Missing the Son of David

Scripture Focus: 1 Chronicles 18.14
14 David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 

Reflection: Missing the Son of David
By John Tillman

David is described as doing what is “just and right for all his people.” This does not mean that the author is in denial about David’s errors and human mistakes. The writer is speaking in generalities but is also speaking of David as a model of a ruler to come. 

Soon, we will enter the season of Advent, in which we await the coming reign of the Son of David. Jesus is this ruler we are looking for. He will bring a kingdom with justice and righteousness for all his people.

We have written before about justice and righteousness. Justice, or mishpat, is the law being upheld. Righteousness, or sedeq, implies the actions that uphold it. At times, sedeq is even translated as “justice.” The accomplishment of justice is righteousness and righteousness accomplishes justice. To advocate for one and deny the other is like claiming fire is cold or ice is hot.

Many looked and longed for justice and righteousness that they believed would come with the Son of David. Many of those same people missed Jesus when he came. They were looking for something else.

They looked for wealth and status. They missed him because he was poor. They looked for political empowerment and military might. They missed him because he eschewed power. They looked for violent overthrow. They missed him because he chose non-violence.

As we read the gospels, we need to examine the descriptions Jesus gives of his kingdom. We have the benefit of hindsight. We can see what the religious leaders should have seen. As we notice their blind spots, we should think about our own.

What type of righteousness and justice are we looking for from the Son of David? Are we looking for the right things? Could we miss him because we are focusing on the wrong qualities?

Like the two blind men, and the foreign demoniac’s mother, let us call out to the Son of David to save us using this prayer based on our reading from James 5.1-6:

Make us generous so that no worker would cry against us…
And our lives would not be fattened with luxuries…
Make us a shield that covers the innocent…
Make us a sword that cuts free the oppressed…
Lord, clothe us in your righteousness…
May our footprints leave justice behind us.
May we be true Sons and Daughters of David.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them and delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those whose spirits are crushed.
Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.
He will keep safe all his bones; not one of them shall be broken. — Psalm 34.15-20

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 18 (Listen – 2:36)
James 5 (Listen – 3:01)

Read more about Justice to Wormwood
Justice is very much the business of people of faith and when people ignore it or frustrate it…God notices.

Read more about God’s Sufficient Justice
Being righteous before other humans is easy. We just have to be slightly less evil at heart than the next guy.

Mind Your Manners

Scripture Focus: James 4:1-2a
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.

Reflection: Mind Your Manners
By Jon Polk

Outraged by people who keep cutting in front of him to use the pay phone at a Chinese restaurant, TV’s Seinfeld character George Costanza loudly proclaims to no one in particular, “You know, we’re living in a society! We’re supposed to act in a civilized way.”

Even neurotic, self-absorbed, slacker George gets it.

James focuses his attention on the conflicts and quarrels that apparently plagued the early church in Jerusalem, where he was the leader. He pointedly announces the source of the discord: selfishness and greed.

James proclaims this is the root problem behind all of our disagreements, “You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.”

We live in a culture driven by marketing and promotion. Children want the trendiest clothing. Teens desire the newest tech devices. Adults fight for the best job in order to drive the ultimate car and live in the biggest house.

We live in a culture driven by outrage and offense. A word misspoken can set us off. The tiniest misstep can result in a cavalcade of online abuse. We want our rights protected regardless of the impact it may have on others.

We want to be right and we want others to know we are right. We want to get what we desire and we want others to provide it for us. We want our world to work on our terms and provide for our needs.

We’re selfish creatures. James is right in stating that the conflicts that arise between us start from the sinful conflicts that exist deep within us.

One of the most famous presidential quotes in US history is from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Regardless of political preference, we understand the selfless sentiment that Kennedy expressed during an anxious time in US history.

Too often in life, business, politics, and society, selfishness and it’s cousin greed reign supreme rather than the Christ-like virtues of selflessness and generosity.

According to James, the antidote for our selfish desires is found in humility and submitting ourselves to God. (4:6-10) Living together in a civil society requires that we exorcise the demons of selfishness and greed that often motivate our behaviors. We cannot live as double-minded people, attempting to both serve God and satisfy our own cravings.

Instead… ask not what your God can do for you. Ask what you can do for your God.

From John:
I offer a deep, heartfelt thank you to Jon for this series on James. It was not only insightful but came at a time at which a significant break from writing was needed. Thanks for taking on the challenge! May we prepare our hearts to give thanks this next week of Thanksgiving in the US, and may we all look forward to the soon-coming first week of Advent. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.—Psalm 85:10

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chr 17 (Listen -4:14)
James 4  (Listen -2:25)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Chr 18 (Listen -2:36), James 5  (Listen -3:01)
1 Chr 19-20 (Listen -5:02), 1 Peter 1 (Listen -3:53)

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Read more about Greed and Envy
It is in Christ that we will find the compassion to overcome our cynicism and the generosity of spirit to overcome our jealousy and greed.

Read more about A Christian Response to Offense
Our culture is unable to bear offense and simultaneously unable to bear forgiveness.