God’s covenant with David
2 Samuel 7
(New International Version)
After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”
But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 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. 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?”‘
“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. 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. 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 will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders[a] 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: 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. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son.
“When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[b]; your throne will be established forever.’”
Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.
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? 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!
“What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.
“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. 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?You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.
“And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.
“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. Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
I had to read and re read this passage from scripture to let the meaning become clear to me. Initially David is asking to be able to build a house worthy to house the Ark of the Covenant, in other words to house God, as they thought then. He no doubt wanted to build something that was worthy of the God he believed in.
David himself was living in a “House of Cedar” – no doubt a fine building – and yet the Ark was in something far more humble. However God has a different idea and he spoke to the prophet Nathan and told him to tell David not to build a fancy house because he had never asked anyone, up to then to build a fine house for him. That he, God, had been with David’s ancestors and watched over them and spent a great deal of time in nothing better than a tent. He had been with David from the fields to where he is now.
So Nathan relays this to David, he tells David of God’s great promise to him and of God’s plan for David’s descendants.
The title of this course of reflections is “What kind of king?” From what I have read about David he was a king who has literally ‘come from nothing’ – a shepherd, who killed a giant, and wrote poetry. He became friends with the king and his son, and ended up inheriting and becoming king himself. He was a warrior and seemed a just person. So in a way that sums up his rule.
But God’s promise to him is far more important than what David achieved in his life. God promised that he would look after his family and the generations to come, and that from David’s family would come the Messiah, our Saviour.
We can look at David and take heart that here was a shepherd who became a king. A lad who has inspired generations though the Psalms he wrote. A man who was flawed, and yet God chose his family line to be the one that would bring into the world our Lord and Saviour.
David was never going to be the one to build the temple for the Lord, but his son would. We may never be the ones to see plans come to fruition, but those that follow us may well do. That doesn’t mean that we stop working, and planning, and praying for God to show us the things he wants from us. Even if we dwell in a tent or a lofty temple, God is there with us, teaching and loving us just as he did with David.