The stories we hear from I and II Samuel about King David are epic in proportion. In the past few days we have heard how Samuel selected him from among his seven brothers to be the King, of how he danced before the Ark, of how he escaped Saul’s envy, of his own generosity to Saul and his friendship with Jonathan, of his killing of Goliath with a slingshot, and of the promise that God made to him regarding his dynasty. However, yesterday and today, we hear of the dark side of David’s life; namely, the murder of Uriah and his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. You might say that David is the soap opera star of his day.
Today we hear of David’s contrition and of his prayer for forgiveness. Psalm 51 has become the primary prayer of forgiveness for the Christian community, a prayer that is recited often in our daily Liturgy of the Hours, has been set to music by great composers, and which is one of the most complex and intricate poems in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Who is the real David? What makes him different from the other sinners we encounter in the Scriptures? Perhaps the fact that through it all, the good and the bad, he retains faith in God. He is aware of his dependence upon God – that he is in the hands of and answerable to God. He praises God, petitions God, and asks forgiveness of God. Perhaps his sins and virtues are outsized pictures of what goes on in most human beings, a mixture of good accomplishments and embarrassing, even shameful failures. Much of the revelation we have received in Jesus Christ tells us that God will not break or forget our covenant, no matter how drastically we fail, no matter how many storms take place in our lives. Jesus remains with us to calm those storms just as he did in the Gospel story this morning.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator