Sunday, July 22, 2018

King David 3

2 Samuel 6-7
July 22, 2018  

Before we get started here, just a little information.
Some of you know this, but the story of David is told in
two places in the bible,  on in 1st and 2nd Samuel and also 1st Chronicles
(1st and 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles covers King Solomon, David’s son and future kings.)
1st Chronicles begins with Saul’s death, so it basically starts where David is king.

Sometimes 2nd Samuel and 1st Chronicles are almost identical, and sometimes they’re different.
Some say that Chronicles is more sanitized and leaves out all the uncomfortable stuff.
2nd Samuel is definitely has a fuller and more complete story,
but sometimes 1 Chronicles has explanations that 2 Samuel doesn’t.
So I might share some things that we don’t get from the 2nd Samuel readings.

So, finally, 15 years after being anointed by God and Samuel,
David is made King of the united kingdom of Israel
Immediately after he’s made King, David and his army
have a decisive victory against  the Philistines.

And suddenly, we see a shift in David.
Once David was the rebel force with the army of 400 disaffected hippy youth,
But now David wants to be presidential, responsible.
no more guerilla warfare, no more sleeping in caves.

He is now in power and he wants to do good things.

During his time on the run, David has accumulated a few wives
and has quite a few children, which I guess is the obligation of a king
to maintain his royal house for generations to come.
King David
Anatoly Schelest

In then in another responsible, 
Kingly move, David moves his capital
from Hebron where he ruled the 
Southern Kingdom from
to the populous and bustling city 
of Jerusalem.
Although it was in the territory of Benjamin,
Jerusalem was really an independent state not governed by the tribal system,
(Kind of like Washington DC, although it’s technically in Maryland, is its own state)
This would have helped restore the unity of the until recently warring Northern and Southern kingdoms. Of course David had to chase out and destroy the
Jebusites who were living there at the time.

And then in another  very responsible act
David has the Ark of God moved from its hiding place
and move it into the capital of Jerusalem.
This is apparently a big deal.

As I mentioned last week, this is Ark is the same Ark
that Indiana Jones saves from the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
And, if you remember, in that movie, the Ark is very powerful and unpredictable.

Basically it melts everyone who looks at it when they open it at the end.
(I hope I didn’t just spoil the ending for you, but it has been out for almost 40 years.)

And that is not a completely ridiculous story to tell about the ark
based on the stories about it in scripture.

The Ark of God, or the Ark of the covenant is a peculiar thing.
It is the box that was made to hold the  tablets  on which the
second, unbroken tablets of the ten commandments were written.
And some places say that it also holds Aaron’s rod and a jar full of the manna
which was given to the Israelites in the wilderness.
Almost a time capsule of the escape from Egypt.

The very detailed instructions for how to build it were included in Exodus for Moses and the Israelites to build and specifically, the instructions specifically talk about  the space between the two angels sitting on top. It says:

21You shall put the mercy-seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the covenant that I shall give you. 22There I will meet you, and from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.

That space on top was called the Mercy Seat and it was
where God said that God would deliver all the commands
and messages for the Israelites, kind of the place where God would meet God’s people.

The Ark was the presence of God in the world.
Kind of like a temple or church would be in the future, but this was mobile.
Wherever the Israelites went and wandered around in their 40 years in the wilderness, the Ark went with them. And when they stayed some place, it would go in a separate room in a tent called the Tabernacle.

The Ark was carried around to lead the Israelites in battle
in the Promised Land and Joshua had the priests parade the
Ark around the walls of Jericho for seven days before they
all shouted and the walls of the city came down.

But the reality of the Ark, though, was that it was heavy and cumbersome,
and it was unpredictable and sometimes dangerous,
so it seemed to be left places and forgotten about,
which could seriously be a metaphor for faith in God, couldn’t it?

Back in chapter 5 of 1 Samuel, the Philistines stole it because
they wanted to capture its powers,  and
when Eli, Judge before Samuel, heard that the Ark
had been taken by the Philistines, he promptly died from shock.

But later the Philistines decide to return it to the Israelites
because they had experienced plagues of tumors, mice, and boils while they had it. 
And then when the Israelites got it back,
It ended up at the house of Abindab in Kirjath-Jearim for 20 years.
It said Saul was too impatient to consult the ark
and people grew unaccustomed to using it.

It represented the Lord, it was where God would meet and command the people
it was the center of sacrifice and atonement for the Israelites.
And it represented a time of a united Israel who worked always in cooperation with God.
Which was surely why David wanted to bring it back to his capital.
So they tried.

Abindab who’s house it stayed at for 20 years was in charge of moving it.
Now the instructions for building it said that the wooden poles needed to be affixed to the
ark so that it would be able to be moved without it ever being touched.
It was usually moved with four people one on each side of the pole.

But Abindab made a nifty new OX cart to move it, and they loaded it up and took it on the road.  Everyone was dancing and singing and playing castanets and symbols. It was a big celebration. But  while it was on the way to Jerusalem, the Ark started to tip over, and Uzzah, one of Abindab’s sons, reached over and touched the Ark to set it right again
and God, the nuclear reactor went off again and Uzzah was struck down.
That put a damper on the whole celebration there.

It actually says that David got angry with God about that.
And that at that point he was afraid of God that day.
And David refused to go on with the whole thing, saying,
“Now how can I take the Ark into my care today?”
And he brought it to someone else’s house
and basically put it in their garage for three months.
Then the owner of that house started doing good,
so David thought it was safe again to move it.

