ONE HOLY KINGDOM
This is the fourth, second to the last, installment in our series of five presentations on the history of God's family leading up to the institution of the worldwide family of Christ, the new covenant. We have built all of this on the cornerstone of the covenant idea understood not as a contract any more, but understood as a sacred family bond that is literally infinitely expandable. And the Blessed Trinity through various mediators down through the ages God has been fathering his family as an image and likeness of himself, the Trinity, through time and through space through Adam and the marital covenant, through Noah and the domestic household covenant and then through Abraham who was fathering on God's behalf the tribal family of God - the Church is like a tribal family - and then Moses is the mediator through whom God reorganizes and administers his national family-church.
Summary of the Series up to this Point
Now we are going to look at David, the covenant mediator through whom God reorganizes a kind of national, imperial kingdom family. The Church is now going to be a national kingdom. The difference between a nation and a kingdom being that a nation possesses its own sole sovereignty, but a kingdom exercises sovereignty over other states, over other nations - imperial jurisdiction, as it were. The purpose of this seems to be to take the wisdom, the truth and the righteousness that God has generously poured out upon Israel and the law of Moses through the prophets, He wants to make that more widely accessible to the whole world. Because, if you go back to the beginning, God from the start has been fathering a worldwide family. If he has signaled out Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-Israel; if he signaled out the twelve tribes of Israel under Moses, it's not because he plays favorites, it's because he's a wise father who knows how to use a first-born son to influence the behavior of his younger children.
So now the younger children are these gentile nations who have been walking in darkness, deceived by all kinds of demonic and diabolical deceptions and now the light of God's truth is going to be published in David, but especially in the son of David, Solomon, whose wisdom will become renowned throughout the world and all kinds of kings and queens and princes will come up to Jerusalem annually just to learn some of the wisdom that God has given Solomon. So this is the purpose and in a sense we'll see in Psalm 2, God allows the Levitic kings to reduce to servility or vassalage or colonial status all the nations of the world. Why? Because it would be better to serve as a slave or domestic servant in God's family than to be free outside of God's household.
So he prepares all the gentile nations to receive the full gift of sonship, which they are not ready for yet, but he prepares them for sonship by giving them domestic servitude under the Davidic kings. That's why we'll see Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines because that was the way you ratified political alliances - you married the sovereign's daughter or sister or whatever. This is to anticipate a bit, but in conclusion at the point of this summary, in this introduction we are going to prepare in a sense, the next to last step to really understand what Christ accomplishes and finalizes when he, all of a sudden breaks down the dividing wall between Jew and Greek and gentiles; and then takes these gentile nations which were only allowed to be domestic servants in God's family; and in Christ, tomorrow night, we will see how the full gift of Divine Sonship is freely given as the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all nations - the Spirit of Christ, the Eternal Son. The penultimate, next to last stage of this is the Davidic covenant. It's probably one of the most misunderstood and also neglected covenants in the Old Testament.
Now, let's take a look at what we are doing in this session. We have to review just briefly what we covered before and build a little bridge, but it's not going to be a big bridge. It will be just a little footbridge. Last time, we saw this national family that was established through Moses which God called to be a "kingdom of priests", (Exodus 19:6) which they then promptly rejected. We saw that at the golden calf, the Israelite tribes, the twelve tribes refused this gift of priesthood by which they'd exercise a kind of sovereign influence all over the world, over all nations by means of their righteousness and their wisdom and their holy service to others. They repudiated that in favor of good old-fashioned money, sex and power. The gold calf being one of the prime shrines of Egypt's power religion, their nature religion served a useful purpose for them to kind of pledge their allegiance once again to Egyptian idolatry, to this disordered attachment to the lesser goods of this world as opposed to the higher goods to which God was calling Israel.
As a result the twelve tribes were defrocked, not to mention the fact that 3000 of their kinsmen were slain by the swords of the Levites who in that act of Divine vengeance merited for themselves and their tribe, the priesthood until Christ would come. So the Levites then, become the sole priests in Israel, the twelve tribes, as it were, were almost laicized and defrocked. The Levites replaced the first-born sons in particular. The law of the priesthood is given to the Levites in Leviticus, whereas in Deuteronomy we see a different kind of law that allows for such things as divorce, concubinage, polygamy, slavery, usurious loans, genocidal warfare and so on - we see all of this in Deuteronomy - a law that is generally published for the twelve tribes in their non-priestly status.
Key Texts Which Unlock the Door in the Davidic Covenant
Now, there are two additional texts in Deuteronomy that are going to be like keys that will unlock doors in the Davidic covenant. Turn with me first of all to Deuteronomy, chapter 12, verses 5 through 7. In addition to polygamy, concubinage, divorce, usurious loans, genocidal warfare, there were two other concessionairy laws that God only put in Deuteronomy after forty years of wandering that he never had given before. In Deuteronomy 12 we will see one of those two keys - the law concerning the central sanctuary. Beginning in verse 5 we can read: "But you shall seek the place which the Lord, your God, will choose out of all tribes to put his name there" - (to put his shem, there) "and make his habitation there. Thither you shall go and thither you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, tithes and the offering that you present, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings and the firstlings of your herd and of your flock. And you shall rejoice with your households. You shall go up annually for these pilgrimage festivals and worship God."
The law of the central sanctuary is not found anywhere outside of Deuteronomy. Here in Deuteronomy 12 the idea of one temple serving as, in a sense, the house of God represents what the early Church fathers believed rightly was a concession to the weakness of the Israelites. They wanted to have an earthly home that they could see, a tangible piece of evidence that God was with them. You could even see this in Solomon's prayer as well as Stephen's sermon in Acts 7. God stoops down to wherever we are to help us come up to him.
The second passage in Deuteronomy that's so crucial is in Deuteronomy 17. Let's begin in verse 14. This is the law of the king. Up until Deuteronomy nowhere did God ever suggest that he wanted a king. In fact nowhere did he ever legislate even permission for a monarchy or dynastic authority. But in Deuteronomy, knowing in advance how the people have in a sense been seduced and reduced to an earthly kingdom, in other words, they're thinking like all the other nations. They want to be like all the other nations and so God is trying to figure out a way to channel that lower motive to get them to a higher plane and being all-wise, he's got some dandy ways. It's sort of like, you know, I remember when I was a teenager, I wanted to grow my hair long. I was playing guitar in a band, semi- professional. I wanted to be a rock star. You know, if God had been my parent, I bet he would have probably renamed me Samson. You know to try to harness this lower desire to kind of re-orient me to a higher goal. That's how he operates in Deuteronomy, like a wise father who knows how to deal with a son who doesn't always rise to meet the high expectations.
