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Who’s Building Who’s House?

You might recall that 1 & 2 Samuel were originally written as one book – and it was divided only because one scroll simply wasn’t enough to hold the whole story – and so they wrote it out on 2 scrolls (1 & 2 Samuel). We started working through 1 Samuel back in January of 2020 – we took a pause through 2022/2023 and then have been working through the book of 2 Samuel since the beginning of this year. But today we we have arrived at central passage of the whole book. That’s not to say that we’re halfway through, (we’re just about 3/4 of the way through the entire book – and roughly 1/3 of the way through 2 Samuel specifically) but today’s passage in 2 Samuel chapter 7 is like the climax of the whole story! This is one of the main reasons why the stories of Samuel & Saul & David have all been recorded for us and preserved as Scripture! This is the theological centrepiece of the whole book.

This chapter contains what theologians call the “Davidic Covenant” – which is an incredible promise that God made to David – but it also includes some amazing promises for us! It’s one of the foundational covenants of the Old Testament that help us understand who Jesus is and what He came to do.

I read this week that there are about 40 difference references throughout the Bible that all point back to this chapter – so this is certainly a chapter worth studying!

And of course, one brief sermon won’t explore all the depths and insights to be found in this chapter, but we can certainly find a few good nuggets this morning – and perhaps you can do some mining on your own this week! 

Now just to give you an idea of where we are in this story – We are still in the very early years of David’s rule as king over Israel. He has recently conquered the fortress of Jerusalem and has made it his capital city. He has build a palace for himself within it’s walls and he has also brought into the city the Ark of the Covenant (which is the symbol of God’s own presence dwelling among His people).

At this point, there’s not much for war going on right now. The Philistines have certainly been a thorn in David’s side in the past, (and the will be again just in the next chapter) but at the moment, things are pretty quiet.

So with all that in mind, we read in 2 Samuel chapter 7 – starting at verse 1:

When King David was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, 2 the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!”

3 Nathan replied to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.”

2 Samuel 7:1-3

And we’ll pause here for now. First of all, in this passage we are introduced to the prophet Nathan. This is the first time we have met him in David’s story – but it certainly won’t be the last! Nathan will play several key roles in David’s story from this point on. 

We are told that he is a prophet of God and based on the context of this story as well as the other stories to come, it seems he is also a trusted friend of the King – one of the guys in David’s inner circle of advisors.

And so here, David calls in Nathan and shares with him what has been on his mind. He says in essence – “Hey Nathan – what do you think? Is it right that I should be living in this beautiful palace while the Ark of God is out there in a tent?” Now David doesn’t specifically say what he wants to do about that, but the answer is implied! If David is living in a beautiful palace – the Ark of God should certainly reside somewhere equally beautiful, if not even better!

From what we will read later on, we know that David has in mind to build God a magnificent temple – a permanent home for God to live among his people. We don’t know if David shared the blueprints in his mind with Nathan or not – I kinda expect that was probably part of their conversation but it just didn’t get recorded in the Bible. But none-the-less, Nathan thinks this sounds like a great idea! And so he says to David, “Go ahead and do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.”

The trouble is, it seems Nathan forgot to actually ask God about this plan! Probably not his finest moment as a prophet of God, because here he is, giving David God’s blessing on this project without first consulting God! That’s not really the way you want to do things! But for whatever reason, it seems that Nathan just assumed that God would be in favour of this plan.

And of course, we do this all the time, don’t we? If something seems good and right in our minds – I think quite often we just assume that must be God’s will for us then! And often it is – God has already reveal much of his will for our lives in His Word and so many times that’s enough guidance for us to sort out what God would have us do. We know it’s God’s will for us to love our neighbors as ourself or to speak the truth in love or to honour our father and mother or to confess and repent when we sin. God has made those things clear for us in Scripture. But in things that are not specifically addressed in the pages of the Scriptures, we would be wise to ask God first – before we move ahead with our assumptions about God’s will! 

Because sometimes the things that seem good and right in our minds – may not be what God has in mind for us! And as we will see, that happens to be the case in our story today.

Let’s read on in verse 4.

4 But that same night the Lord said to Nathan,

5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? 6 I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. I have always moved from one place to another with a tent and a Tabernacle as my dwelling. 7 Yet no matter where I have gone with the Israelites, I have never once complained to Israel’s tribal leaders, the shepherds of my people Israel. I have never asked them, “Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar house?”’

