Lectionary Reflection for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 2 Samuel (BTCB) by Robert Barron, commenting on 2 Samuel 7:1-14a:

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When the first Christian preachers and evangelists tried to make sense of Jesus the Messiah kata ta grapha (according to the scriptures), it was only natural that they turned to these texts and ideas that cluster around the promise conveyed to David through Nathan.

Matthew commences his Gospel with a detailed genealogy of Jesus, “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1; Hahn 2012: 82). By referring to those two figures specifically, Matthew is implicitly identifying Jesus as the One through whom the mission of Israel to bring their God to all the nations would be accomplished.

He lays out three sets of fourteen generations: from Abraham to David, from David to the Babylonian captivity, and from the captivity to Jesus. According to the tradition of associating a number to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the consonants of David’s name, d-w-d, correspond to fourteen.

Therefore, what Matthew is communicating to those who have eyes to see is that Jesus is a treble David, David cubed, David perfected and intensified. The lengthy genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel surely mimics and is meant to call to mind the even longer genealogy with which the books of Chronicles commence (Hahn 2012: 42).

The first ten chapters of 1 Chronicles are essentially a list of the antecedents of King David, beginning with Adam himself and leading through hundreds of other figures and events to Saul and Jonathan and their tragic end on Mount Gilboa. What the Chronicler is not so subtly insinuating is that all of human history has in a very real sense been a preparation for David and his gathering of the tribes in Hebron and then in Jerusalem.

By inaugurating his Gospel with a genealogy conducing toward the new David, Matthew is indicating that the human story finds its truest fulfillment in Jesus. Furthermore, when the angel visits Joseph and urges him to take Mary as his wife, he refers to Joseph pointedly as “son of David” (Matt. 1:20), and when the magi from the east arrive in Jerusalem, inquiring as to the whereabouts of the newborn “king of the Jews,” they are told the word of the prophet that the Messiah would be born in “Bethlehem in the land of Judah,” David’s city.

The very fact of prominent foreign personages seeking the king of the Jews is, of course, an echo of David’s attraction not only to the tribes of Israel but also, as we will see, to the surrounding nations.

©2015 by Robert Barron. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.