Adam Clarke Commentary
David consults the prophet Nathan about building a temple for the Lord, and is encouraged by him to do it, 2 Samuel 7:1-3. That night Nathan receives a revelation from God, stating that Solomon, not David, should build the temple, 2 Samuel 7:4-16. Nathan delivers the Divine message, and David magnifies God for his mercies, and makes prayer and supplication, 2 Samuel 7:17-29.
When the king sat in his house - That is, when he became resident in the palace which Hiram, king of Tyre, had built for him.
And the Lord had given him rest - This was after he had defeated the Philistines, and cast them out of all the strong places in Israel which they had possessed after the overthrow of Saul; but before he had carried his arms beyond the land of Israel, against the Moabites, Syrians, and Idumeans. See 2 Samuel 8:1-14.
I dwell in a house of cedar - That is, a house whose principal beams, ceiling, and wainscot, were cedar.
Dwelleth within curtains - Having no other residence but the tabernacle, which was a place covered with the skins of beasts, Exodus 26:14.
Nathan said to the king - In this case he gave his judgment as a pious and prudent man, not as a prophet; for the prophets were not always under a Divine afflatus; it was only at select times they were thus honored.
For the Lord is with thee - Thou hast his blessing in all that thou doest, and this pious design of thine will most certainly meet with his approbation.
Shalt thou build me a house - That is, Thou shalt not: this is the force of the interrogative in such a case.
With any of the tribes - “Spake I a word to any of the Judges” is the reading in the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 17:6, and this is probably the true reading. Indeed, there is but one letter of difference between them, and letters which might be easily mistaken for each other: שבטי (shibtey), tribes, is almost the same in appearance with שפטי ht (shophetey), judges; the ב (beth) and the פ (pe) being the same letter, the apex under the upper stroke of the פ (pe) excepted. If this were but a little effaced in a MS., it would be mistaken for the other, and then we should have tribes instead of judges. This reading seems confirmed by 2 Samuel 7:11.
I will appoint a place - I have appointed a place, and have planted them. See the observations at the end, 2 Samuel 7:25 (note).
The Lord - will make thee a house - Thou hast in thy heart to make me a house; I have it in my heart to make thee a house: thy family shall be built up, and shall prosper in the throne of Israel; and thy spiritual posterity shall remain for ever. God is the author of all our holy purposes, as well as of our good works, he first excites them; and if we be workers together with him, he will crown and reward them as though they were our own, though he is their sole author.
He shall build - That is, Solomon shall build my temple, not thou, because thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars. See 1 Chronicles 22:8 (note); and see also the observations at the end, 2 Samuel 7:25 (note).
The throne of his kingdom for ever - This is a reference to the government of the spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of the Messiah, agreeably to the predictions of the prophet long after, and by which this passage is illustrated: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even For Ever.” Isaiah 9:7.
If he commit iniquity - Depart from the holy commandment delivered to him; I will chasten him with the rod of men-he shall have affliction, but his government shall not be utterly subverted. But this has a higher meaning. See the observations at the end, 2 Samuel 7:25 (note).
But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul - His house shall be a lasting house, and he shall die in the throne of Israel, his children succeeding him; and the spiritual seed, Christ, possessing and ruling in that throne to the end of time.
The family of Saul became totally extinct; the family of David remained till the incarnation. Joseph and Mary were both of that family; Jesus was the only heir to the kingdom of Israel; he did not choose to sit on the secular throne, he ascended the spiritual throne, and now he is exalted to the right hand of God, a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and remission of sins. See the observations at the end of the chapter, 2 Samuel 7:25 (note).
Many have applied these verses and their parallels to support the doctrine of unconditional final perseverance; but with it the text has nothing to do; and were we to press it, because of the antitype, Solomon, the doctrine would most evidently be ruined, for there is neither proof nor evidence of Solomon‘s salvation.
Sat before the Lord - Sometimes, when a Hindoo seeks a favor from a superior, he sits down in his presence in silence; or if he solicits some favor of a god, as riches, children, etc., he places himself before the idol, and remains in a waiting posture, or repeats the name of the god, counting the beads in his necklace. - Ward.
And is this the manner of man - Literally: And this, O Lord God, is the law of Adam. Does he refer to the promise made to Adam, The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent? From my line shall the Messiah spring, and be the spiritual and triumphant King, for ever and ever. See the additions at the end, 2 Samuel 7:25 (note).
What can David say more - How can I express my endless obligation to thee?
