David Anointed King of All Israel
5 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. 2 For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
9 David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.
2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.3 And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. 5 On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.6 But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 7 even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
6 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.
The Mission of the Twelve
Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
2 Samuel 5:1-5; 9-10
This episode in the cycle of stories to do with David is critical. It is a ‘busy narrative’. Saul is dead; Jonathan is dead: Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth had been anointed as king but he has now been defeated in battle. David becomes king in the wake of the people of Israel’s conflicts with the Philistines and the Amalekites; there has been civil war within the divided house of Israel. The boundaries between cultures and peoples within cultures have been fractured. Will a new regime bring unity and promise?
David had previously been anointed by Samuel. Now all the tribes of Israel come to Hebron in the north. The elders of Israel will anoint him to be king; the people have recognized his military prowess – now he is to be a “shepherd” to the people of Israel. It is the Lord’s will. David had, of course, come to Samuel’s notice while he was still a ‘shepherd’ boy and he had been shepherding his father’s flock on the eve of his confrontation with Goliath.
This is the first reference we have to King David. Following the ‘failure’ of Saul’s reign David makes a covenant with the elders of Israel. This covenant is made ‘before the Lord’ and David is anointed: we are not told what is the nature of the covenant. The way in which this story is being told is designed to emphasize the rightness of David’s rule and the link between his becoming king and the will of God.
What then of David’s kingdom? What does it constitute? Where is its seat of power? The text divides David’s rule into two parts: the first is shorter and is centred on Hebron. The second comprises 33 years of the 40 year reign (cf. the 40 years the people of Israel spent in the wilderness). These years have David as king over the united kingdom of Israel and Judah. His seat of power is the former Jebusite town of Jerusalem which came to be known as the city of David.
What might we say from a cross cultural perspective? The figure, the personal presence of David is the focus of this narrative. We see the foundations being laid for a new political order which is symbolised through a covenant, an anointing and the removal of the seat of power to a Jebusite town whose name means city of peace. What might it be like for those whose lands have become a site of struggle and who wonder what the new order will be like? What hopes lie hidden off the page in this text? Will rivalry between Israel and Judah cease? Will surviving Jebusites feel at home? Where do they now belong?
We might note (from a cross-cultural perspective) that David and Jerusalem form an important part of the story of Judaism (with rabbinic interpretations) and Islam (the comparison can be made with what is found in the Qur’an). What insights might arise from a reading of other Abrahamic faiths?
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
There is work to be done on Paul’s importance for a culturally diverse church. His ministry and epistles warrant a cross-cultural hermeneutic thesis all of its own.
This epistle is sometimes thought to be a composite letter and maybe Paul wrote 4 epistles all told to the Corinthians. It seems as if this letter is in the wake of a previous ‘painful visit’. Now he has been considering a 3rd visit to the church in this city. He has felt the need to defend his apostleship. He has sought to express his affection for the Corinthians nevertheless; he has spoken of the importance of forgiveness and generosity.
This passage here is noted for Paul’s being caught up in ‘the third heaven’ and being struck by ‘a thorn in the flesh’. Paul’s mystical experience is not a source of boasting. We do not know what the thorn in the flesh was. It was evidently most troubling – Paul prayed for its removal three times. The purpose of this affliction is to demonstrate that God’s grace is sufficient and that power is made perfect in weakness. It is in and through his weakness that the power of Christ dwells.
We might say that this is a hard saying. Many people who leave one country to live in another undergo hardship, insult, and feel weakened. Many have fled persecution only to experience prejudice and bias in the new. It is only natural that those whose lives belong to Christ would seek to alleviate this kind of situation – but here is a different kind of message. How might someone who has migrated or who finds themselves on the margins and a victim of racism – how might they ‘boast’ of their weakness and speak of how Christ has been at work empowering them in that very situation?
Some years ago Peter Jensen was invited to deliver the Boyer Lectures. At the time Jensen was the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney. He had attracted a lot of media attention due to some forthright statements he had made, including telling the then Prime Minister to go and read his Bible! The Boyer Lectures are a prestigious series of 6 addresses given by a prominent Australian on Radio National. This was the first time the head of any one of the churches in the country had been asked to deliver these lectures which are then published on-line and in book form.
Jensen chose to speak on the theme of “The Future of Jesus”. The Archbishop was concerned that Australia was increasingly losing touch with its Jewish-Christian foundations. It was a matter of concern not simply because of a declining church membership. So much of our common public life has its origins in these two inter-related faiths. Jensen noted with some wry humour – and concern – that our secular society is increasingly unfamiliar with the biblical narrative and even the sayings and outlines of Jesus’ life. Jesus is fast becoming an ‘anonymous’ presence in our society and like a footnote in our common history.
We might say that Jesus is being ‘rejected’ by large sections of our community. That is perhaps more true of our Anglo-Celtic cultures than some of the migrant ethnic communities which now call Australia home. This demise is something which is recognized by the Fijians, the Tongans, Africans and the Filipinos (amongst others).
This rejection takes a number of forms: it is seldom hostile, although recent troubles over sexual misconduct in church institutions and schools is damning and undermines our intentional language of loving our neighbour as ourselves and our concern for justice. It is often more a case of indifference and what is now viewed as “apatherianism”.
Our biblical text this morning sees Jesus as having been rejected in his own home town. He had not long before been asked to leave the territory of the Gerasenes. The people in whose midst he grew up and who know his family do not know what to make of him. Where did he get his teaching? His wisdom? How could he do these things? The local gossip creates what is called a ‘negative edit’. It is following this story of rejection at home that Mark now has Jesus initiate his first mission. The twelve disciples are sent out to heal, to drive out demons (our equivalent of mental health) and teach.
It is highly likely that in the present climate many people in our society will not understand what lies behind the church’s work. They will not make the connection back to Jesus with the life of worship and the commitment to a merciful, just and compassionate society. The disciples in our text are simply told to shake off the dust from their sandals and carry on with the task at hand.
What links might someone from a non-Anglo Celtic background make of this story of Jesus’ rejection and their experience of life in this land? Some years ago John Waliggo from Uganda composed a ‘theology of rejection’ for African peoples. The one who is rejected, of course, – Jesus – then becomes the corner stone and the foundation.