Biblical Words 
II Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10; Psalm 48; II Corinthians 12:2-10;
The great City may have a humble beginning, and God’s servants may be denied by their own.
II Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10.
(An under-stated report. This passage is not a narrative, it is a report. A narrative has some kind of tension and a release at its climax. A report simply states incidents and conditions.)
reading from the Prophets is a plain, not to say flat-footed, statement of
David’s becoming king of all Israel after being king of the “house” of Judah
for a few years (5:1-5; on Judah see 2:1-4).
It continues with the barest report that David captured and expanded the
The passage immediately following our reading tells that David built a cedar-decorated royal palace and installed his wives and children (-16). As later times looked back, they saw David, in his new capital city, as a substantial king and a power to be reckoned with among the nations.
that later viewpoint, however, the City was as important as the Anointed
King. This is the point in God’s history
[See more at About ancient Jerusalem below.]
As the Samuel narrative continues (in next week’s reading), David will take steps to make Jerusalem the glorious dwelling place of the God of Israel by bringing the Ark of God into the city (2 Samuel 6) and planning a great temple of cedar for God there (7:1-3).
the real glory of God’s dwelling in
simplicity and unpretentiousness of the Samuel account contrasts sharply with
the presentation of
this drama, the city of
Then the kings assembled,
they came on together.
As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic, they took to flight. (Psalm 48:4-5)
The prophets used this liturgical drama to portray the looming judgment of a righteous God on God’s own corrupt city (Isaiah -30 and 10:5-11). The early prophecies of Jeremiah portray this drama becoming reality in the land:
Blow the trumpet through the land;
shout aloud and say,
“Gather together, and let us go
into the fortified cities!”
a standard toward
flee for safety, do not delay,
for I am bringing evil from the north,
and a great destruction.
4:5-6. All of
Psalm 48 glories in the deliverance of
The latter part of the psalm verges on idolatry by equating a specific historic structure with God’s own holiness.
count its towers, …
that you may tell the next generation
that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
The “this” of this statement probably refers not to the walls
and towers only, but to
the event of God’s deliverance as the sole basis for security and peace. Still, the temptation to “idolize” the city of masonry and cedar would eventually bring the divine judgment of destruction and exile. (See, for example, Jeremiah’s “
II Corinthians 12:2-10.
The Epistle reading for this Sunday is one of the most remarkable personal revelations of the apostle Paul in the New Testament.
In his ongoing hassle to get the Corinthians to recognize the true nature of his apostleship, he is led to “boast” of his spiritual “adventures,” as it were – to contrast his own experiences with those of some self-important “apostles” with glowing credentials who are trying to set up as leaders of the Corinthian church.
In this passage he speaks of himself in the
third person – “I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up
to the third heaven – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God
knows” (verse 2,
Though these marvelous heavenly things are
impressive, still they are not what the true service of God is about. To keep him ever mindful of that, God gave
Paul a “thorn in the flesh” – some
physical or nervous disability that repeatedly humbled him. Three times Paul asked that this tormenting
burden be removed, but, like Jesus in
“So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. …for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” This is Paul’s statement of the great contrast between the prosaic everyday conditions of life and the glory of God’s reign behind it.
In the Gospel reading Jesus goes home again, and, as in the title of Thomas Wolfe’s novel (“You Can’t Go Home Again”), it doesn’t work.
The folks in
The people of
But our reading does not stop with the
The power and reign of God is moving
secretly through the countryside, whether the people of
The earliest traces of
In the 1300’s, the “king” of
The next king of
Archeologically, there is evidence
of settlement in
One writer, commenting about the
extensive fortifications of early
Why anyone would covet
[Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “Jerusalem,” The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon, 2008, Vol. 3, pp. 246-259, the quote on p. 247.]
The Lord [Yahweh] – and David –
must have found something to like!
The Lord [Yahweh] – and David – must have found something to like!