But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” 1 Samuel 8:5
In the Episcopal tradition, we use something called the ‘Revised Common Lectionary’ to guide the readings we use on Sunday mornings. It is a three-year rotating set of readings. After Trinity Sunday we have the choice of two ‘tracks’ or selections of Old Testament readings. One track follows a particular story, and the other reflects the messages of the New Testament epistles and the Gospel readings.
This summer, we have the entirety of the story of David. From the birth of the prophet Samuel to the calling of the Israelites for a king to rule over them to King David’s death and Solomon’s “eulogy” at his funeral. These are important stories for our Jewish brothers and sisters, and often stories that we misinterpret in our own tradition when we talk about David, about kings in general, and about the failures of David. We like to imagine that we would never want a king like David, or that we would be jealous, covetous, or angry, like David.
In fact, particularly as Americans we have an aversion to kings and lords. So how do we, as 21st-century Christians, make sense of Scripture that proclaims kings, that names Jesus as Lord? Can we still think of Jesus as King of Kings? Or is there too much patriarchy, too much baggage, are those terms too loaded for us to make sense of today. All of us will have our own answers to these questions — but I do hope we can be together in the questioning.
This summer we will dig into the story of David and see how it relates to our own story. In this Sunday’s reading the people ask God for something God doesn’t really want to give them, a king, and they demand it anyway. Yet, out of that, God makes a good thing. And a surprising thing.
What good things, surprising things has God done with your own stubbornness? And how can we look at the things we are embarrassed or ashamed of, the things that we perhaps would have done differently — and ask God to make a Good thing out of that, too?
For more on David and “Good Things” — see you in church!