Isn’t this an odd exchange between anyone and any god,
but especially Yahweh at this point?
God lashes out with one of his odd and seemingly arbitrary rules,
then David gets angry at God and basically puts God into time-out
until he can figure out how to negotiate the relationship again.

Remember when we were talking about Abraham bargaining with God
over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?
This showed the open system which God had made with God’s people.
There was negotiation. People had input into the situation.
God was all powerful, but could be moved and changed by the wants and needs of the people.
I think this shows more of the same openness that Yahweh has, especially with David.
David is angry with God.
But God doesn’t retaliate as might be expected. Maybe even God adjusts.
But he doesn’t dump David.
And likewise, David doesn’t just give up on God and dump the Ark somewhere forever and forget about God.
I’m not exactly sure what it’s saying,
but I think the relationship between God and humanity is growing.
And it definitely is saying that God and David have a special relationship.

So, when David thought it was safe again,
they tried again and they finally got the Ark into Jerusalem, the capital city.
Chronicles says that David thought it would be safer to have the Levites,
the priests carry the ark and their families make the music to lead it.
And that’s what they do. People carry the ark instead of putting it on a cart.
They get the ark into Jerusalem.

Everyone seems happy for the moment:
God seems happy,  Israel is happy, because David gave everyone bread and raisin cakes.
And David was especially happy, he danced like no one was watching.

But cue the ominous music, because as you can see,
David’s first wife, Michal, the daughter of Saul is always looking out the window
and it says that after looking at him dancing like that,
she despised him in her heart.

When David was defending himself against Saul,
Michal loved David deeply and helped him escape her father.
But now that David was king, she had higher expectations of him.
While Michal would not be the downfall of David,
her feelings would be a sign that all that seemed perfect and happy
would not remain perfect and happy forever. 
It’s a foreshadowing that, just like Saul’s house,
David’s house would begin to crumble from the inside.

But life goes on and David has had a house built for him to live in Jerusalem,
and the Ark was put in a tent beside it.
In another responsible act, David didn’t feel that was right and offered
to build a house for God, a temple where the Ark would be stored.
because that’s what Kings do too.
But in a dream of Nathan, David’s advisor, God tells David no.
That David will not be the one to build him a temple.
In first Chronicles, it says that David had too much blood on his hands to build God’s temple.  It says that David’s son who rules after him will build a temple for God
and Solomon, does build the first temple.

Then,  God says to David, you will not build me a house, I will build you a house.
A house that will live forever. God says that he will make a great name for David, and for his offspring.

16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me;
your throne shall be established forever. 17 In accordance with all these words
and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

Maybe God was moved by David’s offer to build a temple.
Maybe God was moved by David’s restoration of the Ark and his happy dancing.
Maybe God was moved by David’s uniting the Israelites.
Maybe God was moved by David’s just and kind treatment of the people.
It really doesn’t explain why, but God makes a covenant with David
that will place Israel’s hopes into David’s lineage.

Now some may just see this a s propaganda written
by future Kings, specifically Solomon, to justify his leadership,
and to justify his consolidation of Israel’s goods and labor to build the lavish temple,
and more and more lavish palaces for him to live in.

And maybe some see it as justification for a succession
of kings who were lousy and did bad things,
but none the less were in the line of David.

And maybe some see it as justification for wars and conquests of other people --
which follow in the story immediately --
in the same way God has been used to justify so many other wars throughout history.

And yes, I’m sure that was part of the role of this covenant story.

But it does more than that.

It reflected a hope in David’s Kingdom that people felt to be true.
Like the covenants with Noah, and Abraham, and Moses before him,
These covenants would provide a hope that has
held the people of Israel together in times of struggle.
It is a covenant that tells the faithful that the story is not over.

16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me;
your throne shall be established forever.

Forever is the operative word.
For better or worse, God and God’s people will be together forever.
No matter what, nothing will be able to break the bond
between them, it is a covenant,

This covenant turns into the hope of the Messiah,
that the prophets talk about over and over again,

And this is the covenant that sent the the Wise Men to Bethlehem,
the City of David, to find the Messiah.
It’s the one that Peter and Paul referred to in Acts,
the one that caused many a suffering person to call
out to Jesus as the Son of David.

The covenant said that God will put his promises into David’s house, his lineage and offspring, and that through this family God’s promise will come to the people of the earth.

Now not even the King is not exempt from judgment,and God may punish and God may correct his bad behavior, but God will never leave David’s presence.
He won’t dethrone David, like he did to Saul, he won’t un-anoint him or let someone overtake him. God will never leave David. This is good news, and sometimes it is not good news. Regardless, all the hopes and fears of Israel are now met in David.

In other words, the spiritual salvation of the people is somehow tied to the government.
Now, with the new covenant of Jesus, we are not required to believe this, but it is important to understand it because there are many people of many religions who do believe this.

As for David, the human being, to be put in that position, as the touching point between God and humanity. It is a great privilege, and a great responsibility, and it also becomes a great pain.

As far as the narrative of David goes, this covenant is the pivotal point.
It stands between two stories, what scholars call “The Rise of David”
and “the Succession narrative” or the fall of David.

Basically, David’s blessing of power, also will become his curse.

But for now, everyone is pleased.
And of course, David sings about it.

 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant; 29 now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.

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