2 Samuel 5: 1-5 Matthew 2: 1-8
Comparing Jesus To David
May the Lord be with you! (And also with you…)
Last week’s readings were kind of wacked I’d say, certainly not what we’d put forward as humanity’s better side. Those readings were violent and very dramatic. This one’s manipulating, that one’s revenging, another one is scheming, while another one is simply testing the waters to see from where they can get what it is that they want for themselves, and all of this while at the same time the innocent are having their lives torn apart due to this kind of political chess game that uses people and situations as pawns. Let the truth be known that in all actuality, we don’t really need cable to see unbelievable dramas unfold, we can instead simply open our bibles and settle in for quite the chaotic rollercoaster of narratives.
But this week is different. This week we’re not going to try to make sense out of the insanity of 2nd Samuel, we’re not going to wonder why or how it is that humanity just never seems to learn from their past actions and mistakes, and we’re not going to try and turn what we have read into a lesson for how it is that we as followers of Christ are supposed to be living our lives in a world that is corrupt with greed. What we’re going to do today instead is to think about the relationship between Jesus – who of course we put forth as the Messiah come to us, interestingly messiah means ‘anointed one’, and the life of David – who of course was the King of the Jews and was anointed by God to be specifically the ‘shepherd’ of his people.
Let’s first think about David. David was born of course in Bethlehem of rather lowly means, David and his family were shepherds. And that wasn’t a terribly bad job, but it wasn’t a job of the upper classes in any way either. It wasn’t skilled labor and it was a very lonely and often times dangerous job. David’s father Jesse did apparently own their sheep that David was taking care of, and that was a sign of some wealth, but it would very much today be considered lower tier work, yet not at all disrespectable. ..So David was born of kind of lowly means in Bethlehem, he was known as a handsome young man, a young man that people were essentially drawn to and impressed by. And then from an early age, God sends Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint young David to be the future shepherd of His people. Samuel then brings David to the city of Gibeah, where Saul the first king lives, and David is there first as a servant in the king’s house but then soon after he grows into a relationship of being as almost another son of Saul, remember he becomes best friends with Jonathan, Saul’s eldest, and then even marries Saul’s daughter Mika-eel. He becomes one of the family, and in fact very much a cornerstone in the foundation of that family, ..that is of course until that cornerstone is rejected by Saul.
On the part of Saul there was an incredible amount of jealousy due to the people actually feeling that they should be following David instead of Saul, David was considered the more brilliant military commander as he grew older and was considered by most all to be the wiser leader in general. And you’ll recall that that reputation began when David was able to take out the giant Philistine soldier Goliath. David had become a national hero and considered very wise at an early age, ..we assume he was around twelve when this all began, and then as time went on that all increased and his reputation grew.
And so, because Saul began then plotting really against David, David had to essentially keep moving around the Holy Land, he was always moving from point A to point B, and even went into the Philistine territory and made a pact with the Philistine ruler. But then remember, in that really heavy battle that took place in Gibeon, not to be confused with Saul’s capital of Gibeah, Saul and three of his sons are all killed. When this news reaches David he goes to Hebron, which was north from where he was located at the time, but just south of Bethlehem, and the reason why he went to Hebron was because that was considered to be the holiest city in Judaism ‘that they had access to’. You see, even today Hebron’s an extremely holy site, the second holiest in Judaism of all, and that’s because that is where the tombs of Abraham and Sarah are located, yes, THE ABRAHAM AND SARAH from the Book of Genesis. And establishing himself in Hebron was establishing himself as a leader connected solidly to God because God would only allow him to be there if he had God’s approval, at least that was the belief. And so now here is a leader who is militarily capable, socially acceptable and religiously anointed.
After all of the drama with the scenes of Abner and King Ishbosheth, who is now also no longer of course, the tribal leaders come to David and want him to be their new king, …really, who else would they legitimately choose? David was thirty 30 years old when he became King of the Jews, so essentially 30 years old when he began consolidating and spreading his influence in full. He ruled from Hebron for seven and a half years, and then entered Jerusalem to rule from there, and ruled there for thirty-three years. All tolled together, David ruled for 40 years. Make note of the numbers because they are significant. David was a leader like Israel had never had before or since. He consolidated the kingdom of Israel as God had essentially wanted it, he established Jerusalem as the capital of that nation, and turned the Nation of Israel into a nation of people that were admired and feared, David had conquered all of Israel’s enemies, and so for all intents and purposes, David was the savior of God’s people in that time period.
Now, let’s think about Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Savior. Jesus, like David, was born of lowly means in Bethlehem. This to fulfill the prophecy of Micah who told us that “O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.” According to Judaism, this reference is to David of course, whereas for Christians, these verses are clearly a prophecy of Jesus. Three wise men arrive in Bethlehem not to anoint Jesus as king, but to certainly acknowledge that Jesus is the new king.
Like with David, we don’t have a lot written or a lot of knowledge of Jesus’ early years outside of his birth story. We do know, however, of one instance in which Joseph and Mary go to Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover as they do each year, this is all told to us in the Gospel of Luke, and when they are on their way home they can’t find Jesus, Jesus was about twelve years old at this time. Joseph and Mary return to Jerusalem and after three days looking they find him in the temple discussing very deep theological questions with the teachers of religious law and was essentially teaching them. The people in the temple were simply enamored by what Jesus was saying to them, his wisdom at such an age was incredible. He then did of course return with his parents to Nazareth, but as Luke tells us, “Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him.”
