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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
2 Samuel 7

 

 

Introduction

SECTION 6. David And His House Are Established And He Is Promised That His Kingship Through His Seed Will Be For Ever (5:6-10:19).

In this section we will see how David’s rule is established far and wide as the nations come in submission to him, some voluntarily, others as a result of being overcome. It covers the whole of his reign in a series of vignettes which demonstrate his widespread glory, and builds up to YHWH’s promise that the kingship of his house will last for ever. But their order is not chronological, but topical. They are a depiction of David’s growing greatness and power, leading up to the guarantee that the kingship of his house will last for ever, and a description of the defeat of his most powerful enemies. Thus:

1). David initially purified Israel. He removed the one remaining specifically Canaanite bastion which was situated right in the middle of his kingdom, thus making clear the triumph of Yahwism, and the fact of the purifying of the land. At the same time he replaced the idolatrous king-priest of Jerusalem by establishing himself as YHWH’s priest-king over Jerusalem. He would see this as what Mechi-zedek had been before him when he had been ‘the priest of the Most High God’ who had ministered to Abraham. The idea was therefore based on a hallowed tradition (see Genesis 14:18-20). Like Judah previously (Judges 1:7) David had already shown his reverence for Jerusalem when he had brought the head of Goliath there (1 Samuel 17:54). This would either have been because he was patterning his behaviour on that of Abraham who had paid tithes to Jerusalem after his victory (Genesis 14:18-20) or because the tradition had grown up that saw Jerusalem as having been built on the mountains of Moriah, where Abraham had offered up Isaac (see 2 Chronicles 3:1). This reception of an ancient, traditionally respectable, priesthood would add a new religious dimension to his reign. Now David could be seen as lord over the whole land and as the nation’s intercessory priest, with the priests and Levites fulfilling their duties in accordance with the Law subject to his priestly control as priest of the Most High God (see 1 Chronicles 9:10-34; 1 Chronicles 15:16-24), something which he took advantage of in setting up the worship at the Tabernacle and Tent of Meeting (e.g. 1 Chronicles 9:23; 1 Chronicles 15:16).

2). David’s Kingship was seen as established because he dwelt in a house of cedar. David’s palace was built for him by the ‘princes’ of palace building, the Tyrians, in a clear act of treaty friendship from the greatest maritime nation in the world, which was thereby demonstrating its respect for David. Like the greatest of kings David now dwelt in a house of cedar. YHWH had upraised him so that he might join them in their glory. But we should recognise that this is symbolically preparatory for the even better ‘house’ that YHWH has destined for David (2 Samuel 7).

3). David produced a prolific number of sons and daughters. This was something seen in those days as very necessary to a great king, and as demonstrating the blessing of YHWH. David thus had a quiver full of children demonstrating that he was blessed by God (Psalms 127:5).

4). David triumphed over the Philistines twice, driving them back and routing them, while at the same time seizing their gods which he himself takes possession of (and burns), thus demonstrating to all the superiority of YHWH. It fully avenges the time when the Philistines had previously seized the Ark of God, and had publicly displayed it (1 Samuel 5-7). Now David was again the Smiter of the Philistines.

5). Having taken Jerusalem David brought the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH, the Ark of The Name of Him Who sits between the Cherubim, into Jerusalem and established it in its own special Tent as an indication that from now on this was to be where YHWH symbolically dwelt and ruled, making Jerusalem YHWH’s royal city with David as His intercessory priest-king. David was thus revealed as YHWH’s triumphant War-leader and Prince who by YHWH’s power had established YHWH as King in Jerusalem.

6). The house of Saul loses its final opportunity of participating in the blessing as a result of Michal’s barrenness resulting from her attitude towards David’s worship of YHWH.

7). David’s ‘House’ (his dynasty) was to be established for ever in its place in the purposes of God, something which will culminate in the everlasting king over the everlasting kingdom (e.g. Genesis 49:10-12; 1 Samuel 2:10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-4; Ezekiel 37:25; Daniel 7:13-14; Psalms 2:7-12). The reign of David’s house was thus to be everlasting.

8). David exercises his priestly ministry in a prayer of thanksgiving to YHWH.

9). Through the help and power of YHWH David triumphs over all who oppose him bringing wealth into the Tabernacle and greatness to his name.

10). David’s sons themselves become priests.

11). David fulfils his promise to Jonathan and establishes his son both in his ancestral lands and at the royal court, thus showing favour to the house of Saul for Jonathan’s sake as he had promised. In contrast with Michal Mephibosheth has a son, demonstrating YHWH’s compassion on what remains of the house of Saul.

12). David defeats the greatest current threat to Israel by defeating the Aramaean Empires and rendering their kings harmless.

It must be noted that underlying what is described here, and indeed underlying the whole Davidic narrative, are the words, ‘And the Spirit of YHWH came on David from that day forward’ (1 Samuel 16:13). That was the reason why David was so continually successful and what enabled him to glorify YHWH in all aspects of life. (And it was that same Spirit Who would later empower the everlasting King).