Deuteronomy 17, verse 14: "When you come to the land which the Lord, your God, gives you and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations that are round about me." Notice the motivation - we want to be like all the other nations. They shouldn't be. They should be a kingdom of priests. "You may, indeed, set as king over you," (in other words it's permission, it's not a mandate. It's not like, Oh, I will be so excited.) "you may, indeed, set as king over you him whom the Lord, your God, will choose, one from among your Brethren." (Can't be a foreigner.) Verse 16: "He must not multiply horses for himself," - (what's God got, a problem with horses? No, a problem with standing armies that are large to threaten the surrounding neighbors. In other words, he shouldn't pile up all kinds of military weapons to build up an arsenal to intimidate and strike fear and terror in the hearts of those neighboring nations. In other words, "I'm going to let you go part way but not all the way like you want.") "Do not multiply horses, since the Lord has said, 'You shall never return that way again. And he shall not multiply wives for himself lest his heart turn away." Back then monarchs didn't just like lots of weapons, they liked lots of wives because the royal harems showed forth the sovereignty over other nations and the political alliances that those concubines and wives represented.
And thirdly, "Nor shall he greatly multiply for himself silver and gold." Notice the qualifier. He shall not "greatly" multiply for himself silver and gold. Now, that can be a relative term. What does it mean to greatly multiply? Well we're going to find out what it means when we look at Solomon in a few minutes.
So there were three prohibitions, three warnings against weapons in the form of horses, wives and wealth - the three "Ws." He's warning them against those three things that will pull down the kingdom if they fall into this pattern of building kingdoms like all the other ancient Near-Eastern kingdoms. Not only that, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, that is written in Deuteronomy. In fact this is where gets its name in the Latin, this copy of the law from that which is in charge of the Levitical priests "and it shall be with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord, his God, by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes in doing them, so that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers; that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children in Israel." This is a formula prescription giving all of the divine statutes for the kings. Systematically, watch for how they are all violated and how it spells ruin, not only for the monarchy but for the covenant family.
Intervening Period Between Moses and the Monarchy
Now we are going to have to jump ahead. Let's go all the way ahead to 1st Samuel and as you are finding your way to 1st Samuel, let me just fill you in a little bit about the intervening period between Moses and the monarchy. The first person we would have to touch upon real quick is Joshua who, of course, took over from Moses at his death, led the people of Israel across the Jordan into the Promised Land first conquering Jericho and then basically conquering much, but not all, of the Promised Land. At the end of the book in Joshua 24, right before his own death, he ratifies a covenant, a covenant renewal ceremony he performs with Israel because he knows that as soon as he dies, they are going to go astray, just like Moses knew.
Then when Joshua is over, we come to the Book of Judges and the period of the Judges, and here we see continual crises meeting Israel under the twelve Judges that are discussed in the Book of Judges. There is this crisis cycle. First of all, the people begin to slip into sin. Then God allows them to be defeated and sent into slavery. There from sin to slavery to supplication; they cry out for help. God hears their voice and sends a savior, a Judge to deliver them - temporal political salvation and freedom. What happens there? They begin to serve God faithfully again for a while. Then as God prospers them for their fidelity, the wealthier you get, the flabbier you tend to be! So they begin to forget the covenant and, one more time around, and around, again and again, until these Judges make you dizzy. Because that's the way the book reads.
Now 1st Samuel is sort of like an interim section in the first few chapters because the first few chapters of Samuel basically give us the downfall of the Judges. It's the age, old problem of corrupt clergy! From Atlanta Archbishops to Assembly of God Television Evangelists, we will always have corrupt clergy. The more things change, the more things stay the same. But that doesn't excuse it nor does it minimize the damage, the disastrous consequences of priests and prophets who misuse and abuse their authority.
We see this especially in the first few chapters here. Hannah is barren. She prays to God for a child and she has Samuel. She promised God that she would give Samuel over to the priesthood and so she delivers him up to the High Priest named Eli. Eli is serving as High Priest and he adopts Samuel along with his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, and Samuel grows up looking at his older step brothers and sees that Eli is righteous but Hophni and Phinehas are wicked and as the High Priest ages and the two get ready to succeed him, the people are concerned because these two priests are abusing their power in some pretty wicked ways. So one night God appears to Samuel and basically lays out for him what is going to happen to the house of Eli. It's going to fall, and Samuel will be the one who begins a new priestly dynastic line, as it were, or at least he will attempt to.
So he pronounces this prophetic woe to Eli and then Eli watches the tragedy unfold as his two sons die in battle and as the Ark of the Covenant is captured by the Philistines and as Ichabod occurs. I mentioned this this afternoon. I made a mistake. I said Ezekiel had a child named Ichabod. It's actually the wife of Phinehas, Hophni's brother, Eli's son in 1st Samuel 4:19, The glory departs as the Ark is captured and carried away to Phillistia. But then, all of a sudden plagues are sent out from the Ark and the Philistines don't want it. It's too hot for them to handle so they send it back, and the Ark returns.
Here's where Samuel begins his reign, calling for repentance, leading the people back to the Lord, raising is Ebanizer and hearing the complaints of the people. Why? Because Samuel's sons are wicked as well! I mean, if you think that ending celibacy and allowing married clergy is going to solve our problems, you're going to have to reread the Old Testament. It will only launch a huge list of new ones! Nepotism, to begin with, adultery, divorce, corrupt kids who will not only defame the parents but also the priesthood and the parish. This is what's happening and the people see aging Samuel. They see his sons and they say, "Oh, no! It's like Eli revisited. We want a king. we don't want these weak priests who can't raise kids. We don't want to worry about one generation to the next when we've got no political power and we are surrounded by hostile enemies all around."
Samuel says, "You don't want a king." He knows what they are doing and in a sense he feels rejected. God says to Samuel, "Samuel, don't take it personally. They are not rejecting you. They're rejecting me as being king over them. Now go tell them they are going to get what they want. They want a king? They'll get a king. That's my punishment. Now instead of paying one tithe to the priesthood and to the Church, as it were, they are going to end up paying double tax, two tithes to the Church and also to the state, and he'll take a tithe of everything - your flocks, your crops, your sons, your daughters, your property - everything! Warn them so they will know."
So he does. "No, but we will have a king over us," they say in verse 19, "that we also may be like all the nations and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles." The Lord said to Samuel, "Hearken to their voice and make them a king." We all as parents know the feeling, don't we? You know, they just keep pushing and pushing and then finally, "Okay, all right, but I've warned you. I've told you. Go ahead!" You know sometimes the best and the wisest punishment is to let them have what they want and then let them learn the hard way.
