In the Lectionary

December 24, Advent 4B (2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:26-38)

I imagine Nathan waking to the word of the Lord with his heart pounding.

I’ve always liked knowing what is expected of me. Being well informed reduces the chance of getting things wrong or upsetting other people. Many times I have prayed to know exactly what God wants me to do, but those instructions are usually less explicit. I might have a dream that seems to point in a particular direction, or an encounter or conversation that raises a possibility, but depending on the lens used to interpret the words or the images, more than one conclusion might be drawn.

I want to think it would be reassuring to have more clarity. Yet in the Bible, the people who receive that kind of specific instruction usually find their safety and security threatened or their position and place disarranged.

The prophet Nathan, new counselor to King David, goes along with his monarch’s decision to build a temple for the ark of the covenant. If the king can live in a palace of cedar, surely it must be right to provide a resting place, an honored location, for the holiest treasure of God’s people. Before even a night can pass, however, the word of the Lord comes to Nathan. How? A dream? An angel? A voice in the darkness? All these possibilities sound unsettling.