I’m a sucker for music that lyrically alludes to Old Testament imagery, especially the kind that isn’t typically used in Christian songs (ex: listen to Jon Foreman’s “The Cure for Pain” – with it’s allusion to Jeremiah). I’m also a fan of music that takes straight Scripture and rewords it, and sort of applies it to today in song (ex: again, listen to Jon Foreman’s “Equally Skilled” – the verses are from Micah 7). Recently, I’ve found a song that combines both of these on a broader scale, taking a story from the Old Testament and using lyrics that apply to that story specifically, but also takes it to a larger scale in a current application.
The song is Leeland’s “Carried to the Table” – and it is a retelling of the story of Mephibosheth (read 2 Samuel 9). The lyrics are:
I was shattered by the fall
Seated where I don’t belong
And wondering why He called my name
Seated where I don’t belong
I love how the lyrics are written in a way that the words can be sung by Mephibosheth (in a historical present sense), or by believers today. Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son, who was dropped and crippled as he fled from the King (2 Sam 4:4), but years later King David showed favor to him by no merit of his own (2 Sam 9:7). So the song takes this story, elaborates on it, using language that can have double meanings (very much like Shakespeare).
Mephibosheth was literally “shattered by the fall” in his legs, but we in a like manner have been broken by “the Fall” in our sin. Mephibosheth was “seated where [he didn’t] belong” with King David (even though by all means he should have been an enemy of the throne and executed, because he was related to Saul), and we too don’t belong to sit with Jesus – yet we have been called to the wedding feast. We partake in the “cup” and the “table” as we remember what Christ has done for us. And one day we will be carried to the table of the LORD at the banquet feast! And I could go on…
What I love most is the use of words to apply this story in a memorable way. It makes the story more personable and vivid to me – I can put myself in Mephibosheth’s shoes and see things from his eyes. And yet, the Fall has left me far more broken, and I am the only one to blame – so my brokenness is evermore present. I am not merely “lame,” but rather sinful and wretched. I am deserving of so much more than death. It is easy for me to “fight thoughts of fear” and wonder “why he called my name – am I good enough to share this cup?” But how much greater is the surprise when I realize that he has “called” me – that in his presence I am “healed and unashamed” (notice the reversal of the curse!).
I think my favorite line from the whole song is: “And I don’t see my brokenness anymore / When I’m seated at the table of the Lord.” I’ve learned that this life is all about where I keep my eyes. When I look to myself, I can be ashamed and downcast. When I look to others I am often disappointed, let down, or hurt. When I look to circumstances, they never stay the same. But when I look to Jesus, when I “fix my eyes” on him, I forget about my brokenness. What’s more, I don’t just forget about it, I am healed and made new! One day, when I see him face to face, I will be like him because “I shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). He changes me.