We can thus analyse this Section as follows:

Analysis.

a David Reacts To Taunts And Captures Jerusalem Thus Purifying And Uniting The Land (2 Samuel 5:6-10).

b Hiram Builds David A House Of Cedar Which Demonstrates the Establishment Of His House And Kingship On Behalf Of God’s People (2 Samuel 5:11-12).

c David Bears Many Sons (2 Samuel 5:13-16).

d David Utterly Defeats The Philistines Releasing Their Grip For Ever On Israel (2 Samuel 5:17-25).

e David Brings The Ark Of God Containing the Covenant Into Jerusalem With Rejoicing Expressing His Love For And Dedication To YHWH (2 Samuel 6:1-19).

f Michal Expresses Her Disgust At David’s Behaviour Resulting In The Barrenness Of The House Of Saul (2 Samuel 6:20-23).

g David Wishes To Build A House Of Cedar For YHWH And Learns That YHWH Is Above Houses Of Cedar (2 Samuel 7:1-7).

f The House Of David Is To Be Fruitful Result In An Everlasting Kingship (2 Samuel 7:8-17).

e David’s Prayer Expresses His Gratitude To YHWH For All His Goodness (2 Samuel 7:18-19).

d David Utterly Defeats All His Enemies Round About Freeing Israel From The Threat Of Invasion (2 Samuel 8:1-15).

c David’s Sons Become ‘Priests’ (2 Samuel 8:16-18).

b David Establishes The House Of Saul By Receiving Jonathan’s Son At Court and Giving Him Back His Ancestral Lands (2 Samuel 9:1-13).

a David Reacts To Taunts And Defeats The Greater Powers Who Threaten His Borders Thus Establishing The Land (2 Samuel 10:1-19).

David Is Not To Build A House For YHWH, But Rather YHWH Will Build An Everlasting House For David (2 Samuel 7:1-29).

Previously YHWH has arranged for a cedar palace to be built for David (then the height of luxury). Now in this chapter the high point of the book of Samuel is reached, and the high point of David’s life is described. YHWH will build up David’s house for ever. All that has gone before has led up to this moment. It is indeed the culmination of all that has gone before in the Old Testament, and is in fact the foundation for the New.

While not specifically stated to be a covenant, what follows bears all the marks of a promissory covenant or covenant of grant. It commences with a description of what YHWH has done for David (2 Samuel 7:8-9 a), grants him the certainty of a great name on earth (2 Samuel 7:9 b), appoints a place for his people to dwell in and promises their permanent security in that place (2 Samuel 7:10), while guaranteeing David rest from all his enemies (2 Samuel 7:11 a). It then promises him an eternal dynasty (a feature of Hittite covenants) and a permanent throne (2 Samuel 7:12-13), and uses the covenant language of ‘father’ and ‘son’ in connection with that dynasty (2 Samuel 7:14 a), followed by a warning of the temporary consequences of a breach of covenant (2 Samuel 7:14 b). It finally closes with a firm declaration of the inviolability of the covenant (2 Samuel 7:15-16). Its close connection with the bringing of the children of Israel out of Egypt (2 Samuel 7:6-7), and the fact that it follows on after the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, firmly connects it with the Sinaitic covenant, while its promissory nature connects it with the covenants to the Patriarchs.

The chapter commences with David desiring to build a house for YHWH, an offer which YHWH graciously declines, and then YHWH goes on to promise that instead He will build a house for David, a house that will establish his kingly rule and will last for ever. The concentration is on ‘the house of David’, as the source of YHWH’s eternal rule through David’s house. Even before the Temple in Jerusalem is built it is being emphasised that God’s concentration is going to be on something greater, something that will surpass the Temple. It is going to be on David’s coming seed.

Like much prophecy the chapter, in fact, contains a twofold strand, the near and the far, for while it initially has in mind the son who will follow David, to whom YHWH will be continually faithful and to whom He will be a father by adoption, it then looks on ahead to the One who will finally establish an everlasting kingly rule, a kingly rule which will go on for ever, something which we can only see as fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.


Verses 1-7

David Determines To Build A House Of Cedar For YHWH Like His Own, An Offer Which YHWH Graciously Refuses (2 Samuel 7:1-7).

It was natural that looking around at his own palace, with which he was clearly delighted, (a palace of cedar represented the height of even a king’s ambition, it was the height of luxury and a firm seal on his grandeur), David should consider that YHWH ought also to enjoy such a house. He did not, of course, realise it, but by this he was basically bringing YHWH down to his own materialistic level. He was soon to be reminded that YHWH had no such ambitions and was not to be so bound. YHWH was not interested in a local palace (even though later He would graciously allow them to build one. How we love to tie Him down to a place).

This suggestion follows naturally on what occurred in the last chapter. There the Ark of YHWH had been brought into Jerusalem and placed in a specially made Tent. Now David was thinking beyond that to placing it in a permanent home, a House of cedar. But what David was forgetting was that the Ark of YHWH was the Ark of the God of Battle, of the God of power and movement, of the God of justice, not the Ark of a God of comfortable palaces and soft living. Indeed it would be because David spent too much time in his palace of cedar at the time when kings went forth to war that he would sin with Bathsheba (chapter 11). We need to beware of ‘houses of cedar’ (Jeremiah 22:14).

Analysis.

a And it came about, when the king dwelt in his house, and YHWH had given him rest from all his enemies round about, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within curtains” (2 Samuel 7:1-2).

b And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for YHWH is with you” (2 Samuel 7:3).

c And it came about the same night, that the word of YHWH came to Nathan (2 Samuel 7:4).

b Saying, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says YHWH, Will you build me a house for me to dwell in?’ ” (2 Samuel 7:5).

a “For I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all places in which I have walked with all the children of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to be shepherd of my people Israel, saying, Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” (2 Samuel 7:6-7).

Note that in ‘a’ David bewails the fact that he dwells in a house of cedar while YHWH dwells in a tent, and in the parallel YHWH declares that He has always dwelt in a tent while He has been with His people, ever since they left Egypt (first the Tent of Meeting and then the Tabernacle), and had never asked to have a house of cedar built for Him. In ‘b’ Nathan tells David he can go ahead, and in the parallel he has to rescind his instruction. Centrally in ‘c’ YHWH responds that same night.

2 Samuel 7:1-2

And it came about, when the king dwelt in his house, and YHWH had given him rest from all his enemies round about, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within curtains.”

This revelation clearly comes a good way into David’ reign, for it occurs once he himself was established in his house of cedar (2 Samuel 5:11), a house which would have taken a good while to build, and was in fact built by Hiram of Tyre who himself ruled towards the end of David’s reign. It also occurs once David had been given rest from all his enemies, in other words when he had finally established his empire.