The Monarchy: King Saul
So God selects a man named Saul, very strong, tall and handsome and he is anointed by Samuel, coronated by the people in chapters 9 and 10 and then God sends upon Samuel with the anointing of the oil a spirit of prophecy, 10:6. He gives to him in 10:9, "a new heart" to reign as a father figure over his own family. He is accepted and he is crowned by Israel, verse 24: "Long live the king!" Now they are becoming just like all the other nations.
In the beginning things go well. The Ammonites are defeated, the Philistines are routed, Samuel lays down his office as Judge handing it over, in a sense, to Saul, the king. He starts warring against the Philistines with great success but then, all of a sudden, he makes what might seem to be small but ends up being an enormous blunder that will cost him his dynasty. In 1 Samuel 13, Saul intrudes into the priestly office. Samuel said, "Saul wait until I appear, then I will sacrifice." He waits, he gets impatient. He goes ahead and sacrifices himself. He acts like a priest-king out of turn.
So what happens? "You've done foolishly," verse 13, "Samuel said to Saul. You have not kept the command of the Lord, your God, which he commanded you for now the Lord, he would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and the Lord has appointed him to be prince over his people because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you." Now he's not deposed automatically as king. He continued to reign as king. What is the punishment? Your son won't. It's the end of the kingdom in the sense of a dynastic succession.
We go on. In 14 and 15 things go worse. In 15, we have a very heavy and tragic scene. It's almost hard for us to understand how strict God wants his leaders to keep the commandments. In 1st Samuel 15, King Saul is told to go war against the Amalekites, a people who were intent upon exterminating the Jews. Therefore, God commands them to destroy the Amalekites, obliterate them completely. So Saul says, "Okay, we go up, go depart and we're going to go down and destroy them." And he goes and he fights and he wins. Verse 9: "But Saul and the people spared Agag who was the Amalekite prince as well as the best of the sheep and the ox and the fatlings, the lambs and all that was good. He did not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed."
In other words, they threw away the garbage and they kept whatever they liked, repudiating God's command. "The word of the Lord came to Samuel, 'I repent that I have made Saul king for he has turned back." Samuel rises up, angry, goes out to meet Saul in the morning, "and it was told Samuel, Saul came to Carmel and behold he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed and went down to Gilgal." Samuel basically has to chase him down. Samuel came to Saul in verse 13: "Saul said to him, 'Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord." Horse pucky - I mean that's not really what he says, but he could have.
Verse 14: the irony here is just scathing, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" In other words, I hear and smell an Amalekite beast which should have been slaughtered. Saul said, "Oh, they have brought them from the Amalekites for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord, your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed." Self-righteousness. Then Samuel said to Saul, "Stop. I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night. And he said to him, 'Say on.' Though you are little in your own eyes, aren't you the head of all the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel and the Lord sent you on a mission. He said 'Go out and destroy the sinners. Why then, did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?"
And Saul said to Samuel, " I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I've gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag, the king of Amalek, and I have utterly despoiled the Amalekites, but the people took of the spoil." He goes on to sacrifice to the Lord their God in Gilgal. And Samuel says one of the greatest statements in the Old Testament: "Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?" God didn't even initially require sacrifices until after the Golden Calf. Behold, to obey is better than the sacrifice.
Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, I have transgressed the commend." And he prays, "Would you pardon my sin?" Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you for you have rejected the word of the Lord and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel." God plays hard ball. "As Samuel turned to go away, Saul laid hold upon the skirt of his robe and it ripped. And Samuel said to him, "so the Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours who is better than you and all so the glory of Israel will not lie or repent for he is not a man that he should repent." And Saul worships the Lord.
David Chosen to be King by God
In 13, he lost the dynasty - his son would not be a successor. In 15, he loses the monarchy, any divine right that he might have had. So David is chosen to be king in chapter 16. "He is selected above all his older brothers." And then, of course, our favorite story of all in chapter 17, David versus Goliath, the five smooth stones. I won't even bother with that, I hope you all know it. If you don't, read it to your kids or your grandkids because 1st Samuel 17 is one of the greatest stories of all time. David slays Goliath, cuts off his head, takes his sword and, interestingly enough, he takes Goliath's head to Jerusalem, 17:54, which seemingly had not been captured yet. In other words, he's got his eyes set on Jerusalem for something important. We don't even know why or what.
Then, of course, we have a very unique friendship formed between David, the new king in the making and the old king who is losing it all. Jonathan, Saul's son, the crown prince, the heir apparent becomes David's best friend. The man who stands to lose everything if the dynasty doesn't come to him, Jonathan, becomes the best friend of David, the one who stands to gain all from Saul and establish a new kingdom. But Jonathan would rather be an obedient servant of Yahweh than fight to be the next king and political power.
So David and Jonathan swear a covenant of family friendship which will produce family fruits for a generation or two. It's beautiful! The covenant is actually ratified by them going out in the field and exchanging clothes. What for? Well Jonathan give to David his clothes and David, who at this point was a court minister in Saul's royal court, gives to Jonathan his own. David, in other words is clothed with the clothing of the crown prince. Jonathan faithfully relinquishes what he knows God does not want, an incredible example. Unfortunately, Jonathan dies a little bit later.
Saul goes nuts! He sees everything beginning to unfold before his eyes. He seeks to kill David. He is driven mad by demons, by spirits who haunt him. He continually tracks down David, trying to kill him for chapter after chapter after chapter. In fact, we're talking about practically the end of 1st Samuel.
So, turn with me now to 2nd Samuel. Enough of all these royal blunders. Now we begin to see the rise of King David. In chapters 19 through 31 we see the fall of Saul and actually the rescue of David. Some of these stories you ought to be aware of. Just jot these down. You ought to read for yourself the story in 1st Samuel 24 because there Saul is chasing David frantically trying to kill him and they are going out in the wilderness and then all of a sudden we're told Saul had to go to the bathroom. So what does he do? Well he goes to find a cave and he happens to walk into a dark cave where David is hiding in the back. He promptly walks in the back and he relieves himself inches away from David who quietly cuts off a piece of his robe.
Saul leaves the cave, goes back down to join his troops. David emerges from the cave and says, "Saul, today the Lord delivered you into my hands but I will not lay a hand on the Lord's anointed." Saul says, "No way." David holds up the piece of cloth. Saul looks down and says, "You're a better man than me." And for a while he departed from his chase until he became frantically mad again and resumed it later. Finally Saul is decapitated. Shameful end. He commits suicide, then is decapitated. 2nd Samuel describes how David is anointed king; first over the tribe of Judah in chapter 2.
