The last two chapters we’ve studied together have been about big ideas. In 2 Samuel 5, David was anointed king over all of Israel and he took up residence in Jerusalem. And the earthly city of Jerusalem foreshadowed the new, heavenly city of Jerusalem, the holy city, which we read about at the end of the Bible; and which is not really a city at all, because it’s really the people of God, who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and who will live with the Lord forever and forever in the new heavens and earth. And the river of the water of life is there; and all who drink from it will live forever. And the tree of life is there for the healing of the nations. And the throne of God and of the Lamb is there, because God will be with his people forever.
And that was foreshadowed by the events of 2 Samuel 5 when David took up residence in the earthly city of Jerusalem. And the events of 2 Samuel 6 represent the partial fulfilment of God’s threefold promise to Abraham and Isaac and Jaob. God promised Abraham and Isaac and Jacob that he would make them into a great people; and he promised to prepare a place for them to live in; and he promised that his presence would be with them. That’s what God promised to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And the people of Israel had become a great nation. And the Lord had given them a place to live in: the land of Canaan. And in 2 Samuel 6, David brought the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem. And since the ark of the Lord represented the presence of the Lord, then bringing the ark to Jerusalem signified that God was with his people, dwelling in their midst. And so, in 2 Samuel 6 we have God’s people, living in the place he had prepared for them, enjoying his presence with them.
But that was only a partial fulfilment of God’s promise, because God’s promise to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled ultimately in the life to come when all of God’s people who make up the church of Jesus Christ will come into the new heavens and earth where we’ll enjoy the presence of God forever.
So, chapters 5 and 6 of 2 Samuel deal with big ideas. And chapter 7 is the same, because in this chapter God made a promise to David that David’s throne will be established forever. And God’s promise to David about establishing his throne forever is fulfilled ultimately by the Lord Jesus Christ, who is King David’s greater Son and who rules and reigns forever from his heavenly throne.
And in the providence of God, we’re studying this chapter today, which is the Sunday before Easter Sunday and which is known as Palm Sunday. Remember the first Palm Sunday? The Lord Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the back of a colt; and the people waved palm branches and they welcomed him by shouting:
Hosanna to the … what?
Hosanna to the Son of David.
The people welcomed him as the Son of David. In other words, they welcomed him as their king.
While one of David’s descendants continued to sit on the throne for hundreds of years after David died, eventually there were no more kings of Judah, because God sent his people into exile and foreign nations ruled over them for a time. However, God had not abandoned his people, because he had promised them that a new king would one day come, a shoot from the stump of Jesse, who will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. And he will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom from that time on and forever. The Lord God Almighty promised to send his people a new king. And on that first Palm Sunday, the new king arrived, riding on a colt, in fulfilment of God’s promise.
And today’s passage from 2 Samuel 7 anticipates that, because when God promised to establish David’s throne forever, he was promising that one day Christ the King would take the throne and rule forever. And, of course, each one of us must believe in Christ the King, because he promises forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe in him. You must believe in him, because he’s the great King who gave up his life for his people so that they might have everlasting life.
Today’s chapter can be divided into three parts. Verses 1 to 3 are the introduction. In verses 4 to 17 we have God’s revelation to David. And in verses 18 to 29 we have David’s response to God.
Verses 1 to 3
Verse 1 tells us that King David was now settled in his palace; and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies. Up until that point, the Philistines and other nations had been attacking the Israelites, and first Saul, and then David, had led the Israelites in battle against their enemies, to defend the nation from attack. There would be more battles to come, because they weren’t yet in the true Promised Land to come. And while we go on living in this world, we all have to face all kinds of trials and troubles. We have Covid-19 to contend with; David had enemy nations to contend with. That’s the way this life is. But, for a time, David enjoyed a period of rest and things had quietened down in the kingdom. And it gave David the opportunity to think about other things, such as the ark of the Lord. And we can imagine him, looking around at his palace, with its cedar paneling, and comparing his palace with the ark of the Lord which was, at that time, kept in a tent. And he said to Nathan: here I am in the palace while the ark is in a tent. And Nathan responded by saying to David:
Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.
Now, we don’t know at this point what was in David’s mind, because he hasn’t said so. But the Lord’s words in verse 5 make clear for us that David intends to build a house as a place to keep the ark of the Lord. Since David lived in a house, then God’s ark — which represented the presence of the Lord — should also live in a house. That’s what David had in mind; and Nathan the prophet told him to go ahead and put his plan into action.
I like what our church’s Confession of Faith says about good works. David thought building a house for the ark of the Lord was a good work he could perform for the Lord. And Christians often think we can know by instinct or by intuition what we ought to do. And so, we come up with our good works, the things we want to do for the Lord, because we think it will please him. But what does the Confession teach us?
That good works are only those which God has commanded in his holy word; and they do not include works without the warrant of the word of God which are of human invention, whether arising from blind zeal or from a claim of good intention.
