In the last essay we studied 2 Samuel six. In this essay we move to chapter seven. In verses 1-3 we see David thinking about the future. He has done what was necessary to solidify his reign; and now he is pondering what to do next.
The precise timing of when David had “rest from his enemies around him” is disputed. The author may once again be presenting material out of chronological order. But that is not important. The important thing is that David thought it unseemly that he was living in a house of cedar, and the ark of God was housed in a tent. So he proposed to the court prophet, Nathan, the building a temple of cedar in Jerusalem. Nathan thought it was a great idea. But when he prayed that night he received a different message from the Lord.
In verses 4-17 we see that the Lord gave Nathan two reasons why David’s plan to build the Lord a house should not be carried out. First, he reminded Nathan that he never before had lived in a permanent house (v. 6). And second, the Lord never had asked any judge or tribe to build him a permanent house (v. 7). This wasn’t said to assign blame to David for his proposal. But it resulted in clearing those who preceded David from blame as well.
Next, in verse eight, the Lord addressed David through Nathan as “my servant.” That word reminded David that though as king he had many people serving him, he nevertheless was himself a servant of the Lord. Further the Lord reminded David that he (the Lord) had made David king and was responsible for all David’s blessings.
And then the Lord told David something else. Rather than David’s building the Lord a house, the Lord would build David a house, meaning a dynasty (v. 11). And thus the Lord entered into a covenant with David. The word “covenant” is not used in this chapter; but it is used in other places in reference to David’s dynasty (2 Sam. 23:5; Ps. 89:3, 28, 34; 132:12). Thus we see David’s being brought into the historic covenant that the Lord had cut with Abraham. Moreover we see the covenant being extended into the future.
Two covenant themes are introduced here that are further developed in subsequent biblical literature. First, the Davidic line is to rule forever. And second, the Lord declares he will not withdraw his steadfast love from David’s son, as he did from Saul. Moreover David’s son would build a house, a temple, for the Lord (v. 13).
No reason is given here to explain why David was not to build the temple. But in 1 Chron. 28:2-3 we see an explanation by David. The Lord told David he could not build the temple because he was a man of war and had shed blood. The Lord probably informed David of this through Nathan at a later time.
Neither Solomon nor the temple he would build exhausts the meaning of what we see here. David’s kingdom was to be forever. And the temple was more than a building. Solomon represents the kingdom; and his temple represents spiritual reality at his historical level. But the promise that the kingdom would be forever required messianic fulfillment. It was fulfilled only and finally in the Lord Jesus Christ, who legally was a descendant of David.
God’s temple is not merely an earthly temple of wood and stone. Jesus once referred to his physical body as a temple. He said to the Jews when they asked for a sign, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn. 2:19). They did destroy it. And he did raise it up.
But that wasn’t the full extent of the meaning either. Jesus taught that he and the Father would dwell in the hearts of believers (Jn. 14:23). Both Paul (1 Tim. 3:15) and Peter (1 Pet. 2:5) taught that we believers make up a household of God that is a spiritual temple made of living stones. And perfect fulfillment of David’s kingdom will occur only during the end-time. The Revelation describes the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven as the bride of God (Rev. 21:1-3). That will be the ultimate fulfillment of David’s kingdom.
The rest of the chapter is a prayer by David in response to the Lord’s message through Nathan. David’s prayer consists of two parts. The first part, verses 18b-24, is a thanksgiving for the promise. And the second part, verses 25-29 is a supplication for its fulfillment. David began the prayer with an expression of his unworthiness. And then, as he began to praise, he seems to have run out of ability to put it into words (v. 20). But he quickly recovers and praises quite eloquently. The Lord is incomparable. He is in a different category from all other gods (v. 22). And he has established Israel as a nation above other nations (vv. 23-24).
In verse 28 David tells why we, like he, should have confidence in the Lord. He is God. His words are true. And he has promised a good thing. In David’s case, the whole business, the promise of an eternal kingdom and a future temple, was a matter of faith. But he believed. And he was willing to give up his plan to build a temple.
In our case, we must exercise the same kind of faith. We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that he came to die for our sins. He also is the eternal Davidic king.