David Guzik Commentary on the Bible
2 Samuel 7
God's Covenant with David
A. David proposes to build God a permanent house.
1. (1-3) Nathan's premature advice to David.
Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains." Then Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you."
a. The Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around: This leads us to believe that the events of 2 Samuel 7 happened after the wars of conquest described in 2 Samuel 8. This section is placed before the war accounts in the text to show its greater importance.
b. I dwell in a house of cedar: Cedar wood was especially valued. This meant that David lived in an expensive, beautiful home. When he remembered that the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains, the contrast bothered him. David was troubled by the thought that he lived in a nicer house than the ark of the covenant.
i. A house of cedar: "It was a remarkable contrast to the shelter of Adullam's cave." (Meyer)
ii. Without saying the specific words, David told Nathan that he wanted to build a temple to replace the tabernacle. When Israel was in the wilderness more than 400 years before this, God commanded Moses to build a tent of meeting according to a specific pattern (Exodus 25:8-9). God never asked for a permanent building to replace the tent, but now David wanted to do this for God.
iii. The tent of meeting - also known as the tabernacle - was perfectly suited to Israel in the wilderness because they constantly moved. Now that Israel was securely in the land and the ark of the covenant was in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17), David thought it would be better and more appropriate to build a temple to replace the tabernacle.
c. Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you: Nathan said this to David because it seemed good and reasonable. What could be wrong with David building a temple?
i. All that is in your heart shows that David's heart was filled with this question: "What can I do for God?" He was so filled with gratitude and concern for God's glory that he wanted to do something special for God.
2. (4-7) God's response to David's offer.
But it happened that night that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, "Go and tell My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord: "Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, 'Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?' "
a. That night that the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Nathan's response to David was presumptuous. He answered according to human judgment and common sense, but before he heard the word of the Lord.
i. "It is of the utmost importance that we should ever test our desires, even the highest and holiest of them, by His will. Work, excellent in itself, should never be undertaken, save at the express command of God. The passing of time will always vindicate the wisdom of the Divine will." (Morgan)
b. Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? God seemed honored and "surprised" that David offered to build Him a house. It was as if God said to David, "You want to build Me a house? No one ever offered to do that before, and I never commanded anyone to do it."
i. David wanted to do more than God commanded. This is a wonderful place to be in our relationship with God. Most of us are so stuck in the thinking, "How little can I do and still please the Lord?" that we never really want to do more than God commands.
ii. "Though the Lord refused to David the realization of his wish, he did it in a most gracious manner. He did not put the idea away from him in anger or disdain, as though David had cherished an unworthy desire; but he honored his servant even in the non-acceptance of his offer." (Spurgeon)
c. Would you build a house: David now learned that God didn't want him to build the temple, but David didn't respond by doing nothing. According to 1 Chronicles 29:2-9, David gathered all the materials for building the temple so that Solomon could build a glorious house for God.
i. "If you cannot have what you hoped, do not sit down in despair and allow the energies of your life to run to waste; but arise, and gird yourself to help others to achieve. If you may not build, you may gather materials for him that shall. If you may not go down the mine, you can hold the ropes." (Meyer)
B. God proposes to build David a permanent house.
1. (8-9) God reminds David what He has done for him.
"Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth." ' "
a. I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people: God took David from the pasture to the throne.
b. I have been with you wherever you have gone: God protected David from all his enemies.
c. Have made you a great name: God made David's name great in all the earth.
2. (10-11) God promises two things to David.
"Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house."
a. I will appoint a place for My people Israel: God promised David that under his reign, He would establish a permanent and secure Israel. God promised this first because He knew that David, being a godly shepherd, was first concerned about the welfare of his people.
b. He will make you a house: God promised David that He would build him a house in the sense of establishing a dynasty for the house of David. This was an enduring legacy for David long after his death.
i. David wanted to build God a temple. God said, "Thank you David, but no thanks. Let Me build you a house instead." This was a greater promise than David's offer to God, because David's "house" (dynasty) would last longer and be more glorious than the temple David wanted to build.
ii. God honored what David gave Him, even though he only gave it to God in his sincere intention. There are some things that we want to give God but are prevented from giving. In these cases God receives the intention as the gift.
iii. God said "No" to David's offer because David was a man of war, and God wanted a man of peace to build His temple. 1 Chronicles 22:8-10 explains this: But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'You have shed much blood and have made great wars; you shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight . . . a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest . . . He shall be build a house for My name.
iv. The explanation to David recorded in 1 Chronicles 22:8 came years afterwards. We can surmise that for many years David did not know the exact reason why God didn't want him to build the temple. "It would have wounded David needlessly to have been told this at the time . . . Meanwhile David possessed his soul in patience, and said to himself, 'God has a reason; I cannot understand it, but it is well.' " (Meyer)
3. (12-17) God details His promise of a house for David.
