Sunday Scripture readings, Dec. 20, 2020: Fourth Sunday of Advent
1) 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
2) Rom 16:25-27
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
God’s intentions are much better than our own
The characters in our first reading today have a surprise encounter — you could almost say collision — with God.
David, at the peak of his powers as king in Jerusalem, tells his prophet-counselor Nathan that he has decided to build a temple for God. To the Very Reverend Prophet Nathan, that sounds like a no-brainer. “Great idea, David! Go for it!”
That night, however, God wakes Nathan up. “Hey, prophet, aren’t you supposed to be my spokesman?”
“Yeah?” Nathan answers cautiously.
“So how come you didn’t ask me what I thought about David’s plan?”
“Because I assumed I knew what you’d say?”
“Well, if people could just assume they know my wishes, there wouldn’t be any need for prophets, would there?”
I’m making some of this up, but it must have been a tense moment for Nathan.
Anyway, next morning, Nathan, with egg on his face, goes back to David. This time he has a message from God. “Don’t you build me a ‘house’ (a temple),” God says to David. “Instead, I’m going to build you a ‘house’ (a lineage, descendants on the throne).” Nathan spells out what God is planning for David’s descendants.
The king is floored. The next scene finds him taking a private prayer time. “Who am I, Lord God, and what is my house, that you should have brought me so far? And yet even this is too little in your sight, Lord God! For you have made a promise regarding your servant’s house reaching into the future, and giving guidance to the people, Lord God! What more can David say to you?” (see 2 Sm 7:18-20).
David is so overwhelmed at what God has done and is going to do for him that he shelves his temple-building plans without further discussion.
We all have moments when what seemed like the most reasonable, good, even obvious course of action turns out not to be what God has in mind for us.
Often the way this becomes apparent is that our efforts fail. (Wouldn’t it be easier, we might wonder, if we had a prophet-counselor to let us know ahead of time?)
In our disappointment, we might think of David. God had intentions for David that surpassed David’s own.
However God is working in our lives, he is aiming at things that are much better than anything we could come up with on our own. So we can seek his will, trusting in his wisdom.
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.