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CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES—
2 Samuel 7:1. “When the king sat in his house,” etc., i.e. the palace mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:11. Many commentators place the events of this chapter later on in the life of David, inasmuch as they think it could not be said at this period that he had “rest from all his enemies,” yet nearly all agree in understanding from 2 Samuel 7:11 that Solomon was, not born at the time. It therefore seems necessary to understand the rest spoken of as only a temporary interval of peace (for he was more or less involved in war until the end of his life), and if so, the conception of building a temple to Jehovah seems to follow here most naturally. It is quite in keeping with David’s devout character, and just what we should expect from him, that his first interval of repose should be occupied with such a purpose.
2 Samuel 7:2. “Nathan, the prophet.” This prophet here appears for the first time, and it is evident that he sustained a similar relation to David as Samuel and Gad had done, and as the latter still continued to do (see 2 Samuel 24:11-19). “If the expression first and last in 2 Chronicles 9:29 is to be taken literally, he must have lived late into the life of Solomon, in which case he must have been considerably younger than David. At any rate he seems to have been the younger of the two prophets who accompanied him, and may be considered as the latest direct representative of the schools of Samuel. The peculiar affix of ‘the prophet’ as distinguished from the ‘seer’ given to Samuel and Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29) shows his identification with the later view of the prophetic office indicated in 1 Samuel 9:9.” (Dean Stanley.) Most bible scholars consider that this part of the book of Samuel is at least compiled from Nathan’s work mentioned in 1 Chronicles 29:29. Within curtains, literally, within the tent-cloth.
2 Samuel 7:3. “Nathan said,” etc. This answer shows that, even if David did not expressly state his intention, Nathan understood his purpose to build the temple, and sanctioned his design “from his own feelings, not by Divine revelation.” (Michaelis.)
2 Samuel 7:4. “That night.” The one following the day in which the conversation took place. “The Word of the Lord came.” “By the conversation held with David during the day, Nathan’s soul with all its thoughts and feelings was concentrated on David’s great and holy purpose; this was the psychological basis for the Divine inspiration.” (Erdmann) “Shalt thou,” etc. “The question involves a negative reply.” (Keil.)
2 Samuel 7:6-7. Here “Jehovah gives two reasons why David’s proposal should not be carried out … but this does not involve any blame as though there had been any presumption on David’s part … but simply showed that it was not because of any negligence on the part of the former leaders of the people that they had not thought of erecting a temple, and that even now the time for such a work had not yet come.” (Keil)
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Samuel 7:1-7
DAVID FORBIDDEN TO BUILD THE TEMPLE
I. A good man’s desire may be in harmony with the mind of God, yet its accomplishment may be contrary to the Divine will. It must always be right and always pleasing to a good father for his son to desire to honour him and to express by some outward act his sense of love and gratitude. But while the feeling is in itself most acceptable to him, he may desire it to take some other form of expressing itself, or he may see that some other season will be a more fitting one for this particular outward expression of his child’s love and reverence. The feeling which prompts the desire must be right at all seasons, but the accomplishment of the desire may be unseasonable or undesirable. So it was with David’s desire and purpose at this period. It was most fitting and could not but be pleasing to God that David should desire to build Him a house far more beautiful than his own palace. We should feel that David was out of harmony with himself if he had sat contentedly in his palace while the ark of God was within curtains. And it is plain that the feelings which gave birth to his purpose were very acceptable to God, as all grateful emotion and desire to express them must ever be. Yet he was forbidden to carry out his design. Let no good man, then, ever think that, because his desire is not fulfilled it is displeasing to God. It may be quite the opposite. The gratitude and reverence that desires to do something for the glory of God must be most pleasing to such a God as ours; but although the feeling may be genuine and the motive pure, He may see reasons for not permitting the purpose to be carried out.
II. Those who instruct others in the oracles of God may be right in their general interpretation of the Divine will, and yet wrong in their application to special instances. Every servant of God is sure that it is the will of God that His glory shall be the ruling aim, and His service the first thought in the life of His children. But he may sometimes be mistaken as to the best methods of promoting that glory or the best time for undertaking a special service, and he must not therefore be dogmatic on these matters. Nathan was quite right in encouraging David in his endeavours to bring his own people and the surrounding nations into more intimate relation with the God of Israel. Like that of all the good in all ages his prayer was “Let the people praise Thee, O God; let all the people praise Thee.” But right as he was in the general principle, he erred in the special application on this occasion. Although it was quite true that the Lord was with David in the sense of approval of his general feeling, He was not with him in the sense that He would permit him to undertake this particular work.
III. But when God’s servants sincerely desire to do His will, He will not permit them to remain long in ignorance. If a father knows that his children only need to know what is right in order to do it, it would surely be cruel of him to let them remain in ignorance. And when our Heavenly Father sees in His children such integrity of heart that they joyfully acquiesce in His purposes concerning themselves, and desire above all other things His guidance, we cannot for a moment suppose He will withhold from them a revelation of His will. When they are permitted to err, it must be because there is some self-will which prevents entire singleness of purpose—some alloy mixed with the pure gold of a desire right in the main. David and Nathan were very soon put in full possession of God’s mind in respect to the building of the temple, and that it was so is a proof of their undivided loyalty to the Divine will, and a pledge that all who are like minded shall be as certainly instructed in the work they are to do and the part they are to fulfil.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
2 Samuel 7:2. The sentiment underlying these words was in the highest degree honourable to David. They indicate that he felt it to be a moral anomaly, if not a species of dishonesty, that he should look so well after his own personal comfort and regal dignity, while yet the house of God was but a tent. It were well, in these days, that we all shared these convictions, for we are too apt to lavish our wealth exclusively upon our own enjoyment and indulgence, forgetful of the higher claims which God and His cause have upon us. I say not, indeed, that it is wrong for a man to take such a position in society as his riches warrant him to assume, or that there is sin in spending money on our residences, or in surrounding ourselves with the treasures of human wisdom in books, or the triumphs of human art in pictures or statuary; but I do say that our gifts to the cause of God ought to be at least abreast of our expenditure for these other things; and that if we so cripple ourselves by our extravagance on house, or dress, or luxuries, as to render it impossible for us to do anything for the promotion of the Gospel abroad, or for the instruction of the ignorant at home, we are “verily guilty concerning our brethren,” and before our God. The principle here acknowledged by David is a thoroughly sound one, and though he was discouraged from applying it in the particular way on which he had set his heart, we must not suppose that his feelings, as expressed to Nathan, were wrong. On the contrary, the spiritual instinct in him was true, and God declared that “it was well that it was in his heart.” Now what was this principle? It was this, that in proportion as we increase our expenditure upon ourselves for the comforts and the elegancies of life, we ought to increase our offerings to God for the carrying on of works of faith and labours of love among our fellow-men. If we can afford to enter a larger dwelling, we ought to make ourselves afford to add proportionately to our contributions for all good objects. If we allow ourselves to gratify our taste in the purchase of a new picture or a new book, we should feel impelled to do just so much more for the gratification of the impulse of Christian benevolence. The value of this principle, when rightly understood, and conscientiously carried out, will be very great. It will act in two ways. On the one hand, it will keep us from hampering ourselves in our benevolence by personal extravagance, and so be a check on that tendency to luxury which is manifested even in many Christian households. On the other hand, it will impel us to add to our gifts to the Lord Jesus Christ; since every time we do anything for ourselves there will be a new call made upon us to do more for Him.—Taylor.
David was not one of those easy-minded men who are content to keep things just as they are, but one of those who are ever pressing onward, and urging others towards progress, improvement, development. A most useful order of mind it is, especially when duly ballasted by minds in which caution is more predominant. The world would stagnate—the church would settle down into the poorest and tamest society on earth, if such men were not raised up, with their trumpet-tongues and burning hearts, to rouse their fellows to high and lofty enterprise.—Blaikie.
2 Samuel 7:4. God will not suffer His dear children to lie long in error; but if in anything they be otherwise minded, He will reveal even this unto them (Philippians 3:15).—Trapp.
2 Samuel 7:4-5. God demands not so much splendid outward service, but rather an inner and honest service of the heart (Isaiah 4:2-4.)—Schmid.
God is much more desirous of giving to us than of receiving from us.—Wuert. Bible.
The true house of God is His people; there would He make His abode in the hearts of His own. A human heart that opens itself to God is a temple more pleasing to Him than the stateliest structure of gold and marble, and a church that really has the Lord dwelling in its midst is in the sight of God more precious than the noblest showy building which sets all the world a wondering.—Schlier.
