Yesterday’s First Reading was about King David, and his plans to build a Temple for the Lord, to store the Ark. It begins (2 Samuel 7:1-3):
Now when the king dwelt in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies round about, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart; for the LORD is with you.”
But that night, Nathan hears in a dream that David shouldn’t go ahead. God hasn’t asked David to build him a Temple, and has something better in mind. Namely, God sends a message to David, via Nathan, saying (2 Sam. 7:11b-16):
Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.’“
This prophesy was of both David’s son Solomon (1 Kings 6:1), and of Christ (Hebrews 1:5). When it comes to Jesus, the Temple of Christ is His Body.
But here’s what I missed, until Fr. Ruskamp pointed it out in his homily yesterday. When David wanted to build a Temple for God, and create a glorious place, fitting of the Ark of the Covenant, Nathan initially approved by saying, “Go, do all that is in your heart; for the LORD is with you” (2 Samuel 7:3). Compare this with the way the angel Gabriel greets Mary in Luke 1:26-33, from yesterday’s Gospel reading:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
|Nicolas Cordier, King David|
Don’t overlook how beautifully all of this Ark imagery is tied in with the idea of the Temple. We can see this in two different ways. First, as we’ve just seen, the passage being alluded to in Luke 1:26-33 is 2 Samuel 7:1-16. But this part came almost directly after the next parallel we see, between Luke 1:39-56 and 2 Samuel 6:2-14. Both the Old Testament passages and their New Testament fulfillments occur one right after another. That can hardly be ignored as a coincidence.
Second, David makes clear that the Temple is needed because of the Ark. Listen to how he justifies the need for a Temple: “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent” (2 Sam. 7:2). He wanted a worthy dwelling for the Ark.
And God doesn’t disagree with this rationale. In fact, He blesses David for his good intentions. But He forbids David from doing the building, because David was “a man of war, and has shed blood” (1 Chronicles 28:3). The builder of the Temple needed clean hands. That God chose Mary, of all the women who have ever lived, to not only build the New Temple, but be the Gate of that Temple, and the New Ark, is an incredible testimony to her purity and sinlessness.
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.
The Woman gives birth to Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:5).
The objection to reading this passage as referring to Mary is that some of the details don’t fit Mary very well: they fit the Church better. This is true, but 2 Sam. 7:11b-16 contains the answer to this objection, as well. Some of the details don’t fit Christ well at all (for example: “When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men”), and fit Solomon better. Protestants have no trouble recognizing that the solution isn’t that it’s Solomon or Christ, but both:
Moreover, it is certain that God never anticipated that his beloved Christ would “commit iniquity,” and therefore possibly need “chastening” with the “rod of men” (2 Samuel 7:14). In a number of ways, for example, Isaiah 53 affirms the utter perfection of Jehovah’s servant, Jesus Christ. This portion of 2 Samuel 7:14-15, therefore, obviously applies to Solomon alone.
The prophecy plainly encompasses, however, a far grander scope than that of Solomon’s day, as is suggested by the “last words” of David himself (2 Samuel 23:1ff) and the comments of several inspired New Testament writers.
So 2 Samuel 7 is about Solomon and Jesus, but some details only apply to One or the other. Why shouldn’t Rev. 11:19-12:17 be understood the same way in understanding the Woman as Mary and the Church?