Epiphany 2019: The Psalm Passage – The Coming of the King and the Messiah; One & the Same?

“Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.” (Psalm 72:1-7)

The question that underlines the exegetical understanding of this psalm . . . . what did King David know about the coming Messiah and the tenure of Jesus’ reign, and when did he know it? According to biblical scholars this psalm is written for and about King Solomon as he was coming to reign in his father’s, King David, stead while David was still alive. It is David’s hope and prayer for his son; but it is also (supposedly) looking toward the reign of the Messiah.

“May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts. May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service. For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.” (Verses 10 – 14)

It is an ambitions for a king, doing all of these things that David lists; being revered amongst (other) earthly kings, looking out for the poor and needy, and undoing the foul outcomes of violence. This sounds like the Messiah that Jesus was. But take note that verses eight and nine are missing – “May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust.” Not quite as peaceful Jesus like; but wishes that one earthly king might have for another, especially his successor and child.

Now you know, beloved reader, I am sort of a purist when it comes to apply Old Testament prophecy etc to New Testament and Gospel events. I think there should be controlled and well examined cross-over. In the commentary I read there is caution to be aware that David wrote it primarily for his son; but there is also optimism that David might have been looking down the generations to the promised Messiah that came from his line. If he was aware of that. What did King David know, and when did he know it?

But . . . . . there is no harm in saying that everyone should live their life according to the Messiah example and guidance ONCE that example and guidance is made known to them. Not all that King David writes about will be a reality for us – the kings of Sheba and Seba are not going to bring us gifts. But if we can extend compassion and care to others, lighten their load, and ease their pain – we will be fulfilling as much as earthly king could, and in doing so will be glorifying our Lord God. King David would be proud of us! Selah!

Advertisements

Season After Pentecost (Proper 29[34]) – The Psalm Passage: Time to stop reflecting and start to act

O LORD, remember in David’s favor all the hardships he endured; how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, “I will not enter my house or get into my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” We heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar. “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.” (Psalm 1 – 7)

King David had, when he first had secured the throne, expressed the desire to build a house for the Ark of the Covenant and for the Lord God Yahweh to reside it. It was not to be, but King David desired it greatly. King David did not just muse upon it or imagine how it might have been. He gathered treasures and building materials (if the commentators are to be believed) and made plans. His son King Solomon actually completed the Temple but it was David who first sparked the idea and passed its importance down to his son.

Rise up, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your faithful shout for joy. For your servant David’s sake do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and my decrees that I shall teach them, their sons also, forevermore, shall sit on your throne.” (Verses 8 – 12)

There comes a time to set aside wishing, thinking, and pondering; there comes a time to take action. I realized, beloved reader, looking back on the past two weeks that I have continued the theme of pondering inadvertently. In one week’s time I wrote to weeks’ worth of commentary so that I would have a week free to tend to other matters. One week flowed into the next in my thinking and I did not insert a break into my considerations of the passages. That is sometimes how it is when we think, muse, and ponder. Time passes by and we do not take action. Again if the commentators are to be believed, David spent much of his kingship planning out a “House for the Lord”, what building materials there should be and how it would be furnished. It would explain how early in his kingship that Solomon was able to build the temple if his father had done the planning work and accumulating of materials. Solomon was a thinker and a philosopher. His father King David was a doer. In any project it is good to have both. And both types of leadership, if done under the direction and guidance of the Lord, are acceptable to the Divine.

“For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation: “This is my resting place forever; here I will reside, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless its provisions; I will satisfy its poor with bread. Its priests I will clothe with salvation, and its faithful will shout for joy. There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one. His enemies I will clothe with disgrace, but on him, his crown will gleam.” (Verses 13 – 18)

Having completed this last commentary and scheduled it to appear at its proper time, I will be resting for a week and completing other tasks that need to be done. My plan is to write something current of Thanksgiving, as a summary and celebration if my work and plans for the coming week (real time) are seen to fruition. It is my hope and prayer that the ponderings I have done in the past few weeks and the actions I will take in the coming week will result in the outcome I desire. I wish and pray for the same thing for you beloved reader. Shalom and Selah!

