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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Samuel 7, 1-5.8-12.14-16

Once the king had settled into his palace and Yahweh had granted him rest from all the enemies surrounding him,

the king said to the prophet Nathan, 'Look, I am living in a cedar-wood palace, while the ark of God is under awnings.'

Nathan said to the king, 'Go and do whatever you have in mind, for Yahweh is with you.'

But that very night, the word of Yahweh came to Nathan:

'Go and tell my servant David, "Yahweh says this: Are you to build me a temple for me to live in?

This is what you must say to my servant David, "Yahweh Sabaoth says this: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel;

I have been with you wherever you went; I have got rid of all your enemies for you. I am going to make your fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth.

I am going to provide a place for my people Israel; I shall plant them there, and there they will live and never be disturbed again; nor will they be oppressed by the wicked any more, as they were in former times

ever since the time when I instituted judges to govern my people Israel; and I shall grant you rest from all your enemies. Yahweh furthermore tells you that he will make you a dynasty.

And when your days are over and you fall asleep with your ancestors, I shall appoint your heir, your own son to succeed you (and I shall make his sovereignty secure.

I shall be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does wrong, I shall punish him with a rod such as men use, with blows such as mankind gives.

But my faithful love will never be withdrawn from him as I withdrew it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.

Your dynasty and your sovereignty will ever stand firm before me and your throne be for ever secure." '


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this passage, which we could consider the theological high point of the book of Samuel, we reach a decisive point in salvation history. The promise of offspring and a kingdom made to David would be recalled frequently in the psalms (Psalms 89 and 132), in the most important moments of Israel's history, and in the prophets. And at the dawn of the New Testament, it would resound in the words of the archangel Gabriel who announces the birth of Jesus' to Mary (Lk 1:30-33). The early Church would preach that the promises made to David about his offspring were fulfilled in Christ (see Heb 1:5; Acts 2:29-30). The story begins with David noticing that he dwells in a beautiful palace of cedar built with the help of the king of Tyre whereas the ark, the sign of God's presence, is still kept in a tent. So he decides to build a temple for the Lord, a place worthy of His presence. Among other things, the absence of the temple was considered a clear sign of the religious inferiority of Israel as compared to that of the neighbouring peoples. When David first tells Nathan of his plans, the prophet is enthusiastic. But God rejects the plan that very night. The prophet's first reaction comes from his spontaneous feelings, whereas the second plan is explicitly desired by God. The prophet cannot speak for himself, only for God. This is why he has to communicate God's will to David clearly: “In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.” David's plan was certainly good, but God's perspective is much more profound. It was not God who needed a house, but the people of Israel. The places of worship that God had established at the beginning (Gen 12:7-8; 28, 20-22; 35:14), together with the tabernacle (Ex. 26; 33: 7-11), were signs of his presence among the people. God therefore warns David that he had never asked for a temple to be built in ages past, nor had he asked him for one (v. 6-7). The Lord led his people and David himself through all of their undertakings, without having a fixed dwelling place. The Lord does not need walls. If anything, it is Israel who needs them in order not to forget the Lord. Therefore God himself will build a home for Israel. Nathan is referring to Solomon, who will build the temple. But God’s words go even further. The Lord assures David that his line will continue: “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body.” The prophet proclaims a “royal house” that will last “forever”; it will be an “everlasting kingdom.” The prophecy will find its fulfilment in Jesus Christ, as the angel announces to Mary: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33).

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets