God’s Promise to David Fulfilled in Christ Jesus

God’s Promise to David Fulfilled in Christ Jesus

King David, the man after God’s own heart, continues to live up to this description in our passage this morning.[1] As we saw last week, one of the first things David did after building a palace for himself in Jerusalem, Zion, the City of David, was to move the ark of the covenant from Judah, where it had been for 20 years, to Jerusalem. This highlighted the fact that in David’s mind Jerusalem would not merely be Israel’s political capital but also its spiritual and religious capital since the ark contained the commandments the LORD had given to Moses 500 years before. This move highlighted the fact that David, as king, would not only be subject to God’s Word but would also rule according to that very Word from God.

And in our passage this week we see David expressing a feeling of incongruity in that whereas he was living in a palace, the ark of God was dwelling in but a tent. As stated in the opening verses, “1 After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.’” Who was David to have a better dwelling than the ark of God? How could a human king have a nicer dwelling—a palace—than the Word of Israel’s Divine King—a tent? Had it not been the LORD who had “given him rest from all his enemies around him”? Didn’t God’s Word deserve better? So David expressed his concern to Nathan the prophet who makes here his first appearance in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. Sadly, this won’t be his last appearance. As we’ll see in the coming weeks, though the LORD used Nathan to speak to David now at a highpoint in his life, he will later use him to speak to David during one of the lowest points of his life.

But at this time Nathan—and no doubt all of Israel—was aware of the unique role that God played in David’s life. Again, as indicated in verse 1, though David was known as a skilled warrior and leader, nonetheless, it was “the LORD [who] had given him rest from all his enemies around him.” Thus it was now, thus it was when David was but a shepherd protecting his father’s sheep from the lions and bears. Throughout his life, David’s testimony had been to God be the glory, great things he has done. David had been but God’s willing and obedient servant. Given this history of turning to and intentionally living before and acknowledging God, when David expressed discontent to Nathan about the ark of God remaining in a tent, Nathan replied, verse 3, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.” Nathan was no doubt expressing what was widely believed by all who knew David, namely that given his heart for God, surely God would bless any endeavor he desired to pursue.

But Nathan was mistaken in this assumption. As we read beginning in verse 4, “that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:

Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

This section provides the first part of the LORD’s correcting Nathan’s reply to King David for Nathan had spoken to David not in his role as God’s prophet but from his own understanding. We saw something similar occur when Samuel, also God’s representative, had assumed that Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab, would be the one God would choose to be king only to discover that God chose David, the youngest. In short God had Nathan tell David that the LORD had no need of a house to dwell in—never had, never would. Instead, God had chosen to dwell among his people as he had when he delivered Israel from Egypt during the time in which Moses lived approximately 500 years earlier. And since that time he had continued to move in the midst of his chosen people “from place to place with a tent as [his] dwelling.” Throughout this time he had never asked any of Israel’s rulers, his shepherds, to build him a house—made of cedar or anything else. So there was no need for David to build him a house now. This portion of God’s communication to David via Nathan the prophet is similar to that of Isaiah, one of God’s later prophets, to whom he similarly said, “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? 2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?’ declares the Lord.”[2] So since all of creation is already God’s dwelling, given that he made and sustains it all, he had no need for David to build him a house in which he could dwell.

But though God hadn’t called David to build him a house, he had Nathan remind him about the special place he held in his heart and in his plans for his chosen people. God’s message by way of Nathan continues starting in verse 8:

Now then, tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.”

