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David and The Good Life | Grace
October 23, 2022
2 Samuel 7:1-17
1Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” 3And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”
4But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” 17In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
According to several Old Testament scholars and commentators, 2 Samuel 7 is the most important passage in the entire Bible. 2 Samuel 7 is considered the “ideological summit” of the Bible from which we can look back into God’s covenantal faithfulness in the past and get a glimpse of the outworking of God’s covenantal promises in the future, finding its fullest expression in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This passage deals with God’s covenant with David. It is interesting to note that in a passage dealing with God’s covenant there is no mention of the word “covenant” (Hebrew: berit). Although the word “covenant” is not used, we do see the evidence and pattern of covenant making in this passage. We see it in verse 15. The Hebrew word for “steadfast love” is hesed, which indicates God’s covenantal faithfulness and commitment to his people. God’s hesed, in other words, is a life sustaining grace that accomplishes God’s purposes in redemptive history. God also promises perpetuity of David’s house and kingdom (verses 16-17), which serves as another indicator of a covenant. Interestingly, the word “house” (Hebrew: bayit) is used 15 times in this passage, pointing us to God’s kingdom and the promise of land, rest, and peace—which was integral in the life of Israel—ultimately finding its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus.
In verses 1-3 we read about peace and prosperity in Israel. Unlike Saul who forgot God in times of peace and prosperity, David remembers God. David, in his earnest desire to please God and to show his gratitude to God, wants to build a house of cedar for the ark of the Lord to dwell. Prophet Nathan, who was David’s chief advisor, approves of David’s desire. In verses 4-16, we read about the word of the Lord coming to Nathan at night. God’s speech in Nathan’s dream could be summarized in two points: First, there is no need for David to build a house for God as he has moved with his people since their deliverance from the land of Egypt, and throughout their wilderness. In other words, God’s presence is infinitely vast, and his glory too immense to be localized in a house of cedar—God dwells with his people, graciously meeting their needs. Second, God will himself build a house for David that will be perpetual, and David’s kingdom will be established forever. God reminds David of his past to show him that it is by God’s grace an insignificant shepherd is elevated to be the king of Israel. This passage highlights God’s abounding grace in providing for his people, above and beyond their imagination. David, in his earnestness, desired to build a dwelling place for God. But God surprised David with an abundance of blessings—perpetuity of the lineage or the house of David. God shows himself time and again to be the God who is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). Thus, this passage emphasizes the power of God’s grace to accomplish God’s purpose. God promises offspring to David. The Hebrew word used for offspring is plural, indicating generations of offspring. As we know, it is Jesus—the Son of David, born in a manger in the city of David, who is the true king who ushers in the kingdom of God on earth.
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
God of righteousness, hear our prayer. We come before you with zeal in our hearts seeking justice for the wronged, hope for the downhearted, and healing for the afflicted. We strain to see your face and to behold the glory of your salvation. Transform us in your image that your grace and mercy may visit us this day. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 146
1Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
5Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;
7who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
9The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!
1. Looking at the Bible
What does the text say? What according to you is the theme of this passage?
- In verses 1-4 we learn about David’s desire to build a house for the Lord. What prompted David to build a house for God to dwell?
- What do we learn about David from his desire to build a house for the Lord?
- In verses 6-7 we learn about God’s presence with the people of Israel—from the day of their deliverance from the land of Egypt, and throughout their wilderness experience. What can we understand about God’s character from these verses?
- From this passage what do we learn about the nature of the kingdom of God? Who according to you is capable of establishing the kingdom of God?
2. Looking at Jesus
At Central we believe that all of Scripture points to Jesus. In other words, Jesus is the theological center of the Bible. Every passage not only points to Jesus, but the grand narrative of the Bible also finds its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus.
- How does David’s desire to build the house for the Lord point us to Jesus?
- How does God’s covenantal blessings to the house of David find its fulfillment in Jesus?
- As followers of Jesus, how are we called to live in the kingdom of God in the present age?
3. Looking at Our Hearts
In 2 Samuel 7 we learn that our zeal for God’s kingdom, as intense as it may be, is ultimately insufficient in establishing God’s kingdom on earth. This passage reveals to us the nature of our own hearts, particularly when it comes to the motivation of our efforts for God’s kingdom.
- In what ways have you struggled to understand the role of your own efforts in the kingdom of God?
- If only God can ultimately build and establish his kingdom, how do we as Christians seek the kingdom of God?
- How would you describe the already but not yet nature of God’s kingdom that characterizes our life on earth?
4. Looking at Our World
- How is this passage hopeful for us as Christians living in a city filled with idolatrous kingdoms?
- How is this passage encouraging and hopeful as it pertains to our work on earth?
Rejoicing in the good gifts of our Creator, and filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, let us go out to love and serve the world as the body of Christ.