2 Samuel 7:6. The curtained tabernacle had been specially designed by God to wean His people from those sensuous ideas of worship to which the gorgeous temples of Egypt had accustomed them; and to give them the true notion of a spiritual service, along with the visible emblem of a present God. The time had not quite arrived for changing this simple arrangement, and as long as it was God’s pleasure to dwell in the tabernacle so long might David expect that His grace might be shed forth most abundantly there. And so, whenever it seems to be indicated by God in His providence that a body of worshippers should remain in a tent-like building, they may expect that He will then shine forth in the fulness of His grace.—Blaikie.
2 Samuel 7:8. God signified His good acceptance by calling him His servant David; for at another time when he had offended it was plain David. (2 Samuel 24:12.) I took thee from the sheepcote. So that thou needest not to doubt of my love, though I use not thy service in this particular. To be ruler over my people. Do this well, and thou needest not be idle.—Trapp.
2 Samuel 7:9. Fame.
1. Fame is a gift of God’s providence—hence to be enjoyed with humility.
2. Fame is one of God’s noblest gifts—hence it may be desired and earnestly sought if righteously.
3. Fame, like all other gifts, has weighty responsibilities—hence to be used for the good of men and the glory of God.—Translator of Lange’s Commentary.
2 Samuel 7:11. This thought contains the deep general truth that God must first of all build a man’s house before the man can build God’s house, and applies it especially to the kingdom of Israel.—Keil.
CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES—
2 Samuel 7:11. “And as since,” etc. The first clause of this verse should be connected with 2 Samuel 7:10, thus, neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as before and as since, or from the day, etc.
2 Samuel 7:8-11. “The connection between these verses and 2 Samuel 7:5-7 is as follows: Thou shalt not build a house for Me, but I, who have from the very beginning glorified myself in thee and my people, will build a house for thee.… The kingdom of God in Israel first acquired its rest and consolation through the efforts of David … and the conquest of Zion and the elevation of this fortress into the palace of the king formed the commencement of the establishment of the kingdom of God. But this commencement received its first pledge of perpetuity from the Divine assurance that the throne of David should be established for all future time. And this the Lord was about to accomplish. He would build David a house, and then his seed should build the house of the Lord. No definite reason is assigned why David himself was not to build the temple; we learn this first from 1 Chronicles 22:8.… But this did not involve David in any blame … but inasmuch as these wars were necessary and inevitable, they were practical proofs that David’s kingdom and government were not yet established, and therefore that the time for the building of the temple had not yet come.” (Keil.)
2 Samuel 7:12. “Thy seed.” “Not the whole posterity, as is clear from the explanatory words in 1 Chronicles 17:11, nor merely a single individual, but a selection from the posterity.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 7:14. “A father,” etc. This denotes in the first place the most cordial mutual love, which attests its enduring character by fidelity, and demonstrates its existence towards the Lord by active obedience. But besides this ethical relation of David’s seed to God we must, from the connection, note—first, the origin, or descent of the son from the father. The seed of David, entrusted with everlasting kingly dignity, has, as such, his origin in the will of God—owes his origin to the Divine choice and call (comp. Psalms 2:7; Psalms 89:27-28). Secondly, in the designations father and son is denoted community of possession. The seed as son receives dominion from the father as heir, and as this dominion is an everlasting one he will, as son and heir, reign for ever in the possession of the kingdom. The father’s kingdom is an unlimited one, embracing the whole world; so in the idea of sonship there lies, along with everlastingness, the idea of all-embracing-world-dominion.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 7:14. “With the rod of men,” etc. Such punishments as are inflicted on all men when they sin. Grace is not to release David and the Davidic line from this universal human lot, is not to be for them a charter to sin,” (Hengstenberg.)
2 Samuel 7:15. “As I took it from Saul,” etc. “The contrast is between the punishment of sin in individuals and the favour that remains permanently with the family, whereby the Divine promise becomes an unconditional one.” (Hengstenberg.)
