|King David Playing the Harp. Honthurst, 1622|
This Christmas I was pondering that title. Why would Jesus, the one perfect man, choose a title that ties him to a man as imperfect, complicated, and flawed as David? True, David started out as the boy who once faced Goliath and won, but he still ended up the man who looked when he shouldn’t have looked, and then went on to hide his sin. His actions even led to what amounted to murder. Why would Christ choose to be born in Bethlehem, in the city of David of all places? David seemed like an immensely inappropriate candidate for this title, despite his many beautiful, desperate psalms pleading for repentance. What was it about David that Christ thought worthy of making a key part of His title?
From the union of David and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite that David committed adultery with, and she whose rightful husband David sent to the frontlines to die, came Solomon and the line of kings. Ultimately, from THIS complicated marriage came the line that brought us Jesus Christ.
Surely Christ should have come through the line of someone more worthy. Someone like Nathan, the prophet sent to call David to repentance for his sin. He seemed a decent fellow. I am sure there were plenty of other guys who didn’t whore around quite so much, men who didn't kill their lovers’ husbands quite so much.
But He didn’t.
David was indeed a paradox. He did both amazing and awful things.
Not unlike each one of us.
All of us have a little bit of David in us, I think. We all have, once upon a time, fought our own personal goliaths and won. Some, like me, have made covenants with God in spite of the considerable goliath of same-sex attraction. Many still strive to keep it together, often against great opposition midst immense trials of faith.
And yet we are also weak. Painfully so. Some of us struggle with temptations and sins not unlike David. Many of us have found ourselves more than once on the rooftop. Like David, I think we all could write psalm after psalm pleading for a Savior who would one day redeem us from our sins.
And then it finally happened.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
All of us have a Bethlehem. A miraculous birth. A silent night. Metaphorically, in our spiritual lineage and from the very unholy union of our divine spiritual selves to our natural man, a Savior is born. Despite whatever Bathsheba’s we might have, despite whatever addictions, sins, and mess-ups we might fall into, we each individually have a Savior “born unto us.”
This Christmas and always, Christ chooses to be born again through you. Imperfect and complicated you.
Christ does not condemn us of our mortal shortcomings. He made us this way. He knows all about your “natural man.” He knows exactly what it is like to fight against the weaknesses of the flesh, and He has the power to forgive. What can we do to obtain this gift? What He expects from us is simply to not give up on Him as our God. We keep trying even if, like David, we spend a lifetime trying to get it right. All he asks is that we turn away from the false gods of the world, whatever they might be for you, anything that would lead you away from the priesthood covenants that bind you to Christ.
Jesus Christ asks each of us to keep looking to Bethlehem, to the city of all your mistakes, where “the hopes and fears of all the years are met” in the birth of Jesus Christ. The Son of David. The Son of Christopher. The Son of You.
The little stone we need to pick up and sling at our personal Goliaths this year is always the same one. It is the little stone of Jesus Christ, the one that made its arc through generations of messes and landed in Bethlehem, in the "House of Bread." Jesus can turn your little stones into bread for you.
What was David’s “secret chord that pleased the Lord?” It was that he simply didn’t give up on Christ. That is the music we feel running through us. Even though the Savior David yearned for wouldn’t arrive in His city for many centuries, he didn’t give up.
And He was born to die for Him. And for you.
In the words of Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah.”