In other words, our zeal for the Lord and our good intentions need to be controlled by God’s word. David’s intentions were good, but the word of God came to him through the prophet Nathan and the Lord made clear that it was not the Lord’s will for him to build a house for the Lord. What we do for the Lord — in our personal lives and in the life and work of the church — must always be directed by and tested by the word of the Lord.
Verses 4 to 17
But let’s move on now to God’s revelation to David through the prophet Nathan in verses 4 to 17. The Lord instructed Nathan to go to David and to tell him:
This is what the Lord says.
So, what did the Lord say? He begins with a question, which is a kind of mild rebuke, isn’t it? Just as we might say to someone, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’, so the Lord said to David:
Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?
And he went on to say that from the time he brought the Israelites out of Egypt right up to the present time he had no need of a house. And he had no need of a house, because he’s been moving with the Israelites from place to place. When the Israelites were travelling through the wilderness, the Lord was moving with them. When they came into the Promised Land, and before they were settled, he was moving with them. In all that time, a tent was the most suitable dwelling place for the Lord, because the people were not yet settled in the land. He didn’t need a house.
‘Now then’, the Lord says in verse 8. And those words signify that he’s moving into the next part of his message to David. ‘Now then, tell my servant David this.’ And I wonder, did you notice that he refers to David as ‘my servant’? In verse 1, the narrator refers to David as ‘the king’. But in verse 5 and here in verse 8 the Lord refers to him as ‘my servant’. Even though David is a king, he’s still the servant of the Lord and he must listen to his Master and do what his Master says. And the Lord reminds David of what God had done for him. Here’s David, wanting to do something for the Lord, but the Lord wants to remind David of what he — the Lord — has done for David. And so, the Lord took him from the fields when he was only a shepherd. And the Lord made him ruler of his people. And the Lord has been with him to help him and to protect him. And the Lord has cut off his enemies, so when David went out to fight, it was the Lord who gave him the victory. David wanted to do something for the Lord, but the Lord wanted to remind David of what he had done for David.
And then the Lord goes on to refer to what he will do for David in the future. I will make your name great. I will provide a place for my people Israel, so that they will have a home of their own and will no longer be disturbed. And I will give you, David, rest from all your enemies. Now, David’s name was already great, but the Lord would make it greater. And the people were already living in the land, but the Lord would make it more secure. And David already enjoyed a measure of rest, but the Lord was promising even greater rest. David wanted to do something for the Lord, but the Lord wanted to show David what he would do for David in the future.
And the Lord wasn’t finished yet. David wanted to build a house for the Lord, but the Lord wanted to build a house for David. Do you see that in verse 11? But when he refers to a house for David, he’s not referring to a building, but to a dynasty: to a succession of kings who will come from him. And so, when David’s days are over, God will raise up his offspring to succeed David. Now, the word ‘offspring’ can refer to a single descendant or to a collection of descendants. In this verse — verse 12 — it refers to a single descendant. The Lord is referring to Solomon, who was David’s son and who became the next king after David. And so — as the Lord says — he will come from David’s body. And David’s son is the one who will build a house for the Lord. And sure enough, we know from biblical history that Solomon built a temple for the Lord in Jerusalem. And the Lord says that he — the Lord — will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. And that means it won’t be weak and fragile and easily toppled, but it will endure. And the Lord will regard Solomon as his son. So, from that time on, there will be this special relationship between the Lord and the king, because the Lord will regard himself as the father of the king. And just as earthly fathers will discipline their wayward children, so the Lord will discipline Solomon when he goes astray. And sure enough, Solomon sinned against the Lord by worshipping idols; and the Lord disciplined him by dividing the kingdom and taking part of it away from him. However, just as a father will continue to love his wayward son, so the Lord will continue to love Solomon when he goes astray. Though the Lord rejected King Saul when he was disobedient, the Lord will never ever take his steadfast love away from Solomon.
And so we come to verse 16 and to the climax of the Lord’s message to David, because having spoken about David’s son and his kingdom, the Lord returns to speaking about David’s house and kingdom. Your house, the Lord promises, and your kingdom shall endure forever. And remember: when he refers to David’s house, he’s not referring to a building, but to a dynasty, a succession of kings who will come from him. Solomon was the first king to come from him, but Solomon was the first of many kings who were all descended from David and who ruled from Jerusalem over God’s people. David’s dynasty and kingdom will endure forever before the Lord. So, the Lord will watch over them and will guard them and keep them. And David’s throne will be established forever.
