Bigger and Better

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, 2 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.” 3 Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5 Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6 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. 7 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?” 8 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; 9 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. 10 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, 11 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. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Sermon Bigger and Better

Good morning. Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday when we celebrate God’s love for humanity. It’s a day for us to remember the greatest gift that God has ever given: his Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is a day to reflect on God’s love for us and prepare for this gift.

On the surface, our reading from Second Samuel might seem like an odd choice for the fourth Sunday of Advent. In verse 16, God says to King David, through the prophet Nathan: “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.” In the Christian tradition, we believe this points to Jesus.

Today’s gospel reading is the story of the angel Gabriel visiting the virgin Mary. In that story, the angel announces to Mary that she’s carrying a very special child. The angel says:

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:30-33).

That passage from the Gospel of Luke is a reference to our reading from second Samuel. Of course, that’s not how King David would have understood what God was saying to him.

David can only see himself in this story—he can only see his current situation. David is concerned with the things that concern all earthly kings: protecting his kingdom from invasion, consolidating his power over his kingdom, and having a son to inherit his kingdom. And somewhere after those standard, kingly concerns, David knows he has to be righteous and give thanks to God for all that God has done for him.

By all outward appearances, David is doing well; David is being righteous. He has been victorious in battle. Still, David is unsettled. David doesn’t ask the Lord what he can do for the Lord, he tells the Lord what he’ll do for the Lord. David says to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”