Public confession: I don’t get the sense that I have a congregation of folk waiting on these reflections which permits me to be irregular with them unlike if I were preaching every Sunday. If you are looking forward to them, let me know and I’ll do better. I’ll try to do better anyway but it’ll motivate me if I know someone really wants or needs these early enough to help with their preaching.
It’s hard to avoid the veneration, if not worship, of big men in most religious traditions. Prophets, messiahs, saviors, warrior kings — they all tend to be male. When women are represented among the holy and royal echelons, they are often portrayed as unique, a rarity, an unfortunate necessity, a Jezebel (and not in a good way – and there is much good to say about Jezebel) or, a broodmare giving birth to the really important person, meaning, man. Even the dominant portrait of God is as a big man in the sky.
This week’s readings start with the selection of David and all the promise of youth and the sweetness of young love. It bears asking if David became who he always was with power as the catalyst. Or was there something of this sweet earnest young man that could have been saved and preserved? The throughline about David in the readings also provides an opportunity to reflect on infatuation with monarchy, particularly in the United States. Samuel tells how God was reluctantly badgered into a human monarchy for Israel after Judges records an earlier three-year experiment with it. God’s first choice, ignoring Abimelech in Judges (suggesting the author of Samuel did not have access to that material) fails and Samuel, representing God, rejects his repentance – an important, concerning and often overlooked storyline. So David is made to shine against Saul’s ashes. If he was as adored in life as he was and continues to be in literature, is it no wonder David became who he became.
Crowning Jesus with the legacy and lineage of David was supposed to be a good thing. Proof that he had the right some kind of way – overlooking that his genealogy goes through Joseph with some gaps before it gets around to Mary – to rule Israel in a literal sense with genealogical bona fides. As though that were ever God’s plan for Jesus. Rather than continuing to name Jesus as the son of David, A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church intentionally names Jesus as the son of Bathsheba, the Son of Woman, the son of his many mothers whose legacy and lineage he bears in a body that was broken as were many of theirs.