Summary: The Lord denies letting King David build the Israelites’ house of worship. But he gives David something better: a two-fold promise of a house. One house would last for a few centuries, and the other house would last forever, housing believers of every age
There are some phrases that just come across better in one language than another. Take our sermon theme for instance. “My house is your house.” It isn’t hard to catch the meaning of that phrase, but it really doesn’t quite have the ring to it as it would in Spanish, “Mi Casa, Su Casa!”
We just read through this text a few weeks ago in our Bible studies. And to give you the context, King David had won over the House of King Saul. David was the undisputed king over the entire nation of Israel. Then David went and captured Jerusalem, a strategic city in the middle of the land. He made Jerusalem his capital, he built his palace there…but there was something wrong. It just didn’t seem right to David that he was living in the lap of luxury while the Ark of the Covenant was spending its days tucked away in closets or stored in flimsy tents. David’s grand plan was to build a house for this Ark.
God came to David through a prophet named Nathan. The Lord wanted to talk to David about his plan to build a house. And had David been a Spanish speaker, God might very well have said to him, “Hey David, Mi Casa, Su Casa!” “How about this, David? Instead of you building me a house, I’m going to build you one. My house is your house, David!” The Lord was not going to let David construct a house for him, but instead, God was going to give David a double house: one house would be an earthly kingdom, ruled by David’s descendants. The second house would be an everlasting kingdom, ruled by David’s greatest descendant, Jesus Christ.
If you remember, King Saul, the man who ruled before David, really looked like a king. Saul stood head and shoulders above the rest of his countrymen. When they Israelites thought of the word “king” they thought of a guy like Saul, a lofty, well-built, regal-looking person. But Saul’s successor David didn’t really have the qualities that gave him the look of a king. To put it in basketball terms, King Saul would have been a towering Center. By contrast, David was much more like a scrappy Point-Guard. And what of David’s education? We don’t know of any that he had. He learned from someone how to read and write, but as far as kingdom administration, foreign policy, or military instruction, David had no formal training in any of these. And David wasn’t a born-leader. He was the youngest of 7 sons. And in fact, when Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king of Israel, no one even thought to invite David. They let him watch the sheep out in the field while the rest of the family conducted the “important” business with Samuel. That shows us how little his own family thought of David’s potential to be any sort of leader.
There is a popular phrase in our day that goes, “leaders are made, not born.” A person isn’t born with all their leadership skills; they have to be honed by years of managing. A person isn’t born with their leadership position, it has to be given to them. David wasn’t born a leader, but he was made one by God. Our text says, “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel.”
The Lord could have chosen anyone to be king over Israel. Now Saul turned out to be a really rotten ruler, but God had plenty of options to replace him. King Saul’s son Jonathan would have been an excellent choice to be king; he had many of the same noble qualities that we see in David. Plus, Jonathan would have been better trained as a warrior and as an administrator. So why didn’t God choose Jonathan, and instead choose David? It’s because the Lord had in mind to build a house for David. God says to David in our text, “Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.”
I want you to look for something as we read through the Books of Kings and Chronicles in these next few weeks of our Bible readings: look how many times David is referred to as the “ideal king.” We are going to see that good kings are going to be described as “walking in the way of their father David,” while it will say of wicked kings, “unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD.” In building a house for David, God promised David that his name would be great. God fulfilled that promise by making David the standard by which all other kings over God’s people would be judged. The high honor that God gave David is in this: good kings were compared to David, evil kings were contrasted with David.