Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make for you a house… And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before Me; your throne shall be established forever. 2 Samuel 7:11,16
The contrast is striking: the contrast between “royal David’s city,” his “paneled house,” and the temple for God he intends to build… to that of “a lowly cattle shed” and a manger. One would wonder why. The pedigree of Jesus is impressive, to be sure: not only a descendant and heir of mighty David much more than that! You can read for yourself the words of His genealogy: Luke 3 beginning with verse 23, and note especially the last 4 words of the chapter.
But the surroundings in which we find Him at His birth presents a stark contrast. One might think that His coming into the world would be of such insignificance that no one would notice, and His entry, not at all remembered. If that were true then, in our 21st century time, December 25th wouldn’t be called “Christmas” & churches wouldn’t gather to celebrate His birth. No, December 25th would just be another cold, snowy, wintry day for us to stay inside, keep warm because the world is a cold, dark place especially in December.
Yes, “a lowly cattle shed” doesn’t look much like the great house which a royal descendant and heir of King David would be found in. No, but for us sinners it was necessary; it was God’s way of redeeming us and fulfilling the Law for us in order to make us His own dear ones; and an heir unto eternal salvation.
Yes, it was fitting that Christ be born in lowly estate, and fitting that He suffer and die. It’s true that a cross doesn’t look much like a royal throne either, but it was there that Jesus humbled Himself and showed God’s loyal love for us that would not let a sinner die*** (see Ezekiel 33:11 and Romans 5:8). Because of the humility of this Son of David, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and by the grace of God alone, we may look forward to a house and a glory that even David couldn’t have imagined, for in Christ, we’ve been made members of the Royal Family!
*** “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way & live.” Ezek. 33:11. “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8.
Once in royal David’s city stood a lowly cattle shed.
Where a mother laid her baby in a manger for His bed.
Mary was the mother mild. Jesus Christ her little child.
He came down to earth from heaven who is God and Lord of all
And His shelter was a stable, and His cradle was a stall;
With the poor and mean and lowly, lived on earth our Savior holy.
A note about the song.
In 1848 Cecil Frances Alexander, wife of an Irish Anglican bishop, published Hymns for Little Children to help them better understand the catechism. This poem goes on to explain the phrase from the Creed: “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.”