Season After Pentecost (Proper 29[34]) – The Old Testament Passage: King David reflects

I had an interesting conversation with my daughter the evening I sat down to write this; I am actually writing it several weeks ahead. This week is the week of Thanksgiving and we were talking about how we were going to handle Thanksgiving this year in light of the possibility that I would not be “up to” making much. You see, last week I had two surgeries – on Nov 13th & 15th. And I had not idea how much recovery time I would need, and if I was capable of “pulling off” a Thanksgiving meal. In the same vein I thought, during the week of surgery how capable am I going to be in writing my commentaries? Just as I am planning ahead for Thanksgiving, so should I plan ahead in writing. So, with that in mind I looked at the Old Testament passage, since that is a by tradition the passage I start with each week.

“Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, son of Jesse, the oracle of the man whom God exalted, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the favorite of the Strong One of Israel:
The spirit of the LORD speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me: One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.”(2 Samuel 23:1 – 4)

We are told by the writer of II Samuel that these are the final thoughts of David as he looks back over his reign. Not so much the end of his reign when sadness and tragedy had marked his life but more as a summary of what he hoped to and did accomplish. These are not so much words from King David as a personal reflection but rather inspired what David has seen happen as a result of his efforts under/with God’s support. It is, in short, a shiny reflection on the good stuff.

“Is not my house like this with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. Will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?” (Verse 5)

Above, beloved reader, you read that correctly. Some time back (and even further back from you are reading this) I talked about my new diagnosis. It is because of that I am having two surgeries just one day apart. And I am admittedly (at this writing) quite concerned. Of course, by the time you read this I will have already had the surgery and will be (very hopefully) recovering. So . . . . well . . . . I would like to claim David’s words for my self. The assurance and confidence that David, I would like that. The security and knowledge that God will keep me and under take for me – I would like that. The final two verses, however, I will leave to King David.

“But the godless are all like thorns that are thrown away; for they cannot be picked up with the hand;
to touch them one uses an iron bar or the shaft of a spear. And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot.” (Verses 6 – 7)

In David’s time those who did not follow Yahweh were outside of any grace and blessing. Consequently what happened to them, they deserved. Interestingly, the same perspective was held for those who did at one time follow Yahweh but apparently “fell” away. I am reminded of the kings that came after David, and the endless periods of slavery and captivity that the Israelites and Judahites suffered. It is good, in a sense, that King David did not know what befell his line between his death and the coming of the Messiah.

May you, beloved reader, now the same sort of contentment and prosperity that David had for most of his life. Selah!

Season After Pentecost (Proper 13[18]) – The Old Testament Passage: Temptations and sins of all shapes and sizes

Talk about being between a rock and a hard place – in the Old Testament passage where King David’s story is being told, we hear about David bringing Bathsheba into the palace, her giving birth to a son, and then David being confronted by the prophet Nathan concerning his sin against Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. The other Old Testament passage is where “the whole congregation of the Israelites” were upset with Moses and Aaron. Now, beloved reader, who would you rather be confronted by? A prophet of God, or the disgruntled Israelites in the desert who had no food and very little drink. Me personally, I don’t think I would want to face down either one!

Now, King David knew he was in the wrong; the prophet Nathan told an allegory about David taking Uriah’s wife. When David heard it he was inflamed . . .

Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” (II Samuel 12:5 – 6)

And when confronted with the realization that it was he was guilty,

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” (Verse 13a)

Now you have to understand, beloved reader, the prophet Nathan had a tremendous tirade against King David, basically saying that David as a king and as a man will be disgraced somewhere down the road.

I have been thinking about David a lot; and a great deal about David being a man after God’s own heart. Maybe the correct direction was David constantly seeking God, rather than God always approving of David. But, let us not leave Moses and Aaron hanging.

