I am woefully behind in my Lent Challenge posts, but let’s keep going:
“So you are great, my LORD, because there is none like you, and there is no god except you - this is what we have heard!
And who is like your people Israel? - the only nation of its kind on the earth - because God went out and redeemed (for Himself) a people to establish his name (for Himself).
You did (for yourself) great and awesome things for the land in the sight of your people which you redeemed (for yourself) from out of the Egyptian nation and its gods.
You established (for yourself) your people Israel (for yourself) as your own people for all time, and you, O LORD, are God - for them.
This is a very clumsy passage to translate but what struck me about it was the number of repetitions of “for Himself” and “for yourself” in the Hebrew. That’s part of what makes it so clumsy.
David was, as 1066 And All That would put it, a Good King but a Bad Thing. A bad thing because, as we saw last time, God actually didn’t want Israel to have a king but was pretty much prepared to go along with it, but a good king because - almost all of the time - he got what God was trying to do.
God has put together this nation called Israel to be a people through which His nature would be revealed. They are to be a people who represent God. They’re His advertising campaign. They’re of course doing it tremendously badly because they keep doing stuff He doesn’t want, like going after other gods and/or looking for a military leader to rule over them, but part of what God wants to communicate through them is His unending love and refusal to give up on this obviously disobedient people. He’s not making them great because they’re great, He’s making them great because He’s great.
And David gets that. The repeated “for yourself”/”for Himself” shows that he is aware that the status of his nation is for the service of his god. He is proud of Israel, yes, but only because it has been allowed by God’s grace to play a part in His wider mission, and that’s a good reason to be proud.