It is a tribute to David’s genuine feeling for YHWH that at such a time his thoughts should turn towards how he could show his gratitude to YHWH for all that He had done for him. And as he looked around at his house of cedar he began to think how wrong it was that he should have such a magnificent palace while, the Ark of God only had a tent made of curtains for its resting place. We must not, of course, trivialise this by assuming that David had a limited view of YHWH as bound to a tent. Quite apart from the high view of God that he constantly reveals in his Psalms (consider 2 Samuel 22; Psalms 2; Psalms 89), he brought up his son to recognise that ‘even the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain you’ (1 Kings 8:27). And he undoubtedly knew that YHWH was continually active wherever he himself went, whether at home or abroad. Nevertheless it quite understandably felt wrong to him that, among men, YHWH’s earthly dwellingplace should simply be a place made only of curtains. (His thinking is a reminder of how often we seek to fit God within our limited perceptions and ideas).

But to his credit he did not just steam ahead and build it. He called on Nathan to in order to discover what God’s view on the matter was.

2 Samuel 7:3

And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for YHWH is with you.” ’

It is interesting that Nathan the prophet at first went along with David. He was equally confused. He wholly approved of the idea, and assured David that YHWH was with him. This may have meant that he thought that YHWH agreed with the proposal (in which case he spoke without consulting YHWH), but more likely it was simply his reminder to David that YHWH generally fully supported David by His presence in all that he did (‘is with you’), and would therefore no doubt approve. It did however, await sanction from On High.

2 Samuel 7:4

And it came about the same night, that the word of YHWH came to Nathan, saying,

And sure enough that same night, probably as he was seeking the face of YHWH, the word of YHWH came to Nathan. It is a reminder that YHWH knew what David had said and was fully aware of what was going on (how often we forget this). Note the inference that YHWH wanted David to know immediately that he must not go ahead. He did not want him to go ahead with his plans and then be disappointed, or even humiliated.

2 Samuel 7:5-6

Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says YHWH, Will you build me a house for me to dwell in?’ For I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.”

His words commenced with a reminder that David was His servant. It was a clear reminder that great king David might be, but he served a Greater. He was as much under YHWH’s command as the least of the servants in the household were under his. But it was also a title of honour (it would be one of the titles of the greatest Servant of all - Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12; Mark 10:45). It was no light thing to serve YHWH. This is a balance that we, as His servants, must always maintain. On the one hand those who serve YHWH are greatly privileged. On the other they must be humble. They must remember that they are appointed solely to humbly do His bidding, not their own.

He then questioned what David had determined to do, and asked on what grounds he thought that he had the right to alter the situation that had always stood (i.e. the ‘status quo’)? Did he not realise that YHWH had always been pleased to dwell in a tent, ever since He had delivered His people out of Israel? And more, He had wanted to live in a tent, because He had wanted to be alongside His people, and to live as they lived. He had wanted to share with all of them in their lifestyles and in their sufferings. It was a reminder that although He dwelt in the High and Holy Place, He also dwelt with those who were of a humble and contrite spirit (Isaiah 57:15), and shared their afflictions. He did not want His people to feel that He was ‘above them’. He wanted them to know that He was One with them in their pains.

Nor did He need the self-aggrandisement of a house of cedar. If a Temple was to be built which would adequately portray His glory it would require to cover the whole earth, for the whole earth is full of His glory. As Solomon would say, ‘even the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain You. How much less this house that I have built’. Thus a Tent better represented His glory, for it was a reminder that He was too great for anything more splendid, which could therefore only be seen as temporary accommodation.

2 Samuel 7:7

In all places in which I have walked with all the children of Israel, did I speak a word with anyone of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to be shepherd of my people Israel, saying, Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”

Let David think about it. Did he not realise that YHWH had called many to be shepherds of His people Israel, just as He had David? But let him consider this. In all the places where He had walked with them, had He ever commanded that they build Him a house of cedar? The answer expected was ‘No!’ It was undoubtedly a gentle rebuke, while recognising David’s goodwill, for He was reminding David that David’s thoughts were not His thoughts, and that David did not see things as He saw them. What could a house of cedar mean to the invisible One Who dwelt on High (2 Samuel 22:10-14) and was constantly surrounded by the host of Heaven (Deuteronomy 33:2; 1 Kings 22:19), of which the cherubim on the Ark were but a symbol? A tent indeed best represented Him, for it was a reminder that His permanent dwelling was not among men, and that no Temple could be splendid enough to reveal His glory.

All this was in total contrast with the gods of other nations who, according to their nation’s literature, were obsessed with the idea of a Temple being built for them, and conditioned their future rewards and blessings to kings on that fact. Their view was ‘you look after me and I will look after you’ (a theology of works). YHWH’s very different approach was ‘Forget the Temple. I will look after you, and I will continue to look after you’ (a theology of grace)..


Verses 8-17

Rather Than David Building Him A House, YHWH Would Build David A House Of A Very Different Kind (2 Samuel 7:8-17).

YHWH then assured ‘His servant David’ that He had greater purposes than the building of houses of cedar. Rather He was intending to build David’s house (his descendants and dynasty) into an everlasting house that would rule over His everlasting kingdom for ever. This was the House that YHWH had in mind. There are three basic elements to His promise:

The first is that David himself will have a great name like the great ones of the earth (2 Samuel 7:9).

The second is that David’s son who directly follows him will be adopted by YHWH as His son, and that YHWH will be faithful to him even if he strays (2 Samuel 7:14-15).

The third is that He will establish through David’s seed an everlasting kingly rule that will never cease (2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16).

There is also in 2 Samuel 7:13 possibly a hint that his son will also build a physical temple (of cedar) but the main emphasis is undoubtedly on the building of a perpetual dynasty which will finally result in an everlasting kingdom.