“The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:2 – 3)

You know, compared to the Israelites, David is looking pretty good. I mean, they would rather have died in captivity and slavery than to be free and able to live out their lives as they chose? I guess the Divine was practicing patience long before King David came along.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. . . The LORD spoke to Moses and said,”I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.” (Verses 4, 9 – 12)

These were the Lord God’s called and chosen people. From the time forward, from the Exodus to the coming of Jesus, the people of God were reminded of how much God had done for them. Yet each generation forgot, or neglected to pass on to the next generation the appreciation and adoration that was due to the Lord. Yes, I know that I have professed some reluctance to praise on demand. But I have not lodged complaints against Lord because I have found myself in dire situations. Nor have I taken advantage of my position in life to abscond with another’s possessions.

Oh I have committed sin in my life – don’t think I am a saint. Each of us has our weak points – temptations that appear before us that we cannot and do not deny ourselves, or fleshpots and conveniences that we place more importance on than we should. And when our weak points become pitfalls we often need the reminder of what we have done and what we should do better.

May you, beloved reader, overcome your weak points and remain strong against sin and temptation. Selah!

Season After Pentecost (Proper 11[16]) – The Psalms Passage: Daring to follow in David’s foot steps

Before we start I want to point out that this was probably written by King David, or by someone very close to him. So if it seems to laud King David, that may be why. I am not saying this is not a true and authentic representation of David; but if it seems to favor King David that may be why. As the passage proceeds, you will see why it is important to know that it is pro-David.

“I have found my servant David; with my holy oil I have anointed him; my hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not outwit him, the wicked shall not humble him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him; and in my name his horn shall be exalted. I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’ I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. Forever I will keep my steadfast love for him, and my covenant with him will stand firm. I will establish his line forever, and his throne as long as the heavens endure.” (Psalm 89:20 – 29)

The psalmist is outlining David’s tenure as king; I have said (ad nauseam) that King David made mistakes. But we all make mistakes, and quite honestly there should be no rank of mild to severe mistakes/sin. We function and judge ourselves and others that way, but at the end of our lives and/or at the end of all days – sin will be sin. David did feel God’s blessing, and for that David should be proud and take satisfaction in striving as much as a human can to follow God. Actually it is this next section that makes me take notice.

If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my ordinances, if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with scourges; . . .” (Verses 30 – 33a)

And that is exactly what happened. One of David’s sons, Absalom by name, ran afoul of David’s God and was punished. Some of David’s great grandchildren and great great also did not walk according to the Lord’s ordinances. And we know the results were that the king of David, Judah and Israel, fell to the surrounding nations. And the glory of David’s throne was tarnished. Did David/the psalmist know this would happen? Is that what prompted these next verses?

. . but I will not remove from him my steadfast love, or be false to my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant, or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His line shall continue forever, and his throne endure before me like the sun. It shall be established forever like the moon, an enduring witness in the skies.” Selah” (Verses 33b – 37)

From David’s line (at least in human biological records well and accorded as Joseph’s son who was in the line of David. ) Jesus was born. (You know, it becomes clear to me now why the census and the birth of Jesus were so close together – so that the unborn child would be and was accorded to the line of David. Just a small “aha” moment.) And from Jesus the line did and does continue forever. So yes, what the psalmist wrote was true – but maybe not in the way the psalmist thought it would be.

But, that is not even my whole point. We are . . . . spiritual heirs of David. To us falls the task of walking according to the Lord’s ordinances. And if we fall to do so, the Lord says “ I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with scourges . . .” And if we, as David did despite his flaws and missteps, live and strive to follow the Lord as closely as we can, the Lord says “but I will not remove from him [or her] my steadfast love, or be false to my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant, or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness. . .” Selah!

