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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 7

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2962. B.C. 1042.

Nathan approves David’s design of building a house for God, 2 Samuel 7:1-3 . God forbids it, but promises to bless him and his seed, 2 Samuel 7:4-17 . His prayer and thanksgiving, 2 Samuel 7:18-29 .

Verses 1-2

2 Samuel 7:1-2. When the king sat in his house That is, was settled in the house which Hiram’s men had built for him; then he reflected upon the unsettled state of the ark. For, being a pious prince, he spent much of his time in holy meditations and the exercises of devotion; and among other subjects of consideration, thought upon the meanness of God’s habitation in comparison of the splendour of his own. See now, I dwell in a house of cedar Such as the rich Jews had in the days of Haggai, termed by the Lord ceiled houses; see Haggai 1:4; but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains That is, in a tent or tabernacle, (2 Samuel 7:6,) composed of several curtains. This, David thought, ought not to be, and therefore resolved to build a stately house for God’s ark.

Verse 3

2 Samuel 7:3. Nathan said, Go and do all that is in thy heart Pursue thy intentions, and build a house for the ark. The design being pious, and the thing not forbidden by God, Nathan hastily approves it before he had consulted God about it, as both he and David ought to have done in a matter of so great moment. And therefore Nathan meets with this rebuke, that he is forced to acknowledge his error, and recant it. For the holy prophets did not speak all things by prophetic inspiration, but some things as religious men, by a human spirit.

Verses 4-6

2 Samuel 7:4-6. That night the word of the Lord came to Nathan Because David’s mistake was pious, and from an honest mind, God would not suffer him to remain long in it. Shalt thou build a house for me? That is, How is it that thou hast formed this design? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house, &c. I have not mentioned, nor has any one else thought of the building me one, from the time you have been a people. But I have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle I have been content with a moveable house, in which I was always present to conduct and lead my people from place to place. By the tent may be meant the curtains and hangings within, which were of curious work, and by the tabernacle the frame of boards to which they were fastened, with the coverings upon it.

Verse 7

2 Samuel 7:7. The tribes of Israel whom I commanded to feed my people Israel The word tribes seems here to be put for judges, appointed to govern the tribes. Indeed, the Hebrew word שׁבשׂי , shibtee, here rendered tribes, signifies also sceptres, and, consequently, supreme governors or rulers; such as the judges were, who had the supreme authority in Israel. Saying, Why build ye not me a house of cedar? God was the most proper judge what house was agreeable to him, and he never signified that he disliked his present, and desired a more stately habitation. Though God was pleased to give Moses directions for erecting the tabernacle, and afterward appointed Solomon to build him a more magnificent temple; yet this was done only with respect to, and as suitable to men, and not in regard of, or as any way suitable to himself. And the Scripture has taken great care to inculcate on us, that the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, Acts 7:4. Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things, Acts 17:24. And this is perhaps peculiar to the pure religion of the Scriptures; for if we attentively examine them, we shall find in all other religions something in the principle of them, as if the worship of God was founded on his needing something. And among most of them we find a meanness of thought, as if temples were something to the Deity himself; and not, as the Scriptures rightly describe them to be, as witnesses only to men, that God concerns himself with the inhabitants of the earth, and will hearken to their prayers. Thus we find St. Stephen, in the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 7:4,) calling the tabernacle, which Moses was ordered to make, The tabernacle of witness. And the Spirit of God put such a prayer into the heart and mouth of Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, as may sufficiently instruct us in what light the Holy Scriptures consider temples of any kind, namely, as concerning and having respect to men only, and as being nothing to God himself. But will God indeed (says Solomon) dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven, and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have builded? And the Scriptures everywhere represent God as the maker of the world and all things therein, as the supreme Lord of heaven and earth, as having the whole heavens for his throne, and the earth for his footstool; and therefore needing or requiring no worship from men, but as it is conducive to their welfare and happiness.

Verse 8

2 Samuel 7:8 . So shalt thou say unto my servant David Lest David should be discouraged, or judge himself neglected of God, as one thought unworthy of so great an honour, God here gives him the honourable title of his servant, thereby signifying that he accepted of his service and good intentions.

Verses 9-10

2 Samuel 7:9-10. I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest In the time of his banishment he was remarkably preserved by God. Moreover, I will appoint a place, &c. I will make room for them, whereas hitherto they have been much straitened and distressed by their enemies. Or, I have appointed a place for them, namely, the land of Canaan. And I will plant them Make them take root; I will establish them in their place and land. That they may move no more May no longer wander as they did in the wilderness. Neither shall the children of wickedness The idolatrous people round about them; afflict them any more as beforetime When they were in the land of Egypt. Thus, among the favours which God had vouchsafed, and would vouchsafe to David, he reckons his blessings to Israel, because they were great blessings to David; partly, because the strength and happiness of a king consists in the multitude and happiness of his people; and partly, because David was a man of a public spirit, and therefore no less affected with Israel’s felicity than with his own.