What David would think about this ‘everlasting kingdom’ in depth is, of course, open to question. Indeed it may well be that he did not think about it in depth. He would probably simply think of it as an everlasting kingdom on earth and not consider it any further. The impossibility of such an idea would probably not strike him. He would think in terms of the earth as permanent without speculating on the matter. But there is no doubt that the promise contained within it is of the idea of an everlasting ‘heavenly’ kingdom (as God would certainly be fully aware of), for even we know that that is the only possible way in which there could be an everlasting kingdom. Here we have the beginning of the way in which earthly descriptions are used by the prophets with the purpose of conveying the idea of eternal realities. They convey heavenly truth through an earthly medium because at that time speculation about heavenly existence in itself would have become confused with ideas about the lives of the gods found in other nations. These earthly descriptions are thus not always to be taken absolutely literally. Attention must be paid to what the deeper ideas are that are within them (compare Hebrews 11:10-14).

Analysis.

a “Now therefore thus shall you say to my servant David (2 Samuel 7:8 a).

b “Thus says YHWH of hosts, I took you from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people, over Israel” - the CALL and FINAL PURPOSE of YHWH for DAVID (2 Samuel 7:8 b).

c “And I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and I will make you a great name, like to the name of the great ones which are in the earth” - the ACCOMPANYING PRESENCE, POWER and PURPOSE of YHWH with regard to DAVID (2 Samuel 7:9).

d “And I will appoint a place for my people Israel” - the PURPOSE of YHWH for HIS PEOPLE

“and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be moved no more,” - the ACTIVITY of YHWH on behalf of HIS PEOPLE

“nor shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as at the first, and as from the day that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel,” - the PROTECTION of YHWH as regards HIS PEOPLE

“and I will cause you to rest from all your enemies” - the PROMISED FUTURE REST for DAVID on behalf of HIS PEOPLE (2 Samuel 7:10-11 a).

e “Moreover YHWH tells you that YHWH will make you a house” - the PROMISED FUTURE HOUSE for DAVID (2 Samuel 7:11 b).

d “When your days are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will proceed out of your bowels,” - the INITIAL PURPOSE of YHWH for DAVID’S HOUSE

“and I will establish his kingly rule.” - the ACTIVITY of YHWH on behalf of DAVID’S HOUSE

“He will build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingly rule for ever” - the FINAL PURPOSE of YHWH for DAVID’S HOUSE (2 Samuel 7:12-13).

c “I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men, but my lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you” - the ACCOMPANYING PRESENCE, POWER and PURPOSE of YHWH with regard to DAVID’S HOUSE (2 Samuel 7:14-15).

b “And your house and your kingly rule will be made sure for ever before you, your throne will be established for ever” - the FINAL PURPOSE of YHWH for DAVID’S HOUSE (2 Samuel 7:16).

a According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak to David (2 Samuel 7:17).

Note that in ‘a’ YHWH tells Nathan what he is to say to David, and in the parallel Nathan does so. In ‘b’ David is told that he was taken from the sheepcote to be ‘prince over YHWH’s people’, and in the parallel he is told that ‘his kingly rule and throne will be established for ever’. In ‘c’ David is told that YHWH has been with him wherever he went and in the parallel he is assured that YHWH’s lovingkindness will in the same way not depart from his children. In ‘d’ YHWH declares that He will appoint a place for His people Israel, and they will no more be afflicted, and in the parallel He declares that David’s son will build Him a house, and He will establish the kingly rule of David’s house over His people for ever. Central in ‘e’ is the fact that YHWH will make David a house in a much better sense than any physical house of cedar.

2 Samuel 7:8

Now therefore thus shall you say to my servant David, ‘Thus says YHWH of hosts, I took you from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people, over Israel,”

YHWH commences with an historical preamble. He reminds David that it was He Who had brought David from his sheepcote of rough wood to his palace of cedar. He had called him from his humble occupation as shepherd, an occupation which had been the consequence of his being the youngest son, in order that He might raise him to the exalted position of Prince and War-leader (nagid) over His people, over Israel. Without YHWH David would still have been watching sheep.

2 Samuel 7:9

And I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and I will make you a great name, like to the name of the great ones who are in the earth.”

And He had been ‘with him wherever he went’, whether following the sheep (2 Samuel 7:8), serving Saul at court, commanding a military unit, hiding out in the wilderness, establishing his kingship, building up his empire or ruling over Israel. All had been under the hand of YHWH, and He had been present with him in them all. Sometimes it might not have seemed like it. But even in his darkest hours it had been so.

And He ‘had cut off all his enemies from before him’, whether the lion and the bear, Goliath, the Philistines generally, Saul or any other enemies. Furthermore He would continue to be with him, for it was His intention to make him a great name, similar to the great ones who are in the earth. In other words because of his faithfulness to YHWH, and because YHWH had purposed it in the carrying forward of His will, He would ensure that he became a ‘world’ figure, inferior to none.

2 Samuel 7:10-11 a

“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, nor shall the children of wickedness afflict 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 cause you to rest from all your enemies.”

It is now emphasised that all this was not, of course, for David’s benefit alone. It was all tied up with YHWH’s overall purposes for His people. Indeed from start to finish David’s calling was to be in order to benefit the people of God. Thus the covenant grant is to YHWH’s people. That is always God’s purpose in blessing anyone, for to become His servant is to become committed to being a source of His blessing to His people. So through David he would appoint a secure and permanent place for His people and would plant them so that they could dwell securely in a place that was their own, and not have to live in fear of being moved on, or of being afflicted by their enemies.

In general terms all this did, of course, happen under David and Solomon. During their reigns God’s people were firmly established and made secure in a way that they had never been before. But careful thought will indicate that what God actually had in mind was a better kingdom, a place of perfect bliss, permanence, harmony and security. In the end therefore it could only be fulfilled under a perfect King and in an eternal kingdom from which all sinners had been removed. Thus the promise had a near and a far view.