David Accepted as King by all of Israel
Then with Saul's death a civil war ensues because the other tribes are trying to figure out who they want to be king. They're not sure they want this Judaite down south. The civil war goes on through chapter 3 and then finally after 4, in chapter 5 all the tribes decide to consolidate under the kingship of David. So they send Elders down to Hebron and they anoint him as their king and proclaim, "We are your bone and flesh." It's a covenant oath they swear to him saying we are all family and we will follow you as a father.
So he makes this covenant and he takes over the kingship over all of Israel. He was thirty years old when he began to reign and he reigned forty years, in verse 4. Hebron, 7 years and a half and then at Jerusalem, he reigned for the next 33 years. But he doesn't even have Jerusalem yet. So the next section in 2nd Samuel 5 describes how he goes about capturing Jerusalem which is one of the strongest fortresses in the whole of the Promised Land. It's practically impregnable. In fact, the people who have to defend the city actually taunt David from the wall saying, "We could put blind men up here and they could successfully defend it against you." Because it was such an impregnable city fortress. We're not sure exactly how it happens. They go up a tunnel; they do various things. But we discover that he conquers Jerusalem. Some scholars believe that it may have been sold out from within; and some evidence we will touch on in a minute or two, may confirm that.
He then defeats the Philistines and has relative peace with all the enemies round about. So he makes his move. This is where things get very significant: 2nd Samuel 6, the Ark of the Covenant: "David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, 30,000. He rose and went with all the people who were with him. He goes ahead and he carries the Ark upon a new cart and they are carrying it toward Jerusalem, the city which they have just captured.
Now if you've been with me the last few nights, where have you heard of Jeru-Salem before? Way back in Genesis 14 where Melchizedek was Priest of God Most High and King of Salem. That, of course, is the same place where Abraham went when he went to the mountain of Mount Moriah to sacrifice Isaac under the auspices, perhaps, of the Priest-King Melchizedek. In other words, there we have a priest king of God who is ruling over the whole human family in a time of relative peace that Abraham acknowledges and his kingship is in Jerusalem, a universal, worldwide kingship that reflects the relative unity of the human family under God.
So David, perhaps, sees some significance, some historical significance to Jerusalem. We're not told exactly why but he decides to make it his capital. We're not told exactly how, but he knows for certain that Deuteronomy 12 was talking about Jerusalem. The central sanctuary, when you go into land and you have rest from your enemies, "Build for me a central sanctuary, and there you shall bring all of your offerings and sacrifices and tithes." Never mentions Jerusalem by name, but it does say, "Go to the place where I will choose my name to dwell," my 'shem' to dwell. And according to Rabbinic teachings and legends and folklore, it was the city that Shem, later Melchizedek, reigned over as priest-king in Abraham's day. Traditions that, perhaps, David knew about and was hearkening to as he consolidated a kingdom there in Jerusalem. I mean it might have been simply geographical location. It was an ideal location for military strategy. But he seemed to know that this place was chosen by God for sacred purposes, not just political-military advantages.
So in 2nd Samuel 6 he's bringing the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest object in the world toward Jerusalem. Verse 6: " And when they came to the threshing floor at Nacon, Uzzah. who was helping to carry it put out his hand to the Ark of God to take hold of it for the oxen stumbled." I mean you can understand Uzzah. He sees one of the oxen stumble, the Ark of the Covenant starts to shake, maybe it's going to fall, so what's righteous Uzzah do? Well he's not an Aaronite so he shouldn't touch the Ark, but rather touch it than have it fall into the mud. Right? So he reaches out to stabilize it and what happens? "And the anger or the Lord was kindled against Uzzah and God smote him there because he put forth his hand to the Ark, and he died there beside the Ark of God." The Ark of the Covenant is the holiest object in all creation.
Earlier today I did a talk on Mary, Ark of the Covenant, to show how the New Testament perspective actually sees the fulfillment of the holiness of the Ark in Mary. What is it that made the Ark so holy? It was the word of God within the Ark, the table of the law, the tablets of stone on which the commandments were written were placed in the Ark, along with Aaron's rod that blossomed and manna from the wilderness. So, in the New Testament who is the one within whom lives the Word of God, the true manna, the Bread of Life - the Blessed Virgin Mary.
So this holy object was not to be touched willy-nilly, haphazardly by just anybody. And Uzzah's dead on the spot. Our God is so holy, we dare not forget the fact that when it comes to God we're not told that he's "love, love, love; mercy, mercy, mercy," but twice - once in the Old Testament and again in the New Testament we're told that Our Lord is "Holy, Holy, Holy." The Hebrew language does not have superlatives like we do - "good, better, best; round, rounder, roundest." If you want to stress to a superlative degree you repeat it twice. But if you want to stress it to the maximum, you say it three times. God isn't just holy, he's not just holier, he is the holiest. He's "holy, holy, holy" and what he sanctifies to himself is also. We've got to realize that as far as our life is concerned, our Church, our sacraments, our priests, our marriages, our children are all "holy unto the Lord." So we've got to be careful in what we allow them to touch and what touches them.
Uzzah's dead. David's upset because the "Lord had broken forth upon Uzzah," verse 9. David's afraid of the Lord that day and he said, "How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?" So he just leaves it there, right at the house of Obededom for three months until he hears word that Obededom's house is flourishing like never before. He thinks, "Well, maybe I should have the Ark then." You know, good opportunist. So he decides to go back and bring up the Ark to Jerusalem. Second thoughts. Verse 12 and 13: "David went and brought up the Ark of God from the house of Obededom to the City of David with rejoicing." As they go along we're told there in verse 14 that David danced before the Lord with all his might, girded with a linen effod. Now the word for dance is a Hebrew term for a liturgical dance. I mean not like the nuns around the altar, but a priest who's whirling with joy around the Ark of the Covenant, as the sacrifices are made every six steps. And he is dressed not in royal garments but in a sheer linen effod, what the Levites were supposed to wear for their priestly service so they wouldn't sweat - it was so light.
What is the king of Israel doing dressed up like a lowly Levite? He has captured Jerusalem, the city of the priest-king and there hasn't been a priest-king ruling over God's family since Noah-shem, Melchizedek. Maybe David's aspiring to restore something that is beautiful and right. Because, after all, what did God initially want for the people of Israel? To be royal priests. Not kings at the end of a gun or the edge of a sword, but kings who would rule through priestly service and teaching. David would rather dress up like a lowly Levite than a pompous king. And he is sacrificing, and he's before the Ark with the other Levites. And we're told, "They brought in the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tabernacle which David had pitched for it."