"When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever." According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
a. I will set up your seed after you: In this, God specifically promised a hereditary monarchy for the house of David. It was important for God to repeat this promise specifically, because there had never yet been a king succeeded by his son in Israel.
i. "The family of Saul became totally extinct; the family of David remained till the incarnation." (Clarke)
ii. This great promise that God made to David had only a future fulfillment. David would only benefit in his day from the promise through faith. If David had a "what's-in-it-for-me-right-now" attitude, the promise would mean nothing to him.
iii. "The joy which filled David's bosom was a spiritual one, because he knew that Jesus would come of his race, and that an everlasting kingdom would be set up in his person, and in him should the Gentiles trust." (Spurgeon)
b. He shall build a house for My name: Though David would not build a temple for God, David's descendent would.
c. I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever: The family of David did rule over Israel for more than four centuries but was eventually removed because of evil added upon evil. Yet out of the "stump" of Jesse, God raised up a new branch that will reign for ever and ever (Isaiah 11:1-2).
d. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him: This descendent of David will enjoy a special relationship with God. If he sins, God will not reject him. Instead, God will chasten him without rejecting him.
e. Your throne shall be established forever: God promisesd David that the reign of his dynasty would last forever.
i. Each of these great promises was partially fulfilled in Solomon, David's son and successor to his throne.
Solomon ruled on David's throne.
God's mercies never departed from Solomon, though he sinned.
Solomon built God a magnificent house.
ii. But the prophets foretold a greater fulfillment of these promises.
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute righteousness in the earth. . . Now this is His name by which He will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. . . Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it . . . from that time forward, even forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:31-33)
iii. God's promise of a house for David is completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Jesus does reign and will reign on David's throne forever.
The Father's mercies never departed from Jesus, even when He was made sin for us.
Jesus is building the Father a magnificent house (Hebrews 3:3-6) in the sense that we are God's temple (1 Peter 2:5) and the church is God's new house.
C. David's prayer of thanksgiving.
1. (18-24) He humbly glorifies God for His goodness.
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: "Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God; and You have also spoken of Your servant's house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord God? Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know Your servant. For Your word's sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name; and to do for Youself great and awesome deeds for Your land; before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods? For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, Lord, have become their God."
a. Who am I, O Lord God? . . . Therefore You are great, O Lord God: When David received this spectacular gift, he didn't think it made him any greater. In David's eyes it made God greater.
i. David's attitude wasn't, "I am so great that even God's gives me gifts." His attitude was, "God is so great that He gives even me gifts." We should receive salvation and every blessing with the same attitude. God's giving reflects the greatness of the Giver, not the receiver.
b. Your servant: David's humble reception of this gift is shown by the repetition of the phrase Your servant - ten times in this prayer.
i. It shows that David humbly accepted God's "no" when he wanted to build the temple. "There are some professors who would do a great thing if they might, but if they are not permitted to act a shining part they are in the sulks and angry with their God. David when his proposal was set aside found it in his heart not to murmur, but to pray." (Spurgeon)
2. (25-29) David boldly asks that the promise be fulfilled as spoken.
"Now, O Lord God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said. So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, 'The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel.' And let the house of Your servant David be established before You. For You, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant, saying, 'I will build you a house.' Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You. And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant. Now therefore, let it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You; for You, O Lord God, have spoken it, and with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever."
a. Establish it forever and do as You have said: David's prayer boldly asked God to do what He promised. This wasn't passive prayer that said, "Well God, do whatever You want to do - I don't really care one way or another." This wasn't arrogant prayer that said, "Well God, let me tell You what to do." This was bold prayer that said, "God, here is Your promise - now I trust You to fulfill it grandly and to be faithful to Your word."
i. The phrase "therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You" emphasizes this. David said, "I'm only praying because You promised. You told me that this is what You want to do."
ii. "God sent the promise on purpose to be used. If I see a Bank of England note, it is a promise for a certain amount of money, and I take it and use it. But oh I my friend, do try and use God's promises; nothing pleases God better than to see his promises put in circulation; he loves to see his children bring them up to him, and say, 'Lord, do as thou hast said.' And let me tell you that it glorifies God to use his promises." (Spurgeon)
iii. This kind of prayer appropriates God's promise. Just because God promised doesn't mean that we possess. Through believing prayer like this, God promises and we appropriate. If we don't appropriate in faith, God's promise is left unclaimed.
We may appropriate His promise for forgiveness: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
We may appropriate His promise for peace: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
We may appropriate His promise for guidance: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye. (Psalm 32:8)
We may appropriate His promise for growth: He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
We may appropriate His promise for help: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace of help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
b. Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You: Notice that David prayed from the heart. Some people pray from a book; others pray from their head. The right place to pray from is the heart.
i. It also says that David came before God to pray this prayer. Some prayers are not prayed. They are said or read or thought, but not prayed. "Not to say this prayer, but to pray this prayer. There is great force in the expression. Some prayers are never prayed, but are like arrows which are never shot from the bow. Scarcely may I call them prayers, for they are such as to form, and matter, and verbiage, but they are said, not prayed. The praying of prayer is the main matter." (Spurgeon)
c. You are God, and Your words are true: This was David's foundation of faith. He knew that God was God, and that every word of His was true. He knew that God can be trusted.
i. "The great sin of not believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is often spoken of very lightly and in a very trifling spirit, as though it were scarcely any sin at all; yet, according to my text, and, indeed, according to the whole tenor of the Scriptures, unbelief is the giving of God the lie, and what can be worse?" (Spurgeon)
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