“As at the first, and as from the day that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel.” The idea here is that the people had known continual affliction from the children of wickedness in Egypt, and they had then known further similar affliction in the time of the judges, but that it would be so no more, for YHWH would cause David to rest from all his enemies. Alternately we might see it as referring to the periods of rest they had enjoyed, first under Joshua after their deliverance (Joshua 11:23; Joshua 21:44; Joshua 22:4; Joshua 23:1), and then under the judges once their enemies had been overthrown by them (Judges 3:11; Judges 3:30), with the rest promised under David being similar but more permanent. Either way the promise is of future rest.

2 Samuel 7:11 b

“Moreover YHWH tells you that YHWH will make you a house.”

It is now emphasised that rather than David building a house for YHWH, YHWH will build a house for David. There is a clear play on words here, for the house to be built for David is not one of cedar but of successive heirs. The promise is that from David will come a particular seed, Solomon, and then a continual seed who will make up ‘the house of David’ in coming generations, a seed whom YHWH will watch over and to whose hands He will commit His people, leading on to One who will rule over His people everlastingly, a final fulfilment of 1 Samuel 2:10; Genesis 49:10-12.

Sadly, as we know from the books of Kings and Chronicles, the intermediate members in the chain (even beginning with Solomon) regularly failed, but it would not hinder the going forward of God’s purposes, for God’s purposes were God-determined (compare e.g. Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3-14) and would in the end prevail.

All this emphasises the important principle that there could be no permanent Temple until David’s house was firmly established, for it was the strength or otherwise of the house of David that would keep things on the right track, not the existence of a permanent Temple. Thus the establishing of David’s house must be seen as having priority over the building of a house for YHWH, because it was David’s house that was to be YHWH’s true house. And indeed it was finally because the house of David would fail, that the Temple would also fail. The Temple is always secondary. The warning is thus given that we cannot look to our particular religious ritual for help unless our spiritual foundations are first sure and secure. It is the spiritual life within that saves, not the outward form. As Stephen would later make clear, it was the coming of the Righteous One, not Solomon’s Temple, that would determine the future of God’s people (Acts 7:47-53).

2 Samuel 7:12

When your days are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will proceed out of your bowels, and I will establish his kingly rule.”

These next three verses specifically refer to Solomon (note the singular ‘his kingly rule’), the seed who will proceed from David’s bowels, in other words will result from his impregnation. YHWH promises that He will establish his kingly rule using covenant terminology (‘father’ and ‘son’ and covenant warning). Thus the dynasty is guaranteed to continue, at least in the short term. At a time when succession was uncertain, and often resulted in war and the survival of whoever won, this was an important promise. David could now be sure that the son of his flesh would succeed him and would be established in the kingship.

2 Samuel 7:13

He will build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingly rule for ever.”

The opening phrase here is two-edged. In context the emphasis is on ‘house’ as referring to descendants, and this interpretation can be seen as supported by verse 16, and by the whole context. Thus it was clearly being promised that his son also (Solomon as it will turn out) would establish a permanent house for YHWH’s Name, that is, would ‘build a dynasty’ for the sake of His Name.

However, in the wider context (1 Kings 5:5) we cannot avoid the thought that there is here also a double entendre, and at least a hint of the fact that Solomon would actually build a physical house for YHWH (a house of cedar), or at least that the writer (and Solomon) saw it in that way (all would by then know that that had happened). For ‘building a house for His Name’ would tie in with the idea with which the chapter commenced, of building for Him of a house of cedar, and with the fact that the Ark, which would go into such a Temple, is called by ‘the Name’ (2 Samuel 6:2). Thus there is undoubtedly a play on the two ideas. The important emphasis, however, is not on Solomon building a physical temple (even though Solomon saw it in that way - 1 Kings 5:5), but on his establishing a seed who will rule over God’s people, for the prevailing thought is that YHWH is through him to ‘establish the throne of his kingly rule for ever’. The idea then is that that physical Temple, when built, will be a symbol of the greater House which is to be built, culminating in the everlasting King. Had no Temple ever been built we could still have seen the prophecy as fulfilled in his descendants (which we might have expected in view of the introductory comments in 2 Samuel 7:5-7). For that is the main emphasis of the whole passage. Jesus similarly saw it this way, for He saw Himself as the true Temple of YHWH (John 2:19-22) and as of the house of David.

“And I will establish the throne of his kingly rule for ever.” This was not the guarantee that there would be no breaks in the physical rule of those who sat on his throne, but a promise that, whatever happened, in the final analysis the throne of his kingly rule would prevail so that in the end it would be established for ever. It would prevail against all odds, and would finally result in an everlasting kingdom.

That the line of Solomon continued, and continued to be identified, comes out in Matthew 1:7-17, until at last there came One Who could supremely be called ‘you Son of David’, a title which probably had Solomon in mind as much as David. It was the supreme Son of David Who would establish His throne in Heaven (Matthew 19:28; Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 1:19 to Ephesians 2:7; Hebrews 1:3), and exercise His earthly rule through those who would sit on subsidiary ‘thrones’ presiding over His church, now seen as the true ‘twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28; Matthew 21:43; John 15:1-6; Galatians 3:29; Galatians 6:16; Romans 11:16-28; Ephesians 2:18-22; 1 Peter 2:9; James 1:1; Revelation 7:4-8).

2 Samuel 7:14-15

I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men, but my lovingkindness (covenant love) shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you,”

And YHWH’s further promise was that He would be a ‘father’ to David’s seed, and would see him as His ‘son’ (solid covenant language, compare Psalms 2:7). Thus He would be permanently faithful to Him and though He may, like a father, have to chasten him severely by means of other human beings, He promises that he will continue to show towards him His covenant faithfulness to the end. He will not, as in the case of Saul, find himself rejected by YHWH. (This promise did not, however, apply to later seed. Thus Ahaz would later so sin that his descendants were removed from the promise, to be replaced by a child who was born of a virgin - Isaiah 7:14).

