Today’s scriptures are a tale of two kings, both born in the city of Bethlehem.
One would lend his name to his birth city; it became known for ever after as the City of David.
One would bring a star to his birth city; people followed it there to worship him in the manger that was his cradle.
David was the great king of the Hebrew Scriptures, the archetype for all who came after him and originator of God’s favor on the throne of Israel.
Jesus was the great king of the New Testament, the king who cared nothing for political power and turned the definition of kingship inside out.
But this is not a simple story of compare and contrast.
David is far too complex a figure for us to simply dismiss him with the old interpretation of, “Well, the old kings of Israel tried but they were no good so it’s a good thing Jesus came along.”
David is one of the most deeply human figures in the whole Bible.
He reaches sublime heights of worship and leadership, and commits monstrous sins that result in almost destroying not only his life, but his family for generations afterwards.
Perhaps what fascinates us the most about David is the unique designation that he alone bears in the entirety of scripture: he was a man after God’s own heart. Continue reading