Let’s start with a question: What reminds you of good memories? When I visit my parents, and as I approach the village where I grew up, it brings back lots of memories. As opportunities to see friends’ faces increase these days, we get to recapture the memories of good – and sometimes bad – times that we’ve gone through together. Similarly, when I drive past the place where our first house was, I still sometimes take a look at what it looks like today.
This article (along with several that are scheduled to follow), comes from three different passages in the Old Testament. At first, these might seem to be unrelated, but they were selected in a lesson plan (see the “Lookout” reference, below) because they represent specific reminders of God’s presence – to the Israelites – in the time of King David and King Solomon.
To set the context here, 1 Chronicles 10 recounts the death of Saul, and – after quite a while and multiple adventures since he was first anointed by Samuel – David is made king of Israel at the start of 1 Chronicles 11. Let’s pick up in verses 4 and 5:
David and all the Israelites marched to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus). The Jebusites who lived there said to David, “You will not get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.
1 Chronicles 11:4-5 NIV
If you watched Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring”, we can imagine the Jebusites (like Ian McKellen’s character, Gandalf) proclaiming boldly, “You shall not pass!” It seems that they were proven wrong, though, as David took the city.
We sometimes think of the Israelites as living in the Promised Land for as long as they were a nation, but we should remember that it took decades (if not a century or more) for them to establish the boundaries that they would reach under King Solomon. Furthermore, this time required to claim the promised land took place after the 40 years that they spent in the wilderness after being freed from Egypt (until they had enough faith to receive it, I suppose).
God had indeed promised to give them the land, but since He exists outside of time, His promises are not always be fulfilled when we want them to, in our limited time walking this earth (see James 4:13-17). Since the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River under the command of Joshua, they had had judges, and the reign of King Saul, but Jerusalem still wasn’t theirs (at least, not fully) until the time of King David.
(FYI: Other books in the Old Testament talk about the land of the Jebusites, and this city, “Jebus”. In fact, Joshua 15:63 tells us that the Jebusites weren’t able to be fully driven out, at least in the time of that book.)
However, God had indeed made a promise, all the way back to Abram, as recorded in Genesis 15:18-21. He said that He would give Israel the land of the Jebusites (as well as giving Israel the land of a bunch of other tribes, like the “Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites,” and “Girgashites”.)
Sometimes, God’s delay is so that we can learn some lessons and get our act together. While good works aren’t required to secure our salvation, there are times when an expectation of blessings without showing the right behavior is like trying to get God to reward the wrong things. David had time to learn this lesson. After all, many years had transpired between when David was anointed to become king, and when he actually took on that role. When God is ready, though, get ready for things to happen!
So, as these verses indicate, God gave the city of Jebus to King David, as promised. Thus, we have the founding of the city of Jerusalem (by that name) in this era, a city in which people still live today.
David had waited to be king for a long time, but God was faithful (as He always is). Now, David didn’t merely become king: he also prospered, but not because he was a good leader, or rock-slinger, or shepherd, or song-writer, or soldier. David succeeded because God was with him (see verse 9).
So, the City of David – Jerusalem – is our first reminder of God’s presence, as well as God’s faithfulness. God did exactly what He had promised to Abram. While – unlike the false gods of Canaan – Jehovah God is not limited to a single city (having created the universe and being omnipresent), Jerusalem remains a reminder to this day of the faithfulness of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This city is something that many groups have invested in: not just to show off their ownership of it, but also because they value what the city stands for.
I don’t know if a city (or a particular country, region, or place) is a reminder to you of God’s faithfulness, but I invite you today to consider God’s promises and His perfect track record of keeping them. This is an opportunity to praise God for His fulfilled promises, as well as to strengthen our faith that He will continue to keep His word in the future.
From Sunday School lesson for May 30, 2021
- The Lookout, May 30, 2021, © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.