Lectionary Reflection for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 2 Samuel (BTCB) by Robert Barron, commenting on 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10:

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Having come to David, the elders of the tribes say, “Look, we are your bone and flesh” (2 Sam. 5:1). They cannot mean a physical, tribal connection, for these are not men of Judah, but they do indeed assert that David is the head under which a kind of mystical body can form.

No one familiar with the Bible can miss the connection between this language and the words used by Adam of Eve: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23). What the elders of Israel are proposing is a sort of marriage between themselves and David, a joining together of what had become separated, a union that will result in fruitfulness. Most Christians will recognize the link between this description of David’s relationship to Israel and Paul’s description of Jesus’s relationship to the church: “He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18); and “now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Cor. 12:27).

David is more than a skilled political leader who protects and directs his people, and Jesus is more than a prophet or rabbi who inspires the nation; both are the agents by which a people finds its cohesiveness, sacraments that effect what they signify.

As N. T. Wright argues, one of the principal messianic tasks that Jesus, the Son of David, undertook was none other than the gathering of the scattered tribes. When Jesus used language about the coming of the kingdom of God, he was understood to mean that the tribes of Israel, exiled by the Assyrians and then by the Babylonians and divided by their own sinfulness, were coming back together. In fact, much of the ministry of Jesus—his open table fellowship; his outreach to sinners, the sick, and the marginalized; his conversations with the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, and Matthew the tax collector; his journeys into Samaria, the decapolis, and the region of Caesarea Philippi; and his consistent offer of forgiveness—can be construed as a mission to knit the unraveled nation back together.

Furthermore, the Israel united under Jesus was meant to become the vehicle for the unification of the world, which explains precisely what Paul was up to. Hurtling around his world as energetically as he could, Paul announced to the Gentiles that they had a new Lord; Iēsous Kyrios ( Jesus [is] Lord) is his gospel in a nutshell.

David becoming king in Hebron is both a new Adam coming to reign over a reconstituted Eden and a prototype of the Christ, destined to reign over a mystical body encompassing, in principle, all the world.

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