The Narrative Lectionary points us this week to 2 Samuel 5:1-5; 6:1-5; Psalm 150 and Mark 11:8-10. I’m focused this month on discipleship. This week the NL strings together some texts that will be challenging to preach in one sermon.
The Appointment of the King
In the first text, 2 Samuel 5:1-5, a 30-year-old David is finally anointed as King. The sentence that catches my attention is this one: The Lord also said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will be ruler over Israel.’ David was first pointed out as the next King when he was called in from the fields shepherding the family flock. His Shepherd Psalm, 23, is one of the best-known passages in the Bible. One would not have difficulty to point out the ways in which David’s life foreshadows the coming Messiah. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” David will reign for 40 years, King Jesus reigns forever.
The Joy of the King
The second text captures the joy of King David in 2 Samuel 6:1-5. The Ark is being brought to its rightful place and at this moment King David is ecstatic. The Ark of the Covenant brings about the celebration of God’s presence, Israel’s victories, and the promise of the Lord. This was a loud, noisy celebration accompanied by 30,000 men. Malone Stadium, the football palace of our local University of Louisiana Monroe holds just over 30,000 fans. “David and the whole house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all kinds of fir wood instruments, lyres, harps, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.” It’s hard to imagine the immense celebration this recommends. It does get a little jolt of somberness at the moment of Uzzah’s infraction – when he reached out to steady the Ark and was struck dead by the Lord. But this is exactly the kind of living presence of God that they are recognizing. God is real, present, and has a will. Romans 11:22 reminds us “Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity” But the Lectionary spares us Uzzah’s story this time around by cutting off at verse 5. We are meant to focus on the joyful recovery of the Ark and it’s return home led by the new King, David. Is this kind of loud exuberant celebration a part of your worship at your church? Two passages in this week’s reading give us words to consider in our response to God’s presence:
Psalm 150 – Closing the Psalms With A Shout
The last writing in the Psalter is one of joyous and loud celebrations. Hallelujahs and praises ring out in the six ecstatic verses of this Psalm. It ends with this admonition: “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah!” This Psalm recounts a similar scene to the 2 Samuel 6 text in terms of the number of people rejoicing “everything” and in terms of noise – clashing and clanging symbols.
Welcoming the King
The Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem is foreshadowed, perhaps, by the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant facilitated by David. Celebrations and shouts were a part of that scene. “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Since Mark is our Gospel this year, Mark’s account is used. This passage is usually reserved for Palm Sunday, but we are a long way from that. Mark is sparse in detail but gives us enough to let us know the Davidic connection in the mind of the Jewish crowd welcoming Jesus with great honor and celebration.
We have some great themes about the Davidic throne that Jesus ultimately reigns upon. (Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.) Great celebration at the rise of the King and the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant. This kind of celebratory anticipation is reflected in both a Psalm and the coming of Christ into Jerusalem. The theme of celebration is very vibrant in these texts. Which church traditions will feel comfortable with ecstatic, loud, exuberant worship? Much of evangelicalism is quiet, somber, contemplative and reserved. The theme of the Good Shepherd is found in the early text but not necessarily in the other ones. Perhaps joy in Jesus is the theme that will be found in these texts as the Lectionary strings them together. It will be interesting to see where the Narrative Lectionary preachers go with this week’s lection. I had intended to follow a theme of submission to the King, but as I read the texts I think it is more than that. It is a celebration in God’s presence. I’m reminded of Tony Campolo’s book The Kingdom of God is a Party, in which he traces the celebratory nature of the presence of God in the Bible. Where’s the party this week?
You’re welcome to join the resources and discussion of the weekly texts in my Facebook group Narrative Lectionarians.
Thanks for reading.