2 Samuel 7:16. “For ever.” It is obvious that this promise related primarily to Solomon, and had a certain fulfilment in him and in his reign.… At the same time, the substance of the promise is not fully exhausted in him. The threefold repetition of the expression “for ever,” the establishment of the kingdom and throne of David for ever, points incontrovertibly beyond the time of Solomon, and to the eternal continuance of the seed of David.… We must not reduce the idea of eternity to the popular notion of a long incalculable period, but must take it in an absolute sense as it is evidently understood in Psalms 89:30. No earthly kingdom, and no posterity of any single man, has eternal duration like the heaven and the earth; but the different families of men become extinct as the different earthly kingdoms perish. The posterity of David, therefore, could only last for ever by running out in a person who lives for ever; i.e., by culminating in the Messiah.… The promise consequently refers to the posterity of David, commencing with Solomon and closing with Christ; so that by the seed we are not to understand Solomon alone, with the kings who succeeded him, nor Christ alone to the exclusion of the earthly kings of David’s family; nor is the allusion to Solomon and Christ to be regarded as a double allusion to two different objects.” (Keil.)
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Samuel 7:12-16
THE MESSIANIC PROMISE TO DAVID
I. Reveals the special purpose of God in the election of David. As the king now sits in his palace of cedar, God takes him back to the days when as a youth he followed the sheep. During all the years that had intervened, and in all the manifold experiences through which he had passed, he had been the object of special Divine care and guidance. His life had been such that, however he might have sometimes yielded to despair in the past, he must have now felt deeply conscious, upon looking back, that he had been highly favoured above all the men of his nation. Doubtless he was more gifted than most—perhaps than any,—but the gifts that fitted him for the throne were from the same Divine giver, and only increased his obligation. But he is here reminded that he had not been made thus great for his own sake alone, or chiefly. He was to use all that had been bestowed upon him for the people over whom he had been called to rule, and was to be the founder of a race through whom not only Israel but all the families of the earth were to be blessed. This is always the purpose of God’s electing grace, whether of the individual or the nation. Men receive special favours that they may dispense special blessings, and are intended to be, not like those lakes in which a mighty river is ever emptying itself, and yet from which no stream ever flows, but like the fountain-head of that river which, as fast as it is fed by the mountain snows, sends forth its waters and becomes a channel of blessing to all around. The spirit of many of David’s psalms reveal that he entered fully into the Divine purpose of his election, but the spirit of many, both of his immediate and remote descendants, shows that they utterly failed to discern it.
II. It reveals the progressive nature of the Divine dispensations in relation to man. A dim outline is here given to Nathan by prophetic vision of a kingdom far more glorious than that which David founded. We, who live after the earthly sceptre has departed from Judah, can fill in the details, and recognise in David’s Lord the only Son who could establish his house for ever. In the kingdom of God under the Old Testament, the name of David takes a high place, and among the kings of Israel he holds a deserved pre-eminence, on account of the great national blessings which attended his powerful and beneficent rule. But One who descended from him according to the flesh has, by the majesty of His person, and the excellence of His character, and the transcendent glory of His kingdom, caused the name of David to sink into nothing in comparison. The kingdom of Christ endures because it is founded upon a purely spiritual basis; it knows no limit of time or place because its laws have their origin in the eternal moral necessity of the universe. For its King rules always and everywhere because His throne is in the heart of each of His subjects “He shall judge the poor of the people, He shall save the children of the needy, and break in pieces the oppressor;” and therefore “He shall be feared as long as the sun and moon endure.” “He shall spare the poor and needy” and “redeem their soul from deceit and violence,” and the name of such a King must “endure for ever” and “be continued as long as the sun” (Psalms 62:0). His name is called “Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins,” and as a necessary consequence, “He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 2:33). David was elected by God to shepherd Israel, and his reign was upon the whole fraught with blessing to his subjects. But the dispensation in which he ministered was, in comparison with that of the New Testament, only as the acorn to the oak, and he could as little conceive of the glory of these latter days as we could picture to ourselves some monarch of the forest, if we had never seen anything more than the tiny seed which enfolds its germ. And God has yet more in reserve for the race for whom the Great Shepherd laid down His life. We as little comprehend what wonders of grace and glory are yet to be unfolded under the reign of Christ, as David comprehended all that was included in the word of the Lord which came to Nathan. We have the King of whom it spake, and who can never be succeeded by another; but we have no conception of the infinite possibilities yet hidden in God in connection with that kingdom which can never be removed but abideth for ever. “Eye hath not” yet “seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
In considering this prophecy we need to bear in mind the peculiar form of the revelations respecting Messiah which God communicated to David. To other prophets, revelations of the Messiah were made objectively—apart from themselves; they were shown Christ and His day afar off; they had no more personal relation to the thing revealed than other believers around them. But when revelations of Messiah were made to David, they were usually connected with something in his own life, history, or experience; they had a shadowy foundation in something subjective or pesonal to himself; that thing enlarged, purified, glorified, constituted the revelation of Christ. This was in keeping with the typical relation which David and his kingdom had to Christ and His kingdom. As this was the character of the revelations made to David respecting Christ, so also was it the character of many of his prophetic songs.… Melting and shading insensibly into each other as the two classes of objects do, it is often extremely difficult to say which of them is meant.—Blaikie.
