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"After Nathan had spoken to King David [delivering the message in yesterday's reading], the king went in and sat before the Lord and said..."
"The king went in." Went in where, exactly? None of the translations say! Presumab
ly he went into the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was. Where in the tent? Into the curtained-off Holy of Holies? What if the scriptural vagueness is an invitation to go beyond the materiality of just where David went? In the light of all that follows (David's amazed, heartfelt outpouring of gratitude), I found myself reading this passage from 2 Samuel in the light of the Sermon on the Mount: "When you pray, go to your inner room..." (Mt 6:6). From what I have learned, the Greek can also be rendered "go to the inner room of you"--go into your inner sanctuary, your heart.
"The king went in and sat before the Lord." This simple, direct movement of David: through the door, into the nearest chair and right into conversation. This is what really hit me. The easy familiarity of David with the Lord reminded me of Moses, with whom the Lord spoke face to face, "as one man speaks to another" (Ex 33:11). There had been no delay between his receiving the prophet's word and eventually making his way to prayer. David processed the message in prayer "before the Lord." (Just in case you were tempted to think that the message itself was just one more example of ancient exaggerations or time-bound cultural expectations, the Psalm response is taken from the Gospel of Luke--from the Annunciation to Mary, where Gabriel quotes the prophetic promise. David was right to go straight to God, blown away by the gift.)
If this one line from today's liturgy were all we knew of David, the tradition would still be justified in considering him a model of prayer. He would have shown us all we need to do; all that Jesus would sum up in the Sermon on the Mount: "The king went in and sat before the Lord."