And do as thou hast said - David well knew that all the promises made to himself and family were conditional; and therefore he prays that they may be fulfilled. His posterity did not walk with God, and therefore they were driven from the throne. It was taken from them by the neighboring nations, and it is now in the hands of the Mohammedans; all the promises have failed to David and his natural posterity, and to Christ and his spiritual seed alone are they fulfilled. Had David‘s posterity been faithful, they would, according to the promises of God, have been sitting on the Israelitish throne at this day.
It is worthy of remark how seldom God employs a soldier in any spiritual work, just for the same reason as that given to David; and yet there have been several eminently pious men in the army, who have labored for the conversion of sinners. I knew a remarkable instance of this; I was acquainted with Mr. John Haime, a well known preacher among the people called Methodists. He was a soldier in the queen‘s eighth regiment of dragoons, in Flanders, in the years 1739-46. He had his horse shot under him at the battle of Fontenoy, May 11, 1745; and was in the hottest fire of the enemy for above seven hours; he preached among his fellow soldiers frequently, and under the immediate patronage of his royal highness the Duke of Cumberland, commander-in-chief; and was the means of reforming and converting many hundreds of the soldiers. He was a man of amazing courage and resolution, and of inflexible loyalty. One having expressed a wonder “how he could reconcile killing men with preaching the Gospel of the grace and peace of Christ,” he answered, “I never killed a man.” “How can you tell that? were you not in several battles?” “Yes, but I am confident I never killed nor wounded a man.” “How was this? did you not do your duty?” “Yes, with all my might; but when in battle, either my horse jumped aside or was wounded, or was killed, or my carbine missed fire, and I could never draw the blood of the enemy.” “And would you have done it if you could?” “Yes, I would have slain the whole French army, had it been in my power; I fought in a good cause, for a good king, and for my country; and though I struck in order to cut, and hack, and hew, on every side, I could kill no man.” This is the substance of his answers to the above questions, and we see from it a remarkable interfering Providence; God had appointed this man to build a spiritual house in the British army, in Flanders, and would not permit him to shed the blood of his fellow creatures.
“This chapter is one of the most important in the Old Testament, and yet some of its most interesting verses are very improperly rendered in our translation; it therefore demands our most careful consideration. And as in the course of these remarks I propose to consider, and hope to explain, some of the prophecies descriptive of The Messiah, which were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, among which prophecies that contained in this chapter is worthy of particular attention, I shall introduce it with a general state of this great argument.
“It having pleased God that, between the time of a Messiah being promised and the time of his coming, there should be delivered by the prophets a variety of marks by which the Messiah was to be known, and distinguished from every other man; it was impossible for any one to prove himself the Messiah, whose character did not answer to these marks; and of course it was necessary that all these criteria, thus Divinely foretold, should be fulfilled in the character of Jesus Christ. That these prophetic descriptions of the Messiah were numerous, appears from Christ and his apostles, (Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44; Acts 17:2, Acts 17:3; Acts 28:23, etc.), who referred the Jews to the Old Testament as containing abundant evidence of his being The Messiah, because he fulfilled all the prophecies descriptive of that singular character. The chief of these prophecies related to his being miraculously born of a virgin; the time and place of his birth; the tribe and family from which he was to descend; the miracles he was to perform; the manner of his preaching; his humility and mean appearance; the perfect innocence of his life; the greatness of his sufferings; the treachery of his betrayer; the circumstances of his trial; the nature of his death and burial; and his miraculous resurrection. Now amongst all the circumstances which form this chain of prophecy, the first reference made in the New Testament relates to his descent; for the New Testament begins with asserting that Jesus Christ was the son of David, the son of Abraham. As to the descent of Christ from Abraham, every one knows that Christ was born a Jew, and consequently descended from Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. And we all know that the promise given to Abraham concerning the Messiah is recorded in the history of Abraham‘s life, in Genesis 22:18. Christ being also to descend from David, there can be no doubt that this promise, as made to David, was recorded likewise in the history of David. It is remarkable that David‘s life is given more at large than that of any other person in the Old Testament; and can it be supposed that the historian omitted to record that promise which was more honorable to David than any other circumstance? The record of this promise, if written at all, must have been written in this chapter; in the message from God by Nathan to David, which is here inserted. Here, I am fully persuaded, the promise was, and still is, recorded; and the chief reason why our divines have so frequently missed it, or been so much perplexed about it, is owing to our very improper translation of the 10th and 14th verses. “This wrong translation in a part of Scripture so very interesting, has been artfully laid hold of, and expatiated upon splendidly, by the deistical author of The Ground and Reasons of the Christian Religion; who pretends to demonstrate that the promise of a Messiah could not be here recorded. His reasons, hitherto I believe unanswered, are three:
1.Because, in 2 Samuel 7:10, the prophet speaks of the future prosperity of the Jews, as to be afterwards fixed, and no more afflicted; which circumstances are totally repugnant to the fate of the Jews, as connected with the birth and death of Christ.
