Friday, 27 August 2010

The blind and the lame

The Bible is full of echoes. The more you study the Bible in trust and obedience, the more you'll hear them. It's part of what convinces me that the Bible is the word of God... the echoes are so many, so meaningful, and so multi-layered, that it's immensely beyond the genius of any man to construct such an interplay - especially when those echoes are in different books by different human authors spanning the centuries.

Of course, you always have to ask yourself if you're hearing a real echo or not, or if you've been a bit fanciful. And you have to interpret exactly what is being said through the echo - what are the intended implications?

Sometimes something comes up rather wonderfully just through the different combinations of reading that you may be involved in - your personal studies, studies at church and in family, etc.

Here's one that I've just seen for the first time today, one part from my own reading and another through preparing a sermon. I'm going to quote the first passage in the ESV, because I think the interpretation of the rather obscure passage is rather good, keeping a literal idiom whilst making its meaning clear. This is 2 Samuel 15:3-9, describing how David established his kingdom over all Israel, coming to Jerusalem:
3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. 6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” 7 Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. 8 And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David's soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” 9 And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.
Now, in Matthew 21:1ff we read how the Son of David - a central theme of Matthew's - came to claim his kingdom in Jerusalem, as he headed into the final week and to the cross. The Lord comes suddenly to his temple, and symbolically purges it - anticipating the greater purging that was to come in AD70. And lo and behold, in this passage the same characters - the blind and the lame - appear as back in 2 Samuel when his predecessor came to his:
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
It's an echo - no doubt about that; too much is correlated for it to be a coincidence. But how to construe it? What was Matthew, and ultimately the Holy Spirit, hinting at? Here's my stab:

When King David came to claim his kingdom, his enemies (the Jebusites) posited the blind and the lame as his enemies. They were of course speaking mockingly - even the blind and lame would defeat him! But David rose to the challenge, and came to claim his kingdom.

Here in Matthew the true David comes to claim his kingdom in Jerusalem, having ridden in on the king's donkey and come to visit his house (the temple) - and the blind and the lame are there to great him; not as posited enemies, but as his welcomers and friends, those whom he heals. Jesus came to bringing healing and peace to the nations (hence he rode the donkey, not the war-horse), not judgment and death. But notice by implication, that the scribes and the chief priests have taken the position of the cursed Canaanite Jebusites. As Jesus came to visit to judge/cleanse the temple he was purging it of the evils that had grown up under their oversight, and hence it was a fairly clear rebuke to them. But instead of receiving the rebuke, the rejected it and the rebuker. They identified themselves as instead of being God's chosen leaders, being Jehovah's enemies those who (ultimately in AD70) were the class waiting to be destroyed by the true David's determined vengeance.

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