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Sunday, July 8, 2018
Scripture: Psalm 47 & 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
Rev. Jill VanderWal
This summer we have been following the common lectionary and sharing weekly love letters. Love letters were inspired by the idea that we are invited to interact with, read, contemplate and wrestle with the stories, the people, and authors of the Bible. It’s a reminder that we believe this Book is alive and speaking to each of us, every day! Love letters remind us that we are invited to a two-way conversation. Our love letter today was written to David and will come at the end of the sermon – so stay tuned.
First let’s look at David’s life: David is born in Bethlehem, the youngest of the sons of Jesse in the tribe of Judah. The first event of note in David’s life is that he is anointed as a youth by the prophet Samuel. 1 Samuel 16, God sends Samuel to Jesse to anoint one of his sons to be the next king.
“7 The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” …
Jesse brings forth all seven brothers and Samuel hears God say…“I have not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.”
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.
This picture of 1 Samuel lays the foundation for the whole story of David:
The theme of David’s life is the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart (1 Sam 13)
After this anointing, David goes back to tend sheep, fight Goliath, and is called upon to play music for Saul who becomes jealous and tries to kill him. These are just a few of the events in the first chapter of David’s life. Can you imagine what the future will hold for him?
Today’s scripture starts the next major chapter in David’s life.
David is anointed as king over the 12 tribes of Israel. After Saul’s death, David is the leader of the Tribe of Judah for 7 years of warring with Saul’s sons, who are leading the rest of Israel. Now, we are told all the tribes come to David saying “you are our flesh and bone.. 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.”
David is 30 and he has lived for years not knowing when or how this prophecy would be realized. Then David and the army go to conquer Jerusalem. While the event itself may not get a lot of air time, King David is a big deal. David goes on to conquer Jerusalem, called it the “City of David” and he unites the kingdom and rules over Israel and Judah for a total of 40 years.
The nation and land of Israel is united during David’s reign. He brings the Ark of the Covenant to dwell in Jerusalem and the first temple in Jerusalem is built by his son. This is a time of UNITY- in purpose and praise. This is an example of how the whole world will come to be united around God. David foreshadows Jesus, the Messiah, who will unite all people in the Kingdom of God.
David, a shepherd with simple beginnings, becomes a shepherd to a nation. He is a military leader and a king. He loves the Lord, dances, sings, and writes music.
He also has epic moral failures. Murder and adultery to name two. His household and his children are unruly and treacherous.
A theme for David’s life is that he is a man after God’s heart. He loves God, he seeks God, listens to God, praises God with passion, and wrestles with God. Even in his darkest hours, he looks to God for power and provision. This is the “P.S. I love you.” David never stops loving God, and God never gives up on David.
Theirs is a dynamic, two-way relationship. We see this in the Psalms. Some estimate David wrote half of the Psalms. Psalms are songs or poems of lament, despair, confession, praise, and asking for help.
David models what it is to have a dynamic relationship with God and is a perfect example of one who wrote many love letters to God. This is the invitation for summer love letters to different books in the Bible.
O God, sustain us in the complexity of our humanity
as you sustained David–
playing the harp of youth,
throwing stones at giant problems,
loving our friends beyond wisdom,
breaking our hearts in psalms, and
longing for warmth in our old bones. Amen.