We are in the midst of the Feast of Nativity whose Leave-taking is on December 31. Yesterday was the Sunday after Nativity which commemorated the Righteous Prophet-King David, Joseph the Betrothed and James (Ιάκωβος), the Brother of the Lord (ΟΑδελφόθεος).When there is no Sunday between December 25 and January 1, their commemoration is moved to December 26 which is the Synaxis of the Theotokos.In many Orthodox Churches the Liturgy of St James is celebrated on the Sunday after Nativity. In Jerusalem, it is celebrated on a daily basis, except weekdays during Great Lent.
Joseph is called Betrothed but actually was married to Mary. He was from Nazareth, of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David. James was a son of Joseph from his first marriage. The former became the first bishop of Jerusalem and authored both a liturgy and an epistle.The Mosaic Law calls engaged couples husband and wife before their marriage. For example, Rachel was called the wife of Jacob before marriage by virtue of their engagement (Gn 29:21). In the Church, Joseph is remembered as the Betrothed, emphasizing Mary’s Ever-Virginity. He was more like an overseer or guardian, protecting Mary because She was an unmarried woman who was pregnant. As it says in Deuteronomy: If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones… (22:23-24)By taking Mary as his wife, Joseph spared her from being ostracized and perhaps stoned to death.
David, son of Jesse, was also of the tribe of Judah.He was born in Bethlehem just like Jesus which became known as “the City of David. He lived approximately a millennium before the Incarnation of Christ. At a young age he was secretly anointed by the Prophet Samuel to be the second king of the Israelites, while Saul who had already been deprived of divine grace, was still living. The fearless David fought for Israel against the Philistines, defeating the monstrous Goliath, despite overwhelming odds. The five stones used to slay Goliath signifies the five wounds Christ sustained on His Body. When David was about thirty years old, he was raised to King because Saul was killed in battle. David was also a musician, skilled in playing the lyre and the author of the Psalms which praise God.Praise him with the sound of trumpet; praise Him with the harp and lyre (στίχοςfrom Αίνοιin Matins, part of Psalm 150).
The Psalter is the foundation of the liturgical services of the Church. It has become a book of prayer and praise.All the Psalms reach their fulfillment in Christ, foretelling of several significant events of Christ’s earthly life. And it shall come about, when your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will prepare his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name and will establish his throne forever. I will be a father to him and he shall be to Me a son. (2 Kgs 7:12-13) “Behold, days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will raise up for David the Righteous Orient, and a King shall reign, He will understand and bring about judgment and righteousness on the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel shall dwell in confidence. This is His name by which the Lord will call him: ‘The Lord Our Righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23: 5-6)Psalm 88 says: His seed shall remain forever, and his throne as the sun before Me. (37) It was from this promise that a great King and Savior came forth. David’s own descendant, Jesus Christ, took on flesh, ushering both Jew and Gentile into His Heavenly Kingdom.
The kingship of David is a prefiguration of Christ as King of Kings (1Tim 6:15).It was prophesized by Isaiah that there shall come forth a rod from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall grow out of his root. The Spirit of God shall rest upon Him…it shall come to pass in that day that there shall be a Root of Jesse who shall arise to rule nations. The Gentiles shall hope in Him, and His resting place shall be honorable. (11:1-2, 10) The rod is the Theotokos and the flower is Christ. It was John the Baptist who remembered this prophecy when he said: “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. (Jn 1:32-33) Truly, David is of direct lineage with Christ and a prefiguration of Him, a “type” of the Messiah who is to come. David passed through the Kidron Valley just like Christ did en route from Jerusalem to Bethany. The Kidron Valley contains the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed the night before His Crucifixion.
David, both a king and a prophet was unfortunately both an adulterer and a murderer, having killed Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. However, he repented to the Prophet Nathan; his confession is best known as the 50th Psalm. This is a psalm of repentance and one that is most used in the Church. Although remembered as a great king and prophet, the Church reveres David especially as a model of repentance.
Let us all praise King David the ancestor of God for from him came the Virgin stem from this stem blossomed the flower Christ and being delivered from corruption Adam and Eve cry to Him for He is compassionate!(Stichera from Festal Vespers)