Isn’t that just like God? Here David wanted to do something to honor him and God ends up honoring David instead. As one commentator notes,[3] instead of David building God a house—a temple—God ends up building David a house—a royal dynasty. This promise made to David by God is grounded in the past as the LORD Almighty reminded David about how he took him from flock-tending to become ruler over God’s people, Israel. To rule and protect Israel was God’s call for him. Building a house, a temple, for God would be his son Solomon’s call. God also rehearses for David how he had been with him “wherever” he had gone and this included cutting off his enemies. This message from the LORD then shifted from the past to the future as he promised to make David’s name great, “like the names of the greatest men on earth” (verse 9). Through David God would “provide a place for [his] people Israel” so that they could “have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed” not even by “wicked people” (verse 10). In this manner the LORD promised to give David “rest from all [his] enemies” (verse 11). Again, in God’s eyes David’s role or purpose wasn’t that of building him a temple but of providing a safe place for his people to dwell. That place was Jerusalem, Zion, the City of David from which David would shepherd and rule and protect the sheep entrusted by God into his care.

But the climax of the message that the LORD sent David by means of Nathan the prophet is found beginning in the second half of verse 11:

“The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son.”

A few weeks ago we considered ways in which David was a “type” or a representative of Jesus Christ who was to come. These verses promising David that God will “establish a house” for him provide a further connection between the two as not only David but his offspring, Solomon—and by extension Christ Jesus—are in view. For verse 12 looks to a time beyond David’s lifetime when his “days are over” and he is resting with his ancestors to a time when his offspring will succeed him. This offspring or seed of David had a double fulfillment. As already mentioned we know that Solomon, one of David’s sons, was the immediate successor who fulfilled this promise to David in a preliminary way. However Jesus Christ is the ultimate successor to the Davidic dynasty and kingdom.

In fact the language the LORD uses in verse 12 is reminiscent of that which he used with Abraham when he promised to one day give him the land in which the Canaanites were dwelling: “All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”[4] And the Apostle Paul later references this promise to Abraham in stating, “16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed [or offspring]. Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.”[5] David, whose name did indeed become “like the names of the greatest men on earth” (verse 9) even as Abraham’s was, is similarly given a promise by God of an offspring (singular) or seed who will succeed him. And again, the promise of this offspring was fulfilled in Solomon, his son, in a preliminary way, but in a final way in Jesus Christ who was also from the tribe of Judah and the house of David.[6] So we can see this promise that God gave to David by means of Nathan the prophet has a double fulfillment in David’s “offspring” in a number of ways:

For one, both Solomon and Jesus are David’s “own flesh and blood.” Solomon was his actual son; Jesus was his son in that his lineage can be traced back to David. And both Solomon and Jesus are sons in the sense that both are chosen by God to fulfill his purposes;

Too, both Solomon and Jesus have a kingdom established by God. Solomon’s was a magnificent extension and aggrandizement of David’s; Jesus’ kingdom was initially established when he, the Christ, King of the entire cosmos, entered the world as a babe in a manger. And upon his dying and rising from death King Jesus conquered sin, death, and the devil. And by means of his death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven we see how Christ’s kingdom was not simply temporal but an eternal one over which even now he is actively ruling at his Father’s right hand;

Also, verse 13, both Solomon and Jesus built a house for the Name of the LORD. Solomon did so by building a great temple in Jerusalem, Zion, the City of David, his father. So now we see in Scripture a number of reasons why the Lord didn’t have David be the one who built a temple in which the ark of the Lord could dwell. First, as we’ve already noted, all the earth already belonged to its Creator, God of heaven and earth so he didn’t need a temple in which to dwell, at least not as David had imagined it; second, God’s plan for David was to procure a safe place for his people whom he had delivered from Egypt and brought to Jerusalem; but a third reason that David himself provides and that can be found in the book of Chronicles is because David had shed too much blood in his role as soldier and king to build a holy temple for God. As David later said to Solomon,

My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God. 8 But this word of the Lord came to me: “You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. 9 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. 10 He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.” [7]

So David, a soldier and man of war, was the one the LORD used to secure a place for his people; but Solomon, a man of peace, was the one he would use to build a holy temple for the ark of God. Yet Jesus too was to build a house for God’s Name. He did so by becoming the cornerstone[8] and the foundation[9] of his Church, a Holy Temple built up and made holy by his Holy Spirit who was sent to indwell it after Jesus ascended to his Father in heaven. And Jesus’ temple extends far beyond Jerusalem. It is more than an earthly Zion. It is the heavenly Zion, our final resting place. Christ’s temple has ever been found wherever God’s people are—which is another way of saying wherever God’s living and eternal Spirit dwells.

