The first reading at Mass on the 4th Sunday of Advent comes from the 2nd book of Samuel. It establishes the promise of the Lord to David that the Lord will make a royal house for David, a line of kings that will last for ever.
Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’
But that very night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:
‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’
2 Samuel 7:1-5,8-11,16
How little David merits this honour, and yet it is into (if not from!) this male line, frequently dishonoured and compromised, that Jesus is born, God from God, Light from light, and King of kings.
For all his failings David remembers the wonder of God and strives to honour it. If we imitate him in his failings, maybe we can imitate him in this also.
Window by Chagall from Chichester Cathedral. Based on a theme of Psalm 150 ‘…let everything that hath breath praise the Lord’. Photograph (c) 2002, Allen Morris.