2.Because the son here promised was (2 Samuel 7:13) to build a house; which house, it is pretended, must mean the temple of Solomon; and of course Solomon must be the son here promised. And,
3.Because 2 Samuel 7:14 supposes that this son might commit iniquity, which could not be supposed of the Messiah.
The first of these objections is founded on our wrong translation of 2 Samuel 7:10, where the words should be expressed as relating to the time past or present. For the prophet is there declaring what great things God had already done for David and his people; that he had raised David from the sheepfold to the throne; and that he had planted the Israelites in a place of safety, at rest from all those enemies who had so often before afflicted them. That the verbs ושמתי (vesamti), and ונטעתי (unetati), may be rendered in the time past or present, is allowed by our own translators; who here (2 Samuel 7:11) render והניחתי (vahanichothi), and have caused thee to rest, and also render והגיד (vehiggid), and telleth; which construction, made necessary here by the context, might be confirmed by other proofs almost innumerable. The translation, therefore, should run thus: I took thee from the sheepcote; and have made thee a great name; and I Have Appointed a place for my people Israel; and Have Planted them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more. Neither Do the children of wickedness afflict them any more; as before-time, and as since the time that I commanded judges to be over Israel: and I Have Caused thee to rest from all thine enemies.
“Objection the second is founded on a mistake in the sense. David indeed had proposed to build a house for God, which God did not permit. Yet, approving the piety of David‘s intention, God was pleased to reward it by promising that he would make a house for David; which house, to be thus erected by God, was certainly not material, or made of stones, but a spiritual house, or family, to be raised up for the honor of God, and the salvation of mankind. And this house, which God would make, was to be built by David‘s Seed; and this seed was to be raised up After David slept with his fathers; which words clearly exclude Solomon, who was set up and placed upon the throne Before David was dead. This building promised by God, was to be erected by one of David‘s descendants, who was also to be an everlasting king; and indeed the house and the kingdom were both of them to be established forever. Now that this house or spiritual building was to be set up, together with a kingdom, by the Messiah, is clear from Zechariah; who very emphatically says, (Zechariah 6:12, Zechariah 6:13), Behold the man whose name is The Branch; He Shall Build the Temple of the Lord. Even He Shall Build the Temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his Throne, etc. Observe also the language of the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 3:9-17, St. Paul says, Ye are God‘s Building - Know ye not that Ye are the temple of God - the temple of God is holy, which temple Ye are. And the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews seems to have his eye upon this very promise in Samuel concerning a son to David, and of the house which he should build; when he says, (Hebrews 3:6), Christ, As a Son Over His Own House, Whose House Are We.
“As to the third and greatest difficulty, that also may be removed by a more just translation of 2 Samuel 7:14; for the Hebrew words do not properly signify what they are now made to speak. It is certain that the principal word, בהעותו (behaavotho), is not the active infinitive of kal, which would be בעותו, but העות from עיה is in niphal, as הגלות from גלה. It is also certain that a verb, which in the active voice signifies to commit iniquity, may, in the passive signify to suffer for iniquity; and hence it is that nouns from such verbs sometimes signify iniquity, sometimes punishment. See Lowth‘s Isaiah, p, 187, with many other authorities which shall be produced hereafter. The way being thus made clear, we are now prepared for abolishing our translation, if he commit iniquity; and also for adopting the true one, even in his suffering for iniquity. The Messiah, who is thus the person possibly here spoken of, will be made still more manifest from the whole verse thus translated: I will be his father, and he shall be my son: Even in His Suffering for Iniquity, I shall chasten him with the rod of men, (with the rod due to men), and with the stripes (due to) the children of Adam. And this construction is well supported by Isaiah 53:4, Isaiah 53:5: He hath carried Our Sorrows, (i.e., the sorrows due to us, and which we must otherwise have suffered), he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. See note, p. 479, in Hallet, on Hebrews 11:26. Thus, then, God declares himself the Father of the Son here meant; (see also Hebrews 1:5); and promises that, even amidst the sufferings of this Son, (as they would be for the sins of others, not for his own), his mercy should still attend him: nor should his favor be ever removed from this king, as it had been from Saul. And thus (as it follows) thine house (O David) and thy kingdom shall, in Messiah, be established for ever before Me: (before God): thy throne shall be established for ever. Thus the angel, delivering his message to the virgin mother, Luke 1:32, Luke 1:33, speaks as if he was quoting from this very prophecy: The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob For Ever: and of his kingdom there shall be no end. In 2 Samuel 7:16, לפניך (lephaneycha), is rendered as לפני (lephanai), on the authority of three Hebrew MSS., with the Greek and Syriac versions; and, indeed, nothing could be established for ever in the presence of David, but in the presence of God only.
