Summary: We Christians believe that Jesus is our perfect King and Messiah, all other kings were and are imperfect sinners.
Christ the King Sunday Yr B, 22/11/2009
Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, &
Chaplain of The Good Samaritan Society’s
South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta
“The most faithful King”
The story is told of Prince Philip who was visiting an Australian university, where he was introduced to a couple identified as “Mr and Dr Robinson.” The husband explained, “My wife is a doctor of philosophy. She is much more important than I.” Prince Philip sympathetically replied, “Ah, yes. We have that trouble in our family, too.”
In today’s first lesson we learn of King David’s troubles too. The psalm also speaks about it—it begins with a prayer likely prayed by David’s son, Solomon at the time of the dedication of the temple. In the opening verse, the psalmist prays: “O LORD, remember in David’s favour all the hardships he endured.” The reference to hardships here most likely refers to his troubles over wanting a permanent home for the ark of the covenant. Even though David tried his best to build a temple for the ark, the LORD did not let him—he was upstaged by his son Solomon, who accomplished that building project.
The psalm takes a single incident out of the past, the history of the ark of the covenant, and reminisces over it: “Remember how we got the news in Ephrathah—which is another name of Bethlehem, David’s city—learned all about it at Jaar Meadows? This was Kiriath-jearim, where the ark had been kept from Samuel’s time until David became king in Jerusalem. We shouted, ‘Let’s go to the shrine dedication! Let’s worship at God’s own footstool!’ Up, GOD, enjoy your new place of quiet repose, you and your mighty covenant ark.”
The ark of the covenant was a box approximately forty-five inches long, twenty-seven inches broad and twenty-seven inches deep, constructed of wood and covered with gold. Its lid of solid gold was called the mercy seat. Two cherubim, angel-like figures at either end, framed the space around the central mercy seat from which God’s word was heard. It had been made under the supervision of Moses (Ex 25:10-22) and was a symbol of the presence of God among his people. The ark had accompanied Israel from Sinai, through the wilderness wanderings, and had been kept at Shiloh from the time of the conquest. In a battle the ark had been captured by the enemy Philistines and was a trophy of war displayed in the Philistine cities until it became a problem to them (the story is told in 1 Samuel 4-7) and was returned to Israel, to the village of Kiriath-jearim (7:1-2), where it rested until David came to get it and place it in honour in Jerusalem, where it later became enshrined in Solomon’s temple.1 However, the ark, even though it was a symbol of God’s presence among the Israelites, was not God himself. The Israelites had to learn the hard way that you cannot put God in a box; nor can you limit God’s presence to one particular place on earth. God is God over heaven and earth. God was not pleased with the Israelites, Solomon’s temple was destroyed, the Israelites were taken into exile, and the ark then disappeared into the mists of history.