Bible Readings for September 10th
Harry Emerson Fosdick once famously said, “Nobody except the preacher comes to church desperately anxious to discover what happened to the Jebusites.” Now, if Fosdick was describing situations where pastors primarily obsess about Bible trivia with their congregations, he was certainly right. But from another angle, Fosdick could not have been more wrong, since it was from the Jebusites that David captures the exceedingly important city of Jerusalem, as we discover in 2 Samuel 5.
Although we have had limited interactions with Jerusalem thus far in the story of the Bible, Jerusalem will quickly become the primary setting of the Bible’s story. Much less will we read about the Promised Land as a whole—which has been the focus of the Bible up to this point—and much more will we see Jerusalem as the main place in the Promised Land where Yahweh would dwell with his people.
David makes Jerusalem the center of both Israel’s kingdom and their worship in a way that will forever associate the city of Jerusalem with himself. Since David had been the one to capture Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and also because David moves his capital there from Hebron, Jerusalem comes to be called “the City of David” (2 Sam. 5:7, 9). Furthermore, in 2 Samuel 6, David will bring the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem, and David’s son Solomon will eventually build a permanent temple in Jerusalem where Yahweh would set his name.
If we have been reading the story of the Bible carefully, however, this should not surprise us. Back in Genesis 14, when we read the story of that curious figure Melchizedek, we learned that he was both the king and the priest of Salem (Gen. 14:18)—that is, of Jerusalem. Now, part of the introduction of the city of Jerusalem in Genesis 14 was to contrast Jerusalem with Babylon, the wicked city from Genesis 11,1 but the other part of this story was to set forth—from the very beginning of the Bible—a figure who could serve as king and as priest in Jerusalem. David would serve as king, but as we learned once again from the story of Saul, David was forbidden from ever usurping the role of priest, since David was not of the line of Aaron.
Instead, these stories anticipate the day when David’s greater Son would come into this world to claim his throne in Jerusalem as a priest—not in the line of Aaron, but after the order of Melchizedek. And when Jesus came to claim both his kingdom and his priesthood, he would do so not through conquering the Jebusites but through offering himself up to be conquered as a once-for-all sacrifice to take away the sins of his people.
The fate of the Jebusites is hardly trivia. In fact, the entire gospel of Jesus depends on what happened to them.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.