Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 7:4

But in the same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Nathan;   Prophets;   Temple;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Visions;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Temple;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Nathan;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Israel;   Mediator, Mediation;   Easton Bible Dictionary - David;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Beth;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Samuel, Books of;   Temple of Jerusalem;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Covenant;   Jerusalem;   Nathan;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Messiah;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Nathan ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Temple;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - David;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Nathan (1);   Tent;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ark of the Covenant;   David;   Dreams;   Nathan;  

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

GOD VETOED DAVID'S PROPOSAL

"But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, `Go and tell my servant David, "Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to live in? I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, `Why have you not built me a house of cedar'"?"

This passage is God's veto of David's proposal; to build God a house. No capable scholar has ever denied this; but many have overlooked the fact that this passage downgrades the Jewish Temple to the status of an unauthorized innovation and the truth that from the beginning it was never God's will for Israel to possess it. Yes, God accommodated to it, just as he did their evil monarchy; but the Scriptures throughout both the O.T. and the N.T. back up the impression which is so vividly portrayed here.

DID THE JEWISH TEMPLE HAVE GOD'S APPROVAL?

The answer to this question is an unqualified negative. If it had been God's will, He would never have destroyed it twice! Jesus Christ referred to the temple as "A den of thieves and robbers" (Matthew 21:13). It was the temple crowd who engineered the crucifixion of Christ and opposed the preaching of the gospel. They were not merely thieves and robbers but liars and murderers as well. Significantly, the Book of Hebrews bypasses and ignores the Jewish Temple altogether, identifying all of the typical functions mentioned in Exodus, NOT with the temple, but with the tabernacle. Christ himself is the True House (or Temple) of God (John 2:10). (And that means that the Jewish edifice was the False Temple). The true temple of God today is the "spiritual body" of Christ, namely, his holy church (1 Corinthians 6:19).

It is no contradiction of this truth that God's Spirit did indeed, for a time dwell within the temple of Solomon, but Ezekiel gives the dramatic account of how that Spirit left it with the sound of a mighty rushing wind (Ezekiel 11:22,23). Also God's command through the prophets for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah cannot be interpreted as God's approval of the temple. That command to rebuild the temple is in the same category as Christ's command to Judas Iscariot to "get on with the betrayal" (John 13:27) or the holy angel's command for Baalam to, "Go with the men" (Numbers 22:35). It was far too late in Israel's history to change their infatuation with an earthly temple.

The prophet Amos, long after the glory of Solomon's Temple had so enamoured the children of Israel, prophesied that, "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old" (Amos 9:11). Amos here plainly, spoke of the temple of Solomon as a condition "fallen" from the tabernacle of David. He also viewed the temple of Solomon as "the ruins" of that tabernacle, and he included a promise that "in that day," that is, in the times of the Messiah, the tabernacle would be rebuilt. Amos wrote these words in the eighth century, and yet at that time when Solomon's temple had been standing more than a century, he said, "The tabernacle of David is fallen." That cannot mean that God had replaced it with Solomon's temple.

This glorious promise in Amos was, of course, fulfilled, as indicated by the words of James:

After these things, I will return;

And I will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen;

And I will build again the ruins thereof,

And I will set it up:

That the residue of men may seek the Lord,

And all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called,

Saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from of old (Acts 15:16-18).

Thus, the witness of the O.T. prophets and the inspired writers of the N.T. alike bypassed and ignored both the Solomonic and the Herodian Temples of the Jews, stressing the truth that God's Church would be a rebuilding, not of any temple, but of the tabernacle of David. Note that James quoted Amos here, but he also indicated "the prophets" (plural) had also taught the same thing.

Added to all of this are the sarcastic words of Stephen the Martyr who rehearsed all of the glorious victories that Israel had achieved during the times of the tabernacle, and then declared that, "Solomon built him a house! Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands." (Acts 7:47).

As Caird stated it, "The temple may have had its place in unifying national Israel, but it stood in the way of a more lofty and universal faith in God who dwells with the humble and contrite and is in their midst wherever they are gathered together."[8] Bennett also spoke of, "The O.T. view that the Temple of Solomon was a mistaken innovation."[9] "It is against the idea of the temple as an earthly dwelling place of God that the author (of Samuel) is writing."[10] The great disaster in any theory of God's dwelling in some earthly temple lies in the limitation in such a conception, effectively restricting the presence of the all-wise, omnipotent, and omniscient God to some given location.

We conclude our answer to the question which stands at the head of this little essay with the dramatic words of 1 Chronicles 17:4, in which God, through Nathan, said to David, "You shall not build me a house to live in." Of course, that is exactly the same meaning which we have in the text here.

"Would you build me a house to live in?" (2 Samuel 7:4). This, of course, is a negative (1 Chronicles 17:4); and a number of reasons lay behind the prohibition. Willis cited three: (1) "It would leave the impression that God was limited to a certain location; (2) David was a man of war and guilty of much bloodshed; and (3) David did not have time to build the temple (1 Kings 5:3-4)."[11] To this writer, it appears that the one and sufficient reason why God forbade David to build a temple was merely that God did not want it nor did He ever want it.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-samuel-7.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it came to pass that night,.... The same night following the day in which David and Nathan had had the above conversation, that neither of them might continue long in their error and mistake, and especially lest David, in his great zeal and warm affection, should take an hasty and improper step:

that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan; the word of prophecy, as the Targum; before he was not under a prophetic influence, but spoke in his own words, and had not the word of God; but now it came to him:

saying; as follows.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-7.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying,

The word of the Lord came — Because David's mistake was pious, and from an honest mind, God would not suffer him to lie long in it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-samuel-7.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 7:4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying,

Ver. 4. And it came to pass that night.] Post datum a Nathane intempestivum responsum. 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]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-7.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

It came to pass that night: because David’s mistake was pious, and from an honest mind, God would not suffer him to lie long in his mistake, nor to disquiet his mind, or run himself into inconveniencies, in order to the work, before he gave a stop to it.

The word of the Lord came unto Nathan; that the same person who had confirmed David in his mistake, might now rectify it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-7.html. 1685.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

that night. After these words all the MSS. have a hiatus, marking a solemn pause, and pointing back to the corresponding night of Genesis 15:12-17, thus connecting the two great unconditional Covenants. See note on 2 Samuel 7:1.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-7.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying,

It came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan. The command was given to the prophet on the night immediately following - i:e., before David could either take any measures, or incur any expenses.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-7.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-7.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying,
that night
Numbers 12:6; 1 Chronicles 17:3; Amos 3:7
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 12:25 - Nathan;  1 Chronicles 17:4 - Thou shalt not

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-7.html.