2 Samuel 7
After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.’
3 Nathan replied to the king, ‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.’
4 But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
5 ‘Go and tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord says: are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’”
8 ‘Now then, tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people shall not oppress them any more, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
‘“The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 when your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.”’
17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:
‘Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant – and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human![c]
20 ‘What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.
22 ‘How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel – the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own for ever, and you, Lord, have become their God.
25 ‘And now, Lord God, keep for ever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great for ever. Then people will say, “The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!” And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.
27 ‘Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, “I will build a house for you.” So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue for ever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed for ever.’
A good motive: things are on the up in Israel! The nation is home, the ark of the covenant is home, and the king is home – settled in his palace, enjoying rest from all his enemies (verse 1). Life is good, and that’s the problem. David recognises that he has a home but is concerned that God’s ark remains in a tent (verse 2). He wants to do something for God, he wants to build a home for God too (as if anything he could build can contain God – but that’s another blog!) Even Nathan recognises that David’s heart is in the right place and commends him to go ahead (verse 3). But, sometimes, good motives aren’t enough! We can, with every good intention in the world, embark on a course of action that is unwise (at best) or wrong (at worst). This would have been one of those times. For God does not want David to build Him a house (verse 5), so graciously intervenes accordingly (verse 4).
At times like these, good motives must be shaped by godly action – in this case, obeying the revealed will of God. David cannot build God a house unless God says so. A great reminder for us to always examine our motives and desires, our wants and our will, in light of the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. Of course, submitting to God’s will is always the best course of action.
A generous Master: Instead of letting David build Him a house, God responds by reminding David that He will build David’s ‘house’ – what grace, what generosity. God will make David’s name great – which, in the context of the day means He will grant Him many descendants (people) and much blessing (prosperity); He will provide land (place) for those descendants not just to dwell but to settle and put down roots (plant); and He will restore relationships and provide rest (peace). It’s important to notice the repetition of ‘I will’ – it is God who will do all these things for David. You see, it is God who will build David’s house! That’s the type of house we all want – one not built by men for this world, but one built by God for all eternity. And David’s house will be an eternal house.
A gospel message: David is told that following him will be a son whose house, whose kingdom, God will also build (verse 12). This will be an eternal house and a forever throne (verse 16). It will be this son who will build God’s house in which He will dwell (verse 13). God and this son will have a special, personal and intimate relationship (verse 14). Of course, many of us recognise it was Solomon, David’s son, who built the Temple as the House of God. And while this is a partial fulfilment of the promises God made to David; it is not the fulfilment. For the descendant who will build God’s house will be no less than God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. This passage points us, ultimately, beyond David to Jesus, and beyond Israel to the Church. Jesus is the forever King who establishes God’s house – a spiritual house, built with flesh and blood, in which God will dwell by His Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22). Jesus is the cornerstone and foundation upon which the house of God is built for all eternity.
David rightly responds to such wonderful revelation, with prayer and praise.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and faithfulness to Your eternal plans to build your house through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Please help us to recognise Jesus as the Forever King who rules over Your Kingdom and establishes Your dwelling place.
As members of Your household, please help us to conform our motives, desires and will in accordance with Your revealed will, always obeying Your Word and submitting to Your Son.
Especially help us when we are tempted by evil desires and sinful motives to build our own house. Help us to trust You to build it and to rather use our time, talents and treasures in advancing Your house and proclaiming Your kingdom.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.