Biblical Words 
II Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 132:1-12,
At year’s end, Christian thoughts turn to words beyond our current trials, to words about the Reign of Christ.
The last Sunday of the Christian year, the Sunday just before Advent, has been known traditionally as “Christ the King” Sunday, or nowadays, “Reign of Christ” Sunday. The Church year ends looking toward a sovereignty bestowed by God on Jesus, making him the Messiah, the Christ, heir of King David.
II Samuel 23:1-7.
(The alternate reading is
The readings for this Sunday from the Prophets and from the Psalm present God’s promise to David of an “everlasting covenant” and a perpetual dynasty.
The II Samuel reading presents what in Hebrew is a primitive-sounding song, the Last Words of David. This poem has a good claim to be an actual composition of David the king. The opening words, “The oracle of David, … oracle of the man whom God exalted,” is an early style, not common in later Israelite verse. (See, for example, the oracle of Balaam in Numbers 24:3-4.)
The ecstatic speaker declares what the deity has said to him. In this case, God has said:
The one anointed by God rules justly and makes the world glisten with prosperity.
The rest is David’s commentary, declaring to the world his own status with God, and then contrasting with it the fate of wicked ones.
Yes, my House stands firm with God:
Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18).
The Psalm reading also refers directly to David and God’s promise to him of a perpetual reign (though here the perpetuity is conditional).
That divine promise is presented here as God’s response to David’s firm decision to find a true sanctuary, a “dwelling place,” for God. David’s vow was:
These two oaths, David’s and Yahweh’s, established
In this view, Solomon may have built the later
famous temple, but David had already made the critical decisions that
The references to “Ephrathah” and “Jaar” (verse 6)
recall the stories of the Ark of Yahweh being brought from the Judean
countryside to the sanctuary in
The optional part of the reading (verses 13-18)
clinches this conclusion by repeating God’s own words sanctioning
It is appropriate on the last Sunday of the Christian year to have an Epistle reading from the last book of the Christian Bible, the Book of Revelation.
The passage is the beginning of the address to the seven churches. It has the elevated speech of high liturgy and doxology, virtually a heavenly cantata, of which this book contains several later on.
The greeting passage proceeds by triads. It prays for peace from God “who is and who
was and who is to come” (verse 4,
Peace is also asked from Jesus Christ, who is also characterized by a triad: “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (verse 5). The faithful witness was performed in the earthly ministry of Jesus, the firstborn of the dead is the victory over death signaled by the resurrection, and the rule over the kings of the earth is the assurance of Jesus’ heavenly rule, later to become more dramatically evident in this book.
The drama continues with an exclamation. Someone sees it:
Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him (verse 7).
The Son of Man, who in heaven received full authority over all powers,
now descends to exercise it. (The
empowerment in the heavenly court portrayed in
This is the assurance that over and above all the struggle into which the Anointed One descended and in which he died, there is a greater ultimate (and kingly) power moving – even if often mysteriously – to bring deliverance and new life to God’s faithful.
. John 18:33-37
The Gospel reading is the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus as reported in the Gospel According to John.
The question at the beginning is whether Jesus is the King of the Jews. By the end it has become the question of truth about kingdoms that are – and are not – of this world.
Let us conclude this church year by listening to the reflections on this passage by William Temple (Readings in St. John’s Gospel), written on the eve of the world conflagration initiated by Adolph Hitler (1939, opening of the Second World War).
kingdoms which are from this world rest in part upon falsehood – most
conspicuously upon the necessary but false, false but necessary, supposition
that the State really acts in the interest of the whole community, whereas in
fact it always acts primarily in the interest of that section of the community
which is able in practice to work its machinery. It is a pretended community; this is far
better than no community at all, which is the only actual alternative until the
The acclamation of a heaven-sent king, bearing truth for God’s people, is an appropriate transition from the old year to a new, in the sacred pilgrimage of followers of Jesus the Christ.
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