Summary: The Temple of the LORD and the dynasty of David.
HIS PLANS, NOT OUR PLANS
(The title of this Sermon is based upon Isaiah 55:8-9.)
There are three main thrusts in our reading in 2 Samuel today:
1. There is a subtle difference between a good idea and God’s will (2 Samuel 7:1-4);
2. God’s presence cannot be contained in a building (2 Samuel 7:5-7);
3. The everlasting kingdom (2 Samuel 7:8-16).
1. God’s purposes will never fail, but amongst men an idea is often marred by mixed motives. For example, Israel’s reason for wanting a king was that they “might be like the nations” around them (1 Samuel 8:19-20) - not a good motive for the people of God! They might have argued that things had not gone well without a king (Judges 21:25), but their sundials were not synchronised with God’s plan: Saul was admired for his stature, but God was preparing David, a “man after His own heart” (Acts 13:21-22).
King David may also have had mixed motives in moving the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6). There is no word of David consulting the LORD about this idea, and the disorderly way in which the plan was first attempted cost a man his life. The second attempt was conducted according to the pattern laid down by the LORD, and was therefore successful - and the king danced before the LORD.
Then the king had another idea, to which Nathan the prophet also initially agreed: let’s build a Temple (2 Samuel 7:2). Sometimes a specific person is not the one to set forward a particular purpose, which is nevertheless of the LORD. It is also evident that Christian mentors sometimes agree too readily to the hasty misplaced zeal of those whom they are supposed to be advising.
2. It was the LORD Himself who vetoed the plan for David to build a Temple. The idea seemed good, but the timing was wrong (2 Samuel 7:5). This is sometimes the reason for our allegedly “unanswered” prayers!
First, David needed to learn that the LORD cannot be contained in a building (2 Samuel 7:6-7). Since the Exodus the LORD had been content to dwell in tabernacles, but He “walked” (the word is the same as that in Genesis 3:8) whenever and wherever He willed. This was a fact acknowledged in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8:27).
Secondly, it was not David’s task to build the Temple, but his son’s (2 Samuel 7:12-13). The subsequent history shows that this referred in the first instance to Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:6-10). There is, however, another strand to the interpretation of this prophecy - where the supreme fulfilment is discovered in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ who told Peter, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).
The presence of the LORD was not to be confined to a Temple, however fine or grand. Neither are the people of God to be defined by churches and buildings in our own day. The true Church is found residing with the people of God, washed in the blood of Jesus - whoever, and wherever, they are.
3. The LORD had taken David from the sheepfolds, and established the kingdom under his hands. The LORD was the giver, and David the recipient (2 Samuel 7:8-9). It was in the LORD’s gift to settle the people in the land, and give them rest from their enemies (2 Samuel 7:10-11) - rather than in David’s gift to make a permanent home for the LORD (2 Samuel 7:1).
David had wanted to build a house for the LORD, but the LORD intended rather to build the “house” - that is, the dynasty - of David. The singular “seed” (2 Samuel 7:12) refers to the promised seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), and the seed of Abraham, “which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16).
The kingdom would be established forever under the hands of David’s son (2 Samuel 7:12-16) - ultimately, Jesus (Luke 1:33). The first part of 2 Samuel 7:14 is quoted in Hebrews 1:5, where it is applied to Jesus. The qualifications at the end of the verse evidently belong to the kings of the line of David, from Solomon to the carrying away into Babylon.
Solomon would build the LORD’s house, and the LORD would build the “house” (dynasty) of David. Even during the dark years of the Exile, when there was once more no apparent “King” in Israel, the dispersed Jews held on to the hope of One who would come to re-establish David’s kingdom. Then one day the LORD returned, and taking up a new tabernacle walked right back into the lives of His people (John 1:14).