2 Samuel 7:1–16
1 Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 3 Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.” 4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5 Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7 Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 8 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15 But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever. 17 In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
See also Isaiah 9:6–7
6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
A LEADER WE LONG FOR
Presidential elections remind us how much people long for a leader – a leader who will bring justice and peace, protection and prosperity. However, all too often people’s aspirations are dashed as leaders reveal their own flaws and failures. No one person proves to be the ideal leader – with one exception.
One of the main themes that the Bible develops is that of a king whom God will appoint and through whom he will bring redemption. During the reign of King David, some one thousand years after Abraham (c. 10th cent. B.C.), we learn that key elements of God’s promises to Abraham have been fulfilled – his descendants are many, they possess the land from the River Nile in Egypt to the Euphrates River (modern Iraq), and there is a king (David) who has laid the foundation for a time of peace and prosperity under his descendants, in the first instance, his son Solomon.
During his reign David spoke with Nathan the prophet about building a house (temple) for God. He thought that things were not right spiritually in the kingdom – he lived in a palace but ‘the ark of God’ which was the focus of God’s presence among the people ‘dwells in a tent’ (7:2). He wanted to build a ‘place’ for God. God, however, through his prophet Nathan, wanted David to understand a bigger picture – first, God is not limited to buildings; second, he intended to make David’s name ‘great’ and establish his (David’s) ‘house’ (dynasty) forever. The king who would sit on David’s throne will not get these through personal posturing or political intrigue, but will be ‘chosen’ by God. God will raise up a ‘descendant’ of David who will reign over Israel (heirs of the promises), in peace and prosperity, justice and truth (7:10–11).
Notice the play on the word house – David had wanted to build God a house; God plans to build David another kind of house, a dynasty. David would one day die – he was not without sin – but, by God’s grace, from David’s house would arise a descendant who would be God’s perfect king.
In fulfillment of all that is promised here, David’s offspring would establish God’s reign forever (7:12–13). One day he would ride into the city of Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (see Zechariah 9:9; Luke 19:37–38) – Jesus, the son of David, son of Abraham, son of Adam, son of God (Luke 3:23–38).
When Jesus asked his close followers who he was, Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ’ [literally, the anointed king], the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16). The language of 2 Samuel 7 is prophetic and profound, identifying important motifs of God’s king and righteousness and peace forever. We should also note that the human inclination to look for a holy place is confounded by God’s passion for a holy people. ‘Look up for God’s king,’ 2 Samuel 7 urges us. ‘See now,’ says Luke and the other New Testament writers, ‘God’s king has come, death has not defeated him’ (Luke 24; Acts 17:30–31).
- the implications of God’s initiative – he called, anointed, and made David king;
- the significance of the promise of a house; compare Jesus’ words, I will build my church (Matthew 16:16ff); and
- what Jesus Christ means for you; what does it mean to turn to him and honor him?