View Study Guide Notes
Question 1: The theme of this passage is multifaceted. As mentioned in the summary above, this passage is about God’s covenant with David, and as such, it is called a constitutional document of the nation of Israel. However, this passage has significance beyond the geographical bounds of the nation of Israel. As an ideological summit, this passage gives us a glimpse of the true Israel—the church. As followers of Christ, the promises made in this passage are true for us as well. We partake the blessings of Christ. As the ultimate anointed king of the true Israel, Jesus is the one who ushers in the kingdom of God. By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus restores the brokenness of the world, and reconciles us to the Father. As followers of Christ, we live in the already but not yet of the kingdom. In the present age we truly participate in the blessings of the kingdom of God. In the age to come, we will fully participate in the blessings of the kingdom.
David’s earnest desire to build a house for the ark to dwell reflects his devotion to God. David was fully aware of his status as the servant of the Lord. As the king of theocratic Israel, David humbled himself under the authority of the ultimate king who alone can establish the kingdom.
God’s presence indicates his holiness and glory. As image bearers of God, Adam and Eve were called to represent and extend God’s presence by being fruitful and multiplying (Genesis 1:28). However, they utterly fail in fulfilling their mandate by sinning. Yet, we see God accomplishing his purpose of dwelling among his people and filling the whole earth with the presence of his glory. God extends his presence by making covenants with individuals like Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. God’s presence with the people of Israel in wilderness reveal to us the hesed—the steadfast love, and covenantal faithfulness of God to an unfaithful nation.
From this passage we learn that only God can truly and fully establish his kingdom on earth. God uses individuals like Abraham, Moses, and David as instruments to accomplish his redemptive purpose of dwelling with his people. The fullest expression of the Lord’s anointed ushering in the eternal kingdom of God is seen in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Question 2: As the man after God’s own heart, David was truly devoted to God. In this passage we see David’s love for God manifest in his desire to build a house for God to dwell. Although David did not have an opportunity to build the house of the Lord, we see God’s abounding grace at work in honoring David’s desire by blessing his lineage. David’s son Solomon builds the temple, thereby fulfilling God’s promise to David. But ultimately it is Jesus who is called Emmanuel—the God who tabernacled among his people, who fulfills God’s promise made to David. David’s devotion to God points us to Jesus’ perfect obedience to his father. As promised to David, God ushers his kingdom in and through the work of his son, giving his people the hope of eternal rest in the kingdom to come.
As Christians we believe that we are united with Christ. Paul in Romans 6:4 emphatically declares that we were buried with Christ through baptism into death and are raised from the dead with Christ to live a new life. As Christians in union with Christ living in the already but not yet stage of the kingdom, we are called to work for the kingdom of God. We are not called to establish God’s kingdom, as only God in Jesus can ultimately establish his kingdom. However, we are called to partake in working for the kingdom of God, and as such, our labor is not in vain as God uses us as his instruments in his kingdom.
Question 3: There are two extreme ways to misinterpret the role of our efforts in the kingdom of God. One extreme interpretation is to conclude that as Christians it is our responsibility to build and establish the kingdom of God on earth. Christians who endorse this belief focus on occupying the seven mountains of cultural mandate—education, religion, family, business, government/military, arts/entertainment, and media—to build and establish the kingdom of God on earth. On the other extreme we see Christians who claim that since it is God’s prerogative to build his kingdom, we are called to complete isolation from the world, living in silos as pure Christians awaiting the kingdom of God.
Both interpretations fail to grasp the scope of God’s kingdom and our significance as Christians living in the kingdom. Yes, it is true that it is God who builds his kingdom; however, God has ordered his world in such a way that his work within his world is furthered through his image bearers. God intends his image bearers to reflect his presence and power into his world as his stewards. God builds his kingdom through the work of Jesus, but he employs us as his stewards by equipping us with the power of the Holy Spirit to work for the kingdom.
The already but not yet nature of God’s kingdom indicates that Jesus, by his life, death, and resurrection has ushered in the kingdom of God. The grace of God is in the process of restoring nature; however, it is not complete yet. We wait for the day when Jesus, once and for all, establishes God’s kingdom in the new heavens and new earth. With our eyes fixed on our living hope, we are called to strive in working for God’s kingdom, wherever we are placed.
Question 4: This passage is immensely hopeful for us as Christians living in a city filled with kingdoms that threaten to conquer us. We believe that God has begun the recreation of his world with the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus, in and through his resurrection, has conquered the dominion of the kingdom of sin and death. We can trust in the work of Christ as we truly hope that by God’s grace our work will not only last but will be enhanced in the coming kingdom in ways beyond our limited understanding.
In his book, Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright wonderfully captures the hopefulness of our work for the kingdom of God. He writes,
“The resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit mean that we are called to bring real and effective signs of God’s renewed creation to birth even in the midst of the present age. Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music, every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support for one’s fellow human beings—all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.”
Thus, in the economy of the kingdom of God, our labor—big or small, is not in vain, but has immense value.