The 7th chapter of 2 Samuel is huge in Theology, and strongly Messianic. At first, from one who would not know the Gospels and connection between Jesus and David, one might look at this prophesy and begin to analyze David’s sons. Then, they would get to Solomon and figure that he must be to whom God was referring, only to become confused by the events after his death. I will go into more details later about why it’s obvious that God was not talking about Solomon, but for now, I want to look at:
- David’s humility: I’m in a cedar house, God is in a tent.
- God’s response: I don’t need a house, but let me tell you what I’m going to do through you!
- David’s humility upon hearing from the Lord
2 Samuel 7: When David was settled in his house, the Lord gave him rest from all his enemies around him. David said to Nathan the Prophet, “See now? I’m living in a house of cedar, but God’s ark stays in a tent.” Nathan to David, “Go, do all that you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.” But that same night, the Word of the Lord came to Nathan: “Go and tell my servant David: ‘Thus says the Lord, Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I haven’t lived in a house since the day that I brought up the people of Israel out of Egypt until now. But I have been moving around in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I’ve moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the Tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel asking, ‘Why haven’t you built me a house of cedar?’ Now, therefore, repeat this to my servant David: thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I took you from the pasture from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel, I have been with you wherever you went, and cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of great ones of the earth. I will appoint a place for my people Israel and plant them, so that they may live in their own place and be disturbed no more. And evildoers shall inflict them no more, as formally from the time I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares for you that the Lord will make you a house when your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors. I will raise up your offspring (“seed”) after you who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish His kingdom. HE shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever. I will be a father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish Him with a rod, such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings, but I will not take my steadfast love from Him, as I took it from Saul when I put him away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before Me. Your throne shall be established forever.”
In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David. Then King David went in and sat down before the Lord. “Who am I, O Lord God? What is my house, that you’ve brought me thus far? And yet, this is a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God, you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for my people, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant. Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought all this greatness so that your servant may know it. Therefore, you are great, O Lord God! For, there is no one like you; There is no god beside you, according to all we have heard with our ears. Who is like your people, like Israel? Is there another nation on earth whose god went to redeem it as a people and to make a name for Himself, doing great and awesome things for them by driving out before His people nations and their gods? And you established your People Israel for Yourself to be your people forever. And You, O Lord, became their God. And now, O Lord, As for the Word that you’ve spoken concerning your servant and his house. Confirm it forever. Do as you have promised. Thus your name will be magnified forever in the saying, ‘The Lord of Hosts is God over Israel. The house of your servant David will be established before you, for you, O Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; Therefore, your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord, You are God and your Words are true, and You have promised this good thing to your servant. Let it please you to bless (my) house, so that it may continue forever before you!”
1. David’s humility: David’s kingdom had been established, his enemies were no longer a threat, he was at peacetime and his cedar house was built…David finally has time to reflect, and in such, he acknowledges the Lord:
- The Lord is God
- The Lord has done everything to get David to where he is now
- God answered David’s cries and prayers (psalms)
- Everything David has and is, is the Lord’s doing
Yet, here David sits in a comfortable cedar house with all its luxuries, while God’s Ark sits in a tent. “How wrong is that?” (David’s words paraphrased). So he talks to Nathan, the prophet at that time. In response, Nathan congratulates and acknowledges David’s heart, then encouraged David to do what he desires for the Lord. But then the Lord speaks with Nathan about what to say instead.
2. God’s response: I wonder if David’s concern about a dwelling for God was in any way derived from the surrounding nations, for they all had dwelling for their gods. Remember, in 1 Samuel 5, when the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they placed it in the house of Dagon and placed it right beside their statue of Dagon. And though David never bowed to their god(s), he did spend a lot of time in the Philistine land. So I wonder if maybe some of their devotions/spiritual disciplines played on David’s conscience? (Even the Philistines have a house for their god, yet I place the Ark of God in a tent).