It is plain that the building of a house of rest for the ark was designed to stand out prominently in the sight of Israel as a great and mighty undertaking—as a work of sufficient magnitude and importance to form the one great enterprise of a king who could give himself to it without distraction or disturbance. Such was obviously the impression which the Divine appointment, regarding the building of a house for the name of God, must have made upon the minds of the people of Israel—the church of that day; and the reason why David was forbidden and Solomon permitted to build that house is still more clearly unfolded to us now that the promises and predictions connected with that work have been and are in the way of being fulfilled.… David was honoured to be an eminent type of the Messiah, inasmuch as, by his trials, his conflicts, and his conquests, he did very significantly prefigure a suffering, but at the same time, a triumphant Saviour. This however, was only one aspect of Christ’s kingly office … there is another view—even the relation in which, as king, He stands to His church.… This view God was also graciously pleased to typify or prefigure in the kingly office as it had been established in Israel; and we cannot fail to perceive the wisdom which provided that this should be done, not in the person of the same king who was employed to represent Christ in His conflict and His victory, but in that of another who should be pre-eminently a peaceful king.—Gordon.
The fulfilment of the great and gracious promise of God to David in Christ the Son of David.
1. In His person, He is not merely David’s seed—seed of the woman—Abraham’s seed, but also God’s Song of Song of Solomon 2:0. In His office, He is King over the kingdom of God, King of all Kings.
3. In His possession of power, He has an everlasting kingdom, to Him is given all power in heaven and on earth.
4. In His work. He builds for the name of God the Father a house, a spiritual temple in humanity, out of living stones. (Comp. John 2:19.)—Lange’s Commentary.
Why is there this frequent repetition in this promise? (2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16). Three times is the perpetuity declared. Why is this? It is to meet the difficulties of our faith, arising from the lengthened suspension of the promise, and the apparent improbability of Christ’s everlasting monarchy.—Bickersteth.
We have seen that David was himself a prophecy of Christ. It follows from that, therefore, that the Temple which he so desired to build is a prophecy of the Church. With all its grandeur under Solomon, that stately building was, after all, only a type of that more glorious spiritual fabric which is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth into an holy temple in the Lord.” Now, in the erection of this living temple we may all take part. When by faith in Jesus Christ we become united to Him, and receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts, we, as it were, build ourselves, or, in another aspect of it, are built by God, as living stones into that glorious edifice which Jehovah through the ages is rearing for His own eternal abode. When, again, by our instrumentality, either directly in the efforts which we put forth at home, or indirectly through the labours of those whom we sustain abroad, we work for the conversion of others, we are engaged as under-builders, on the same spiritual edifice, David would have counted it the highest privilege of his life if he had been permitted to build the Temple on Moriah; and even after the prohibition came by the mouth of Nathan, it was the joy of his latter years to collect materials wherewith Solomon, his son, might raise a house worthy of Jehovah’s worship. Nay, more, in the days of Solomon himself, after the gorgeous structure had been raised, everyone who had done anything, however small, in the way of helping on its erection, was invested with a peculiar honour in the eyes of his fellow-countrymen. As the Psalm expresses it: “A man was famous according as he had lifted axes upon the thick trees.” But a higher privilege, and a more lasting renown, will be the portion of him who assists in the most humble capacity in the uprearing of that Church which is to be “for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”—Taylor.