You go back to the law of Moses - only Levites are allowed to pitch the tabernacle. David did it here. He offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. Only Levites are allowed to offer the sacrifices. David does it here. And when David is finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord. According to the Book of Numbers, that is a task for the Levites and the Aaronite priests. Then he goes a step further and distributes among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, "to each a cake of bread and a measure of wine and a cake of raisins." Now that phrase "portion of meat" can be translated into "measure of wine." Long and other scholars translate it, "measure of wine." He gives them bread and wine as he comes up, dressed like a priest-king to Jeru- Salem.
In other words, what do you think might be going on inside of his memory, in his mind, in his heart? He may well be thinking that God is using him to restore the unity of God's family, but also, the royal priesthood that they had lost when they worshipped the Golden Calf. He's acting like a priest-king. They haven't had priest-king's since the Golden Calf.
Covenant with David
Then he asks Nathan the Prophet to do what is in the ancient Near East, the most priestly thing of all, that is to build God, not a tabernacle, but a temple, a house. Nathan at first consents, says, "sure." And now we get into the central chapter of it all, 2nd Samuel 7 where the Davidic covenant is found. David says to Nathan, "I dwell in this beautiful house and God's dwelling in a tent." Nathan says, "Do whatever is in your heart." But then the word of the Lord came to Nathan and says, "Not so fast. You go back and give David another message." What is the message? A New Covenant. Very exciting.
Let's take a look. Verse 5: "Go and tell my servant David, thus sayeth the Lord 'Would you build a house for me to dwell in? I've not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day. I've been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.'" God is saying, "You don't need to do me any favors. I'm God. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the judges of Israel whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel saying, 'why would you build me a house of cedar. Now, therefore, Nathan, you shall say to my servant David, thus sayeth the Lord of Hosts, I took you from the pasture from following the sheep that you should be prince over my people of Israel. I have been with you wherever you went. I have cut off all your enemies from before you and I will make for you a great name."
Shades of Abraham! Genesis 12, verses 1, 2 and 3. That was the promise after the Tower of Babel builders were trying to make a shem for themselves, a name for themselves to repudiate Noah's family rule, they were scattered and God called Abraham to go to the Promised Land "and I will make your shem great. I will restore the fortunes of the righteous first-born son of Noah and through him, the unity of the human family." But it didn't quite work so quickly as Abraham had hoped.
Now, God is promising David a similar thing. "I will make for you a great name, like the shem, the name of the great ones of the earth and I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more." And it goes on, "And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house."
Notice all the things that God is promising David? He promises him a great shem, a great name. He promises him rest. He promises him a house. What does he mean by a house? The term byith in Hebrew is somewhat flexible. It's got various meanings. A house can be a family. It can be a building. It can also be a temple, as we will see; but it's also a dynasty - like the House of Romanoff or the House of Bourbon or whatever.
In this passage it's practically all four things wrapped up in one, including a son, as we will see. "The Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your seed, your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body and I will establish his kingdom." In other words there will be dynastic succession at last. "He shall build a house for my name (shem) and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. And I will be his father and he shall be my son." That is the cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the cake! The Son of God! The Son of David. In other words, "David, what you crave, to build me a temple and to be a priest-king, I'm not going to give you. I'm going to give your son."
Now you might think he's going to be disappointed. "Oh shucks, I really wanted it." But he is a father. How do fathers feel when they don't get what they crave but instead their sons achieve it? They feel even greater satisfaction, don't they? And so David, basically flips out in the following verses. He says in effect to David, "Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever." This is the cornerstone of our belief in the kingship of Christ, one of the least talked about doctrines of the Catholic faith.
Jesus Christ, the Son of David is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. There is no square inch of this creation, he doesn't look at and say, "Mine." And we have the responsibility to extend the crown rights of Christ, the King, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen Mother. And we're sitting on our duffs! We've got to see that we are children of the King and servants of the King and we are called to be soldiers of the King of David. The Davidic king, the Son of David is Jesus Christ, but, or course, here he is being prefigured by the son of David, Solomon, whose name means peace - "shalom." He is a prince of peace.
Now how does David react? Verse 18; the next two verses are often mistranslated so check out your translations and see what they say. Verse 18: "Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, 'Who am I, Oh Lord God, and what is my house that thou hast brought me thus far; and yet this was a small thing in your eyes. Oh Lord God, you have also spoken to me of thy servant's house for a great while to come and you have shown me "wasoth torath ha adam." Gesundheit, right? What's that? Well, my translation misses it. You have shown me future generations, the word future is not there and the word generations is not there."Torath" is an easy Hebrew phrase unless you misunderstand the nature of the covenant. Then you would try to translate it some other way. It's simply, "Torah - torath is the word for law, "ha adam," adam is humanity.
David says, "I mean you have done all these spectacular things in this promise for my house. You have pledged yourself to do spectacular and glorious things for my dynasty, and that's small in your eyes because what you have really given to me is a law or a charter or a constitution for all humanity, the law for all the human family. That's what you've just done, God. I can see what this is all about. I can't believe my ears. Who am I, your measly servant, and yet you've done it." And, of course, that's the reason why God did it because in his own eyes David was nothing but God's servant. He wasn't "big stuff." And if you think you're small stuff, if you think you're nobodies, take heart, you qualify; because that's what God's looking for. That's what God has always been looking for - people who in their own eyes are small and humble before the Lord and who fear the Lord more than any and every man.
That's the way David was. Goliath was a giant. Everybody was afraid. Way back in 1st Samuel 17, what did David say? "Why, I'd be afraid, too," in effect he says, "but listen to him. He's blaspheming the God of Israel. Nobody can do that and get away with it no matter how big he is. I mean, if he's blaspheming the God of Israel, God will do anything for anybody to knock him down. The bigger they are, the harder they fall." And the little pip-squeak knocks him down. That's the confidence of David's faith. Our God is bigger than any and all of our problems. That's got to be our faith as well.
David could see the covenant and behold "the charter of humanity," as Professor Walter Kayser describes it. He has an extended article defending his translation, showing it is the plain meaning of the Hebrew. David recognized that his dynasty will be a universal kingdom. And he just does backflips. I mean, not really but, you know, that's practically what he's doing in this response. He can't believe his ears.
Now this worldwide decree is the means by which God is going to establish the corporate destiny of the human family. He is going to give a constitution, through the Davidic covenant, so that an international family charter for all mankind will be given, will be offered freely to the nations - if they choose to accept, which they do for a brief time. Much like Israel chose to accept for a brief time the call of God to be a kingdom of priests and then Israel and the nations were repudiated because, It isn't easy. Carrying your cross, sacrificing lower goods from this world, setting your heart on treasures in heaven has never been easy and it never will be.
