The Anointing of David Window
This sermon is part of an Advent series featuring our stained-glass windows at Redeemer.
Text: 2 Sam. 7:8-14a, Acts 2:29-36, Luke 20:41-44
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It had been a long day out in the fields. Every day was a long day for Jesse and his shepherding family. The sheep were wayward, the work was constant and intensive, the sun was hot. The stink of the pasture still stuck to him and all his sons, in spite of the breeze that was blowing across the hills and grasslands. He was tired and not feeling up for doing much, but then again, it wasn’t every day that the prophet Samuel showed up at your homestead and invited you to a sacrifice. So exhausted but honored, Jesse accepted the invitation.
It was a bit of scouting on the part of Samuel too. The king he had previously anointed, Saul, had fallen from grace—and fallen very hard, very publicly, and yet remained hardened and arrogant against the God who had made him king. Samuel was indeed making a sacrifice, but he was also investigating the sons of Jesse, because the Lord had told him that the next king would come from that household.
When the sons arrived, one by one, Samuel thought for certain that each one in turn was fit to be king. They were tall and strong. They reminded Samuel of Saul—or at least what Saul had been in the beginning. But as each of these seven sons entered and went before Samuel, the Lord told the prophet that they were not the ones He had chosen.
Just when it looked like they were out of options, Samuel asked Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” Jesse looked around and answered, “Only the youngest isn’t here, but he’s watching the sheep.” Samuel had to investigate all of Jesse’s sons, so he told Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down and begin until he’s here.” When David arrived, when Samuel saw him, immediately the Lord told him, “Arise, anoint him, for he is the one.” So right then and there, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David, the youngest son of Jesse, to be the rightful king of Israel after the reign of Saul ended. This is the scene set out for us in the window for tonight’s meditation, the anointing of David as his family watches. It was masterfully designed by Rev. D. Adelbert R. Kretzmann, a Lutheran pastor and instructor at Concordia in River Forest, in conjunction with Redeemer’s own Pastor Setzer. That design was captured and depicted by Gianni and Hilgart Studios in Chicago, working in conjunction with Redeemer’s own Pastor Setzer. They were famous for their work on some Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area. The striking colors and contrast capture the simplicity and majesty of the scene where this shepherd boy is anointed king. I even think it catches some of the suddenness and urgency. You can see David still has his shepherd’s staff and satchel that he would have had out in the field. But in any case, it brings us into the house of Jesse for the anointing of his youngest son David as King of Israel. And from that day on, the Holy Spirit rushed upon David.
After David’s anointing, there was a time of intense struggle for the young man before he was finally crowned king. We’ve heard of David fighting Goliath. We might have heard about Saul’s intense and murderous jealousy of David. We may have even heard about Saul trying to kill David and David resisting the opportunity to assassinate Saul when it would have been easy and no one would have known. He lived through the death of his closest friend, Jonathan; through betrayals and slander and battles. But eventually, after Saul’s death fighting the Philistines, David was crowned king of God’s people. It’s then, when David is secure on the throne, that we hear the Lord’s promise—a continuation of the promise given to Abraham last week, really—but a promise nonetheless: “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you…When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
From David’s coronation onward, he was to be the representative of God to the Lord’s people, a symbol of God’s rule. He was to embody justice and wisdom and mercy. That’s why we see the crown at the pinnacle of the window. It’s over the window of Moses giving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai—when the Lord declared Himself King over Israel—and over the window of David’s anointing—when the Lord appointed David to be prince of His people, to rule as a symbol of the Lord’s gracious and just reign over the descendants of Abraham.
All symbols are limited though. So Peter explains to us in our reading from Acts. The promises of an everlasting kingdom were spoken to David, but they would be fulfilled at a later time. “Brothers,” Peter preaches, a thousand years after David’s reign, “I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” The promise was spoken to David, but it would be one of his descendants that would sit on a greater throne. So Peter explains, “Being therefore a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ.” David heard the Lord’s words, he recognized them as prophecy, and he recorded them. He wrote the promise and prophecy as poetry and song. That’s why, in our window, we see a scroll and quill over the scene of David’s anointing. From that day he was anointed king, the Holy Spirit rushed on him and filled him with the Lord’s counsel and wisdom and knowledge, and David wrote those words for all who would believe the Lord’s promises.
And for those who did believe, for those who rejoiced at the minor fulfillments of that promise in Solomon and the good kings that periodically followed after David, for Peter and the Apostles, who were given insight into the mystery of the ages, to them—to us—it has been given to see the greater, the greatest fulfillment, is in Christ.
David, not only in words, but also in his entire life was a prophecy. The seemingly weak boy defeating the strong Goliath, the shepherd who fought ravenous wolves that wanted to harm the flock, the one who watched over the lambs—his entire life was a prophecy. His anointing at the hands of the prophet Samuel would point toward Jesus’ anointing at the hands of the last prophet, John the Baptizer. David’s victory over the invincible giant Goliath was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ victory over death and hell, which seemed invincible until that Easter morning. David’s life of shepherding sheep and then shepherding a kingdom pointed forward to the Good Shepherd who tends the entire pasture of God’s flock. So it’s fitting that over David’s head is the symbol of prophecy, the scroll; for his entire life was a prophecy about the Greater One, His descendant, who was coming.
Jesus is the greater David. But He’s not only a symbol of God’s reign over us. He actually brings about the kingdom of God. He brings us into the Lord’s kingdom so that we would be sheltered and protected. We will be led and guided. And yes, sometimes it will be through lowly ways, like David, the youngest of his household who eventually became first in Israel. It will be through those ways that we think are too small, too humble, a small smooth stone that we think could never defeat a giant that’s terrorizing us. Yes, it might even be through such a humble way as having a God who dies, who’s crucified after a sham trial and very public character assassination. But even then, this greater King, Jesus, doesn’t stay dead and buried. Peter and everyone in Jerusalem knew exactly where David was buried. His body was still there. But Jesus’ grave is empty. He is risen. He has defeated the giants of death, the devil, and hell. He has come to bring the kingdom of God to this world, and to welcome us into it.
And so Jesus fulfills His forefather David’s prophecy: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” This is all simply to say that Jesus is both David’s son and David’s Lord. Jesus puts this riddle before those who challenge Him: “David thus calls him Lord, so how is He his son?”
The answer, of course, is that the Lord is outside of our mortal rules and regulations. Jesus is both David’s Lord and David’s son, his descendant, because Jesus is both God and man. He’s born of the earthly line of David, inherited from his mother’s side; and yet, as God He also existed from before time began, before David was anointed.
And that’s the mystery of Advent that we would do well to slow down and consider with great diligence before the splendor of Christmas overtakes us. The infinite Son of God is about to be contained in the finite body of a descendant of David. The eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly loving God is about to be entirely contained in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. He’s coming. We don’t know how He can do this—How can He be both David’s son and David’s Lord?—but He is. He is the greatest fulfillment of every true prophecy ever uttered.
Jesus is the royal heir of David, so He will reign. And His throne will be established forever. So the crown appears in our window. It’s interesting—last week, at the pinnacle of the window, we had the breastplate of Aaron the high priest. It pointed forward to Jesus’ work on our behalf as Priest. This week we’re hearing about the crown of David, telling us about Jesus ruling as King for our benefit. Priest, King…you may be able to guess about what the pinnacle of next week’s window will bring.
Jesus rules as the Greater King David, the fulfillment of what every king should be. And we rejoice as we await the fullness of His kingdom, when we will see with our eyes what our faith already knows to be true. In the name of Jesus, the King of kings. Amen.