That’s it. I’m done!
Yesterday I finished the 8 week series on the relationships of King David. You can hear them all on podcast on the tab from my blog or on iTunes. I edited down yesterday’s sermon quite a bit. As I sat in my study Sunday morning it seemed the sermon was too disjointed and disconnected so lots of material got whittled out. The good thing about having a blog is that it is a great place to put stuff that got edited out somewhere. You can think of today’s blog as the Director’s Cut from the sermon.
The first part that got edited was the style in which I delivered the Psalm references. I decided, instead of breaking it down and letting people flip to them and then read them, I thought it would be better to ‘reference’ them and make my point and move on. This style worked great in the second service (I think?) but in the first service many people were attempting to keep up. I made the mistake of making the reference out loud for each one. I shouldn’t have done that. But just for making things clearer to anyone who may have been confused, here are the Psalms I referenced:
- Psalm 69–problems with no way out
- Psalm 51–reveling in forgiveness
- Psalm 13–forgotten by God
- Psalm 139–hiding from God
I also edited down a lengthy quote from a great book by James Kugel about the authenticity and believability of the David stories. In the end, I decided this wonderful quote would not have tracked well with the overall motif of the sermon which was a personal relationship with the Lord. Here is that section, including the quote:
It is this personal nature, the deep humanity of David that draws us to him. There is a reason his stories are so compelling and his narrative is so meaningful for us. There is a reason when I read of his sin of murdering Uriah and why he did it, then I read Psalm 51—there is a reason it tugs at me so. David is a fallible, flawed, yet an absolutely authentic figure who steps out of the pages of Scripture as someone I think I’ve met before.
There is an Old Testament scholar who I like to read, primarily because he writes well but also because I almost never agree with his conclusions. He is cut out of a liberal Jewish perspective and really thinks most of the Scriptures are a myth. But even he can’t deny the power of David’s dynamic with God. This his summary of David.
The David who emerges from this narrative is striking in another way as well: it would be no exaggeration, I think, to describe him as the most vigorous, realistic and in some ways the most human of all the Bible’s heroes. If Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah scale the vertical axis of human existence, the one that leads from earth to heaven, David, by contrast, spans a good part of the horizontal one. The Bible certainly does not idealize him, but he is all the more appealing for that. No bit of human hope and despair, bravura and foolishness and bitter melancholy, smoldering hatred and deepest love, is foreign to him. True, a great novelist or playwright could create such a person out of whole cloth, but one might find it appealing to turn that argument on its head. David may be the Bible’s best character because he is no character at all. (Kugel p. 492, How to Read the Bible)
There is so much about David that strikes us as authentic. But the most authentic thing he has going for him is this dynamic relationship with the Lord.
Another thing that was edited from the sermon was a bit of summary material from my doctoral work on worship about the Hebrew tendency to be involved personally in the acts and rituals of worship. I always have to hedge against my tendency to repeat familiar information. That is why I left this particular bit out as a part of my analysis of what is lacking in our decidedly “impersonal” worship of the very personal Jesus.
This concept has a great impact on our worship as a group of people and as individuals. Something is lost in our understanding of worship because we’ve lost, or we relegate, the personal experience or the personal involvement in the realm of worship. The ancients did things like build altars, pour libation offerings, bind the sacrifice, or proceed into the temple. The old ways seemed to demand that you get your hands dirty with your own involvement. David personified this, even to the point of artistically and intricately writing his own prayers as an artist crafts a poem.
Compare that to what so many times we do—we slip into the worship service, hope no one sees us, mumble the words to some songs, try not to fall asleep during a sermon, and then get out as quickly as we can. Is it just me or does what pass for worship in most of our lives just not pass the personal experience muster?
Now that David is over, we turn the page toward Thanksgiving and the Advent season. Before you know it, the New Year will be here and that will bring many varied preaching opportunities.