2 Samuel 7:8, 11, 16 "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, that you should be prince over my people Israel; . . . Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. . . And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever."
Sometimes texts are so familiar, we do not hear what they say to us. We know what they are supposed to say, and thatís that. Todayís text is one such text, we know what it is supposed to say, it is God promise that the Messiah will come through the house of David. And when we remember that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, we say, sure enough, it came true. And that would be the end of it. But I want to remind you of the scriptureHeb 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Since the Word of God is living, it may continue to speak to us today, and a prophecy fulfilled once, may yet have other fulfillments to come. So forget the "pat answers" and here the text speak. First off, while David was a shepherd, God never called David the good shepherd. We know that the good shepherd leads the flock, and the Old Testament is full of examples of bad shepherds. David was a young lad when he tended his fatherís sheep, and boys will be boys. God reminds David of his shepherd days with the words "I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep." In other words, as a boy, David had not been a good shepherd, at least not the kind that leads the flock. David did not rise to be King of Israel by hard work, or by birth, but solely by the hand of God. God was also reminding David that shepherds work is not always clean, especially if you are following a flock of sheep. By nature, pastures have considerable amounts of manure. So God is reminding David, that although God calls his people to be clean and holy, David did not become King because he was cleaner and purer than every one else. David became clean because God made him King.
Finally David wanted to build a temple for God, it was some thing David thought he could do for God. Godís response was that God would build Davidís house, build up Davidís name and Davidís throne would be everlasting. God did some good things for David in his lifetime, and thereafter, especially in the coming of the Messiah who would sit on the everlasting throne.
But what about us? We may not have been shepherds in our youth, but there has been plenty of sin in our lives, and sin makes you unclean. In the same way that God took David from the pastures, so God lifts us out of sin, out of slavery to the devil. We canít do it for ourselves, but God does. God has been at work in our lives, and it is good for us to stop and consider, remember and to give thanks. What has God done? We may speak of God calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying. We may also speak of God leading us to repentance, and then granting us forgiveness. In all these ways, we are much the same as David.
Like David, we also make plans about the things we are going to do for God. Some times our energy can be misdirected, so that we can be very busy doing things God never asked us to do, and neglecting those things which God calls us to do. This is why an important part of our communion preparation, is examining ourselves, comparing our lives against the 10 commandments, and looking our heart to see our true motives. God leads us in the way of repentance, so that he can grant us forgiveness and cleanse us from all sin.
But again the text is not so much about us, as it is about what God in Christ has done for us. For like David of old, God makes our name great. How? At Baptism, when God gives us his great name to carry as our very own. And like David, God is making for us an everlasting house.John 14:2 "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?"
So it is that these words, spoken long ago, fulfilled once in the coming of the Savior, are living words that continue to speak to us today, and so it goes, we see and we hear, because God has opened our eyes and opened our ears, and the Spirit guides us in the Word. Thanks be to God.