Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 7

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



The parallel account to this chapter is in 1 Chronicles 17:0, and the differences are very slight.

Verse 1

(1) Had given him rest.—No intimation is given of how long this may have been after the events narrated in the last chapter; but it is evident that this narrative is placed here, not because it followed chronologically, but because it is closely related in subject, and the historian, after telling of the removal of the ark, wished to record in that connection David’s further purposes in the same direction. It must have been after the successful close of David’s principal foreign wars—“rest round about from all his enemies”—and the future in 2 Samuel 7:10 does not necessarily imply that it was before the birth of Solomon; yet it is more likely to have been in a time of quiet prosperity, before the troubles of his latter years.

Verse 2

(2) Nathan.—This is the first mention of him, but he was already a confidential counsellor of the king, and became prominent later in this reign and in the opening of that of Solomon (2 Samuel 12:0; 1 Kings 1:10; 1 Kings 1:12; 1 Kings 1:34; 1 Kings 1:38). Nathan “the prophet” and Gad “the seer” wrote parts of the history of this and the succeeding reign (1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29).

Within curtains.—This is the word used in Exodus 26:0 and 36 for the covering of the tabernacle. The ark was not now within that, but in a similar temporary structure. David’s heart is moved by a comparison of his own royal residence with the inferior provision for the ark. Compare the opposite state of things among the returned exiles in Haggai 1:10.

Verse 3

(3) Go, do all that is in thine heart.—Nathan naturally considered that it must be right for David to execute his pious purpose; but he spoke only according to his own sense of right, and not by Divine direction.

Verse 4

(4) That night.—The night following Nathan’s conversation with David, when the prophet’s mind would have been full of what he had heard, and thus prepared for the Divine communication. That communication is distinctly marked as coming from a source external to the prophet himself, by its being in direct opposition to his own view already expressed.

Verse 5

(5) Shalt thou build?—The question implies the negative, as it is expressed in 1 Chronicles 17:5, and as it is here translated in the LXX. and Syriac.

After David was told that he should not be allowed to build a temple for God as he desired, he is promised that God will make for him a sure house, and will accept the building of the temple from his son. David is called “my servant,” an expression used only of those eminent and faithful in the service of God, as Moses and Joshua, thus showing—as in fact the whole message does—that the prohibition conveyed nothing of Divine displeasure; but no reason for it is here expressed.[33] But in, David’s parting charge to Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:8), and to the heads of the nation (1 Chronicles 28:3), he says, “the word of the Lord came unto” him, giving as the reason, “because thou hast shed much blood on the earth,” and “hast been a man of war.” Those wars had been necessary, under the circumstances in which he was placed, and had never been disapproved of God; still the mere fact that he had been a man of blood unfitted him for this sacred office.

[33] Two reasons for the prohibition are found by nearly all commentators in this message itself. (1) That God must first build “a house “for David before he could properly build a temple for God; and (2) that the kingdom was not yet sufficiently established and peaceful for a temple to be built. But neither of these are assigned as reasons m the Divine word, and it is better to keep only to that which is assigned, however these other facts may convince us of the fitness and propriety of the postponement of David’s purpose.

Verse 7

(7) The tribes.—In the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 17:6, the word is “judges,” the difference in Hebrew being only of a single similar letter. But a like use of “tribes” for the judges sprung from them may be found in Psalms 78:67-68; 1 Chronicles 28:4.

Verse 8

(8) Sheepcote.—Better, pasture.

Verse 10

(10) Will appoint . . . will plant.—There is no change of tense in the original; read, have appointed, . . . have planted.

(11) And as since the time.—These words are connected with the last clause of the verse before. The Lord says that He had now given His people rest under David, not allowing “the children of wickedness to afflict them any more as before time,” when they were in Egypt, nor as in the troubled period of the judges, “since the time that I commanded judges,” &c.

Verse 12

(12) Which shall proceed.—The promise here given certainly has immediate reference to Solomon, and it is thought by many that the use of the future shows that he was not yet born. This may be the fact, and if so, the expression will give an important indication of the point in David’s reign to which this passage belongs. But the same expression might have been used after Solomon’s birth, the future tense being merely an assimilation to the futures of the whole passage, and the point of the promise being that David’s son shall succeed to his throne.

Verse 14

(14) If he commit iniquity.—The promise has plainly in view a human successor or successors of David upon his throne; and yet it also promises the establishment of David’s kingdom FOREVER by an emphatic threefold repetition (2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16), which can only be fulfilled, and has always been understood as to be fulfilled, in the Messiah. There is a similar promise of a prophet, human and yet more than human, in Deuteronomy 18:15-22, and the explanation in both cases is the same. The Divine word looks forward to a long succession of human prophets or heads of the theocracy who should for the time being, and as far as might be, fill the place of the true Prophet and King, all culminating at last in Him who should fully make known the Father’s will and reign over His people, of “whose kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33).

