MAKING DISAPPOINTMENTS GOD’S APPOINTMENTS

2 Samuel 7

In this, we learn something about King David’s amazing faith in God and something of how God works in the lives of people like David; people who have an earnest desire to do something to the glory God.

1. A heartfelt desire to glorify God, verses 1—3

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.”

The chapter opens with King David settled into his royal palace. He has, with God’s help, triumphed over all his enemies, both domestic and abroad, and David’s status and king over the united kingdom of Israel is beyond dispute. As if to stress this fact, this one-time shepherd boy is referred to as “the king” three times in these opening verses in the original Hebrew.

We may well imagine this warrior king standing in the middle of his regal house, looking at what his years of fighting had achieved—a secure kingdom, peace and prosperity for all, and a palace beyond compare—and remembering that God had no proper home in which to dwell. More than anything else, David loved Yahweh and he ardently desired giving God a proper dwelling place. As far as David was concerned, respect for God meant building a temple for Him worthy of His majestic Presence.

The contrast between his own house and that of the Lord at this time was stark: the earthly king had settled into a sumptuous palace; the ark of God’s presence remained in a mere tent. While it is true that this “tent” was originally constructed of the best materials available and it’s workmanship superlative, the royal palace dwarfed, in size and splendor, the resting place of God. To the king, this situation was intolerable and greatly troubled him.

Being a godly man, David consulted another godly man, his prophet Nathan. Nathan and David went back a long way and had a sturdy relationship. Probably nobody on earth knew the heart of the king like Nathan did, and the prophet’s response to David’s ambition indicated that David’s heart was right; that his desire to build a temple for God was purely motivated. There was nothing in this project for David; he would do it all for the glory of God. In fact, we might go so far as to think that in this matter, King David had “the mind of Christ.” Would that believers today would be so motivated! Think about what great exploits could be achieved if only they were done for God’s sake and for His glory alone. Rarely are our motives that unadulterated.

2. God’s refusal, verses 4—11

When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. (verse 12)

David was a spiritually sensitive man. His spiritual instinct told him that it was wrong for God to dwell in a tent while he was living in luxurious splendor. There was an incongruity between the transitory and impermanent nature of a man living in a permanent house while the eternal and everlasting God was relegated to being “put up” in a temporary shelter. What could possibly be wrong David’s desire to build God a permanent home?

To the prophet’s Nathan’s understanding, his friend’s desire was a good and noble one; right and sound, motivated only by love and devotion to God. But something was wrong, and it took a visit from God to point it out.

The work of building God’s house belonged to another. It was not God’s will for David to undertake that task. Throughout Nathan’s message from God to David, the king is now referred to as “my servant David” as opposed to “the King.” While God made David king over the people of Israel, in relationship to God, David remained His servant, a description he humbly accepts.

The essence of God’s response to David’s desire is three-fold:

  • God has never commanded any leader in Israel’s past to build Him a temple, nor has He commanded David to do this, verses 6, 7.
  • The choice of the person to head up such a project would be God’s, verse 5.
  • The denial of David results in something very positive: David’s son would be given the honor to build God’s house.

But God’s refusal to allow David to fulfill his righteous ambition is not without grounds. There are two main reasons why God refused David:

  • The king is far too busy waging war with his enemies: You know that because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the Name of the LORD his God until the LORD put his enemies under his feet. (1 Kings 5:3)
  • David was a warrior; he had shed much blood: But this word of the LORD came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. (1 Chronicles 22:8; see also 28:3).

It should be noted, however, that these reasons are not in any way given to denigrate King David. David fought his enemies at God’s behest; he could never be punished by God for caring out God’s wishes! In fact, far from being punished, God’s message to David contained a magnificent covenant for both king and kingdom:

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 over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. (verses 9b—11)

This “divine grant” was divided into two parts: promises that would be realized during David’s lifetime (verses 8—11a) and promises to be fulfilled after his death (verses 11b—16).

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; your throne will be established forever.

Who could ask for than that? No, David would not be allowed to build God’s house, but God’s blessings upon David, his family, and his kingdom were incomparable.

Yet, there is another reason why David was not allowed to build God’s house. David represents Christ as suffering and conquering, but not being able to establish an earthly kingdom to its fullest extent. This would be done by Solomon, an earthly “prince of peace.” Only he could be allowed to build God’s house. When Christ returns, He will be our heavenly Prince of Peace, and He will at last establish an earthly kingdom and temple; He will accomplish upon His return what He could not accomplish at His first advent.

3. God’s plan, verses 12—17

He is the one who will build a house for my Name… (verse 13a)

David’s dynasty would continue through his sons and grandsons, and would never be set aside as was the case with the house of Saul. What a superlative plan it was! Any disappointments David may have had at being refused the singular honor of building God’s temple must have been mitigated. This is always the way it is with God’s will; we always fare better when we obey it rather than follow our own, not matter how glorious our own appears to be.

A lot of people misinterpret verses 14 and 15 and cite them as proof that a child of God can never be lost and that those who wander from God will only be disciplined and not condemned. However, what hangs in the balance here is not Solomon’s personal salvation, but the status of David’s dynasty.

Also, a careful and right-minded reading of God’s promises to David reveals that these “kingdom promises” are fulfilled, not entirely in Solomon, but in David’s “greater son,” the Lord Jesus Christ. No mere man’s earthly kingdom could last “forever!”

There is a statement in the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 17:17) in which David’s heart is laid bare and we see why God loved this man so much—

And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, LORD God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men.

David knew he was not, yet God treated him as though he were.

4. David accepts God’s plan, verses 18—29

“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.” (verses 20, 21)

This heartfelt prayer of David to God is surely one of the most moving prayers in all of Scripture. Throughout this prayer, the king humbly expresses his gratitude to God for graciously revealing His will to him through his friend Nathan and, significantly, declares his own desire that God keep all His promises to the greater glory of God.

The prayer can be divided into three parts:

  • Gratitude for God’s blessings in the present, verses 18—21;
  • Praise for what God has done in the past, verses 22—24;
  • Prayer that God will fulfill His promises in the future, verses 25—29.

David was at a loss for words as he expressed himself to God and acknowledged God’s sovereignty and purposes. Would that we could do the same! Too often we pray with chagrin when God’s will is at odds with ours; we expect the Almighty to bend to our wishes instead of it being the other way around! Not so with David, who found joy God’s will even though it was not what he had wanted.

The king never forgot the past; he never failed to praise God for personal and national blessings that fell long ago. But most of all, David wanted God to fulfill His revealed will so that God Himself may be glorified. David’s prayer stands alone as a shining example of humility and honesty before God. We are reminded of what John the Baptist said when Jesus appeared on the scene—

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30, KJV)

Despite the surpassing blessings David had experienced and would continue to experience, his concern was that God get all the glory, not him or his house. Any good that may befall the house of David or the kingdom of Israel must be seen as coming from God; that was David’s paramount concern.

David ended his marvelous prayer in great confidence that God’s Word was absolutely dependable and he ended with the petition—

“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.” (verses 28, 29)

(c) 2010 WitzEnd


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