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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, December 23, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  2 Samuel 7:1–11, 16

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever. (NRSV)

A genealogy class I took at the Newberry Library spotlighted the formidable task of tracing a family’s roots for generations past. I thought about that effort when reading today’s Old Testament scripture about King David. Initially I even wondered what it had to do with Advent since it pertained to David, who ruled Israel and Judah nearly 1,000 years before Christ’s birth. But as the scripture makes crystal clear, the link between the two distinctly applies to Advent, which for us is a season of expectations.

In brief, King David wants to replace the tent where God dwells with a grand house of cedar like his. But God vetoes such a mansion. Instead, as 2 Samuel 7:16 makes clear, God will build a “house”—a dynasty—for David and his sons that will rule in God’s name forever.

A millennium later, the Lord’s promise of an everlasting kingdom is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ, the child of Mary and Joseph, who was of David’s lineage. God delivers our Messiah who shepherds us and blesses us through eternity.

Our Heavenly Father, as this Advent and this year 2020—a year of pain, challenges, and struggle—near their end, we thank you for reminding us to rejoice in the eternal “house” you have provided us and in the Son of David who protects us from fear and from anything that separates us from you. Amen.

Written by Tim Schellhardt, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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