Verse 15

(15) As I took it from Saul.—He and his house were utterly and permanently set aside; David’s descendants will be punished for their sins, yet shall never be forgotten, and shall, ultimately issue in one who shall conquer sin and death for ever.

Verse 16

(16) Established.—Two different Hebrew words are so translated in this verse. The first is the same word as that used in 2 Samuel 7:12-13, while the second is translated sure in 1 Samuel 2:35; Isaiah 55:3, and would be better rendered here also made sure.

Before thee.—The LXX. has unnecessarily changed this to before me. The thought is, that David is now made the head of the line in which shall be fulfilled the primeval promise “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” This was originally given simply to the human race (Genesis 3:15); then restricted to the nation descended from Abraham (Genesis 22:18, &c); then limited to the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10, comp. Ezekiel 21:27), and now its fulfilment is promised in the family of David.

Verse 17

(17) This vision.—A word applied to any Divine communication, and not merely to that given in vision strictly so called. (See Isaiah 1:1.)

Verse 18

(18) Then went king David in, and sat.—As always at every important point in his life, David’s first care is to take that which he has in his mind before the Lord. The place to which he went must be the tent he had pitched for the ark. Here he sat to meditate in God’s presence upon the communication which had now been made to him, and then to offer his thanksgiving (2 Samuel 7:18-21), praise (2 Samuel 7:22-24), and prayer (2 Samuel 7:25-29).

The Divine Name is here printed with the word GOD in small capitals. This is always done in the Authorised Version wherever it stands for JEHOVAH in the original. The same custom is also followed with the word LORD. Out of reverence for the name, Jehovah never has its own vowels in Hebrew, but is printed with those belonging to Lord, or in case this word also is used, then with those belonging to God.

Verse 19

(19) Is this the manner of man?—This clause is very obscure in the original, and little help in determining its meaning can be had from the ancient versions. The word translated “manner” is a very common one, and never has this sense elsewhere; its well established meaning is law. Neither is there any reason to suppose that a question is intended. Translate, “And this is a law for man!” David expresses his surprise that so great a promise, even a decree of an eternal kingdom, should be given to such as himself and his posterity. The same thought is far less strikingly expressed in the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 17:18), “Thou hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree.”

Verse 22

(22) All that we have heard with our ears.—Such expressions are common enough in all languages not only for that which has been communicated orally, but for all that has been made known in any way; the same word is used with reference to written records in Deuteronomy 4:6; 2 Kings 17:14; 2 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 19:16 (in Hezekiah’s prayer in reference to Sennacherib’s letter); Nehemiah 9:29; probably Esther 2:8; and in many other places. (So also the corresponding Greek word, Revelation 1:3, &c). It is therefore entirely unnecessary to suppose that David refers here only to oral tradition; he means the history of the Divine dealings with his people as recorded in their sacred books.

Verse 23

(23) Whom God went to redeem.—The word here used for God in this its usual plural form is always construed with a singular verb when it refers to the true God. Here the verb is plural, because the thought is, “What nation is there whom its gods went to redeem?”

For you.—These words, which can only refer to Israel, seem strange in a prayer to God. They are omitted by the LXX., and changed into for them by the Vulg. If they are retained as they are, it must be understood that David for the moment turns in thought to the people, instead of to God whom he is immediately addressing.

For thy land.—The LXX. and the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 17:21), instead of this have, “by driving out.” If the text here may be corrected in this way, there will be no occasion for inserting from before the nations, which is not in the Hebrew. This part of the verse will then read, to do great things and terrible, by driving out before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, nations and their gods. The phrase, “great things and terrible,” in reference to the Exodus, is taken from Deuteronomy 10:21. The whole of this part of the prayer is evidently founded upon Deuteronomy 4:7; Deuteronomy 4:32-34.

Verse 26

(26) Let thy name be magnified.—David here, in the true spirit of the Lord’s prayer, puts in the forefront of his petition the “hallowed be thy name;” and this is the striking feature of all his life, into whatever sins he may at times have been betrayed, that his main object was to live to the glory of God.

Verse 27

(27) Therefore hath thy servant.—The ground of the believer’s prayer must ever be the lovingkindness and promises of God.

Verse 29

(29) Let it please thee.—These words may be taken either in the optative, as in our Version, or better in the future, constituting a prophecy based upon the promise, “It will please thee.” Compare a similar possibility in the translation of the last clause of the Te Deum, “Let me never,” or “I shall never be confounded.”

Several of the Psalms have been referred by various writers to this point in David’s life; but while many of them take their key-note from the promise now made, and which was ever fresh in David’s thought, none of them have notes of time definitely determining them to the present occasion, unless it be Ps. ex., which seems like an inspired interpretation of the promise of the perpetuity of his kingdom, and at the same time might have taken its “local colouring” from his recent successful wars.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/2-samuel-7.html. 1905.
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