The House in Newark – (2 Samuel 7:1-14a, Psalm 89 20-37, Ephesians 2:11-22, Mark6:30-34, 53-56)


18 July 2021

I have never been to Newark, Arkansas. At least I think I have never been there. It’s a small town 15 miles from Newport, Arkansas. I have been to Newport so I could have driven through Newark without knowing it. A couple of Saturdays ago there was an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (July 10, 2021) about a man [Terry Shipman], a retired man, who lives there and is restoring his family’s old home. It’s an old frame house, part of it built in the 1890’s then added on in 1913.

It’s a distinctive old house – Victorian scroll work on the porches, large rooms with high ceilings… The writer asked how was he planning to restore it. “I want it to look like I remember it when I grew up here as a kid.” The writer asked – sort of delicately – who did he plan to leave it to?

I guess I had more than a passing interest in that story because I’ve got an old house, too. Some years ago, we needed more pasture for our horses so when the property next door – with a fair-sized pasture – came up for sale we bought it. It has an old house on it. We tried renting it for a while but gave that up before renters tore it up completely. We’ve fixed it up a little. Family stays there when they visit. It’s where I have my books and the quiet place where I write these messages.

But I’m faced with the same sort of things the man in Newark faces. What will I do when I get too old to take care of it? Who will I leave it to?

Last week and this week our Scriptures have including some words from Second Samuel. Specifically, those dealing with David – the great King David. Last week Fr. Carey described for us the Ark of the Covenant – essentially a box with two poles for carrying. Inside the box are the slabs of rock with the words of the commandments inscribed on them – but essentially just a box with mostly space within…The Ark which David brought to his city.

It was quite a celebration, quite an occasion.

A little time passes. David thinks about it. Is just a box, is just a tent, in this his capital city enough honor, enough respect, for the God who has stood behind me and brought me to where I am? Other kings in other places would build mighty temples to honor their gods. Why couldn’t David?

So David says, “I live in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent…”

Nathan hears this. Nathan knows David pretty well. When he gets his mind on something he stays with it doggedly. This sounds like something David has been thinking about for a while. So, Nathan responds, “Go, do all that you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.”

That night at 2:00 Nathan wakes up and thinks, ‘What was I thinking?’ At least that’s the time I wake up wondering what in the heck am I going to say? Like, say, Sunday morning. Or even – or maybe especially when I’ve already written a message, I wake up thinking ‘that’s so much stuff, what should I really say – or better, what needs to be said.

Except this time God is on the line. And is He…. upset.

“Go tell David and tell him I told you to tell him, ‘Are you the one to build me a house? A house? I haven’t lived in a house since I brought the people of Israel from their days of slavery in Egypt. I have been moving around in a tent and a tabernacle. A house? Did I ever speak with the tribal leaders of Israel and said, ‘Why haven’t you built me a house of cedar?’

“Now therefore you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of Hosts:

“I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel, and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies before you.

But now the tone of God’s words changes.

Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom

He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.

Sounds like a promise – a covenant to me.

Sometimes we think we know how the story ends. David does not build a house of cedar for the Lord. His son Solomon does build a house – a temple for the Lord in Jerusalem. And then for a thousand years or so – as the people of Israel go through their history of wars and exiles and captivity and return – and finally there comes a king Herod who builds a new temple – the Second Temple -but that temple is destroyed by the Romans in 79 A.D.

But along the way comes One promised to David. One of David’s House.

In our Gospel reading this morning we are only offered glimpses of Him as He rushes from place to place. The last sentence of our Gospel reading this morning:

“And wherever He went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might touch even the fringe of His cloak; and all who touched it were healed.” And all who touched it were healed.

And all who touched it were healed.

We also have the words of Paul.

We have the words of Paul, a devoted son of David, who had met Jesus on the road to Damascus.

He is writing to the church at Ephesus: He is writing to Gentiles, those who were not born as Jews:

“Remember that you were…without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace…

In his flesh He has made both groups – {Jews and Gentiles} – into one and has broken down the dividing wall …the hostility between us…He has {created} in Himself one humanity in place of the two, thus making peace and reconciling both groups to God in one body through the cross….He came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near…you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets; with Christ Jesus Himself as the Cornerstone….”

Paul closes his thoughts with these wonderful words:

“In Christ the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple to the Lord, in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”

Paul was speaking to the new church at a time when the great division was between Jew and Gentile. Today we also live in a time of great divisiveness – sometimes and in some ways a bitter and hateful divisiveness. Maybe now is the time for a great pandemic of Christ’s love – maybe that’s what He wants us to do.

I’m about to wind up. Maybe it’s time to tie up all the loose ends.

How did David respond to these words of God brought to him by Nathan?

But first, let me give you a homework assignment.

Sometime this coming week, pull down your Bible and read the following:

All of Chapter 7 from 2nd Samuel.

All of Psalm 89.

 That’s Chapter 7 from 2nd Samuel and Psalm 89 – Remember 7 and 89.

Now those remaining loose ends.

How did David respond to these words of God brought to him by Nathan?

The Bible introduces David’s response by saying: “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said,”

It sounds like to me that David went into a quiet place by himself, sat down, then spoke to God – David went into a quiet place and prayed…

And he prayed this:

“…Who am I, Lord God and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?…there is none like you, and there is no God besides you…For you, O Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, I will build you a house, Therefore your servant has found courage to say this prayer to you. And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you…”

I guess my prayer this morning is that the gentleman in Newark will be able to complete the restoration of his family home. I also pray that at some time – hopefully a few years yet – my daughter will be able to figure out what to do with all those books and the old house.

My main prayer, though, is that you – and all of us- be dwelling places for God.



Richard Robertson