2 Samuel 7:13. Where Jesus reigns in power men must yield obedience of some sort. His kingdom, moreover, is no house of cards or dynasty of days; it is as lasting as the lights of heaven; days and nights will cease before He abdicates His throne. Neither sun nor moon as yet manifest any failure in their radiance, nor are there any signs of decrepitude in the Kingdom of Jesus, it is but in its youth, and is evidently the coming power, the rising sun.… Throughout all generations shall the throne of the Redeemer stand. Humanity shall not wear out the religion of the Incarnate God. No infidelity shall wither it away, nor superstition smother it; it shall rise immortal from what seemed its grave; as the true phœnix, it shall revive from its ashes. As long as there are men on earth Christ shall have a throne among them. Instead of the fathers shall be the children. Each generation shall have a regeneration in its midst, let Pope and devil do what they may. Even at this hour we have the tokens of His eternal power; since He ascended to His throne eighteen hundred years ago, His dominion has not been overturned, though the mightiest of empires have gone like visions of the night. We see on the shores of time the wrecks of the Cæsars, the relics of the Moguls, and the last remnant of the Ottomans. Charlemagne, Maximilian, Napoleon, how they flit like shadows before us! They were and are not; but Jesus for ever is. As for the houses of Hohenzollern, Guelph, or Hapsburg, they have their hour; but the Son of David has all hours and ages as His own.—Spurgeon.
2 Samuel 7:16. The advantages of civil government contrasted with the blessings of the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ.
1. The first and primary advantage expected from every well constituted human government is security, and the sense of security.… Whatever may be the imperfections attaching to various modes of government, the worst is preferable to a state of society destitute of public authority and law; in such a state there can exist not only no security, but no tranquillity.… But the utmost that can be enjoyed under any form of civil power is a most imperfect shadow of the safety which Jesus Christ bestows upon the subjects of His spiritual reign …
2. The second benefit expected from human government is liberty. So far as this advantage is consistent with the former, the more largely it is enjoyed the better. Every diminution of our liberty, except such as is necessary to our protection from evils which might otherwise be apprehended, is itself just so much redundant evil.… Restraint that cannot be justified by the production of some greater benefit than could be attained without it, is not imperfection, it is injustice.… But suppose the utmost degree of civil liberty to be enjoyed, what is that in comparison with that real spiritual freedom which Jesus Christ confers?… From the moment the Christian enters into the kingdom of grace and truth, he leaves his bonds behind; invigorated with a Divine strength he purposes and it stands fast; he triumphs over himself; is victorious over the world.… tramples upon the greatest tyrants—the powers of darkness.…
3. The next advantage from a good government is plenty. To secure this is sometimes beyond human power and policy.… In general it may be asserted that human laws should not interfere too much … Everyone should be left at liberty, as far as possible, to choose his own way in pursuing his prosperity.… Under the best systems of government there must remain many cases of want and distress; but in the kingdom of Jesus Christ there exists an infinite plenty for all the wants of the soul.…
4. A tendency to improvement in its social institutions ought to accompany every well-ordered government. The best of those institutions are such as will be at once permanent and progressive by their intrinsic wisdom and excellence—by their adaptation to all the varying circumstances of the nation—by their power of providing for possible emergencies—they will gradually rise from security to convenience, and then exalt convenience into ornament—into just refinement and diffused illumination.… The gospel empire possesses within itself interminable energies and tendencies to benefit its subjects.… All those elysian images of prophecy which paint with so much beauty the latter days of the world, are nothing in their substantial fulfilment but the impress of Jesus Christ on the minds and manners of mankind—the image of Christianity embodied in society, and righteousness dwelling in the new-created universe.…
5. The fifth and last element is stability; this is the crown of all its other advantages. Nothing can be wanting to such a reign but that it should last; and this is what the text emphatically expresses.—Robt. Hall.
CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES—
2 Samuel 7:17. “Words.” … “Vision.” “The words, as the content of God’s revelation to Nathan, are distinguished from the vision as indication of its form and mode.” (Erdmann.) “The vision (a communication received in a waking condition) is constantly distinguished from a revelation in a dream.” (Keil.)
2 Samuel 7:18. “Sat,” rather tarried. “Even if the verb be rendered sat, it is not necessary to suppose that David remained sitting.” (Bib. Commentary.) “Yet sitting under such circumstance would be a respectful attitude, and elsewhere we have no proof in Scripture of a customary attitude in prayer.” (Tr. of Lange’s Commentary.)
