David the Righteous One

In the weeks before the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, quite a few Old Testament prophets and saints are commemorated in the Orthodox Church calendar.  Some have their individual feast days and some are commemorated among the forefathers and ancestors of Christ on the Sundays before Christmas.  On the Sunday after the Nativity one of our commemorations in the Orthodox Church calendar is of King David the Righteous One.

David exclaims, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” A David who achieved so much, who won so many victories, who slew Goliath, strangled a lion barehanded, received great favor from the Holy Spirit, yet imploringly cries out: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving  kindness, according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” One could imagine what the great king was thinking; I was a simple farmer and you made me a king, and when I became a king you appointed me to be a prophet. You made me victorious in war, victorious against Goliath. Not according to my own physical strength, but through the power of faith, which You also gave unto me. You vested me with royal garb and appointed me to a royal throne. You gave me wealth. That which sin hath destroyed, You O God, through Your Grace, gave back to us. “Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways, and ungodly men shall turn to Thee.” You ranked me so high that You gave me the ability and vision to know and prophesy Your only begotten Son. I have been taught that You have a Son begotten of woman, with the same authority as you have. I told of the good news of His crucifixion, His death and descent from the heavens and of His glorious resurrection. I spoke of His trial, of man’s salvation. I foretold of the apostles’ calling.

David thunders, “For behold, Thou lovest truth; Thou has manifested to me the secret and hidden things of Thy wisdom.” The prophet testifies of the Lord’s descent upon the earth: “He shall come down as rain upon a fleece; and as drops falling upon the earth.” (71:8). And truly, when the Son of God descended, He did not arrive via earth-shaking thunderous clamor, He did not bear a pure divine form, He came as a man. Had He come in a pure divine form, neither could the mountains, nor the Sun endure the same. Its light would have been blown out, the earth – destroyed, and all those who dwelleth upon it perished. He came quietly without fanfare. Even his birth was humble, in a Virgin‘s womb with shepherds and adoring animals as witnesses.

 (George Dimopoulos, Patristic Orthodox Sermons on the Psalms, p. 37-38)

Jesus Christ the God-Man

Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.  (John 9:5-7)

St. Athanasius of Alexandria  (d. 373 AD)  wrote:

“The very saliva of Christ was divine, healing, and life-giving because the Incarnate Word ‘adopted’ all the properties of the flesh and made them His own. It was He Who both grieved for Lazarus and then resurrected him. God was born in the flesh from the Virgin, and Mary is the Bearer of God. The flesh, which was born from Mary, did not become consubstantial with the Word, and the Word was not joined to it. Mary was chosen so that the Lord could receive ‘from her’ a body that would be ‘similar to ours’ and not consubstantial with the Godhead. ‘From Mary the Word received flesh, and a man was endangered whose nature and substance were the Word of God and whose flesh was from the seed of David, a man from the flesh of Mary.'” (St.Athanasius of Alexandria in The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century: Volume VII, pg. 49)

The ABC’s of Why We Need Christmas: D

The ABC’s of Why We Need Christmas
D = David, to conquer God’s Enemies

From 10 December 1995  (4th in the Series –  See ABC’s of Why We Need Christmas: C)

nativity1Over the past several weeks, I have spoken to you about why we need Christmas. Adam and Able, Baptism and Blessings, Covenant and Creation. Today I want to look David, the great conquering King of Israel. David was not only King of God’s chosen people, but he himself was chosen and anointed by God to be King. And what is the Hebraic word for one who is chosen and anointed by God?

Yes, MESSIAH , THE CHRIST. David is a Christ.

And not only was he God’s chosen King, but he became in the faith of Israel the model king. David is a prophet, he is king and he served in the role of priest, offering sacrifice to our God (2 Sam 6).

Now in as much as David is King and prophet and priest, David becomes the icon of what it is to be human. For in the beginning as we can discover in the Book of Genesis, God created us to be Kings of this world – we were to have dominion, lordship over all creation. God created us to be prophets – for we humans were to bring God’s message, His Word to one another and to all creation. And God created us to be priests – to offer sacrifice and prayer to God in thanksgiving for all His blessings. We were to transform all creation into a sacrament, an offering to God where God and humanity would meet and commune.

Humanity however sinned, and we lost our ability to be priests and to perform the sacrament of the offering. We sinned and lost the ability to be prophets and hear God’s voice and speak His Word to one another. We sinned and lost our rightful place as kings in God’s creation and we became laborers, working hard to eek out an existence in this world, and then becoming slaves to death.

King David, however, though he was a mortal man, found favor in God’s eyes, and was able to serve as King and Prophet and Priest. But David like each and everyone of us sinned. So he proved himself to be an imperfect human. Now in the modern age we probably would say, “David proved he was only human” when he sinned. But sinning is not what God had in mind when He created us. We were not created to sin but to have communion with God. So David could not become a true human being let alone restore humanity to its God created status.So, let us review a few facts about David and why we need Christmas:

1] Although David himself was a Christ, God promised to David that one of his descendants would found an eternal Kingdom which would never end. (2 Sam 7:12-16). David was not the King to start the eternal Kingdom. A descendent of David would. We needed Christmas to give us the birth of this promised King. (Matt 22:42-45, “The Lord said to my lord…. David calls his descendent Lord”. And by an unbreakable Covenant Promise God said that the kingship in Israel would be found in David and his descendents (Eccles 47:11) (Luke 1:32)

2] Although David was a mighty king and able according to scriptures to subdue all of Israel’s opponents, once and for all (Eccles 47), Israel itself will eventually succumb to its enemies. There were however a few powerful enemies of God and God’s chosen people that were not defeated by David: namely sin and death. We needed Christmas because we who are God’s people are still battling against our enemies of sin and death. We needed a Messiah who could defeat both sin and death.

3] David was not a perfect human being, he sinned terribly. So he could not model for us what it is to be human in God’s terms. Nor could David restore in us a God-given and perfect human nature. We need Christmas for this.

5] The bible speaks of a gigantic war which will end history in which all of God’s enemies are defeated. Those final enemies of sin and death and defeated in Christ Jesus, the promised Messiah, the Savior and perfector of the Human race. It is for him and us that we need Christmas.

Next:  The ABC’s of Why We Need Christmas: E   Eve, Ever Virgin Mary