August 1, 2014

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Old Testament: God promises King David a dynasty

John F. Fink(Thirtieth in a series of columns)

The Second Book of Samuel gives us a theological interpretation of the reign of David, Israel’s greatest king. It emphasizes the point that the man who conquered Jerusalem and made it Israel’s religious center had to have been chosen by God himself.

After the death of Saul, David became king of Judah, in Hebron, while Saul’s son Ishbaal ruled the northern kingdom of Israel. There followed a seven-and-a-half-year war between the house of David and the house of Saul, which ended with the death of Ishbaal while he was asleep in his bedroom. The authors make it clear, though, that David was innocent of Ishbaal’s death, and he put to death those who murdered him.

God was good to David while he was king of Judah in Hebron. The beginning of Chapter 3 lists the names of his six sons born there, by six different wives.

After Ishbaal’s death, the elders of Israel asked David to become their king. He ruled the combined kingdoms for 33 years.

His first move was to conquer Jerusalem, still inhabited by the Jebusites. He built his palace there and took more concubines and wives. Eleven more children were born there.

David then decided it was time to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. Ever since it was returned by the Philistines, it had been in the house of Abinadab. The Ark symbolized the presence of the Lord and, therefore, could be handled only by those who were consecrated.

As it was being carried, a man named Uzza tried to keep it from tipping. When he touched it, God became angry and killed him. This is pretty harsh, obviously, but it demonstrated the holiness of the Ark.

David left the Ark in the house of a Gittite for three months, and then tried again. As the procession brought it into Jerusalem, David danced and leapt before it, clad only in a linen apron. His wife, Michal, whom he reclaimed after Saul’s death, watched him.

When they were alone, she rebuked him for exposing himself to the slave girls. David replied that he was dancing for the Lord and, although he might be lowly in Michal’s esteem, he would be honored by the slave girls. The authors add that Michal remained childless to the day of her death.

We now come to Chapter 7, one of the most important parts of the Old Testament. Having brought the Ark into Jerusalem, David thought he should build a temple for it. However, the Lord told the prophet Nathan to tell David that the Lord did not want a temple. Rather, the Lord, who had been with David wherever he went, would not only make David famous but would establish a dynasty after him that would last forever.

This is the basis for messianic expectation after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., and what the archangel Gabriel alluded to when he appeared to Mary and told her that God would give her son Jesus “the throne of David his father” (Lk 1:32). †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!