Verse 11

2 Samuel 7:11. And as since the time that I commanded judges In whose days they were sorely afflicted by the Moabites, Canaanites, Midianites, and others. But all this, as the event showed, was intended to be understood with a condition, except they should notoriously forsake God, which they did, and therefore this promise was not fulfilled in that extensive and absolute sense which the words here seem to convey. And have caused thee to rest, &c. Have given thee a quiet possession of the whole kingdom of Israel, which was never in so happy a condition as now. But these words, though according to our translation they are enclosed in the same parenthesis with the foregoing clauses, may be better put without it, and taken by themselves. For the foregoing words in this verse, and in 2 Samuel 7:10, all concern the people of Israel; but these words concern David alone, to whom the speech returns, after a short digression concerning the people of Israel. And they may be rendered thus: And I will cause thee to rest, &c., more fully and perfectly than yet thou dost. He will make thee a house, &c. For thy good intentions to make him a house, he will make thee a house, a sure house; that is, he will increase and uphold thy posterity, and continue the kingdom in thy family.

Verse 12

2 Samuel 7:12 . And when thy days are fulfilled, &c. When the time of thy life shall expire. This phrase implies, that his days should be prolonged to the usual course of nature, and not cut off in the midst, by any violent or untimely death. Thy seed, which shall proceed out of thy bowels This manner of speaking shows that it was intended to be understood of one who was not yet born, namely, Solomon; and that Absalom, Adonijah, and the rest who pretended to the kingdom, were not designed for it, having already proceeded from him. I will establish his kingdom Solomon reigned a long time himself, and his posterity after him, and the Messiah, his seed, will reign for ever. So the following words may be understood, part of Solomon, part of his posterity in general, and part of Christ only, according to the different nature of the several passages.

Verse 13

2 Samuel 7:13. He shall build a house for my name This is meant literally of Solomon, who alone did build the material house or temple; but ultimately of Christ, who is the builder of God’s spiritual house or temple. For my name That is, for my service and glory. For ever This is not meant of Solomon, for his kingdom was not for ever. But it is to be understood of David’s posterity in general, and with special respect to Christ, in whose person the kingdom was to be lodged for ever.

Verse 14

2 Samuel 7:14. I will be his father I will carry myself toward him as a father, with all affection, and I will own him as my son. This is intended both of Solomon, as a type of Christ, and of Christ himself, as is evident from Hebrews 1:5. If he commit iniquity This agrees only to Solomon and some others of David’s posterity, but not to Christ, who never committed iniquity, as Solomon did; who therein was no type of Christ, and therefore this branch of the text is terminated in Solomon; whereas, in those things wherein Solomon was a type of Christ, the sense passes through Solomon to Christ. With the rod of men With such rods as are gentle and moderate, and suited to man’s weakness. This implies that God would punish that seed of David, in whom his kingdom was to be established, with such correction as parents give their children, in case he should fall away and commit iniquity; and not punish him with that exact severity which his sins might deserve, nor entirely cut him and his posterity off from the kingdom, as he had done Saul. And God accordingly performed this for some ages, till the time arrived when it was proper and beneficial to make a change, not only in regard to the family of David, but to the whole Hebrew nation, which was to produce a greater good, not only to them, but to the whole human race, namely, the establishment of Christ’s kingdom. Thus does God work to produce a greater and still greater good to mankind, and gives far better things than he has promised.

Verses 15-16

2 Samuel 7:15-16. My mercy shall not depart from him Or, my kindness, as the Hebrew word חסדי , chasdi, rather means. That is, the kingdom which I have mercifully and kindly promised to thee and thine. As I took it from Saul In regard of his posterity, for the kingdom was continued to Saul himself during his life. Thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee Thine eyes, in some sort, beholding it; for he lived to see his wise son Solomon actually placed on the throne with reputation and general applause, which was in itself a good presage of the continuance of the kingdom in his family; and, when considered in connection with God’s infallible promises made to him and his descendants, must have given him assurance thereof. David, however, had his eyes and thoughts on the Messiah, Psalms 110:1; whose day he saw by faith, as Abraham had done; whom he knew God would raise up of the fruit of his loins to sit on his throne, Acts 2:30, and the eternity of whose kingdom might well be said to be before him. Thy throne shall be established for ever The kingdom shall be continued for a long time, even for many ages, in thy family, and in the Messiah, who is to be thy seed, to all eternity. Thus the angel, applying this promise to Jesus, says to Mary, 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.

Verse 17

2 Samuel 7:17. According to all this vision did Nathan speak unto David And thereby manifested his integrity, not being ashamed to retract his own words when he was better taught of God. And, as Dionysius observes in the epistle to Novatus, the correction of his fault was more remarkable than the fault itself.

