Lutheran Theologian and Christian Martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in a poem written in a concentration camp, asks the haunting question Who am I? Fellow believers outside those prison walls were celebrating Bonhoeffer’s spiritual endurance. But, sitting behind bars under Gestapo control, he felt like a bird caught in an inescapable cage, weak and powerless. But what was he, really?
The question of identity has always loomed and haunted us humans. Are we great and powerful beings—virtual gods and goddesses who stride the face of the earth? Or are we merely temporary creatures that occupy the highest rung on the ladder of the animal kingdom? “Who Am I? Who Are You? Who Are We?“
“Who am I?”
Bonhoeffer says the answer begins with a realization that he belongs to the God who made him. We cannot understand ourselves apart from God, for we bear God’s image. We are not gods and goddesses who fell from the heavens. Nor did we emerge from some primordial ooze without purpose or meaning. We are all God’s image bearers. Like our Maker, we are able to reason, love, make moral judgments, and enter into relationship with God and with all others around us.
As we enter into the New Year 2022, Equipped in these ways, we can fulfill our call to serve as God’s representatives on this planet, unfolding all the amazing potential of this world for the sake of God’s glory. That we have been given this awesome calling is our glory. Let’s not betray our Lord in this amazing mission!
From within the exhaustive efforts at surviving this pandemic, it becomes our efforts, finding the inner strength (Philippians 4:10-13), Praise God’s Promise!
2 Samuel 7:18-25 English Standard Version
David’s Prayer of Gratitude
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them[a] great and awesome things by driving out before your people, [[b] whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? 24 And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God. 25 And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
David has a desire to build a house for the Lord. But the Lord turns this around and tells David that he will build a house for David. God’s promise will extend past the life of David. The Lord will establish the kingdom of David’s offspring. The Lord will be a father to David’s offspring. When David’s offspring sins, the promise will not be removed. The promise will not depend on the righteousness of the people but on the righteousness of God. We noted the many ways that this promise would be fulfilled in Solomon and in the future of kings of Judah.
But all of these kings failed at accomplishing God’s purposes. One of David’s offspring perfectly fulfilled God’s will and these promises were fulfilled in an even greater way. In Jesus, the kingdom of the Lord was powerfully established and destroys all the enemies that come against it. In Jesus, we see him building a house for the Lord in that he is the means by which all the world will come to the Father. In Jesus, we see him to be the true Son of God. When we see Jesus, we see the Father. In Jesus, he lives a perfect life and does not sin so that all the promises are shown to be valid and guaranteed through him.
2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 English Standard Version
16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
7 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body[a] and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
We read in 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 these promises also to come to down to us as the offspring of Abraham and the offspring of David through our connection to Jesus. We are children of God and God is our Father. We are the temple of the living God, and we are being built up into a spiritual house for the Lord (1 Peter 2:5). When we sin, our hope is not lost but God remains faithful to his promises. In short, our reading, studying, and claiming and praying the promises of 2 Samuel 7 is inescapably critical to our living forward to the Glory of God in New Covenant times, into all of scriptures. This promise is our hope for the world.
Who Am I? (7:18-21)
2 Samuel 7:18-21 ESV
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.
David is going to respond in prayer with a number of different praises for the Lord. Notice in verse 18 that the king did after receiving God’s promise of an “everlasting and eternal house,” he went in and sat in the presence of the Lord.
David approaches the Lord and has so much to say. First, David asks, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”
When we consider all that, the Lord has done, we must look at ourselves and just wonder to the Lord about who we are that the Lord would do this for us.
When we look at our Savior Jesus and how our Lord, His Father, sent him for us so that we could be his offspring and belong as his children, who are we that the Lord has done this for us? When we look into and upon God’s offer of eternity to rebellious sinners like us, who am I, who are we that the Lord has done this?
Coming out of our malignant pride, moving into this promise of indescribable magnitude, humility begins by looking at what the Lord has done. This is what David is doing. He is looking at the promises of God and exclaims, “Who am I, O Lord God!” David is praying, “My family does not have power or reputation and I am nothing. Yet God has given me and my house great and precious promises.”
But look carefully and diligently at the rest of the sentence. “Who am I, O Lord God… that you have brought me this far?” You and I have to stop and look at where you and I are and realize that God has brought us both here. Now we may not have expected where we would be right now. But God has brought us both here. We are right here in your lives and God has brought us unto this moment.
David realizes this. David has gone through years and years of both intrigue and suffering. David started simply by tending his father’s sheep and now he is the King over Israel. God brought David into, unto and through, impossible tasks. David’s heart was ignited by God’s acts of grace and salvation – Psalm 8 (ESV)!
How Majestic Is Your Name
To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith.[a] A Psalm of David.
8 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b]
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
The promise of God for us is this, as God brought David through, God will bring us through fire and flames to get you and me to this moment of humility to see the greatness of God and the lowliness of ourselves. We may not know what God is doing but he knows that he is with us and brought us here. What our God has done for David is a revelation and instruction for all people. The word translated “instruction” in the ESV is the Hebrew word torah. This is God’s teaching that all are to understand. God’s promises are spoken to us are from the beginning.
John 1:1-5 English Standard Version
The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, [[a]a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
What happened to David is an instruction to us, which Apostle John here uses to reveal God has always done great things for his glory through your life, through my life. He has done them from the very beginning of all things. He spoke all things into existence and by His own spoken declaration, declared them to be all good (Romans 8:28). Who are we God would do such a thing? Sometimes we love to think and believe that we are simply too tiny, too insignificant for God to do anything. “Why bother with us, God? We are way too little. We are nothing. What can we possibly do?” Well, God loves to take nobodies and accomplish great things.
Jesus came from literally everything and stepped directly and decisively into our insignificance to make sure we would come to know and experience that we were all quite literally worth everything to God, the Father, the Son, Holy Spirit. He thought nothing about everything all up! (John 3:16-17, Philippians 2:5-11)
How is it we should then respond to such an indescribable gift when we each are caught up in our eternal quandary “Who Am I?” “Who Are You?” “Who Are We?”
5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
9-11 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 The Message)
How many times do we have to see God use people who are “nothing” and do great things for Himself? We serve an amazing God who can 1000% use you and me to accomplish His purposes for His Kingdom. God doesn’t use the important people of the world. God uses all the people who see themselves as nothing to accomplish great things. God has brought us to this moment. Be humbled now before God who gives us these kinds of precious promises. God uses the humble. God uses all those who do not think much of themselves to accomplish much.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us now Pray,
A Prayer – May I Know Who I Am (by Debbie Ford)
On this day I ask you to grant this request –
May I know who I am and what I am, every moment of every day.
May I be a catalyst for light and love
and bring inspiration to those whose eyes I meet.
May I have the strength to stand tall in the face of conflict
and the courage to speak my voice, even when I’m scared.
May I have the humility to follow my heart.
And the passion to live my Soul’s desires.
May I seek to know the highest truth
and dismiss the gravitational pull of my lower self.
May I embrace and love the totality of myself –
my darkness as well as my light.
And may I be brave enough to hear my heart –
to let it soften so that I may gracefully choose faith over fear.
Today is my day to surrender anything that stands between
the sacredness of my humanity and my divinity.
May I be drenched in my holiness.
And engulfed by God.
May all else melt away.
And so it is, and it is so.