2 Samuel 7:1-29
David’s concern was a good one: he wanted to honour God who had blessed him and brought him rest. It seemed incongruous that the Ark of God should be housed in such meagre surroundings when he lived in a palace. He proposed to build a house for God, and the prophet Nathan says “Go for it!” But not for the first time in the Books of Samuel a spiritual leader is shown to get it wrong, and a human plan has to be corrected by a divine revelation.
God’s response to David’s proposal is “Not you, and not yet”. As long as God’s people have been on the move, God has been on the move, living in a tent; and until God’s people are properly settled and he has accomplished all he has purposed, he will not settle in a house of his own. He’s still got work to do! “You build me a house? No, I will build you a house” God tells him (v.11).
This promise is presented as being the outworking of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12: “I will make your name great”, says God to David in v.9, as He had done to Abraham in Gen.12:2, and in vv.10,11 he ties this promise to David to His promise to all God’s people that he would provide a place of rest for them. This is the next big step in the unfolding plan of God for the world. All His promises are now tied to David, or more particularly to a son of David, who will be the one to build a “house for my Name” (v.13), for through him God’s purposes will be fulfilled – the days of the Tent will be no more, God will settle down, his work complete.
This son will be the one through whom God’s covenant (or relationship) with His people will be focussed. The covenant formula has generally been “They shall be my people and I shall be their God”, but now it is re-expressed. Israel had been called God’s Son, but now this King will represent the people in the covenant; all the promises of God for His people (such as eg vv.10,11) now hang on him.
And this promise is, as Dale Ralph Davis puts it, “indefectible because death does not annul it (vv.12,13), sin cannot destroy it (vv.14,15), and time will not exhaust it (v.16). In a small way it finds partial fulfilment in David’s son, Solomon, who would build a Temple. But the Old Testament frequently sees these verses as having a much bigger fulfilment. Indeed David recognizes that too – when he says in v.19 “Is this your usual way of dealing with man, o Sovereign LORD?”, the NIV translation is apparently unhelpful (see Dale Ralph Davis for details) and it is not a question so much as an exclamation: “This is your plan, or purposes, for humanity!” Through one of David’s offspring, great David’s greater Son, God’s plan for humanity – to save the world, to undo the effects of Adam’s sin – would be accomplished. And the New Testament doesn’t leave us guessing who that is (Matt.1:1) – Jesus is the Son of David and Son of God, who comes announcing his kingdom, who says he will build the temple in three days and give rest to God’s people.
It is a wonderful prayer, so do leave some time to consider it. He begins by marvelling at the grace of God (vv.18-24). He is flabbergasted by the grace of God to him personally, and he marvels at God’s sovereign redeeming grace to his people. He has been given a glimpse of God’s plan and he is bowled over in praise. How much more do we now see and enjoy, so how much more should such a response mark us! Then, from v.25, we see him praying for the promises of God. “Do as you promised”, he says (v.26). We might have expected more – why bother to pray for what God has just said He will do? But actually it is a model prayer, surely. We should be quicker to lay hold of the promises of God in prayer. If we are hesitant in prayer, let God’s promises embolden us! (cf v.27)