“Having thus shown that the words fairly admit here the promise made to David, that from his seed should arise Messiah, the everlasting King; it may be necessary to add that, if the Messiah be the person here meant, as suffering innocently for the sins of others, Solomon cannot be; nor can this be a prophecy admitting such double sense, or be applied properly to two such opposite characters. Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of Himself, or of Some Other man? This was a question properly put by the Ethiopian treasurer, (Acts 8:34), who never dreamed that such a description as he was reading could relate to different persons; and Philip shows him that the person was Jesus only. So here it may be asked, Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of Solomon, or of Christ? It must be answered, Of Christ: one reason is, because the description does not agree to Solomon; and therefore Solomon being necessarily excluded in a single sense, must also be excluded in a double. Lastly, if it would be universally held absurd to consider the promise of Messiah made to Abraham as relating to any other person besides Messiah; why is there not an equal absurdity in giving a double sense to the promise of Messiah thus made to David?
“Next to our present very improper translation, the cause of the common confusion here has been - not distinguishing the promise here made as to Messiah alone, from another made as to Solomon alone: the first brought by Nathan, the second by Gad; the first near the beginning of David‘s reign, the second near the end of it; the first relating to Messiah‘s spiritual kingdom, everlasting without conditions, the second relating to the fate of the temporal kingdom of Solomon, and his heirs, depending entirely on their obedience or rebellion, 1 Chronicles 22:8-13; 1 Chronicles 28:7. Let the first message be compared with this second in 1 Chronicles 22:8-13, which the Syriac version (at 1 Chronicles 22:8) tells us was delivered by a prophet, and the Arabian says by the prophet Gad. This second message was after David‘s many wars, when he had shed much blood; and it was this second message that, out of all David‘s sons, appointed Solomon to be his successor. At the time of the first message Solomon was not born; it being delivered soon after David became king at Jerusalem: but Solomon was born at the time of this second message. For though our translation very wrongly says, (1 Chronicles 22:9), a son Shall Be born to thee - and his name shall be Solomon; yet the Hebrew text expressly speaks of him as then born - Behold a son, (נולד, natus est), Is Born to thee: and therefore the words following must be rendered, Solomon Is his name, and I will give peace in his days: he shall build a house for my name, etc.
“From David‘s address to God, after receiving the message by Nathan, it is plain that David understood the Son promised to be The Messiah: in whom his house was to be established for ever. But the words which seem most expressive of this are in this verse now rendered very unintelligibly: And is this the manner of man? Whereas the words וזאת תורת האדם (vezoth torath haadam) literally signify, and this is (or must be) the law of the man, or of the Adam; i.e., this promise must relate to the law or ordinance made by God to Adam, concerning the seed of the woman; the man, or the second Adam; as the Messiah is expressly called by St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:45, 1 Corinthians 15:47. This meaning will be yet more evident from the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 17:17, where the words of David are now miserably rendered thus: And thou hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree; whereas the words וראיתני כתור האדם המעלה (ureithani kethor haadam hammaalah) literally signify, and thou hast regarded me according to the order of the Adam that Is Future, or The Man that Is from Above: (for the word המעלה (hammaalah) very remarkably signifies hereafter as to time, and from above as to place): and thus St. Paul, including both senses - The Second Man Is the Lord from Heaven - and Adam is the figure of him that was to come, or the future, Romans 5:14. - See the Preface of the late learned Mr. Peters on Job, referred to and confirmed as to this interesting point in a note subjoined to my Sermon on A Virgin Shall Conceive, etc., P. 46-52, 8 vo. 1765. A part of that note here follows: ‹The speech of David (2 Samuel 7:18-29) is such as one might naturally expect from a person overwhelmed with the greatness of the promised blessing: for it is abrupt, full of wonder, and fraught with repetitions. And now what can David say unto thee? What, indeed! For thou, Lord God knowest thy servant - thou knowest the hearts of all men, and seest how full my own heart is. For thy word‘s sake - for the sake of former prophecies, and according to thine own heart - from the mere motive of thy wisdom and goodness, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. I now perceive the reason of those miraculous providences which have attended me from my youth up; taken from following the sheep, and conducted through all difficulties to be ruler of thy people; and shall I distrust the promise now made me? Thy words be true. If the preceding remarks on this whole passage be just and well grounded, then may we see clearly the chief foundation of what St. Peter tells us (Acts 2:30) concerning David: that being a prophet, and Knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, etc.‘”
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/view.cgi?book=2sa&chapter=007. 1832.