This Advent meditation is part of the Liberti Church 2019 Advent and Christmas Prayerbook, and it is by Liberti member Maria Lipkin.
When I read some of the episodes of David’s story I often think, “what a coward! How did God let him get away with so much?!” I feel this way especially when I read the story of David and Bathsheba. Here is a king who was supposed to be fighting with his men but is instead lounging around his palace. At the first sight of a naked woman, he makes her have sex with him even though she is married to one of his own valiant soldiers! They conceive a child and David kills her husband to cover up his act. The child dies because of David’s sin.
For my Hebrew class last year, I was asked to write up a super literal translation of Psalm 23 (below), and then build off of that to create a much more dynamic, creative, contemporary translation. This was the result.
A Psalm in the spirit of David.
The LORD is tending to me
I want for nothing
He has me lie down in pastures of fresh, new grass
Beside the waters of rest
He gently guides me
He brings the life back to my soul
He leads me into the grooves of life well-lived because of who he is.
Though I truly die in the depth of darkness,
there is no evil that I fear,
You are truly there with me
Your staff and your support: they comfort me
You host before my face a table opposite all that stands against me.
You clean me with oil over top of my head.
Overflowing abundance is my cup.
Surely, goodness and steadfast faithfulness will chase me down
for the whole of my life’s days
This will be my story:
I will return into the dwelling place of the Lord and stay—
for lifetimes upon lifetimes.
One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?”
Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
I’ll be honest, I really don’t understand Jesus’ logic here. Yes, I get that Jesus is referencing this David story to simply say that there is precedent for eating food (even holy food) on the Sabbath. But if that’s the case, his logic is this: “You don’t like what I’m doing? Well, based on a very simplistic reading of the Bible, someone else did it, therefore I can do it.”
He does know that David also did the whole adultery and murder thing with Bathsheeba, right? Just because someone else did it, doesn’t explain why you have the right to do it. Secondly, after saying saying all this, he goes ahead and says that it doesn’t even matter anyway because he is “lord of the Sabbath”.
So, in the end, it seems to me like Jesus is just trying to be snarky here.
See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.
When it comes to talking about Repentance, there are few favorite passages to study than Psalm 51. As part of this year’s Lent series on Repentance, I’d like to spend the rest of this series exploring this Psalm verse-by-verse.
So today we begin. But not with verse 1. Instead we begin with that superscription found above it:
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
This is actually an important place to start. Most of the Hebrew writings we have outside of the Old Testament are pieces that were written to fill in gaps left in the biblical account. It seems the people of God have always had difficulties living with what God did not tell them.