Sermon on 2 Samuel 5:1-10 - "The Way of the Heart, Part 7"
We like to pretend we don’t like kings and kingdoms. We just got done celebrating the anniversary of a day in which we wrote a break-up letter to a king. We like to think of ourselves as a democratic people. We want to democracy. We want many voices coming together for consensus. However, there is a war amongst us. In us. A war between freedom and oppression. We yearn to be free. To see the dawn of a new morning without tyranny. Being told what to do. But we also are those who more often than not think we know what is best for others. If only the nation would do or try such-n-such. If only you had my ideals, my morals. If only everyone would live in a particular way. We pretend we don’t think that, and yet we do.
Because of this, we love our freedom, but we also look for a king. We like that leader we truly think will do what we want. Israel was the same. Saul is dead. David has been king of Judah. Civil war broke out. David’s dudes won. The people want their king. Want peace. Want protection. They come to David and say to him, “When Saul was king you were our defender. Be our king.” He becomes king. He then wants his city. Hebron wasn’t enough and so he goes to Jebus. Jerusalem. The City of Peace, which must be first a city of war. That is a sermon for another day.
The king and his army are taunted. Jebus is a high city. On a mountain. High walls. Hard to enter. The enemy has the high ground. They think themselves impregnable. “All we need is the lame and the blind to defend against the likes of you.” That doesn’t work. David defeats them. Takes up residence in the fortress and the city becomes the City of David.
It is at this point that we see the tribes united. They found their king. He’s popular because he wins. But also they see in him the shepherd of Israel. The one called to guide them. Lead them in the direction they must go. That’s the hope anyways.
Moses actually brought this to the people in Numbers 27 - Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd. Prophecy or history. Who knows. We’ll see David be a king, but also human. To be called by God, yet also one who falls.
It makes sense for us, in this text to see how our world today and the world of yesteryear collide. We want a king. Deep down we do. Possibly the king who takes and destroys; who compels and brings tyranny; who punishes, as it says here, his enemies who are the weak and the lame. Our hearts yearn for a different David. A different king. For a Shepherd. For one who will come to unite the peoples, who will sit upon the throne of the City of Peace. Who will do the work we see David doing, but in a very un-David way.
Our ancestors, before we got sucked into the attempts to craft the Kingdom of God on earth into our own image, saw their hope resting in the lineage of David. It’s why we have the genealogies in Luke and Matthew. Showing us this hope that comes in the Son of David. In Christ. Christ as the King who is to come. The one crowned as the King of the Jews that day he died for you at Calvary.
But this is no ordinary David. It is no ordinary King or Kingdom we seek. This David, the one we wait for. The one we, in our own American way, see as our Sovereign who will reign forever and ever, since the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are his forever. This new David is not one who punishes the blind and the lame, but is one who opens the eyes of the blind and heals the lame.
This new David comes to us, as Revelation tells us, in reciting verses from Isaiah 11 and Jeremiah 23, as both the root and branch of David. I, Jesus, have sent my angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star. As the Creator of David. One over and above David. Better than David. But one who will come as the King of Kings, to rule in peace amongst us as a King of love rather than war.
It is in this King, too, that comes a new city of David. Not a fortress to repel invaders. Not a place of taunts that see anyone outside as fools and weak, but the New Jerusalem. A Jerusalem that we must not go up to but comes down to us.
David had to crawl up a water shaft to take his city from others. God sends his Kingdom down to you. To us. In Christ.
Again, this has to be the most I’ve quoted Revelation in all my life. Coming from the background I do, I have tended to avoid it, but in what we see as division in our country. Division brought about by our desire for some king or queen. Some political leadership we see as Sovereign. Our own impatience for what has always been the future focus of the Christian life. Revelation 22 - Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.
We do what we can here, each of us, of our own accord, to love and be merciful to one another. We fail. We try again. Unfortunately, so often we seek this earthly king, a kingdom of our own making, that our eyes are diverted, and our first love is lost of the Majesty who is to come. The One who will take what we are so bad with making, kingdoms and kings, and make something different.
Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life. The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son.
What of our desires for kings need to be satisfied by these waters of life? Who need something more than a King who can win, but a King who gives to us and covers us in his glory as his bride.
Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me: “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory.
I did not see a temple in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never close by day because it will never be night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.
Where the nations and the work of God are gathered together. Where resident aliens, pilgrims, citizens all gather, not to try to get along but as those brought together by the Lord for his glory with no need for us to hope for light to come. The Light, the Goodness, being God alone for you. Christ alone for you.
It’s weird to think that a king from 3000 years ago, and a city he took, could have any connection for us. But it does. In our pursuits of earthliness. Of trying to make earth into our own heaven, we miss out on the focus of our souls. On the love we have received in Christ being the love that works in us for others.
Luther loved this connection of our faith and trust in God as the king to come with the world that surrounds us. Where our love for God, our faith in Christ, our knowledge that each of us will be gathered into that kingdom one day helps us to know that the true kingdom of God comes to us as faith active in love. Holding onto the hope of the resurrection and life everlasting by the merciful hands of God transforms our own expectations of what we shall see in the world. Removing our hopes placed on just the right politician, to hope in the Christ who will come as King. Who bids us come - Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.
Life not of our making, but of Christ, his cross, the waters that flow from the city of God, from the throne of grace, all for you. Thanks be to God. Amen.