2 Samuel 7:19. “Manner of man.” Rather the law of man, i.e., according to Keil, “the law which determines or regulates the conduct of men.” The explanations of this phrase are very varied and numerous. Keil, Grotius, Thenius, De Witte, Hengstenberg, and others, with some differences, understand it to refer to the condescension of Jehovah in treating David as one human creature might treat another, and think the parallel text in Chron., 2 Samuel 17:17 confirms this view. Many expositors give it a direct Messianic reference, and others thus paraphrase it: “It is not thus that men act towards one another, but Thy ways, O Lord, are above men’s ways.” But the objection to this and to the meaning given above is that the word translated law is in these cases rather taken as manner or custom, which it does not signify. Erdmann says “This must be referred to the Divine determination that the everlasting kingdom here spoken of is to be in connection with his house. This is the Divine torah or prescription which is to hold for a weak insignificant man and his seed, for poor human creatures.” Similarly Von Gerlach: “Such a law Thou establishest for a man and his house, viz., that Thou promisest it everlasting duration.” So also Bunsen: “Of so grand a promise hast Thou, O God, thought a man worthy.”
2 Samuel 7:21. “For Thy word’s sake.” “This must contain an allusion to the earlier promises of God, or the Messianic prophecies generally, particularly Genesis 49:10, and Numbers 24:17 sqq. For the fact that David recognised the connection between the promise communicated to him by Nathan and Jacob’s prophecy is evident from 1 Chronicles 28:4, where he refers to his election as king as being the consequence of Judah’s election as ruler.” (Keil.)
2 Samuel 7:23. “Whom God.” Elohim here stands with a plural verb, as often elsewhere when heathen idols are referred to (as Exodus 32:4-8), because the thought is here intended to be expressed that there is no other nation which the deity worshipped by it redeemed as Jehovah redeemed Israel. (So Keil, Erdmann, etc.) “For you.” If this reading is correct, David’s sudden turning from addressing God to addressing the nation must be attributed to his deep emotion.
2 Samuel 7:29. “Let the house,” etc., rather “Will the house,” i.e., God has said it, and it will be so.”
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Samuel 7:17-29
DAVID’S THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER
I. The bestowal of new honours should awaken a new sense of humility. The vessel that carries much sail and looks well above the water, should have much ballast below the water-line. Only some heavy weight in the hold will give the needful steadiness to the ship. So the soul that receives from God many and great gifts, and is honoured by Him in a special manner, needs to be well ballasted, lest, being too highly exalted, it make shipwreck on the rock of pride. But if the man be in right relations to God, a sense of his unworthiness and of the increase of responsibility which each new gift and honour brings, will be to him what the iron and stone in the hold are to the full-rigged ship. With David, humility seems ever to have kept pace with the honour bestowed upon him by God. On the day when he was first brought before Saul as the deliverer of his people from the Philistine giant, his words and bearing show that he possessed that spirit of dependence upon God which is only found in those who have formed a lowly, and therefore a right estimate of themselves. We find no trace of any other spirit in him at any period of his history up to this crowning day of his life, when it was revealed to him that he was to be, not only a great and mighty monarch himself, but the ancestor of one who should rule a far more mighty and enduring empire. The manner in which he receives the revelation shows how well fitted he was to carry with a steady hand the overflowing cup of blessing held out to him.
II. Prayer for the fulfilment of Divine promises is a law of the kingdom of God. The promise that God gave to David concerning the Messiah was certain to be fulfilled; no power in the universe could prevent it. But many things are included in the certainty of its fulfilment, and prayer is one—the prayers of all the faithful who lived before the coming of Christ. The very longing of these souls for some more complete manifestation of God than they possessed was in itself a prophecy of it, and the assurance which they received of the coming blessing did by no means cause them to cease to pray for it, but gave them matter for supplication and a motive to continue in it. David here feels no inconsistency in asking that what God has promised shall come to pass, but links his prayer to the Divine word, and makes the promise the basis of the petition: “And now O Lord God, the word that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as Thou hast said.” (2 Samuel 7:25.) “And now O Lord God, … Thy words be true, and Thou hast promised this goodness unto Thy servant: Therefore now let it please Thee to bless the house of Thy servant. (2 Samuel 7:28-29.) So Daniel, when he understood that the time was drawing nigh for the return of the captives from Babylon “set his face unto the Lord God to seek by prayer and supplications, with fastings” (Daniel 9:3), and besought the Lord “to hearken, and, do and defer not” (2 Samuel 7:19) to fulfil the promise which He had made by Jeremiah. And this not because Daniel had any misgivings concerning the faithfulness of Jehovah, but because that very faithfulness furnished him with the ground for his appeal. The same connection between Divine promises and human prayers is taught and practised in the dispensation of the New Testament. We know that the kingdom of God will “come,” and His will one day “be done, as in heaven, so on earth,” yet our Lord commands His disciples to pray constantly for this blessed result. Paul declares in Romans 10:1, that his “heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved, and in the next chapter (2 Samuel 7:26) says that it is the purpose and plan of God when the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, that “all Israel shall be saved.” Promise and petition are indissolubly linked together in the Divine economy, and as Dr. Chalmers remarks, “God’s prophecies tell us what ought to be the subject of our prayers.”