Royal Psalms Offer Commentary on the Meaning of the Covenant
Now let's take a look at some of the main psalms of David or some of the "Royal Psalms" as they are sometimes called, commentaries on what the real meaning of the Davidic covenant is all about. Some of these psalms are sung repeatedly throughout the year in Mass and so, pay close attention. One of my favorites is Psalm 2. Turn with me to Psalm 2. There we see one of the most famous of the Royal Psalms. All of this is built upon a vision of what the covenant that God established with David entailed: "Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth they set themselves and the rulers take council together against the Lord and his Messiah, his anointed saying, 'We're going to burst their bonds asunder.'" They don't want to be ruled by God through his representative king. We're going to cast their cords from us. The psalmist replies, "He who sits in the heavens laughs. The Lord has them in derision. He's been horning in; he's been kind of listening in on all this conspiracy, and he butts in and says, "Then he will speak to them in His wrath and terrify them in His fury, saying, 'I've set my king on Zion, my holy hill.'"
In other words, if the kings and princes of the earth get tired of God's government and his righteous law and they conspire to overthrow it, they might deceive themselves. They might delude others but God's listening in and he knows their heart and he knows their plans and he's going to thwart it and have it all come back on their heads.
Reminds me of a friend of mine, my best friend in eighth grade, David. David was a wild, maniac guy. He used to be able to get eight or ten classmates yelling back at the teacher. I shouldn't be joking about this, but he was like me. We were terrors at the time. One day things got so out of hand in the middle of class, the teacher was trying to talk and it was just getting real rowdy. Then all of a sudden over the loudspeaker, unbeknownst to the students, the loudspeaker was two-way; the principal didn't just have an opportunity to speak, he could listen. And he shouted, "Kee, sit down!" And the whole place went into a hush. Where did it come from? Who is it? It's the principal! Where is he? He's been horning in. He knows what we've been doing. He knows who we are. And that's what God's been doing in Psalm 2.
Don't worry if the nations pledge themselves to undo the gospel, the kingdom of Our Lord because he is God and with God, one man or one woman makes a majority. So he goes on, "I will tell of the decree of Yahweh. He said to me, 'You are my Son. Today have I begotten you. Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.' So therefore, O kings, be wise. Be warned you rulers of the earth, you better serve Yahweh with fear and kiss his feet, lest he be angry and you perish in the way for his wrath is quickly kindled. But blessed are all who take refuge in him. "This captures one aspect of the vision of the Davidic covenant, a worldwide, theocratic family under God's fatherly law.
Let's turn to Psalm 72. Psalm 72 captures another angle of this. In Psalm 72 it says, "Give the king thy justice, O God, and thy righteousness to the royal son. May he judge the people's righteousness and thy poor with justice." And he goes on in verse 8, "May he have dominion from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth. May all his foes bow down before him and his enemies lick the dust." Verse 11, "May all kings fall down before him; all nations serve him." This is provisionally fulfilled in Solomon in a sense, but ultimately fulfilled in the true Son of David, Jesus Christ, the Lord.
We could look at some other Royal Psalms briefly: Psalm 89. We have, I think a glimpse in the very heart of the Davidic covenant. Verses 26 and 27, back in the beginning of that psalm, we read about God's steadfast love: verse 3, "Thou hast said, 'I have made a covenant with my chosen one. I have sworn to David my servant, I will establish you descendants forever and build your throne for all generations." Verse 26: "He shall cry to me, 'Thou art my father, my God and the Rock of my salvation' - and what will God say to the Son of David? "I will make him the first- born", God's first-born Son. "The highest of the kings of the earth" - the word highest in Hebrew is "elion", a title God normally reserves for himself. "My first-born Son, the Son of David, the King of Israel shall be elion over all the kings of the earth. His line shall endure forever; his throne as long as the sun before me. "This is the means by which God will reunify and restore the family he has created as a father.
And lastly, Psalm 110. This is in several ways the most important psalm in the whole book of psalms. Why? Because for one, it's the most frequently quoted psalm in the New Testament. Jesus quotes it. It's quoted in Acts. It's quoted by Paul. It's quoted in Hebrews. It's quoted all throughout the Old Testament and it's frequently understood not completely. Verse 1, "Yahweh says to Adonia', or literally, here's the translation in English, "The Lord says to my Lord" but the Hebrew's Yahweh, the covenant Lord says to my Lord, Adonia, "sit at my right hand." Now this is supposedly a psalm of David and according to Jesus in Matthew 22, it is a psalm of David. David is the one writing and singing it.
Now, here's what David is saying, "Yahweh," David says, "says to my Lord, 'sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.' " Now the question Jesus asks is, "If the Messiah is the Son of David, how is he also the Lord of David?" It presupposes that David is the author. What is David saying? He's excited. He's ecstatic. He's beside himself. He's singing this song. He says, "Yahweh says to my Lord," that is my son, the chip off the old block, my little guy, Solomon! The old man doesn't get what he wants, but he sees his son inherit all that he has always craved. And so he says, "I've heard it. Yahweh says to my little boy, my son Solomon, he is now my lord. Yahweh has said to you, 'my Lord, sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool.' "The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your foes." Your people are going to offer themselves freely. They're going to enlist. They won't need to be drafted. ..."on the day you lead your host upon the holy mountains. From the womb, in the morning like dew your youth will come to you because the Lord has sworn an oath" and he will not change his mind and he has sworn this, "You," the Son of David, the King of Israel, Solomon, " are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." Shades of Salem and Abraham and Melchizedek, the only priest-king. The first time priest is mentioned in the whole Bible is where it belongs to a priest-king who rules over all of God's family in the name of God.
That's what David thinks God is restoring through the Davidic covenant and that's what God did restore. Provisionally back in David's time, ultimately through Christ, the Son of David and completely and forever at the end of time when the Son of David returns to basically complete the defeat of his foes. This song is a joyous psalm of David's.
David's Sin and Repentance
But now we have to go back and we are going to have to end our time with a tragic note. 2nd Samuel 11: Here we get to the rise and then the fall of King David. You know the story all too well. David should have been out in battle. He was at home taking it easy in his palace. He goes up to the roof one day, late afternoon, and all of a sudden he sees from the roof a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful.
Now don't ask me what the woman was doing bathing within eyesight of the king's palace. Maybe you can ask me, because I think I know. David inquired about the woman, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite?" who we will learn later on in 2nd Samuel, 23 was one of David's chief military advisors. Can you believe it? So, he asks for her and she comes to him and he takes her and it says, "Now she was purifying herself from her uncleanness." That means seven days after her menstrual period. Then she returned to her house and the woman conceived and she sent and told David, "I am with child."
