This is a version of my sermon from July 8th at Grace Anglican Church.
Last month we walked through the rise and fall of King Saul. Today we begin the reign of King David. Now that we’ve reached the king that God wanted on the throne of Israel, let’s look at how this new idea of kingship fits with God’s overarching plan for the world. Remember, before this point, God always dealt with His people through families and tribes; kingship was a complete innovation for Israel!
2 Samuel 5:1-10 and beyond: the Davidic Covenant
The capture of Jerusalem in this passage was a completion of the Conquest of Canaan (similar to Saul’s mission against the Amalekites)! It was also a city with no tribal affiliation, thus becoming a symbol of unity for the twelve tribes of Israel.
Just as Saul was anointed privately, then publicly proclaimed, and finally fully accepted, this passage is now David’s final public anointing as King after his private anointing and de facto coronation upon Saul’s death.
But, something that hasn’t been taken into account so far is the question of covenants. God was supposed to be the true king of Israel, so demanding and receiving a human king seems like the covenant has been broken. As it turns out, God has worked that through as well! Notice these hints through this part of 2 Samuel:
- 2 Sam. 5:2 – “shepherd my people” is a different concept than what the other countries with kings would have expected: the king of Israel is a pastor!?
- 2 Sam. 7:9 – “a great name” sounds just like the Abrahamic covenant.
- 2 Sam. 7:10 – “dwelling in their own places” sounds like Gen. 15:18-21 and Deut. 11:24, reminiscent of the covenants with Abraham and through Moses.
- 2 Sam. 7:15 – “steadfast love” or heseð refers to God’s covenant faithfulness, love, loving-kindness, etc.
- 2 Sam. 7:16 – “a king for ever” is also a sign of God’s lasting commitment, as covenants are also binding agreements into which God enters.
How was this covenantal promised fulfilled,
knowing that Israel was eventually conquered?
Look at how the New Testament begins and ends (Matthew 1:1 & Rev. 22:16) – Jesus is described as “the son of David” to emphasize his fulfillment of the Davidic kingship. This is also evident in his teachings, which were largely dominated by the subject “the kingdom of God,” and confirmed by the Apostles’ final question as Jesus was about to ascend into heaven (Acts 1:6). In sum, Jesus turned out to be the eternal king on David’s throne, properly descended from his line.
But look at what has happened overall: God started out as the king of his people, he gave a kingship role to humans: David and his descendants, and finally to Jesus, who is indeed human, but who is also God. So it’s come all the way around! God retains his rightful kingship over the world, yet he also shares it with humanity. What an act of love for the human race!
How does this inform our Christian identity?
We have a king over us. That makes us subjects, lowly servants. But the nature of Christ’s kingship – love as well as justice – makes us beloved servants. Remember the image of King David as a ‘shepherd’ (which is the same word as ‘pastor’). Remember the key word hesed referring not only to God’s covenant commitment but also his steadfast love. Unlike all the other kings in the world at the time (and indeed our world’s perception today of kings and of God himself), our relationship with God is founded upon love.
Nevertheless, He is our king, and we must obey Him. The greatest commandment is to love God & neighbor. See, obedience is not only the proper response to God’s love for us, but it also bolsters our love for God. It’s cyclical, love and obedience strengthen each other as we practice both with our God and King.
Flowing out of the Great Commandment of love are a few other “greats” that we often talk about in church. First is the great commission – the command to proclaim Christ’s kingship to all the world. Out of love for God, we seek to share this relationship with others. Second is the great communion – the command to be in godly fellowship with one another. This is particularly the second part of the great commandment wherein we are called to love one another. Thirdly, then, is the great compassion – the command to do good works for the betterment of others. Because as the Parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us, loving ‘others’ isn’t just ‘others within the Church’, but the entire world.
See, Christian worship, discipleship & fellowship, and ethics are all rooted in the basic command to love God and neighbor. Come to think of it, this has all just been another way of saying something I’ve said before: the purpose of the Church is rooted in the identity of the Church, such that the three-fold purpose of the Church are the exact same three “greats” I just listed above: worship (loving God), discipleship & fellowship (loving others within the Church), and ministry/mission/compassion (loving others in the World). There is no room for blind obedience, for moralism, or for empty ritual in the Church, for everything that we do as Christians is to be rooted in the love of God, both from Him and for Him.