2 Samuel 7:16

And your house and your kingly rule will be made sure for ever before you, your throne will be established for ever.”

But more importantly the continuation of David’s dynasty and of his kingly rule would be ‘sure for ever before you’. His throne would be established for ever, and would thus finally be over an everlasting kingdom, so coming back to 2 Samuel 7:13. Note that God here switches from ‘his’ back to ‘your’. This is coming back to the original promise.

In other words in some way the future of David’s house is guaranteed, with the result that it will culminate one day in an everlasting rule over an everlasting kingdom. For David this would have been an astonishing and hugely gratifying thought, probably one that was beyond his wildest dreams. It is true that later, for a time, this promise would be seen to be in abeyance, for the house of David would seemingly be cast off. And it would then be Isaiah who would introduce the idea that it would be accomplished through a son miraculously born so as to be from his house, and yet not from his house (Isaiah 7:11-14; Isaiah 9:6-7). The most remarkable fact of all is that this came into final complete fulfilment through Jesus Christ, great David’s greater son.

2 Samuel 7:17

According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak to David.’

It is now emphasised that these words, and this vision, which Nathan had received from YHWH, were subsequently spoken to David, for their message was for him..


Verses 18-21

1). Gratitude to YHWH for what He has promised for him and his house (2 Samuel 7:18-21).

2 Samuel 7:18 a

‘Then David the king went in, and remained before YHWH.’

David clearly sees himself here as having a role to play in the Tent of Meeting, just as the prince will have one in the heavenly Temple of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 44:3). Thus here he now goes in and sits before YHWH to pray with regard to both himself and the people.

“Remained (tarried) before YHWH.” For the use of the verb compare Genesis 24:55; Genesis 29:19; etc. We do not know what posture David took up. He in fact probably stood, although he may have fallen on his face (compare 2 Samuel 12:16).

2 Samuel 7:18 b

‘And he said, “Who am I, O Lord YHWH, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”

He opens his prayer by admitting that he and his house are totally undeserving. Who is he, and what are they, that YHWH has even brought them thus far, to sit on the throne of Israel? Even though he is now a great king he is aware of his own undeserving and recognises that he owes it all to YHWH, and he is amazed at YHWH’s condescension. He is amazed at God’s goodness to him. Note how ‘who am I O Lord YHWH’ here becomes ‘Who is like to You’ in 2 Samuel 7:22. His wonder at God’s goodness to him leads him on to be aware of just how wonderful God is. It is a reminder to us that self-examination fails if it does not lead on to a recognition of the wonder and grace of God. It should never lead us to despair, but, through the cross, to an appreciation of all God’s undeserved goodness towards us.

“You have brought me thus far” - as described in 1 Samuel 16:1 -2 Samuel 6:23. David could look back on a life of many ups and downs, and he is filled with wonder at the fact that YHWH has been with him through them all. We too should be filled with amazement as we look back in the same way and consider how God has similarly brought us safely through all the vicissitudes of life to our present position. In the words of Paul, ‘by the grace of God I am what I am’, that is, the chief of sinners saved by grace.

2 Samuel 7:19

And this was yet a small thing in your eyes, O Lord YHWH, but you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is the law of man, O Lord YHWH!”

And yet YHWH has not only done this comparatively small thing, but now the wonder is that He has extended it to apply to His servant’s house for a great while to come. He has, indeed, condescended to act in accordance with the law laid down for the behaviour of one man to another (‘the law (torah) of man’) where the laws of inheritance are strictly laid down and permanent, guaranteeing their fulfilment. Such is His mercy and compassion that YHWH has bound Himself to similar consistency of dealing with the house of David as is found in such laws of inheritance, so that the rights of inheritance will pass on, just as they do under the law of man.

Alternately we might see ‘this is the law (instruction, directive) of man’ as meaning ‘the instruction (of YHWH) as it applies to humankind’. The first interpretation saw the certainty of fulfilment as based on the fact that YHWH would show great condescension and follow the permanent custom of men in this regard, this second now makes the certainty of fulfilment dependent on nothing less than God’s own directive as regards men. In both cases the emphasis is on the certainty of fulfilment.

2 Samuel 7:20

And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord YHWH.”

In view of YHWH’s grace and condescension David finds that he can have nothing further to say. He has been rendered speechless in wonder. He can only rest on the fact that YHWH knows His servant (him) through and through (1 Samuel 16:7), and has therefore in His own sovereign purpose decided to act in this way. Thus he rests all on YHWH. It is all within His good pleasure (see Deuteronomy 7:7-8).

Alternately ‘you know (have known) your servant’ may have in mind the divine activity whereby He ‘knows’ a person by choosing them out for himself. Compare Genesis 18:19; Amos 3:2; 1 Corinthians 8:3; Galatians 4:9. This interpretation fits in well with verse 21. Of course, both are true for all who are His. He both ‘knows’ His servants by choosing them out for Himself from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and also knows them through and through.

2 Samuel 7:21

For your word’s sake, and according to your own heart, have you wrought all this greatness, to make your servant know it.”

Indeed he recognises that the basis of YHWH’s action towards him and his seed can only be His own promises, what He has Himself guaranteed by His word and will therefore fulfil (e.g. Genesis 49:10-12; Numbers 24:17; 1 Samuel 16:1; compare 1 Samuel 2:10), and His own love and covenant kindness which springs from His own heart (compare Deuteronomy 7:7-8). David acknowledges that it is because of these past promises made according to God’s sovereign will that He has wrought all that He has made known to His servant, the fulfilment of all these great and wonderful promises through which He is showing His greatness. In the end all is of God.

