throne anyway, because his father Jonathan had publicly renounced the throne in favor of David.
Nevertheless, the writer thought it was important to mention him at just this moment and we will come back to it. But let’s keep reading.
5 Now the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out, and about the heat of the day they came to the house of Ish-bosheth as he was taking his noonday rest. 6 And they came into the midst of the house as if to get wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped.
They also beheaded him and travelled by night to David at Hebron.
And they said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life. The Lord has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring.”
This story should sound familiar, because it is so similar to the death of Saul and the story of the Amalekite in chapter 1. These men think they are doing David a favor. They even use theological language to explain what they did. We were the instruments of God to accomplish His will!
9 But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity, 10 when one told me, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him at Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news.
11 How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and destroy you from the earth?” 12 And David commanded his young men, and they killed them and cut off their hands and feet and hanged them beside the pool at Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner at Hebron.
They suffer the same judgment as the Amalekite. It was technically true that God used those men to accomplish His will. But what they did was also wicked. It was murder.
If you’re struggling with the idea that God can use murder to accomplish His will, remember that the Bible sees no contradiction between the free actions of men and the sovereign will of God. Case in point is the death of Jesus. Listen to how Peter describes the death of Jesus at Pentecost:
Acts 2:23 – “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”
Was it the plan of God for Jesus to be crucified, or was Jesus killed by lawless men? Yes. Both. There’s no contradiction between man’s free will and God’s sovereign will.
And back to David, God’s plan was to keep David free from guilt. David inherited the kingdom without killing anyone. His kingdom will at least begin as a kingdom of justice and righteousness. David’s rise to power was messy and violent, but none of the guilt was on David. The same was true of the humiliation and exaltation of Christ.
What makes the cross such a glorious plan is that Jesus was able to carry the guilt of His people while remaining personally sinless. He was the perfect atonement – the perfect scapegoat. And it was the perfect beginning to a perfect kingdom of justice and righteousness.
And now, we finally come to the moment when David becomes king over the entire nation.
5:1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. 2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’”
3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.
If you’re counting, this is actually the third time David was anointed. The first time was by Samuel as a teenager. The second time was when he became king of Judah. And now he’s anointed a third time as king over all Israel. In other words, the kingdom of David was gradually expanding which foreshadowed the way God’s kingdom grows in Christ.
Jesus used a lot of parables to explain the growth of the kingdom. More and more people will recognize the rule of Christ over time and that’s exactly what we have seen throughout history. More and more people are coming into the kingdom, worshipping the risen Christ – people from every tribe, nation, and tongue.
And we can learn some other things about our relationship to Christ and His kingdom from this text.
Notice that this is the first time the word “shepherd” is used alongside “king” in the Bible. And that’s what David was – a shepherd. This was God’s intention, to establish a kingdom where the king would be known as a humble, loving servant. And that’s how Jesus wants to be known by His people. He is a wise and just King, but He is also a good King.
Second, look at the other language used by the people in verses 1 and 2. “We are your bone and flesh”. In other words, you are one of us. This is husband language… marriage language straight out of Genesis 2. Adam said to Eve – you are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.
They also tell David that he was the one who led them out and brought them in. They’re talking about his leadership in battle. Going out and coming in was military language. They’re saying, “You were with us in the battle.” That’s Savior language.
And finally, they quote back to David the promise of God. Yahweh said to you… In other words, David is the fulfillment of a promise. Put it all together and you’ve got prophetic language, priestly language, and kingly language.
David is then, at least for the moment, foreshadowing the Immanuel Principle of the Christ. David was one of them. He was with them. And he was the fulfillment of God’s promises.
In a much greater sense, Jesus is the King who is One of us, the King who is with us, and the King who is the fulfillment of God’s promises to us. He is literally bone and flesh. He is the great Shepherd King. He is the great High Priest. He is the Lord’s Anointed.
This tells us something about the way God operates. History is a mess and if we only look at snapshots then we may find ourselves confused and discouraged. We may look at one difficult thing and ask, why did God let that happen?
My dad was rummaging through some of his parents’ things this week and he found a journal my grandfather started when he left training camp for World War 2. He wrote details of his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and apparently his infantry division landed in France a few months after D-Day.
They participated in the Battle of Brest, but then the journal abruptly ends two pages in. My grandfather wrote nothing more, even though he stayed in Europe until the war ended. And he never talked about it with anyone.
I have no idea what my grandfather saw, but I can imagine that the snapshots… the horrors of war… put sin and death in stark contrast to the kingdom of God. Of the same war, Eisenhower said this, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”
After David assumed the throne of Israel, he immediately conquered Jerusalem. It was no easy feat, because the Jebusites had a stronghold in the city. Listen to what they said to David:
“You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” 7 Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David.
8 And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David’s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.”
This is a fascinating little detail that the writer adds. Let me explain. The Jebusites are mocking David by saying that their stronghold is so impervious to attack that even the blind and the lame could defend it. But David goes around their defenses by sending his army up the water shaft in the middle of the stronghold.
And then there is a strange statement at the end of the verse: the blind and the lame shall not come into the house. No one thinks that David was actually hated people with disabilities. And in a few chapters, David is going to show kindness to Miphiboseth, the lame son of Saul.
So, what does this mean? He’s talking about the enemies of God being cast out. But consider the fact that everywhere else in Scripture, the blind and the lame are mentioned with compassion – not as enemies of God, but as objects of God’s faithfulness and love.
In Job 29, Job demonstrates his righteousness by being eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.
In Jeremiah 31, God promises to gather to Himself people from the farthest corners of the earth and among them will be the blind and the lame.
And when Jesus announces His ministry and describes it, what does He say? The blind will see and the lame will walk.
But when you put all this in context following 2 Samuel 5, what do we learn? The enemies of God, the ones David calls the blind and the lame, the ones who would never be allowed into the house… God actually made a way for them to come into the house. And not just to come, but to belong. And not just to belong, but to see and walk again.
And that’s us. We who have no right to enter the house of God or to included in His family – He brings us in and seats us at His table. It may not feel like much today, but God is at work.
It took 800 years for the promise to Abraham to come true.
In time, Jesus will conquer all of his enemies. Sin and death will be conquered. The blind will see, and the lame will walk. No more sickness. No more tears. Because our Immanuel… tie in.