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
2 Samuel 7:17. We see the fidelity of the Lord’s prophet, which all His servants in the ministry should imitate, and that he is not ashamed to recall and recant what formerly he had said to David upon better ground and information from the Lord. Which should teach all men humbly to submit to truth, and quit error and not to stand upon their own credit, in maintaining what once they have professed without retractation.—Guild.
Here there presents itself to us a striking testimony of the reality of immediate divine revelations. David and Nathan united, according to their best knowledge and conscience, in a truly pious and holy work, and suddenly they renounce their cherished purpose, whose execution everything appeared to counsel. Why did they give up the noble intention? Not certainly of their own accord, but rather because God the Lord gave forth his voice regarding it, and interposed immediately his veto. And how should the living personal God, who has given to man the power of speech, not himself be able to speak to the children of men? No argument that can stand the test can be urged to the contrary.—Krummacher.
This revelation is an epoch-making one for David’s inner life. It brought an entirely new element into his life, which as the Psalms show, moved him powerfully … David saw its meaning more and more clearly when he compared the promise with the Messianic idea which had been handed down from the fathers, and finally attained to perfect certainty by the further inner disclosures attached to this fundamental promise, with which he was occupied day and night. Psalms 2:0 and Psalms 110:0 afford special proof that such spiritual disclosures were really given to him. The Messianic hope, which had experienced no further development since Genesis 49:0, now acquired much greater fulness and life. It had a substratum for further development, hallowed by God Himself, in the kingdom already in existence, and especially in David’s personality and fortunes.—Hengstenberg.
The narrative shows that the Messianic sense of the prediction was not only understood, but that it filled David’s heart with the warmest emotions of gratitude and delight. We found this remark partly on the elevated strain of David’s thanksgiving … It is abrupt, impassioned, sublime. It is the language of one who has been raised to the same lofty pedestal as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the illustrious fathers of the nation, and made to occupy the same relation to the Seed of the Woman. Both in spirit and in sentiment there is a close correspondence between this thanksgiving and that of the Virgin Mary. Generally, the announcement was understood by the people as a prediction of the Messiah. Henceforth the Hope of Israel was known as the Son of David.—Blaikie.
2 Samuel 7:25. There are two ways wherein David’s faith works. I. By believing the Divine word. “Thou hast said.” The object and ground of faith is the Divine saying—it is not upon thus saith a man, or thus saith a minister, nay, nor thus saith an angel. Divine faith can stand only upon a Divine testimony. If you have faith, then you have received the word, not as the word of man, but, as it is indeed, the Word of God. II. Faith acts by pleading the accomplishment of the promise. “Do as Thou hast said.” It is the business of faith to put God to His word.
1. To plead upon the mercy that made the promise.
2. Upon the truth that is to make out the promise.
3. Upon the power of the Promiser.
4. Upon the Blood of the Covenant.
5. Upon the love of God to Christ.—Erskine.
2 Samuel 7:29. Blessed conviction! What matters it that our offspring be successful in business, or rise in the world, or form high connections, or accumulate great fortunes, if there be no grace in their hearts, enlightening, refining, and enlarging their moral faculties; and what matters it though the world pity them, and scorn and hate them, if Christ be in them the hope of glory. Blaikie.
In what sense, I shall be asked, did David expect that his sons’ kingdom would be a Divine and spiritual one? In what sense an earthly and magnificent one? I answer—he looked for no earthly magnificence which was not the manifestation of an inward and spiritual dominion; he feared no earthly magnificence, which was a manifestation of it.—Maurice.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28