This is easy to do though, not only for David, but also for us up to today. For example, we know that God loves us and calls those of us who belong to and follow Christ His children. But there are times when we want to please God without spiritual disciplines. Actually, I think a lot of it’s made for our benefit also, for example, fasting will often weaken me to where in order to function, I must fully rely on the Lord. Suffering (say from a migraine due to lack of food) also brings me to a deeper level of prayer. So as I’m thinking here, it’s not always so much for God’s sake, but ours, for it brings us to another level of focus upon Him. But that doesn’t stop people from trying to please God by means derived from other religions. For example:
- Old cultic rituals and worship often involved hurting the body. 1 Kings 18, where Elijah was challenging the prophets of Baal, shows us that when they were not receiving a reply from Baal, they danced harder, cut themselves with knives so their blood would pour out and beat themselves up, all as a means to hopefully please their god. Well, to this day, Muslims (mostly the Shiites) gather and parade around for certain Islamic holidays and celebrations, beating themselves with pipes, bats, their own fists, and anything they can find to inflict pain and wounds onto themselves. They often result in bruising their bodies severely. And their reason is to show their god (allah) that their devotion to him, hoping he will in turn show favor on them and bless them.
- Catholic Monks and ancient Catholic priests would also torture themselves or display themselves out on the floor, face down, on hard, wood floors for hours, demonstrating the crucifixion-pose and devotion to suffering for Him.
- And in several countries, around Easter time and/or Christmas, some people religiously, literally (yes, literally) have themselves crucified! I doubt they go through the pre-crucifixion beating and flogging, but some will be tied to crosses and hoisted up, others, such as in the Philippines, men will carry the cross with a crowd in tow, actually be nailed to a wooden cross, and hang there for a certain amount of hours, just in hopes to show their devotion to God in their sufferings (of course, this is scripture taken out of context).
My point is that it is real easy to become dismayed by cults and “other religions”, much like Paul’s and Jesus’ warning about the yeast. Pharisees practiced and pushed such practices upon the people also, but Jesus warned that such is not what pleases God, but the circumcised heart.
Understand, I’m not saying we should not want to do more for the Lord. I’m also not saying that there is nothing we can do to please God. What I am saying is that God told us how to please Him in His Words (The Bible). If we get ideas for devotion from other religions, we run the risk of falling into the traps that people of those religions are stuck in.
So God basically thanks David for his concern, but informs him that He (God) doesn’t need a house…if He did, He would have commanded one from the tribal leaders long ago. Although, on that topic, as Christians with the Holy Spirit, we become the Temple, or dwelling place for God’s Spirit (also brought on/fulfilled by Christ, which was the offspring, or “seed” that God was talking about).
Instead, God will do these great things for David instead.
See, a true servant of God won’t do something so that God will love him/her, but will do something because of their love for God and His love for them.
James said that faith without works is dead. We don’t do things to be seen as good, but because we are in Christ, we are good. Everything we do in accordance to God’s Will is because of our faith in and love for Him, who first loved us while we were still His enemies. Our relationship with God causes us to want to do more for Him, and such was the way with David and the Lord.
- What do you think? Does God need a house on earth to live in? Why or why not?
- The Apostle Paul tells us that we are temples (or vessels) of the Holy Spirit. So as those who possess the Holy Spirit inside them, it’s like saying that we (the Church) are God’s house, or dwelling place (too deep?). So what do you think, would you consider yourself a worthy dwelling place for God? (careful how you answer this).
- What are some things you can think of that you may have taken from other religions in your own worship and religious practices? What are some of the dangers you can think of from practicing these which are not instructions from God? Are there any dangers? Discuss among others.
3. David’s humility upon hearing the Lord’s awesome plans and promise:
- David: “Who am I that you should do this for me?” (Of course, the first thing that pops into my brain when I read this was Casting Crowns’ song, “Who Am I?”)
- Nebuchadnezzar once said: “I’ve done all this myself. I deserve this.”
- Compare the 2 responses in #3. How did each respond? What was behind their responses? Who’s being glorified in each?
- How do we respond to God’s Blessings and promises, especially those He has yet to do?