In David’s time, shepherding was an everyday task. Even children were charged with tending sheep and goats, and David himself had been a shepherd as a child. When the leaders of the tribes of Israel call David to be their king, they say that God called David to be the shepherd of Israel. The leaders use the words shepherd and ruler synonymously.
These leaders tell David that he has already demonstrated characteristics of a shepherd ruler by leading Israel, even during the time Saul reigned. As they make these statements, the people draw on their everyday knowledge of shepherding; they know that leading the sheep is one task of a shepherd. Ezekiel 34 names some other tasks of shepherding: feeding the sheep, strengthening the weak, healing the sick, binding up the injured, and searching for lost sheep. This is an astonishing list of characteristics to associate with kingship. Ezekiel 34 links these tasks to human leaders and to God. The notion of a king who fulfills the tasks of a shepherd foreshadows Jesus as both King of kings and Good Shepherd.
One of David’s most significant and lasting achievements as king was the establishment of Jerusalem as the city of David. This city became the place of worship for the people of Israel, particularly after David’s son, Solomon, built the Temple there. The name of the city mentioned in this passage—city of David—holds particular significance. The people attribute David’s greatness to the fact that God is with him. The city of David represents Israel’s foundational, guiding truth that God resides with the people God chose. The city has a close tie to our Shepherd God, the God-With-Us who chose David to be shepherd and ruler.
Shepherd God, thank you that David’s greatness came from your presence with him. May I live that way too. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures this week celebrate the city of Jerusalem. This was the capital of the great King David, who united the ancient Israelites and built up the city. The psalmist praises Jerusalem using the image of Zion. Zion is a name used for earthly Jerusalem, but it is also a gesture toward a future day when God’s people will abide in a heavenly city. In Second Corinthians, Paul explains that even though he is an apostle, he still struggles like everyone else. Wild speculation surrounds the “thorn” that plagued Paul, but his point is that when he is weakest, God is strongest. In Mark we see God’s power working through Jesus, who sent out others to expand God’s healing work.
• Read 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10. The king of Israel exhibited the qualities of a shepherd. How do those qualities square with your experience with those in power?
• Read Psalm 48. Bring to mind a place where you experience God’s presence. Do you find yourself drawn there? Why?
• Read 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. When have you experienced a weakness becoming a source of power?
• Read Mark 6:1-13. When have you limited God’s power through your disbelief?
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