7 Pentecost, July 8
“All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh. … The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel’” (2 Sam. 5:1-2). Thus, “King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel” (2 Sam. 5:3). “And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him” (2 Sam. 5:10). As king and commander, he broke the yoke of the Philistines, waged great battles against Moab, Ammon, Edom, and Aram. He brokered a treaty with Hiram of Tyre. He captured the old fortress of Jerusalem and made it the capital of a new theocracy. He rescued the Ark of the Covenant and placed it in Jerusalem in a Tent of Meeting. He went from strength to strength. Indeed, Jerusalem was known as the city of David.
From the height of his great power and glory, David fell, as kings so often do, to the allure of beauty and the urgings of lust. He was, in the end, a man, a fallen and tragic man. Nonetheless, he established a great city to which the kings of the earth went up. Kings assembled there and were astonished at the sight of the city. They were filled with panic and trembled not from fear but from wonder. They sensed the steadfast love of God, the wondrous name of God, and the praises of God resounding to the ends of the earth. They heard cries of gladness and rejoicing erupt from every corner of the city. They confessed and they did not deny: this is God, our God forever and ever. David presided over the city; he did not preside over heaven and earth. There was when David was not. Everlasting glory and eternal power belong to God alone.
Political power is both necessary and easily corrupted. Religious power is likewise a necessity and a constant danger. In both church and state, success and power are the place of trial and the scene of inevitable decline, though not always of a moral character. Often, it is nothing more than the exposure of human weakness. As Hamlet said of his dead father, “A was a man, take him for all in all.” St. Paul could have been a purveyor of religious gnosis, a super apostle selling pearls of wisdom gathered from the third heaven. He could have “told his story” again and again, rehearsing the exceptional character of the revelations. Had he done so, he would have had glory, but only for a time, and only from the gullible. Instead, to keep him from being elated, God put a thorn in his flesh. The Lord spoke to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). A great king lowered by his crime and a great apostle wounded in the flesh each demonstrate that all glory and honor and power belong only and utterly to God.
Jesus wants our weak and frail lives. He wants us stripped for the journey, holding nothing more than a staff, wearing only sandals and one tunic. Utterly dependent on the grace and goodness of God, he wants us to preach and heal and cast out demons. Still, providence may give a crown or a miter, and providence certainly does give everyone necessary and irrevocable responsibilities. A vocation must be lived. But it is lived in human weakness and total dependence on the goodness and grace of God.
Look It Up
Read 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Think About It
The power of Christ dwells in you.