Where we really start to get to know Jesus, though, is when he begins his actual ministry, when he begins spreading the message of God in a new way that was clearly influential and clearly also consolidating the people of God spiritually and in some ways socially. But, because many people were believing him to be the messiah, the anointed by God sent to save the Nation of Israel, the Son of David, which essentially means OF DAVID or a new David, the Jewish leadership who were losing their own influence and power over the people to Jesus were becoming jealous of Jesus. And just as David was considered a cornerstone of Saul’s house, Christ is considered a cornerstone of God’s house and was rejected. The leadership soon began then plotting to kill Jesus. Jesus therefore was continually traveling through the holy land from point A to point B. And it wasn’t literally until Jesus knew that his own time had come, that he allowed for his arrest and crucifixion to take place. Jesus was considered by so many to be religiously and spiritually anointed, even though he was socially radical and militarily unavailable.
Jesus was, we know, thirty years old when he began his ministry, just like David was thirty years old when he was made king. Jesus’ ministry, however, only lasted for three years until his crucifixion, making him thirty-three years when he entered Jerusalem to reunite us to God and then begin his rule in the heavenly kingdom, unlike David who ruled from Jerusalem for thirty-three years. Christ was crucified and buried, rising on the third day. After forty days he rose to heaven, David ruled Israel on earth for forty years.
Jesus was and is considered by many people the world over to be the Savior to humanity, he saved us from our sin, he re-established our relationship with God and is truly the king of the New Jerusalem, which is how we have often referred to heaven.
And so now the point in all of this, comparing Jesus to David and David to Jesus. Well, when the writers of the Gospel were writing their accounts, their main purpose in writing what and how they did, was to spread the message of the Gospel itself which was that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, was the messiah, was God for us in human form, and is our eternal Savior. But in order to get people, and especially Jewish people, to recognize Jesus as such, they had to make connections with the only other one in history that people looked to as the only other one that had been truly anointed by God and considered a Savior, and that person was David. Thus all of the subtle and not so subtle connections. Lowly birth in Bethlehem, recognition of king status by Samuel a wise man, or by three wise men from the east. Recognition at a very early age of brilliance and attractiveness to all who meet them, as well as an amazing sense of bravery. And then getting into more of their adult hood with the kind of lines drawn between the two stories makes it obvious too as to what the writers were doing. The references of ‘Shepherd of God’s People’. And so we may want to ask, could any or all of this be simply just coincidence? And this really by no means translates what I’m saying to mean that I see Scripture as illegitimate, because I do see Scripture as 100% legitimate, just simply on a different level. I do believe that its’ really important for us to recognize and see just what and how it was that the writers were perhaps trying to manipulate the two personalities, right down to the ages of Jesus and David when significant things happened with them.
And all of this is incredibly interesting I think, and kind of makes you question things too. But isn’t it just that, shouldn’t that questioning be exactly the point of a true faith. And so I question. I question why it is that the writers would have written in this way, realizing that most likely the things I’ve mentioned are not coincidental. And so I say to myself if these were things in common, what did they NOT have in common. And I realize pretty quickly that David performed no miracles and Jesus performed many that showed the people the level of power that he commanded. People would not have given him the credence to be the messiah if they didn’t have reasons of their own, and the people obviously were following Christ, that’s well documented, and not just in Scripture. People were not stupid, they may not have had the level of technology that we have today and may not have had the levels of literacy that we have also today, but that doesn’t mean that they could be duped by anything that would just come along.
On top of that David may have been brilliant and truly anointed by God, and a wonderful leader for the Nation of Israel, but let me tell ya, David was also very much a human, and a human with amazingly human flaws. He murdered for his own personal gain, he had countless affairs with women, was certainly not always loving and perhaps most of all, he never tried to interpret the law of God for a humanity that had gotten it all wrong. David, we believe, wrote many of the Psalms, but those are prayers to God from various occasions, they’re not interpretive of God. David didn’t try to teach people anything, he was a king, pure and simple, and he was an earthly king, pure and simple.
Many Jews ended-up rejecting Jesus because they said that Jesus was clearly not a new David because he didn’t conquer the Romans. But for us, those of us who look to the depth of Scripture and to the depth of our relationship with God, we don’t look to the superficial enemies that need to be conquered, we look to the spiritual and the eternal enemies that need to be conquered and those for us were conquered by Christ. Unfortunately though, there are those who don’t want to see beyond the nose on their own faces. David was a Savior for this life, but Jesus is a Savior for life eternal. And so in the end, at the end of the day, what is it that we can say about such things that we can discover from Scripture that seem, like to some, could make the entire account of God and his creation seem like something made up to make man feel like they’re not always responsible for the occurrences in this life that we’d rather forget about?
I can tell you two things. First, question, question every doubt that comes into your mind. But don’t then let that question linger and fester, investigate and find out the answer. I’ve always said, blind faith is just that, it’s blind. An informed faith is a rich faith that can bring your relationship with God to a dramatically new place, and believe me, that’s a place that everyone should want to be at and experience. And then second, remember those moments always when you just knew that God was present, when the Holy Spirit was at work. And I have spoken to enough of you to know that we’ve all had those kinds of experiences where we’ve known that it couldn’t have been anything else BUT God. Remember those, hold on to those, because those are gifts that will always be able to help answer our own doubts, and perhaps even the doubts of others. Be informed, and be open to feeling the presence of God.
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.