a tale of two kings
"With [David's] whole being he loved his Maker and daily had His praises sung." —Sirach 47:8
For the past three weeks, we have read about King David in the readings for Mass. Although David's relationship with the Lord gets a mixed review elsewhere in the Old Testament, Sirach's summary of David's life contains only the highest of praise. However, the other king in today's readings, Herod, received nothing but bad press for his life.
History shows David to be a scoundrel who is at least Herod's equal, if not his superior. David actually was more cruel in his dealings with Uriah, husband of Bathsheba, than Herod was with John the Baptizer. At least Herod listened to John with respect and fear (Mk 6:20). David not only plotted in cold-blood to kill Uriah; he also exploited Uriah's great loyalty and had him hand-deliver a letter containing his own death sentence (2 Sm 11:14ff). David's lack of faith caused him to ignore the wise counsel of his leaders and take a census of Israel. This disobedience resulted in seventy- thousand Israelites being killed by a plague (2 Sm 24:2ff). David also committed many other sins and crimes.
Why then is David ultimately extolled while Herod is condemned? The difference is in the repenting. David was quick to repent each time he had sinned. He sinned greatly, but he repented greatly. "With his whole being he loved his Maker" (Sir 47:8), and he worshipped God with abandon (2 Sm 6:14). "The Lord forgave him his sins" (Sir 47:11). "That is why [his] many sins are forgiven — because of [his] great love" (Lk 7:47). Love the Lord. Repent!
Prayer: Father, may I love You enough to repent in full.
Promise: "God's way is unerring, the promise of the Lord is fire-tried; He is a Shield to all who take refuge in Him." —Ps 18:31
Praise: St. Agatha's last words before she died as a martyr are said to have been: "Make me worthy to overcome the devil."
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 26, 2009
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