Updated: Dec 16, 2020
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave.
Isaiah 11:1 says, "Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." Verse 10 adds, "On that day the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will look to him for guidance, and his resting place will be glorious." We all know about King David. David is spoken about more in the Old Testament than any other human character. He killed Goliath, went from being a shepherd to a king, and was known as a man after God's own heart. But some may be wondering, "who is Jesse?" If you know your Bible trivia, you know Jesse was David's father. And what did Jesse do? Not much besides having David for a son. However, that was no small thing for Israel!
All great leaders came into this world as babies. That's obvious, but still strange to think about. David was no different. This child became a humble shepherd boy in Bethlehem but was elevated to be king. Under David's reign, there were many wars with various hostile nations that sought to harm his people, but David was a mighty warrior who defeated those enemies and allowed the people to live securely. The prosperity enjoyed by Solomon was made possible by David. It was to David that God promised, "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever." (2 Sam. 7:16).
However, Isaiah had prophesied that David's kingdom would fall. Generations of ever-worsening rebellion and idolatry would end in a cataclysmic judgment in which the throne would be taken away from David's descendants. It would appear as though God was taking back what He had promised. However, though they were not ruling, some of David's descendants survived.
When I see a tree stump, I presume that the tree is dead. From its stump, I can tell a lot about the tree, such as how big it was and how many years it lived, but I consider that just a memoir of its past life. The tree now appears to be dead. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes, trees grow back from stumps, despite our best efforts to kill them.
The same was true of Jesse's family. It seemed as though David's throne was gone for good. But from the stump, God grew a new tree! Jesus is the eternal king from David's line. He was not disobedient but was faithful in every way. Whatever freedom David won for his people, Jesus has done more. Just when it seemed that His life was snuffed out, like a tree cut down, He sprung to life again, victorious over the grave! Christ has rescued us from the oppression of the devil and rescued us from Hell. He isn't just a king for one nation, but instead, He rules over people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, and His kingdom will have no end!
I take great comfort in recognizing Christ as my king. Despite all appearances, God was faithful to Jesse's family and ultimately to all people. He will continue to be faithful. He is my king fighting for me. Without Him, I'd be a slave to my own sins and to Satan Himself! But when I want to give up on myself, He is my rescuer! The same is true for you. The only person who can rescue you from the tyranny of sin and the devil is Christ. We are all like broken branches, but by His grace, we can be grafted into the tree that is Christ and given new life! In a year full of death, I'm clinging to that hope.
Passages for further reflection: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 78, Isaiah 11:1, 10, Micah 5:1-16, Matthew 2:1-12
This post is a part of a series on the song, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Be sure to check out the other posts in the series and my original post explaining why this is my favorite Christmas song.