By Sam E. Stone
God made covenants with various individuals in Old Testament times, as well as with the nation of Israel as a whole. Before Samuel died, he anointed David as king of Israel. Shortly after returning the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, David was troubled by how things looked. While he was living in a palace of cedar, the ark remained in a tent. King David decided this was not right.
As we learn in today’s text, however, God was not bothered by this. The passage begins with the message God delivered to David by the prophet Nathan. Nathan is introduced to us for the first time in this passage. He continues to be a key figure throughout David’s life (2 Samuel 12:1-14; 1 Kings 1).
2 Samuel 7:4-7
The Lord’s message through Nathan brought both assurance and correction. The previous verses (2 Samuel 7:1-3) show that when David first brought up his idea of building a house for God, Nathan immediately affirmed the plan (v. 3). Unfortunately, he spoke before checking with God.
While there was nothing wrong with having such a place of worship, this was not the time for it, and David was not the person to build it. There is no indication that either David or Nathan had prayed about the decision. God reminded them that he had never asked for such a place during the years since he brought the Israelites up from Egypt. “Did I ever say to any of their rulers . . . ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’”
2 Samuel 7:8-11
God was not dependent on David’s efforts. Instead, the Lord had been constantly providing for David all of the time. God was the one who had cut off all David’s enemies from before. This “rest from all his enemies” (v. 1) came not through David’s military skill, but through God’s strong arm. The Lord then promised David, “I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.” The new covenant that God made with David is an eternal one, eventually fulfilled completely through David’s descendant, the Christ.
Rather than David making a place for God, God declared, “I will provide a place for my people Israel.” He promised to plant them “so they can have a home of their own.” In an earlier covenant God had promised this land to Abraham and his descendants. Here the Lord expanded on that promise to David. The provision of respite from battle was part of the blessing God had for David and the Israelite nation. David’s descendants would continue to lead God’s people. Through his family line, the Messiah would one day come. Ultimate fulfillment came in the person of Jesus, the Son of David (Matthew 1:1).
2 Samuel 7:12-16
“When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you.” King Solomon was David’s immediate successor. “He is the one who will build a house for my Name.” Solomon would be given the opportunity to build the temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6). David had been a man of war and, for this reason, God chose to have another build his temple (1 Chronicles 28:3). “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” Solomon, a man of peace, was a part of the line through whom the Prince of Peace would one day come (Isaiah 9:6).
God promised to deal with David and his descendants on the throne like a father would deal with his son. This would include discipline and punishment for occasions of disobedience. Ultimately this relationship is also applied to Christ (see Hebrews 1:1-9).
God then gave a final assurance to David. “My love will never be taken away from him . . . Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me.” David need have no fear that God would ever remove the royal line from his family, as he had with Saul. God promised that this covenant relationship would be different. There will always be a king on the throne who is part of David’s royal line. A psalmist affirmed this as well (Psalm 89). Jesus, in the line of David, rules over his kingdom eternally.
James E. Smith wrote, “The ‘foreverness’ of these promises points beyond David’s son Solomon. Jesus the Messiah is a son of David. He is God’s son par excellence. He is currently building a spiritual temple . . . . he sits even now upon the throne of God in the heavenly
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.