Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
2 Samuel 7 – Having consolidated the kingdom and had a great house built for himself, David conceives the idea of building God a dwelling place too. He asks his “in-house” prophet, Nathan about it, and at first Nathan says fine; but at night Nathan receives a definitive word from the Lord that this is not His will. These wonderful passages follow:
“Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 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 . . . .did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel. . .saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ 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; 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, . . 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 . . . Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. . .I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me” (7:5-16).
There is so much in this chapter. First of all the Lord makes it plain that man is really not the one who can ever “make a house for the Lord to live in” on this earth. God is the one who makes us places to dwell, who provides for us, who raises up leaders for us and makes them successful. The promise to David and to his line, which is set forth here, is a promise that will endure. It will endure on a human level—Solomon will build the Lord a dwelling place in one sense in the next generation. But when the Davidic line dies out in a human way, He will also see to it that the line is reestablished in Christ. He will be a son to the Lord God and the Lord will be His father. As a Catholic I also see in this promise, as in the promises to Eve, to Noah and the Abraham a “type” of the promise Peter was to receive at Christ’s side; and one reason why I do is because like in the gospel where Peter receives his commission and the promise that undergirds it, he also follows it with a slip into apostasy (see Matt. 16:18 and 22-23). Two chapters on, incurs God’s wrath for the sin he commits with Bathsheba.
2 Samuel 8 – David subdues the Philistines and the Moabites, fights against King Hadadezer and his Aramean allies from Damascus. “The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went” (8:6). He brought valuable booty home. Other people paid tribute, people such as King Toi of Hamath. He killed 18,000 Edomites and placed garrisons in Edom. Among his own people, he “administered justice and equity to all his people” (8:15).
Joab was his commander; Jehoshaphat his recorder and Zadok, son of Ahitub and Ahimelech, son of Abiathar were priest. Seraiah was secretary.
2 Samuel 9 – David seeks out Jonathan’s living sons to show kindness to them. Ziba, one of Saul’s servants tells David that only Mephibosheth (also called Meri-baal), a crippled son of Jonathan is left. He was crippled when his nurse dropped him when the news came about the death of Saul and Jonathan at the hands of their enemies. Ziba is told to work for Mephibosheth to provide his food, but Mephibosheth will eat at David’s table. Mephibosheth has a son as well, Mica.
Mark 9 – Jesus says that there are “some standing her (9:1). Then it goes on to the scene of Jesus’ transfiguration. The reference to six days relates back to the OT (Exodus 24:16, where the cloud covers the mountain for six days with Moses on it and 34: 30 where Moses returns from the mountain with his face shining). Like Moses, Jesus takes his three main disciples with him and goes up a high mountain (9:2). His clothes become “dazzling white,” and he talks with Moses and Elijah. Like the people of Israel in the Moses story, they are terrified, and then they hear God’s voice saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him” (9:7). For the first time, he tells them the Son of Man will rise from the dead (9:9). Elijah, Jesus explains, is to come first to “restore all things” and he has come.
They arrive where the disciples all are and again there is a huge crowd—the scribes are arguing with some of them. One in the crowd tells him he came with his son who is suffering from seizures of some kind. The disciples can’t help him, and Jesus tells them they are “faithless.” As a seizure takes hold of the boy, Jesus asks the father how long it has affected him—it is a long time. Jesus tells the man all things are possible “for one who believes” and the man says the famous words, “I believe; help my unbelief.” (9:24). Jesus exorcises the “unclean spirit,” but it knocks the boy out. (9:26) Jesus later tells his apostles that this kind of spirit “can come out only through prayer” (9:29).
They go through Galilee: again he warns them not to let others know and again he predicts his passion. On the way to Capernaum, his disciples argue about “who was the greatest”(9:34). He tells them the first must be the one who is servant of all—that they must welcome children too in his name as if they were he.
John worries because another person is “casting out demons in [Jesus’] name” (9:38). Jesus tells them not to stop him—“whoever is not against us is for us.” Then he returns to the theme of innocence or of children again warning his disciples never to put stumbling blocks in the way of simple people’s faith. This is a Pauline concern, one he speaks of in connection with the eating of foods sacrificed to idols. And lastly in this chapter Jesus warns them not to let any “part” of them, any one impulse or failing in one to be the cause of “stumbling” in one’s own walk; for “it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell” (9:46).