Season After Pentecost (Proper 9[14]) – The Old Testament Passage: The Story of his life – King David

Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” 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. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.” (II Samuel 5: 1 – 5)

What began in Hebron continued and carried over to David’s time in Jerusalem. What interests me is that he seemed to have moved his kingdom from Hebron to Jerusalem. And I wondered why. So I went searching in the scriptures that the lectionary has chosen to omit. I thought maybe there was political reason or a strategic one. But I was dismayed to read that it was neither really, but a way to show power and aggressiveness. Now scripture says that the power of God was with David and that is why he was able to see the area that would become Jerusalem. How can you agree with scripture?

“David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.” (Verses 9 – 10)

Aggression and conquest seem to be admirable traits for a king of the Old Testament. When the people asked Samuel for a king, they said they wanted a king like the other nations. And they got Saul. But Saul was not quite what they wanted. Samuel had tried to warn them about what kings were like. As it turned out, Saul evolved into the type of king that was not up to God’s standards after all. So David was picked and blessed by God, and he became king. David was much more popular, evidenced by the tribes and elders at Hebron.

David was said to be a man after God’s own heart; but that makes me wonder again, did God want a king drawn to aggression and conquest? Perhaps I am making too much of that. But it sticks in my mind. And it ruminates there. I turn it over in my mind trying to understand it. And finally I realize . . . I have to set it down, and say I do not understand.

This I do know. David as king was mighty in battle and conquest. David as psalmist was mighty in faith (most of the time) and sought out God’s direction. And it is that other part of David, that non-kingly part, I think was a man after God’s heart. So I commend and encourage you, beloved reader, to study David’s story and determine for yourself what parts of David’s life align to your image of the Divine. Selah!

Season of Advent – Fourth Sunday: The Old Testament Passage – Fulfillment of promises ahead

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you.” (II Samuel 7:1 – 3)

I can’t wait until the end of the week to tell you beloved reader! Christmas is just around the corner! Because Christmas is on a Monday this year, it comes right after the fourth Sunday of Advent! So, just around the corner from this week. I have been decked in my Christmas finery for several weeks now. I have Christmas jewelry, and I take my color combinations from Christmas colors as much as I can. I am, in a sense, just like King David living in a “house of cedar” when the infant Jesus was born in a stable. The passage this week from the Old Testament compares the splendor of David’s palace to the basic tent that the Ark of the Covenant was in. It seems to me sort some of foreshadowing that both the Seat of the Lord and baby Jesus were housed in places of low esteem.

“But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. . . . Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.” (Verses 4-11, 16)

I have heard it theorize that one of the reasons the Lord God did NOT want David to build the Divine a house was because while King David was a “man after God’s heart” that does not mean he was faithful in obedience all the days of his life. When we think about the Holy Spirit residing in our hearts, we need to make sure that our lives are fitting for the Spirit. And that happens only when we turn our lives over to the Lord God. Now, David tried hard to follow God. He had Nathan to help him, and David spent time in prayer. But he also spent time enjoying the perks of being a king. David was “God’s man” but not the man to build God’s house. David’s son Solomon did build a house for the Lord God, but the kings who came after him did not have consistency in following God. The long term result of that was Jesus being born under the occupation of Rome.

The Lord God has always lived amongst the called and chosen people. The Lord’s Jesus was born amongst and out of the people of God. In a sense, the Lord built a house for the Divine called Jesus! It was Jesus, actually, who fulfilled the promise of a throne established forever. Jesus’ human father was in the line of King David, although that line had long ago been dimmed and forgotten.

We have been waiting patiently for Christmas. Okay, maybe some of us having been waiting patiently. But we have been assured that all of our expectations will be fulfilled, and that the Lord God will help us succeed in what is expected of us. We have made our preparations, and we see the signs that the Lord God has also made preparations. And, we have been assured that good things will happen; not just “good” from our perspective but “good” from the Divine’s perspective. Now we are on the cusp of fulfillment!

May you, beloved reader, in the coming days find fulfillment of all that you have hoped for! Selah!