That David did recognise the connection between the promise of God now being communicated to him by Nathan and Jacob's prophecy in Genesis 49:10-12 is evident from 1 Chronicles 28:4 where he clearly refers to his election as king as being as a consequence of the election of Judah as ruler.


Verses 18-29

David Expresses His Gratitude To YHWH For His Everlasting Goodness (2 Samuel 7:18-29).

The humility of David, and His recognition of his subjection to YHWH comes out in this prayer which follows up on God’s promise, for he opens his prayer up by describing himself as ‘your servant’ three times (2 Samuel 7:19-21), and then closes it with a sevenfold use of ‘your servant’ (2 Samuel 7:25-29), the latter being somewhat similar to the sevenfold bow used when approaching Pharaoh as mentioned in the Amarna tablets, and the one clearly used among Semites in general in order to express complete submission (compare Genesis 33:3).

He similarly reveals his appreciation of YHWH, for he addresses Him six times as ‘O Lord YHWH’ (four times in 2 Samuel 7:18-20, and twice in 2 Samuel 7:28-29), twice as ‘O YHWH God’ (2 Samuel 7:22; 2 Samuel 7:25) and once as ‘O YHWH of Hosts’ (2 Samuel 7:27). He thus makes clear that YHWH is his Overlord.

And yet it is also the prayer of one who is confident of his approach. This probably indicates the fact that he does see himself as having a priestly right to approach YHWH as ‘a priest after the order of Melchizedek’, a priesthood which he saw as becoming his when he captured Jerusalem, for in it he expresses not only his own personal gratitude, but the gratitude of his whole people.

The prayer can be split into three subsections:

1). Gratitude to YHWH for what He has promised for him and his house (2 Samuel 7:18-21).

2). Wonder at what this great YHWH has done for His own people (2 Samuel 7:22-24).

3). Wonder at, and prayer for, what YHWH’s purposes are for his house (2 Samuel 7:25-29).

The prayer can also be seen as in a more detailed chiastic form as follows:

Analysis.

a Then David the king went in, and remained before YHWH, and he said, “Who am I, O Lord YHWH, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” (2 Samuel 7:18).

b “And this was yet a small thing in your eyes, O Lord YHWH, but you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this too after the manner of men, O Lord YHWH!” (2 Samuel 7:19).

c “And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord YHWH. For your word’s sake, and according to your own heart, have you wrought all this greatness, to make your servant know it” (2 Samuel 7:20-21).

d “For this reason you are great, O YHWH God, for there is none like you, nor is there any God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears” (2 Samuel 7:22).

e “And what one nation in the earth is like your people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem to himself for a people” (2 Samuel 7:23 a).

f “And to make him a name, and to do great things for you, and terrible things for your land, before your people, whom you redeem to yourself out of Egypt, from the nations and their gods?” (2 Samuel 7:23 b).

e “And you established to yourself your people Israel to be a people to yourself for ever, and you, YHWH, became their God” (2 Samuel 7:24).

d “And now, O YHWH God, the word that you have spoken concerning your servant, and concerning his house, confirm you it for ever, and do as you have spoken. And let your name be magnified for ever, saying, ‘YHWH of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you” (2 Samuel 7:25-26).

c “For you, O YHWH of hosts, the God of Israel, have revealed to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.” Therefore has your servant found in his heart to pray this prayer to you” (2 Samuel 7:27).

b “And now, O Lord YHWH, you are God, and your words are truth, and you have promised this good thing to your servant” (2 Samuel 7:28).

a “Now therefore let it please you to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue for ever before you, for you, O Lord YHWH, have spoken it: and with your blessing let the house of your servant be blessed for ever” (2 Samuel 7:29).

Note that in ‘a’ he declares that YHWH has brought him and his house thus far, and in the parallel he prays that it may continue before Him for ever. In ‘b’ YHWH is seen as having spoken of his house for a great while to come and in the parallel He is seen as having promised this good thing to His servant. In ‘c’ He has made His servant know of what is to be, and in the parallel He has revealed it clearly to His servant (note the twofold reference to ‘your servant’ in each case). In ‘d’ YHWH is great and there is none like Him, and in the parallel His Name is to be magnified for ever. In ‘e’ Israel is unique among nations in that God has redeemed them to Himself, and in the parallel it is because He has established them to be His people for ever, and He will be their God. Centrally in ‘f’ God has thereby made a name for himself and has done wondrous things for His people whom He has redeemed for Himself.


Verses 22-24

2). Wonder at what this great YHWH has done for those whom He has chosen as His own people (2 Samuel 7:22-24).

2 Samuel 7:22

For this reason you are great, O YHWH 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 he recognises that it is this especially that makes YHWH great and like no other gods, that He faithfully carries forwards His own sovereign will in accordance with His own power and promises. He is always consistent and totally reliable. Thus there is none like Him, nor any gods who can compare with Him, at least as far as they have heard, One Who acts consistently and graciously on behalf of those Whom He chooses quite apart from their deserving (compare 2 Samuel 7:23; Exodus 15:11; Deuteronomy 3:24; Deuteronomy 4:33-35; Deuteronomy 7:7-8).

2 Samuel 7:23

And what one nation in the earth is like your people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for himself for a people, and to make him a name, and to do great things for you, and terrible things for your land, before your people, whom you redeem to yourself out of Egypt, from the nations and their gods?”

As David thinks back he is filled with awe and reverence as he considers what nation there is on earth which has experienced what Israel has experienced. What one nation on earth has been privileged like the one which He has chosen and redeemed for Himself, that is, like the nation of Israel ‘Whom God went to Egypt to redeem for Himself as a people’, thereby making a Name for Himself, in contrast with the other deities who did not do such a things for their people. (This contrast lies at the back of the Hebrew text - see comment below). He did this both so as to make for Himself a Name, and in order to do great things for His people whom He had bought for Himself. Indeed He did terrible things for His land before His people (see Deuteronomy 10:21), whom He redeemed out of Egypt and out of the hands of the nations and their gods whom He drove out before them. David thus sums up in a few words the whole activity of God on behalf of His people from their deliverance in Egypt to their success in finally being established in Palestine after all the obstacles that they came up against. And all was due to YHWH’s redeeming love and power.

