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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

1 Chronicles 17

Verse 1

GOD REJECTS DAVID'S PURPOSE TO BUILD A TEMPLE BUT PROMISES THE MESSIAH WHOSE THRONE WOULD LAST FOREVER;

DAVID'S PRAYER OF RESPONSE

"And it came to pass, when David dwelt in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of Jehovah dwelleth under curtains. And Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thy heart; for God is with thee. And it came to pass the same night, that the Word of God came to Nathan, saying, Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith Jehovah. Thou shalt not build me a house to dwell in: for I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel, unto this day, but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. In all places wherein I have walked with all Israel, spake I a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to be shepherd of my people, saying, Why have ye not built me a house of cedar? Now therefore thus shalt thou say to my servant David, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be prince over my people Israel: and I have been with thee whithersoever thou hast gone, and have cut off all thine enemies from before thee; and I will make thee a name, like unto the name of the great ones that are in the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more, as at the first, and as from the day that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel; and I will subdue all thine enemies. Moreover I tell thee that Jehovah will build thee a house. And it shall come to pass, when thy days are fulfilled that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will set up thy seed after thee, who shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me a house; and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee; but I will settle him in my house and in my kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David."

2 Samuel 7:1-17 is parallel to these fifteen verses; and we have written fourteen pages of comments on them in Vol. 4 (2Samuel) of the Historical Books in our series of commentaries, pp. 81-94.

The variations in the two accounts are not significant. God's prohibition against David's intention of building God a house was stated in the form of a question in 2Samuel, but appears here as a positive commandment forbidding it. The meaning is the same either way. The Hebrew method of making a negative statement frequently took the form of a question as in Luke 18:8.

Also, both accounts make it absolutely certain that the passage has no reference whatever to Solomon. This, of course, is disputed. Jacob M. Myers, for example, wrote that, "Verse 11 must not be made to bear too much weight ... it seems to refer only to Solomon."[1] However, it is impossible to put "too much weight" on verse 11! It thunders the message, found also in the parallel, that the Great One who would build God a house would appear after (yes, that's the word, AFTER) David's death; and Solomon did not appear after David's decease, but during his lifetime and was co-regent with him for a period. See our extensive comment on this in the parallel.

Verse 16

DAVID'S PRAYER OF RESPONSE

"Then David the king went in, and sat before Jehovah; and said, Who am I, O Jehovah God, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me thus far? And this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; but thou hast spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Jehovah God. What can David say yet more unto thee concerning the honor which is done to thy servant? for thou knowest thy servant. O Jehovah, for thy servant's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou wrought all this greatness, to make known all these great things. O Jehovah, there is none like thee, neither is there any god besides thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears, and what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem unto himself for a people, to make thee a name by great and terrible things, in driving out nations from before thy people, whom thou redeemedst out of Egypt? For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people forever; and thou Jehovah becamest their God. And now, O Jehovah, let the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, be established forever, and do as thou hast spoken. And let thy name be established and magnified forever, saying, Jehovah of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and the house of David thy servant is established before thee. For thou, O my God, hast revealed to thy servant that thou wilt build him a house: therefore hast thy servant found in his heart to pray before thee. And now, O Jehovah, thou art God, and hast promised this good thing unto thy servant: and now it hath pleased thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue forever before thee: for thou, O Jehovah, hast blessed, and it is blessed for ever."

These verses are parallel to 2 Samuel 7:18-29; and, "The Chronicler followed his source quite closely, with insignificant variations."[2]

We have written three pages of comments on these verses in our Commentary on 2Samuel, pp. 85-97.

There is a strong likelihood that David, at first, understood that "house" which the Lord said would be built as a reference to the physical temple later erected by Solomon; but there is every reason to believe that David later realized that the promise included the coming of one much Greater than Solomon, that the true temple of God was in heaven, and that God's Israel was in no manner whatever limited to any race of men.

The Messianic promises of the Psalms, especially in many of them that were written by David, abundantly prove this ultimate understanding on David's part.

The critical notion that this text teaches that Solomon would be the builder of that promised "house" is effectively refuted by 1 Chronicles 17:25, above, in which David made it crystal clear that he understood the builder of that house to be, not Solomon, or any other mortal, but God Himself.

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 17". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/1-chronicles-17.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.