Further, in the second half of verse 13, both Solomon and Jesus’ kingdom thrones were established forever in fulfillment of God’s promise. Solomon shared but an earthly part of this eternal lineage during the time he lived on earth. But Christ Jesus continues to rule his kingdom from heaven and will do so until he returns at the end of the ages to complete the Triune God’s plan of redemption for humanity. As the Angel Gabriel said to Mary before Jesus was born, “32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”[10] This promise, fulfilled in the birth of the eternal Christ, God’s Messiah, Jesus, our Savior and Lord, is the basis of our hope and confidence in God.

Finally, verse 14, both Solomon and Jesus are “son” to God, our heavenly Father. This language of “son” indicates how special the relationship is between God and David’s descendants. Solomon is a son in the sense of being chosen by God to rule after David; but Jesus Christ, of course, is uniquely the Son of his heavenly Father who was sent to earth that humanity might be reconciled to him from whom it had gone astray. We’ve noted before this touching language used by God at key points in Jesus’ earthly life. The first was at his baptism when the Spirit descended on him “like a dove 11 And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”[11] And the Father’s voice was again heard at Jesus’ Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah when “a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’”[12] The author of Hebrews similarly notes concerning Christ Jesus, “For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?[13]

Brothers and sisters, we can take comfort in knowing that somehow, mysteriously, the God who made all heaven and earth has deigned to fulfill his purposes for his creation by using both ordinary and extraordinary women and men. And no one is able to thwart his good purposes for a fallen creation. For before you or I ever existed our gracious Father, Son, and Holy Spirit determined that David would be one in a long line of people through whom Jesus, the Messiah, would come to earth to save his people from the devastating effects of the Fall. So no one, but no one, can keep his good purposes from coming to fruition.

And more amazing still, those who know God—that is, those who have believed that Jesus is God’s Messiah, God’s Christ—are now indwelled by his very presence by means of his Holy Spirit who encourages, and strengthens, and enables us to live according to his will and ways. Though each week we heed Christ’s call to come and worship and praise him as his family, at all times he is with us; at all times he is for us by means of his Holy Spirit whom he sent us that we might never be alone; that we might never be separated from his presence or his love.

So let us ever keep before us God’s goodness and greatness and kindness for he came to earth in the person of his Son not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him. And save it he will. As John exhorts us in his Revelation from God, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.”[14] And let us take to heart these words from Jesus, given to John in that same revelation: “16 I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”[15]

Let us pray.

[1] A parallel account may be found in 1 Chronicles 17:1–13a.

[2] Isaiah 66:1–2. These words from Isaiah are later quoted by the Stephen in Acts 7:49 quotes Isaiah 66:1–2. Jesus also uses similar language in Matthew 5:34–35: 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.

[3] Zondervan NIV Study Bible note.

[4] Genesis 13:15 where this promise is repeated: “All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.” See Genesis 12:7 where the promise is initially given: “The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” Abraham believes God and later refers to this promise as recorded in Genesis 24:7: 7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.

[5] Galatians 3:16–17.

[6] Matthew 1:1: This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham; Romans 1:1–3: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,

[7] 1 Chronicles 22:7–10.

[8] Ephesians 2:19–22: 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

[9] 1 Corinthians 3:10–11: 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

[10] Luke 1:32–33.

[11] Mark 1:10b–11. See also Matthew 3:16–17: 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”; Luke 3:22: and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

[12] Matthew 17:5. See also Mark 9:2–8: Luke 9:28–36: 2 Peter 1:16–18:

[13] Hebrews 1:5 referring to Psalm 2:7 in the first quotation and 2 Samuel 7:14; 1 Chronicles 17:13 in the second.

[14] Revelation 5:5.

[15] Revelation 22:16–17.

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