I had to laugh on Tuesday when I read the First Reading for this weekend’s 4th Sunday of Advent. Notice the words in bold print. The reading comes from 2 Samuel where King David says to the prophet Nathan, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!” Luckily our tent theme is in step with this year’s scripture. If you have the time, grab your bible and read 2 Samuel 5-7 to get the big picture of what’s going on here. Highlight or pay attention to the usage of the following terms that are familiar to us from our first semester this fall: LORD of hosts, ark of God, threshing floor (same root word as threshold) tent, house, build, tabernacle.
David’s dwelling has been built, but the ark of God has just arrived in the city, a newcomer who has been provided with the hospitality of a tent. Bringing God into their midst had been accompanied with great rejoicing by a great many (30,000 men are referenced in the procession) But, as David reviews the scene, he’s startled to see the inequality when he compares his dwelling with God’s. He shares his findings with the prophet Nathan who encourages him to act. However, God intervenes and we read, “It was I who took you from the pasture…to be commander…I have destroyed your enemies… I will fix a place for my people…etc” This anamnesis (or remembering) is a reminder that He is and has been in control of the happenings all along. He states that he has always been housed in a tent and never asked for anything else. He lets Nathan and David know that He will decide who and when His house shall be built and it will be after David’s death by his offspring. In addition, David’s house and kingdom will endure forever. God’s abiding hospitality is met with prayer (2 Sam 7:18-29). David enters the tent with words of thanksgiving, humility, praise and acceptance of God’s revelation. David’s prayer has some similarities to Mary’s prayer of Sunday’s Gospel.
As I read this story, I was reminded of the times I have acted like David – seeing an injustice and moving forward, for God, with my solution, and forgetting that it is God who has brought me to this place in my life and God who offers to lead me forward. It is difficult to be ever-present to the divine hospitality being offered, especially when it looks different than how I imagined things would be. David’s response of prayer is a good model for us as well and the same invitation stands to enter into God’s presence (the tent) and like David offers words of thanksgiving, humility, praise and acceptance. In your own life, have you had David-like moments?