And for hundreds of years, a descendant of David sat on the throne and ruled over God’s people. But, as I said at the beginning, eventually the Lord sent his rebellious people into exile and foreign kings ruled over them. But the Lord remembered his promise to David to establish his throne forever; and in the days when foreign kings ruled over them, an angel was sent to Mary to announce to her that she would give birth to a son; and the Lord will give to her son the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and his kingdom will never end. And so, when the fullness of time had come, the Lord Jesus was born as the new king; and wise men came from the east to honour him as the new king. And when he had grown up, he began his public work by declaring that the time had come, the time the people had been waiting for, because the kingdom of God was near. The kingdom of God was near, because the king had come. The Lord Jesus is King David’s greater Son. And on the very first Palm Sunday, he rode into Jerusalem on a colt and was welcomed as the Son of David and king of the people. And though the people rejected him and killed him by nailing him to the cross, the Lord God did not abandon him, but raised him from the grave and exalted him to the highest place, to rule and reign, not from an earthly throne, but from a heavenly throne. And so, in Revelation 5, we see the Risen and Exalted Lord Jesus Christ where he’s called the Root of David. And the Risen and Exalted Lord Jesus Christ stands in the centre of God’s throne, where he rules and reigns over the history of the world and from where he puts into action God’s plan for the world and for his people. Everything that happens in the world is under the authority of Jesus Christ, who is King David’s greater Son who reigns forever.
Verses 18 to 29
In verses 18 to 29 we have David’s response to God’s revelation. ‘Who am I?’ he asks. And ‘What is my house?’ Although the NIV has the word ‘family’, David is referring to the dynasty that God has promised him. He’s amazed, astonished, by God’s kindness to him. The Lord has already done so much for him by making him king; and now the Lord has promised him even greater things to come in the future. And in verse 20 he’s really saying that he’s speechless:
What more can I say?
But even though he’s speechless, he’s able to find the words in verses 22 to 24 to praise the Lord who is great and who is unique, because he alone is God and there is none like him. And David praises the Lord for honouring the people of Israel by redeeming or delivering them when they were slaves in Egypt. And for the glory of his own name, and for the good of Israel, the Lord has done great things for them. And he was established the people of Israel — of all the nations of the world — to be his own special people.
So, he praises the Lord in verses 22 to 24. And then in verses 25 to 29, David turns from praise to petition and he asks the Lord to do what he has promised concerning David, who is God’s servant, and concerning David’s house. And so, since the Lord has promised to build a house for David, a dynasty, so that a succession of kings will come from David, David prays to the Lord to do what he has promised and to bless his house so that it will continue forever in his sight.
And so, David’s response to the Lord’s revelation is first of all praise and then it’s petition. And that should be our response when we hear God’s word and especially when we hear his promises. We should praise him for his kindness to us and pray that what he has promised will be done. Praise him for promising to forgive us and pray for him to forgive us. Praise him for promising to give us eternal life and pray for him to bring us to our eternal home. Praise him for promising to build his church on the earth and pray for him to convert the nations. We should respond to God’s word with praise and prayer.
But let me go back for a moment to David’s words at the end of verse 19. The NIV says:
Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord?
However, a better way to translate what David says is as follows:
This is instruction for all humanity, O Sovereign Lord.
So, God has spoken to David about the future of David’s house and how a succession of kings will come from David and how David’s throne will be established forever. And in response, David says that this is instruction for all humanity. Now do you see the significance of this? He’s saying that this instruction, this revelation from the Lord, is not for David alone. And it’s not for the people of Israel alone. This instruction, this revelation from the Lord, is for all of humanity. It’s for the whole world. What God was revealing to David concerns the whole world, because King David’s greater Son will reign as king over all.
And if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is King David’s greater Son, and Lord over all, then you are a member of his kingdom. And in his kingdom, which is an everlasting kingdom, there is everlasting life, so that though you die, you will one day be raised to live with him and to reign with him over the new and better world to come. This world, and all the kingdoms of this world, are destined to perish. They will not last. And those who belong to this world, and who never enter Christ’s kingdom, will not last, but will one day be condemned by God for their unbelief and sin and sent away to be punished forever. But those who belong to Christ and to his everlasting kingdom will live forever, because they will be raised from the dead, as Christ their king was raised from the dead, and they will live with him forever. You will live with him forever, if you believe in him. And whereas David had enemies to spoil his kingdom and his peace, all of Christ’s enemies will be destroyed, so that there will be perfect peace and rest for all of his people in the new and better world to come.
And, of course, Christ our King already rules over all. I mentioned the vision we have in Revelation 5 of God’s throne room, where the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, Jesus Christ, are enthroned. And the Lord Jesus, our King, rules over the whole of human history, and he’s putting into action God’s plan for the world and for his people. And so, we’re able to look to him every day, we’re able to look to Christ the King, for the help and strength we need for the trials and troubles we must endure, including this coronavirus crisis. We’re able to look to him for the help and strength we need to endure and to overcome all things. We’re able to look to him to work out his purposes and to bring good out of the trials we suffer. We’re able to look to him to guard us and to keep us in his kingdom. And when the forces of evil rise up to oppose the church, when an unbelieving world resists his kingdom, we’re able to rest in the knowledge that his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and no-one and nothing is able to overthrow his kingdom.
And so, knowing that Christ our King rules and reigns over all and that God’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, you don’t need to be afraid or anxious about anything, because you can rely on Christ the King to help you in this life; and then, when this life is over, to bring you into the new heavens and earth where you will live with him and reign with him forever.