The story is so well known as not to need reiteration, yet the details of the sharply composed narrative arrests our attention each time we read it. In that way, perhaps he is more like us than we care to admit. But also perhaps like us, God can make something of him nonetheless.
The Lively Lectionary Old Testament is a blog that reflects on the Old Testament text from the Revised Common Lectionary each week.
David has his plans carefully designed to present both opulent palace and temple as living symbols of his greatness as king. This text suggests that there is a significant problem with David being the architect of the temple.
All events have conspired to solidify the throne for David. He only lacks one thing: a major religious symbol around which the people of Jerusalem may rally. The fabled ark of the covenant will be just the thing.
We are right to love our country, as long as we know its fuller history, and as long as we recognize that we worship not our country, but the God who is over all countries, loving and challenging all of them, including our own, to seek to follow the ways of justice and righteousness.
“Humans see with the eyes and YHWH sees with the heart.” The traditional translation of this well-worn phrase “the Lord looks on the heart” is only one way to hear it. If my translation is chosen, then the claim is that YHWH uses God’s heart, God’s seat of understanding or insight, to make human choices.
This second Sunday after Pentecost begins a continuous narrative based on the books of Samuel and two chapters of 1 Kings that covers the next 12 weeks of texts. This is a rare and wonderful opportunity for any preacher to address a long series of sermons, rooted in the finest literature of the Hebrew Bible.
I would suggest that it is a crucial part of our call from God to preach. If we preach only what people want to hear, if we tickle their ears with pleasurable sounds of support and easy words of affirmation only, then our preaching is in vain and our words are empty. There has never been a generation that does not need the harder call of God, the call to take with the utmost seriousness the shortcomings of one’s people and one’s self.
There is Pentecost hope, a hope that long preceded the sermon of Peter, that long preceded the vision of Ezekiel, that began in the very foundations of the world, created by a God who is in the business of willing hope and future for all creation for all time.
Many of us have become cynical, inured to words of hope and succor, tired of claims of future possibilities in the power of God. Yet, Isaiah says that YHWH has sent to us a servant whose work it is to present to us strength in our weakness, light in our darkness, and hope in our despair.
Jeremiah’s vision of the new covenant still gleams as a distant goal of YHWH, a possible hope for a better future for all of us, human and animal and plant. And that future for us Christians is bound up in Jesus Christ who offered himself as servant of all and slave of all, giving his very life for that future.
The wilderness, wherever it is, is a very dangerous place, and always needs a pole or two to aid our passage through. And for us Christians, the pole that saves is not topped by a gleaming snake but rather by a bleeding and dying man, who cared for us enough to offer himself as a gift for all.