Thursday, January 18, 2018

Son of David

The Lectionary for Holy Communion today brings together 1 Samuel 18:6-9, 19:1-7 and Mark 3:7-12.

The parallels between David and Jesus, a thousand years apart, are striking.

David is fĂȘted by women who ‘came out of all the towns of Israel’ because he has set the people free from Philistine oppression. Jesus is fĂȘted by crowds who come from Jerusalem (the centre-of-the-world) and the South and the East and the North—from all points of the compass except the West, due to the Mediterranean Sea—because he has set the people free from the oppression of disease and unclean spirits.

David’s popularity results in the jealousy of King Saul. Jesus’ popularity results in the jealousy of the rulers of his day [not present in this short passage, but framing it].

Jonathan’s actions provide David a place of shelter from harm. Jesus’ disciples have a boat ready for him, should he need shelter from crushing.

In Mark’s Gospel, and elsewhere, we see Jesus as the Son of David—the descendant of David, whom God has set on David’s throne*. The ‘force’ of the parallel is not that charismatic figureheads of populist movements always attract hostile attention from those who hold conventional power (true though that may be); but that God has ‘remembered’ his people and is showing himself to be faithful to his covenant promise.

This is a rooted story. It is the story of salvation being rooted not only in God’s universal love but in God’s chosen methodology.

*Jesus explicitly identifies himself with David in Mark 2:23-28 and 12:35-37, and is identified by others as Son of David in Mark 10:46-52 (explicitly) and 11:1-10 (implicitly). Besides this, David and his Mighty Men arguably provide a type for Jesus and his disciples (alongside, of course, Israel and his sons).

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