Thursday 28 January 2010

Bible Book:
2 Samuel

"And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it." (v.20)

2 Samuel 7:18-29 Thursday 28 January 2010


This long, fulsome and repetitive prayer of King David is quotedin response to the earlier prediction from the prophet Nathan thatDavid should build a house of God (the Temple), and that God wouldbless David with many descendants, most notably his son Solomon(who actually built the first Temple - see yesterday's reading). Many scholars see thiswhole chapter as propaganda on behalf of Solomon, and if you readaround earlier and later chapters, you will see that this sectionhas a very different 'feel' to it.

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel contain some of the most astonishing,gripping, and brilliantly told human narratives in the whole ofancient literature (the only real comparison from a similar era isthe work of Homer). There is a depth of understanding of humanbehaviour and an observation of significant detail that brings thepolitical world of the early Israelite monarchy alive. And David iscertainly flawed, cunning, and engaged in frequent behaviour ofdubious morality, rather than the ideal, devout king who isapparently praying this rather dull if worthy prayer.

But, even if this prayer has been shoehorned into the story byanother editor, it has made sense to the final redactor of thisbook to let it stand, and there are things to learn from it.

The language we use to God in public worship or private prayer islikely to contain what we aspire to, rather than what we regularlymanage to do in our lives. We, like David, need to acknowledge thatGod's blessings to us come not because we deserve them but becauseof the goodness of God's heart towards us, even though God knows usat our worst, as well as at our best.

To Ponder

If you had to sum up David's prayer in onesentence, what would it be?

How wordy or otherwise are your own prayers? Howfar do you bring your real self before God, rather than the idealperson you wish you were?

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