2 Samuel 7:4-7

And we’ll pause here just briefly… While it wasn’t a bad or wrong idea for David to want to build the Lord a permanent home – we can see here that it simply wasn’t God’s desire for David to do that. It seemed like a good idea – but it wasn’t God’s idea. God had never asked for such a thing! And perhaps more to the point, God had never put that on David’s to-do list! 

As we will see in the verses just ahead, God certainly HAD a to-do list for David, but building a temple wasn’t on the list! Let’s read on in verse 8.

8 “Now go and say to my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I took you from tending sheep in the pasture and selected you to be the leader of my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before your eyes. Now I will make your name as famous as anyone who has ever lived on the earth! 10 And I will provide a homeland for my people Israel, planting them in a secure place where they will never be disturbed. Evil nations won’t oppress them as they’ve done in the past, 11 starting from the time I appointed judges to rule my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.

2 Samuel 7:8-11a

In these verses we see that God had a todo list for David – which included him being the leader of God’s people, Israel – and destroying their enemies so that they could live securely in the Promised Land.

But more significantly, it seems these verses tell us more about God’s todo list than David’s! God very clearly reminds David that…

It was God who took David from tending sheep and raised Him up to be King over Israel.

It was God who went with David – destroying all of David’s enemies before his eyes!

It was God was was going to make David as famous as anyone else on earth.

It was God who would provide a homeland for his people – planting them in a secure place.

And it was God who would give them rest from all their enemies.

While it seems that David was eager to do something nice for God in building him a magnificent temple – God really didn’t need anything from David. And maybe David had begun to forget that.

Maybe as David looked out from his secure position within in the fortress of Jerusalem (knowing that all his enemies had been subdued) – maybe he began to take a bit more credit for his accomplishments than he ought! Maybe as he sat in his beautiful palace of cedar and looked down at the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was – maybe David thought he ought to help God out a little – forgetting that it was God who had placed David where he was!

Now again, I don’t know all that was going on in David’s heart and mind – but God certainly seems to make it clear that He didn’t really need any favours from David. He didn’t need David to build him a house. In fact, it was the other way around. Let’s read on in verse 11.

“‘Furthermore, the Lord declares that he will make a house for you—a dynasty of kings! 12 For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. 13 He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. 15 But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. 16 Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’”

2 Samuel 7:11b-16

Wow! What a promise! And what a turn-around of events! What began as David wanting to build God a house, ended up with God promising to give David a house – a dynasty of Kings! God made David an eternal, unconditional promise that his family and their rule over Israel would be secure for all time!

This promise of God is known as the Davidic Covenant. And it’s a prophecy really – God is telling David what He (the Lord) is promising to do in the future. And like many prophecies – there is a near future fulfillment and further future fulfillment of this promise.

In this case, the near future fulfillment would the reign of King David’s son, King Solomon – who at this point had not yet even been born. But when David would die many year from now, his son Solomon would take the throne – and as God says in verse 13…

“He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name.” 2 Samuel 7:13

And of course, as we read later in the book of Kings, we see that’s exactly what happened! Solomon would actually get to do what David had wanted to do. He would build an incredible temple for the name of the Lord. And we also read about how when Solomon was old, his heart turned from the Lord and God had to discipline him – but he did not remove him from the throne – just as God promised in these verses.

But this promise to David wasn’t just about Solomon. There was a further future fulfillment to this prophecy as well – as we see in verse 16.

16 Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’”

2 Samuel 7:16

Obviously this is no longer talking about Solomon – who would live and then one day die! But somewhere along the way, one of David’s descendant’s would become and then remain king for all time! And of course, the details of who and when this would be were not laid out for David at this time – but we are told very clearly later on in the Bible who this would be.

In Luke chapter 1, when the angel announces to the virgin Mary that she was about to have a child – look at what he says:

30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Luke 1:30-33

Jesus Christ is very clearly the descendant of David who would reign over Israel forever! And not just over Israel – but over all. In Revelation 11 we read of a future time when:

“The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign forever and ever.”

