2 SAMUEL 7:1-11, 16
This is a story about King David. At this point in the story, he is close to reaching the high point of his career as a warrior-king. He is taking a break from his battles, and is resting in his cedar palace. Nathan is the prophet to David’s court.
The tabernacle was a large tent complex. There were rooms within the tabernacle, which were used by the priests for religious ceremonial purposes. The innermost room was called the Holy of Holies, and contained the Arc of the Covenant; this arc was thought to be God’s dwelling place on earth; God’s portable “house”. The tabernacle and the Arc of the Covenant were built during the time of the Exodus. The Arc has even been taken by Judah’s soldiers into war, to protect them from defeat. (This didn’t always work.)
- In the first paragraph (vv. 1-3), King David is resting in his palace. It occurs to him that his “house” is much nicer than God’s “house”, the tent/tabernacle. He shares this with Nathan, who agrees with the king.
- That night, God sends a message to Nathan in a dream (v. 4).
- Basically he tells David, “Who are you to tell me where to live? I’ve been living in my tent since before you were born!”
- God then makes a word game with the word “house”. He proclaims that he will make a “house” for David. But he doesn’t mean a building, he means a dynasty (vv. 5-11)
- Then, in verse 16 comes the promise that is the key to our Advent season. God says “…your kingdom shall be made sure forever…”.
God promise to David bears fruit with the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. Jesus’ ancestral lineage goes back to the house of David. We are all part of the kingdom of God, so Jesus’ reign does indeed last forever!
These three verses are the last lines of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. They are also a benediction and a summary of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles.
- The Benediction: If you are familiar with Paul’s writings, then you know how wordy he can get. To see the benediction, you must look at the first few and the last few words of this passage. Here they are: “Now to God… be the glory forever! Amen.”
- But all those words in-between are really good! Let’s take a closer look at those, breaking them down into bite-sized chunks. The takeaway for each chunk appears with them, after the label “TA”.
- God is able to strengthen the Roman church (and us) because of the good news (the gospel) work of Paul. (v. 25b) TA: We have heard the gospel message, and believe. Let us not hesitate to call upon God for spiritual strength.
- The secret of God’s salvation has been kept secret from us Gentiles for a long time. Now, through Jesus, this salvation has been revealed to even us Gentiles! (vv. 25b-26a) TA: In times past, only the Hebrews knew God’s steadfast love. Now, it is freely available to the whole world!
- Through Jesus, our new commandment is to be obedient in faith to God. (vv. 26b-27a) TA: Usually, we think of obedience being connected to a rule, or the Law of Moses. But here, Paul talks about the “obedience of faith”. Faith is the key to our salvation, not obedience to the law; so it is right to direct our obedience to faithfulness.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
During this season, we prepare our hearts for Jesus’ arrival on Christmas Day. We are renewing our commitment to be faithful to Him in thought, word, and deed. We are obedient in faith.
For centuries, God’s favor was only with his “chosen people”. With Jesus’ arrival, we Gentiles now have access to God. It is easy to take for granted this free gift of God’s grace that we receive through the birth of His son. So, with Paul we may say “Now to God be the glory forever! Amen!”
The verses just ahead today’s passage tell us about Mary’s cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth has conceived the child who will grow up to become John the Baptist. She went into seclusion for five months.
- “In the sixth month” (of Elizabeth’s pregnancy), an angel pays Mary a visit. (vv. 26-27)
- Mary is a teen-aged girl in a backwater town called Nazareth, who is engaged to be married. Gabriel, and angel of the Lord, enters and says “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you.” (v. 28) I do think that she would be much more than “perplexed”, and “pondering what sort of greeting this might be.” (v. 29) I think this young girl was probably scared half out of her wits!
- Gabriel calms her down (“do not be afraid”), and tells her the good news of God’s plans. Mary: “I’m gonna have a baby? Sure, probably, I’m engaged to be married after all.” Gabriel” “No, not later. NOW, you will conceive a baby…” (v. 31). Gabriel goes on to explain that this baby will become the messiah, as foretold by scripture (vv. 31-33).
- Mary has questions. Wouldn’t you? “How’s this going to happen? After all, I’m a virgin.” (v. 34)
- Gabriel goes on to give her the details (vv. 35-37)
- Here’s the remarkable part. Mary agrees to the plan (v. 38).
Gabriel tells this unwed teen that she is going to be a mother. Mary’s first reaction is to be expected, predictable. But when Gabriel explains God’s plan, she responds in a very unpredictable way. In faith, she sets aside the fact that she will be shamed socially, for becoming pregnant before marriage. She will have to face her fiancé and explain it all. (How do you think that will go?) Why did she do this? She did this because she had faith, and trusted in the Lord. Doing the Lord’s will was more important to her than social standing. It was worth risking a relationship with her fiancé, and worth raising a child whose father could not be identified.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Mary’s obedient faith serves as an excellent role model for us. How can we exemplify Mary’s obedience in our faith-walk?