Verse 18

2 Samuel 7:18. Then went King David in Into the tabernacle. And sat before the Lord That is, before the ark, the symbol of the divine presence, and where God was then peculiarly present, and was believed by David to be so. David probably sat for a season, while he meditated on these things, and then altered his posture and betook himself to prayer. It must be observed, however, that the Hebrew word, ישׁב , jashab, here rendered sat, may with equal propriety be translated, remained before the Lord. The Hebrews never addressed prayers or praises to God but either standing up or prostrate on the earth, and even their kings are always described as standing when they prayed or gave thanks in the temple. See Ezekiel 46:1-2; compared with 2 Kings 11:14, and 2 Chronicles 23:13. Nor is there any other posture of worship mentioned in Scripture, but standing, or kneeling, or falling on the face. Who am I, O Lord God? How infinitely unworthy am I and my family of this great honour and happiness! Thus David begins his address to God in a becoming spirit of humility and self-abasement, acknowledging his utter unworthiness of the blessings which God had already bestowed on him.

Verse 19

2 Samuel 7:19. This Which thou hast already done for me, that thou hast brought me hitherto to this pitch of honour, and peace, and prosperity in which, through thy favour, I now stand. Was small Though it was more than I deserved, or could expect, yet thou didst not think it enough for thee to give to me. A great while For many future ages, and indeed to all eternity. Is this, &c. Do men use to deal so kindly with their inferiors as thou hast done with me? No; this is the prerogative of divine grace.

Verses 20-21

2 Samuel 7:20-21. What can David say Either in a way of gratitude and praise Words cannot express my obligations to thee, nor my sense of these obligations or in a way of prayer: What can I ask of thee more than thou hast freely done? Thou knowest thy servant Thou knowest my deep sense of thy favours, and my obligations to thee; and my condition and necessities, what I do or may need hereafter; and as thou knowest this, so I doubt not thou wilt supply me. Thy word’s sake That thou mightest fulfil thy promises made to me, and thereby demonstrate thy faithfulness. According to thine own heart Of thy own mere liberality and good pleasure, without any desert of mine. So far was David, though a very gracious man, from thinking his actions meritorious. To make thy servant know them Thus David expresses the deep sense he had of the extraordinary kindness of God, not only in designing these great things for him and his posterity, but in condescending to make them known to him.

Verse 22

2 Samuel 7:22. Wherefore thou art great Both in power and in goodness, as appears by the great and good things which thou hast done for me. Neither is there any God besides thee Thus Hannah had expressed herself in her song, in which she prophesied of him, 1 Samuel 2:2; 1 Samuel 2:10. According to all that we have heard That is, what their forefathers had reported concerning the wonders which God had done by Moses and Joshua, and in the time of the judges.

Verse 23

2 Samuel 7:23. What one nation in the earth, &c. He seems to have in view the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 4:7; Deuteronomy 4:34. To make him a name That all the world might know and acknowledge his power and glory. To do for you great things and terrible, &c. Instead of, for you, the Seventy, Vulgate, and Arabic read, for them. Or the words may be understood, according to Le Clerc’s interpretation, who supplies some words evidently intended to be supplied to perfect the sense, thus: To do for you great things, O Israel, and terrible for thy land, O God, by casting out the nations before thy people, &c. But the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 17:2, to which the reader is referred, will best explain the sense of this whole verse. From the nations and their gods Some, by gods, understand their rulers; but their gods were no more able, nay, being mere imaginary beings, were less able to save the nations whom Jehovah drove out, than their kings and rulers.

Verses 24-26

2 Samuel 7:24-26. For thou hast confirmed Partly by thy promises, and that solemn and sure covenant into which thou hast entered with them; and partly by thy glorious works wrought on their behalf, as it appears this day. Thou art become their God In a peculiar manner, and by special relation and covenant; for otherwise he is the God and Father of all. The word concerning thy servant and his house, establish thou it And yet he did not desire this great kindness merely for his own sake and the sake of his family, but that God might be glorified in what he did for him and them. Thus it follows, And let thy name be magnified for ever Never cease to manifest thyself to be the God and governor of Israel, and let all men acknowledge that the God of Israel is the Lord of hosts, the Lord of heaven and earth, of angels and men, and faithful in his promises to the house of David.

Verses 27-29

2 Samuel 7:27-29. Thy servant found it in his heart to pray this prayer That prayer which is found in the tongue only will not please God; it must be found in the heart, which must be lifted up to God, and poured out before him. Thou art that God Who hast declared thyself to be Israel’s God, and in particular my God. And thy words be true Thus he relies with unshaken faith on the truth of all that God had said, and confidently expects the accomplishment of God’s promises to him. And hence, it seems, these and some other clauses of this prayer are not so much to be considered as petitions, as the overflowings of a grateful heart, touched with a sense of the greatness of these mercies, and therefore dwelling on them, and thereby showing how much it desired them. For after God had promised David these things by a prophet sent to him on purpose, it is hardly to be supposed that he would immediately begin to offer to God petitions for them in any other sense than as expressions of the very high estimation in which he held them. Indeed it is easy to see, as Delaney observes, that “his heart was wholly possessed with a subject which he did not know how to quit, because he did not know how to do justice to his own sense of the inestimable blessings poured down upon himself, and promised to his posterity; and much less to the infinite bounty of his benefactor.” That it may continue for ever before thee When Christ for ever sat down on the right hand of God, and received all possible assurance that his seed and throne should be as the days of heaven, then this prayer was abundantly answered.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/2-samuel-7.html. 1857.
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