Well, David starts conniving here, "Send for me Uriah; recall him from duty." He needs a break. He's been at this battle so long and so hard, he's going to take it easy. I'm going to give him leave. So he tells Uriah to go home and relax. Uriah is like, "How can I? God's people are out there in battle along with the Ark of the Covenant", he says. "I can't rest. I just can't go in and sleep with my wife." He asks again. In his loyalty he refuses. What a scoundrel David is. So, because Uriah won't consent to this, he goes back into battle carrying a letter, sealed, that David wrote to Joab saying, "Joab, when you besiege the city, put Uriah up on the front lines and then when it gets really, really bad, draw back and leave him up there by himself."
Guess what happens? He's cut down in battle. "Shed a tear," says David. That murdering adulterant. Can you believe this guy? He says, "Oh, I'm so sorry." In verse 26 "When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah, her husband, was dead, she made lamentation for her husband and when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son," who later dies. "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord" and so he sends Nathan who tells a quaint little country parable about a poor man and a rich man. The rich man had flocks and herds. The poor man had only one little ewe lamb that was like a best buddy and a pillow and everything all wrapped in one. The rich man had some people over. Wants to prepare a banquet, Didn't want to kill his own. So he steals, he takes the poor man's only ewe lamb.
David's anger was greatly kindled against that man and he said to Nathan, "As the Lord lives," which is an oath, "the man who has done this deserves to die and he shall
restore the lamb fourfold because he did this thing and because he had no pity." And David heard Nathan say, "Ecce homo. You are the man; behold the man, you are that scoundrel. Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'I anointed you King over Israel, I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you the master's house, the master's wife. I gave you the House of Israel, then of Judah, and if this wasn't enough, I gave you more. But you smite Uriah the Hittite with a sword and have taken his wife to be your wife. Now therefore' (here's the curse in verse 10) 'the sword shall never depart from your house because you despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah, the Hittite to be your wife.' " And a Hittite is a Caananite. You're not allowed to marry them.
It goes on, "Thus sayeth the Lord, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of the sun.' " David says, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan said, "The Lord has put away your sin. You shall not die, but the child will," and does. And David writes the greatest psalm of repentance ever, Psalm 51. Read it; it's beautiful. It makes a wonderful Act of Contrition.
Solomon then is born after the first child dies. "Solomon is born to Bathsheba." I'm going to mention something, I came across an article by a scholar who had done some very intensive research in the background of all this. He has actually shown good evidence to believe that Uriah, the Hittite, was actually the King in Jerusalem before David had conquered it; and that the reason why Bathsheba had a residence right next door to David's royal palace was because they were the former residents and they lived next door. It gives lots of evidence throughout the books, throughout these chapters, I mean, to suggest that Bathsheba was like a Queen Mother to the inhabitants of Jerusalem before it was conquered by the Israelites. So what David may have wanted was not just sexual pleasure, but further consolidation of political power to win the hearts of the Caananites still living in Jerusalem who had practically surrendered the city to him.
Later on we might see how this converges and makes some sense, but let's just summarize the rest of this tragic story because, as you know, David's life becomes practically miserable from this point on. From chapters 13 through 18, we get a glimpse of what we could call "covenant charma" - what goes around, comes around as one of his sons, Ammon, falls in love with one of his half-sisters, Tamar. He connives a plan to rape her and he does so. And Absalom, Tamar's brother, finds out what his half-brother has done. He kills him. Before he kills him, he probably waited for a few weeks to see what his father, David, would do. And he did nothing. So he kills him. Fed up with his father and fearfully flees. Then he returns and sets up a revolt against David. He ousts his father, takes over Jerusalem, steals his father's concubines, the royal harem, and he sleeps with them in public to shock the people into their allegiance with him. Who's got the harem? Who's got the kingdom? Until finally, he himself dies and brings the greatest sorrow to father David's heart. In fact, it's the kind of sorrow that just discourages and demoralizes those who were around David.
David's Son Solomon
Now, the only way we can really bring an end to this is by mentioning that Solomon took over and brought glory back to the Davidic monarchy. 1st Kings, 1 - 10 describes how it happens. It's really beautiful. David in his old age consents to hand the kingdom over to Solomon, opposed to Adonijah's claims and others as well, all these half- brothers who are actually older than Solomon think that they have dibs on it. David gives his last will and charge in chapter 2 of 1st Kings and there we see Solomon establish a throne in his right hand for Bathsheba, the Queen Mother. I mentioned this morning in another talk that from this point on, until the end of the Davidic monarchy, there appears never to have been a time when the Son of David, the King of Israel, didn't rule upon his throne with the Queen Mother at his right hand; which suggests a very good reason why the early Church from earliest times had no difficulty seeing in the new Jerusalem, in the heavenly temple, the true Son of David enthroned, Jesus Christ, the King of the new Israel, - and at his right hand, his Lady and our Lady, the Queen Mother of the Son of David, who he assumed body and soul into heaven to be with him at his right hand; just like Solomon did to Bathsheba. He even bows before the Queen Mother as he sits her down at his right hand enthroned.
This is just another way in which the Davidic covenant sheds great light upon our own covenant traditions. Solomon has a decision to make. God says, "I'll give you what you want. Do you want wealth? Do you want weapons? Do you want wives? Do you want all the goods and services and whatever?" He says, "No, I want wisdom." Yahweh says, "You just pleased me. Because you have asked for wisdom, I will give you all the wisdom that you could have and I will give you everything else as well." I'm not sure that's a favor, as we will see.
The prayer for wisdom is found in chapters 3 and 4 and at the end of chapter 4 Solomon's wisdom is broadcast around the world. Kings and Queens are traveling from Africa and from Europe and from all inhabited continents to hear the wisdom of Solomon. With that wisdom, he sets about the building of the Temple as God had promised in chapters 6 and 7. Then in chapter 8, he dedicates the Temple with a long and beautiful prayer. And at the end of the prayer in 2nd Chronicles, 6 and 7, verse 1 tell us how fire comes down from heaven and consumes the sacrifice on the altar and everybody finds themselves on their faces worshipping God. Solomon has begun in a glorious way only to fall on his face in another way in the next two chapters; because chapters 9 and 10 and 11 are the tragic horror of the Davidic covenant.
