July 8, 2018 – Résumé for a King – Sharlene McGowan
Hebrew Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
Gospel Reading: Mark 6: 1-13
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the play starts out with Macbeth’s heroic return home from a war in Scotland. He has been recognized for his bravery in battle and the witches prophecy that he will someday be King. Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth, likes this idea for she, too, has a taste for power. She urges Macbeth to try to climb up the corporate military ladder. But there is a problem: Macbeth will never see this prediction become true while Duncan is King; therefore, King Duncan will have to be disposed of. And because Macbeth is “too full of the milk of human kindness,” Lady Macbeth helps plot the murder. When King Duncan and his entourage visit the Macbeth household, the deed is done. The Shakespearean audience is shocked and upset, for Duncan was virtuous and benevolent – a good King and well-liked.
In our scripture from 2 Samuel today, David is making a new start. Two things are new: There is a new leader and a new place. God’s future for Israel is tied up with this new leadership and this new place. This is the story of how David assumes the position of king of Israel, and how he moves the capital city to Jerusalem. It tells us about the call of God on the life of David.
Israel had been engulfed in a civil war. King Saul was dead, and the last of his surviving relatives, Ish-bosheth, was fighting David and his army for control of Israel. Ish-bosheth dies, leaving David to rule Israel. Some twenty or so years earlier, God had chosen David to be king of Israel. To understand the process, we must first understand the events behind Israel getting a king in the first place.
Long after God delivered the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, he gave them Saul as their king. As Saul went along, he walked farther and farther away from God. Then in 1 Samuel 16, we find that the prophet Samuel goes out and anoints David as king of Israel, but the problem is that Saul is still alive.
David fights Goliath and eventually Saul knows David is a real threat to the throne; therefore, he tries to kill David on several occasions. David, though, has the utmost respect for King Saul. He knows that God has placed a call on his (David’s) life, and he is patient and faithful to wait for God’s timing.
The leaders of Israel, in verse 2 of our passage say to David, It was you who we really listened to even when Saul was king. David had been a great warrior and leader during the times that Israel was having skirmishes with their neighbours. By now he has not only acquired a great human résumé as a military leader, but he has God’s favour.
Let’s skip now to our Gospel for today: Jesus goes to the synagogue in Nazareth and he speaks with knowledge and wisdom. But the people don’t want to hear it from him. In fact, the people of his hometown are offended. He has stepped way beyond their expectations of him.
Can you hear them in their complaints? Hey, who does he think he is? We know who he is. We know his mother’s name. We know his brothers. And hey, his sisters are right here with us. He thinks he’s a rabbi – a learned teacher. Has he forgotten that he’s simply a carpenter?
Mark tells us that Jesus does not perform miracles there except healing a few people. But apparently, no one notices. Like the people of Nazareth, perhaps in our frail and short-sighted human capacity we cannot see the real vision and goodness in others until history has played out its course. I often think of the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, for example. As I may have mentioned before, my husband was there as a 17-year-old youth from Brooklyn. At the time of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, the crowd of thousands had no idea that history would play out this moment as one of the most important turning points in the Civil Rights movement or one of the greatest speeches of all time. We humans just don’t have the capacity to see that far when we’re in the moment.
Similarly, the hometown folks in Nazarath were limited by their human capacity to not comprehend Jesus as the King eternal that he is.
Much more than even David, Jesus has the blessing of the Almighty. He becomes our king, our Lord and Sovereign and Saviour and our only hope for life everlasting.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth does not end well, at least not for Macbeth. Malcolm, who was the son of the beloved slain King Duncan, is king and Macbeth is separated from his head. You see, Macbeth became corrupted and blinded by power, not a good résumé for a King at all. What a contrast to what we have learned from 2 Samuel where it says that King David became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.
And the Lord God Almighty is with us, too, not by power but by Grace. He sees our acts of goodness where others might not. And, as we grow in Christian faith and love, we keep adding to our own résumé of Christian living for the biggest job we can ever apply for is to live our lives according to the qualities of our own King and redeemer, Christ Jesus. Amen.