(The Hebrew text is a little difficult to translate into English, although we have brought out the sense above. For example ‘went’ is in the plural suggesting that there is a contrast intended between YHWH Who did go to redeem His people, and other deities who did not go to redeem their people. Thus ‘what one nation on earth -- is like Israel -- of which their deities went to redeem its people?’. The remainder of the sentence is then dealing with YHWH and His people, the ‘you’ switching from addressing God’s people back to addressing God Himself, as it had indicated in the beginning).

2 Samuel 7:24

And you established to yourself your people Israel to be a people to yourself for ever, and you, YHWH, became their God.”

And He thus established to Himself His people Israel, to be a people to Himself for ever, while He became their God. It was an eternal arrangement that would never cease, and would be fulfilled on all those who truly responded to His covenant and obeyed Him. He would never fail those whose trust was in Him.

This does not mean that there is what we call ‘a nation’ which He would treat as His people whatever they did and however they responded, and who are now languishing in unbelief in Jerusalem waiting for His special favour. It refers to those whom He had redeemed for Himself, who would genuinely ‘be a people to Himself’. As Paul put it, ‘they are not all Israel who are of Israel’ (Romans 9:6). Thus those who revealed themselves as not His true people would be (and now are) cut off, and rejected from the covenant, resulting in their ceasing even nominally to be His people, while those who responded to Him and came within the covenant in accordance with His provision (Exodus 12:48), becoming circumcised in heart (Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11), would become His true people. This situation was especially highlighted through the coming and death of great David’s greater son, Jesus Christ, so that the true Israel was revealed as those who believed in Him and put their trust in Him (Matthew 19:28; Matthew 21:43; John 15:1-6; Galatians 3:29; Galatians 6:16; Romans 11:16-28; Ephesians 2:18-22; 1 Peter 2:9; James 1:1; Revelation 7:4-8). There is only one post-resurrection Israel and that is composed of all who have believed in the true Vine (John 15:1-6).

So David’s glorying is not just in the fact that his house is secure for ever, but also in the fact that YHWH has chosen for Himself His true people for ever, so that they will be blessed together with David’s house. He is acknowledging by this the responsibility of his house for the blessing of God’s people, a responsibility wonderfully fulfilled by the Greatest Representative of that house, the Lord Jesus Christ.


Verses 25-29

3). Wonder at, and prayer for the fulfilment of, what YHWH’s purposes are for his house (2 Samuel 7:25-29).

David now prays with confidence that YHWH will fulfil what He has promised, simply because that promise is founded on His word to His servant, not on anything of His servant’s own deserving. His confidence is totally in God and what He has determined.

2 Samuel 7:25

And now, O YHWH God, the word that you have spoken concerning your servant, and concerning his house, confirm you it for ever, and do as you have spoken.”

Firstly he prays that YHWH will confirm for ever what He has promised and do as He has spoken, on the grounds that it is YHWH’s will for His house as revealed by His word of promise. He is relying on Him to fulfil His unmerited promise.

2 Samuel 7:26

And let your name be magnified for ever, saying, ‘YHWH of hosts is God over Israel’ ”.

He next prays that YHWH’s Name will be magnified because all will be able to say, ‘YHWH of hosts is God over Israel’, and he can say that because he knows now that God will faithfully keep those who are His true people, so that their preservation is sure. This Israel includes, of course, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), the true Israel (John 15:1-6), the Israel which is made up of all who truly love Him and walk within His covenant. By entering into His covenant they become true Israelites (Exodus 12:48), as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us (Hebrews 8:6-13). Thus unbelieving Israel are excluded, and Gentiles who have become one with the true Israel by belief in Jesus Christ are included (Romans 11:17-28).

2 Samuel 7:26-27

“And the house of your servant David will be established before you, for you, O YHWH of hosts, the God of Israel, have revealed to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.” Therefore has your servant found in his heart to pray this prayer to you.”

He again expresses his confidence that because of what God has said and promised he is now assured that his house will be established for ever, because it is YHWH Himself Who of His own free choice has said that He will build him a house. It is indeed because of that that he feels able to pray this prayer.

Note the emphasis on the fact that he can pray confidently because he does so on the basis of the promises of God. ‘And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will (because He has promised it) He hears us, and if we know that He hears us whatever we ask (which is in accordance with His will) we know that we will receive the petitions that we have asked of Him’ (1 John 5:14-15).

2 Samuel 7:28

And now, O Lord YHWH, you are God, and your words are truth, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.”

His confidence lies in the fact that the Lord YHWH is God, and that God’s words are truth, a truth that can never be broken or gainsaid. Thus having promised this good thing to His servant, it is certain and sure, because His words are true.

2 Samuel 7:29

Now therefore let it please you to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue for ever before you, for you, O Lord YHWH, have spoken it, and with your blessing let the house of your servant be blessed for ever.”

He finalises his prayer by asking that God will be pleased to bless his house (as God’s servant) as He has promised, so that it might continue for ever before Him. And he does it confident that it will be so because He has spoken it. Let His blessing therefore rest cause the house of His servant to be blessed for ever.

It was no light thing that God had promised David. Indeed it was so wonderful that as we have seen he has had to repeat himself two or three times while the wonder of it dawns on his soul. And it is because it is so wonderful that he has to keep reminding both himself and God that, while it seems too good to be true, it is certainly true, because God has promised it. His confidence is totally in the certainty that God must fulfil His word.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-samuel-7.html. 2013.

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