Solomon systematically disobeys the law of the king in Deuteronomy 17. First in 10:14, he begins to squeeze and tax these colonies and nations around him dry. He demands they bring up to Jerusalem, not their bodies and souls to hear the law of God and the wisdom of Solomon. Now he wants their gold. And he requires gold in order for them to use his lands and seas - a subscription price of 666 talents of gold per annum. It's the only other place in the Bible where 666 is used, the number of the beast in Revelation that calls for wisdom, like the wisdom of Solomon; because Solomon was like a proto-beast. In turning against the covenant family of God, he begins to rule like a tyrant like all the other kings, squeezing the treasuries of these vassal colonies dry.
Then he goes on in 10:26 and he begins to multiply horses and chariots for himself, because, demanding that much money, you had better have weapons to intimidate and to strike terror. And he does. He has all kinds of standing armies and weapons in contradiction to the law of the king that God had given.
Finally his downfall comes in 1st Kings, chapter 11, verse 1. Seven hundred wives, 300 concubines - any man would fall! I don't know how much wisdom he had, but he had to have a lot of energy! Verse 1: "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, the daughter of Pharaoh and Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittite women" - none of whom he should have been marrying. But he wanted to be a king like all the others. He wanted to have these political alliances, "from nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, ' You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they be with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods." And that's exactly what they do. And Solomon falls away from the Lord; actually begins to construct idolatrous altars and tried to have it both ways with Yahweh, with Ashora and with Bael, and God won't have it.
He sends enemies from within and enemies from without and Solomon grows old and watches his kingdom grow more and more insecure. His son Rehoboam takes over at a time of great instability. Rehoboam's not sure what to do. They have begun taxing their fellow-Israelites for money. The Israelite tribes sent representatives saying, "Rehoboam, your father is dead, Solomon's dead. The tax burden is very great. What are you going to do? Please lighten it." Rehoboam talks to his old advisors, the counselors of Solomon and they say, "You'd better loosen it. It's too much." But then he talks to his young counselors, all of his buddies who stand to gain the money from the taxes. They say, "Increase it." He stands up and tells these representatives, "You thought my father taxed you? My little finger is thicker than his loins and thighs." In other words, "You ain't seen nothing yet." And they say, essentially, "Neither have you. Every man to his tent."
Civil war ensues. Ten tribes split away, never to be reunited again. The northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah under the Davidic monarchy has got two measly tribes. And thus spells the beginning of the end of the Davidic monarchy, the beginning of the end of the charter of humanity, the restored, unified family of God? What is going on? "The flesh profits nothing," Jesus says, "it's the spirit alone which gives life." Even the greatest human wisdom is not going to be enough to bring political unity and peace to our land, to our world.
Do we really believe that? Are we numskulls like Solomon? Is the world's problem lack of education, lack of sufficient peace treaties. Solomon had thousands of those - or is it lack of recognition of the kingship of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the lover of our souls and the lover of all nations, the one who died to restore and reunify God's family. We have got to live and die for the crown rights of our King, Jesus and his Queen Mother. The ideal is world unity, not political ,military unity but liturgical unity that is centered upon worshipping Our Father and the Blessed Trinity, our eternal family in heaven where we are all destined to go, Lord willing.
I want to close just be reading to you something that I came across written by John Paul II. John Paul told parishioners of the Roman parish of Jesus of the Divine Agony, "Either God and his kingdom or wealth, power and success. He told parishioners that when wealth, power or success are considered as absolute goods, they are inevitably transformed into idols. Today we live in an atmosphere of secularism which prefers having to being. In many people this creates an insatiable thirst for possessions and an unbridled race for riches which society thinks are the only things that count. Disordered development and exaggerated consumerism strengthen the conviction that value depends on what one produces and possesses. These are the new forms of the sin of idolatry, which while they wipe God off the horizon of life also create dramatic situations of injustice." Amen!
Hear him. "God does not tolerate living with idols around him. Jesus clearly and forcefully affirms this. Compromise is a serious danger for many Christians who live in pluralistic societies. God does not tolerate facile compromise between good and evil. He cannot stand divided hearts and communities. Either God or money. Either the justice which makes us children of God or the injustice which produces sin and division. Either the kingdom of God or the kingdom of mankind. A witness of fidelity, consistency and of detachment and service is asked of all Christians, particularly those who have social responsibilities, for moral strength which does not tolerate compromise and for generous involvement and commitment." The last 25 years have seen chaos in the Church; on issues so basic as abortion, adultery, divorce, homosexuality. It's wild sometimes. A friend of mine, Father Branchen wrote, "The problem is spiritual. It is deep and profound. And the Church could hire every banker and financier from LaSalle Street and he would not have solved the problem. They could tap the talent of every marketing and public relations whiz kid from Michigan Avenue and Wall Street and they will not have found it. The turmoil in which we find ourselves as Catholics is spiritual, not financial. Indeed the financial stew we hear about is only the symptom of a much deeper religious illness. What I mean to say is that for 25 years we have been set spiritually adrift by forces beyond anyone's control, certainly beyond the control of any one of us.
For 25 years we have been victimized by pseudo- reformers who don't believe the same things this Church teaches and has always taught. They changed the way we worship and that affected a change in the way we think, the way we feel and the way we believe, the way we live and the way in which we regard the Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. Oh it was slow, but it was sure. They told our high school students they didn't have to go to Mass any more. They still don't. They told our college students there were no absolute moral standards any more, and that's the way many of them now live. They have allowed the Pope to be defied daily with altar girls and all kinds of little abuses in strange theologies. They have hired agnostics to teach philosophy of God and non-believers to teach religion in Catholic universities and seminaries. They have sledge- hammered altars and removed statues. They tore up rosaries and called Benediction 'cookie worship.'
Now we wonder why there is a financial problem and why 66% of Catholics no longer attend Mass and why vocations only trickle in. Don't you see? It's a spiritual problem. Fewer and fewer people are asked to donate more and more and no one breathes a word of puzzlement that the data base is ever-shrinking. I believe until we bite the bullet and finally face up to the spiritual chaos that has reigned for 25 years, all the financial finagling in the world will not soon be able to put us back together again."
We've got the truth. We've got the life. We've got the Bread of Life on our altars, on our family table in our parishes and we squander the wealth and settle for scraps that the world offers us in exchange. Let's renew our devotion and our commitment to Christ in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we pray:
"Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom which is now yours. We ask that the crown rights of yours and the Queen Mother might be recognized, affirmed and accepted by peoples, by families, communities, states and nations around the world. This isn't a hard task, Lord, for you but it is humanly impossible. It's a desert. We ask you to create a garden and when it's done, Lord, we and all the world will know we have to give you all the glory. We ask this not for our own sake, not for ourselves but for the glory of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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