Revelation 11:15b

And so this promise to David way back about 1000 years before Christ was born, was the first hint that God would send his Son, Jesus Christ, to be born as a descendant of David – and he would one day be King over all for all eternity!

This was an incredible promise to David and also for the people of Israel. What a great assurance than no matter what might happen in the world – no matter what world powers would arise or what catastrophes would strike their nation – they would never be wiped out. They would never cease to exist as a people. They knew that in the end, their King would be king over all!

And as followers of Jesus Christ, we have that same assurance! Not matter what happens to us in the here and now – no matter what trials we go through or what disasters befall us – we know that in the end, our king is going to be king over all!

There’s that old hymn – Blessed Assurance – and this is exactly what it’s talking about! Blessed Assurance – Jesus is mine! Oh what a foretaste of glory divine! What a comfort! What a hope we have because we know how the story ends! 

It’s incredible to have the promises of God. And I think David thought so too. Take a look at his response to all this… starting in verse 17.

17 So Nathan went back to David and told him everything the Lord had said in this vision.

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed,

“Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And now, Sovereign Lord, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign Lord?

20 “What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord. 21 Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant.

2 Samuel 7:17-21

David is just blown away! If he had earlier forgotten what God had done for him – he was surely reminded of that now. He humble acknowledges that he is nothing. His family is nothing.  He even states in verse 20 (and I’m paraphrasing here:) You know what I’m really like, Lord. You know my sinful heart – you know my tendencies to rebel and do things my own way – but yet You continue to bless me more than I could even ask!

I love how David says in verse 19 – “Do you deal with everyone this way, Lord?” Are you this good to everybody?

And the answer to that is “Yeah. He is!” Goodness is defining characteristic of God! David would write in Psalm 145…

7 Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

8 The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

9 The Lord is good to everyone.
He showers compassion on all his creation.

Psalm 145:7-9

We sang earlier about the goodness of God! And I know sometimes we go through things that are not so good – things that are hard – things that hurt – things that seem to be lacking the goodness of God.

But even in those times, the Lord is still merciful and compassionate – slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love! He loves you more than you can imagine – and quite possibly – more than you can see in those difficult moments.

But it is true – the Lord is good to everyone! We all have the opportunity to experience His goodness and his unfailing love – if we so choose. But that’s just it. We have have to choose to accept his goodness. He doesn’t force it upon us – we can choose to reject him if we want. But the bottom line is that God is eager to share his goodness with us. I mean, just think of what he did for David and for Israel as a nation? David continues in verse 22…

22 “How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! 23 What other nation on earth is like your people Israel? What other nation, O God, have you redeemed from slavery to be your own people? You made a great name for yourself when you redeemed your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations and gods that stood in their way. 24 You made Israel your very own people forever, and you, O Lord, became their God.

2 Samuel 7:22-24

And I’m sure that if David had lived in the New Testament era he would have continued with something like “And what other God would have come to earth as a man – to suffer and die on a cross – taking the punishment of every sin of every person on earth – and then rise again from the dead three days later? What other God has ever done that?”

There is no other God like our God. 

There is only one God who redeems his people. One God who call us His own! One God who suffered and died and rose from the grave so that we could live with Him forever!

And so David concludes by saying this in verse 25…

25 “And now, O Lord God, I am your servant; do as you have promised concerning me and my family. Confirm it as a promise that will last forever. 26 And may your name be honored forever so that everyone will say, ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is God over Israel!’ And may the house of your servant David continue before you forever.

27 “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, I have been bold enough to pray this prayer to you because you have revealed all this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you—a dynasty of kings!’ 28 For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign Lord, it is an eternal blessing!”

2 Samuel 7:25-29

Such a fitting response to the goodness of God! May that be the prayer of each one of us as we reflect on the goodness of God in our lives and on all of his wonderful promises to us!

I know that life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops! There are hard things that we go through – things that hurt – things that have the potential to crush our spirits. But I just want to encourage you that even in the hard times – God is still good! He has given you great and mighty promises – and he will keep those promises – just as he kept his promises to David!

So may we respond to Lord as David did.

And now, O Lord God, I am your servant; do as you have promised… And may your name be honored forever so that everyone will say, ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is God over Israel! (and over Penhold and over Red Deer and over every other place that we might call home). For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign Lord, it is an eternal blessing!

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