2 Samuel 7:1-29.
 Building the House of God

Copyright © 2008, American Journal of Biblical Theology
www.biblicaltheology.com   Scripture quotes from KJV


Is honor and integrity dead?  Is it only dying?  Why is it seemingly harder and harder to find integrity in those around us?  When running for office, many politicians make campaign promises that they have no intention or even the ability to keep.  Do we even expect politicians to keep campaign promises any more?  We may feel that the world is getting less and less trustworthy as the culture moves farther and farther away from a Judeo-Christian value system.  As we can rarely trust others, can we truly even trust ourselves?

To live a life without integrity is to live a life that is in chaos.  It is often difficult to find individuals who can model integrity for us, but we do have one person to whom we can turn who is entirely reliable, one whose promises are always kept, and one whom we can model ourselves after:  the LORD.

As we look at our own lives we can be assured that God keeps His promises to us, and therefore, it is to our benefit to know that they are as we seek to live lives of integrity.  When we think of Godís promises, we might remember the image of the rainbow.  God stated that the rainbow would be an everlasting reminder that He will never destroy the world by floods again.[1]  Certainly that promise has been kept, and most theorists agree that the flood was caused by a climactic cataclysm that simply cannot be repeated. 

Though the sins of Israelís King David are famous, the scripture also teaches us that David sought to live a life of godly integrity.  When he looked at his own life, he found how God had taken him, as a lowly shepherd boy, the least of his brothers, from the most humble of towns and raised him to the position of King of Israel.  God has likewise lifted up every faithful believer from the lowly position of a sinner, and raised him/her to a blessed life, one that is characterized by His presence and His forgiveness.  When David looked at His life, he could see how God had worked in his life, and desired to live a life that honors God.  God works in the lives of all believers who can do the same.

2 Samuel 5:9.  So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.

King Saul had been king only over the tribe of Judah, and when David took the throne, he also served as Judahís king.  However, among all of Israel, David was without a rival, so one-by-one, the other tribes accepted David as their king.  Israel was now united under one king.  David had been using the city of Hebron as his capitol.  Yet, in the center of the tribal lands was the stronghold of Jerusalem, a fortress held by the Jebusites.  Part of Davidís campaign to bring peace to the land was to assert Israelís power as a nation throughout the tribal lands.  He had pressed the Philistines back to Gaza.  Taking Jerusalem was somewhat of a ďmop-upĒ operation.  However, the acquisition of Jerusalem gave David an opportunity to set up his capitol in a more defensible location, and one that had not been dominated by any one tribe, giving equal status to all of the tribes of Israel. 

The fort itself was too small to house all of those who would accompany him to this new capitol, so it was necessary for him to increase the size of the plateau upon which the city stood.  This involved building stonework walls that were backfilled with dirt, expanding the level surfaces.  Some of these walls are still found in Jerusalem today.

2 Samuel 5:10-12.  And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him. 

As God works in the lives of those who love Him, that work is evident.  We may take for granted Godís continual provision for us, and not realize how God is working in and through us to accomplish His purpose in our lives.  However, the very context of the life of a faithful Christian is to seek obedience to the will of the LORD, and through that obedience the direction and purpose of our lives comes under His direction and purpose.  Is it not better to go through life with the LORD God of hosts (the covenant name of God, Yahweh, with the connotation of His majesty and power over all of the universe) rather than against Him by seeking our own desires? 

2 Samuel 5:11-12.  And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house. 12And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israelís sake.

Davidís reign of peace brought with it friendly relations with many of the neighboring kingdoms.  Though David firmly defended the lands of the Israelite tribes, unlike other kings, he had no interest in acquiring other lands or more power for Himself.  Consequently, he was not perceived as a threat by his neighbors.  The relationship that David had with Hiram, the king of Phoenicia, is indicative of Davidís reign.  Hiram assisted David in the building of Jerusalem, and particularly in the building of Davidís palace.  When David looked around him he could see how God had established him in this place at this time for a specific purpose.  It is clear that, as David observed his ďcareer,Ē it was one that was led and supported by God.  However, Godís purpose was not to elevate David, but rather to provide for Israel.  When faithful believers submit themselves to God, the purposes to which God can use them go beyond the individual.  The Davidic Kingdom was not about DavidÖ it was about Godís purpose for Israel. 

Likewise, the place and position where Christians find themselves when they have submitted themselves to God are established by Him for His purpose.  It is not about us Ö it is about Him.  When we start thinking that all that God has put together in our lives is about us, pride takes over, and the work of the kingdom that can take place through us is diminished.  David did not take excessive pride in his place or position because he recognized Godís part and purpose in his life.

2 Sam 7:1-3 

And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies; 2That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. 3And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee.

When the palace was completed, David realized that his own residence is far more palatial than that which housed the Ark of the Covenant.  David expressed his concern to Nathan the prophet who trusts David's judgment and relationship with God.  Nathan fully expects that any decision that David makes would be reasonable and godly.  Note that this assumption is not an uncommon thing with Christians.  Often ideas sound so good that they tickle the ears of all who listen.  We tickle each others ears with great and glorious ideas and often implement them without really seeking God's will.  One important thing we can surmise from this dialogue is that David truly sought to do what was right concerning the tabernacle of God.

2 Sam 7:4-8. 

And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying, 5Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? 6Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. 7In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar? 8Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel:

Had God not intervened, it is probable that David would have started construction on a palace for the Arc of the Covenant.  However, because of his sincerity and that of Nathan, God was able to communicate his purpose.  God first makes it very clear that what David thought is of great importance, is of little importance to God.  When God has a broad and sweeping purpose for David as he leads the nation in obedience, David is focused on a building, a building that God never required.  The Mosaic Law contains a very complete description of Godís plan for the design of the tent of the tabernacle, and we may assume that this design was consulted when the Jerusalem tent was established. 

It is very easy for us to make the same mistake.  We can become focused on ideas, tasks, and ministries that sound godly and purposeful, but are not really the important tasks and ministries that God has called us to.  While we are busy about the execution of our own ideas, Godís work goes unattended.  This could very easily have happened in Davidís Jerusalem.   

God is about to remind David of that which is of greater importance.  Again, how often do we focus on things that are simply not important enough to justify so much attention?  If we listen to God, He will reveal His true will.  Our wisdom is no match for His.  By listening to God, Nathan is able to get David back on track by revealing to him what is of the greatest importance:  the relationship between David and the LORD.  Again, we can profit by listening to God and hear Him calling us into relationship with Him.  The establishment and maintenance of our relationship with Him is of much greater importance than any other activity we can encounter.

God illustrates the importance of relationship by reminding David of promises that He has made.

2 Sam 7:9-11. 

And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. 10Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, 11And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies.

A permanent building represents a place of rest and permanence.  It carries with it the idea that David has now completed the task.  He has brought peace, unified the nation, and it is now time to build a final resting place for the Davidic kingdom.  He had done so for him and his seed by building the palace, and now he looked to establishing the House of the LORD in a likewise permanent setting.

God first reminds David that His purpose for Israel is far broader than the construction of a building.  It was God, not David, that brought the nation to this point in its history, and His work with this nation is not completed.  The rest that they are experiencing from their enemies can serve to allow the relationship between Israel and God to grow and prosper as He plants them securely in their homeland.  David brought the nation to this point by leading them in submission to God, the God that David loved and sought.  Under this form of leadership Israel would experience the protection that God promises to those who place their faith in Him.  David would not lead the nation away from God and His hand of protection, so the entire reign of David would be one of relative peace.  However, David is reminded that God is truly the King of Israel, and David is His servant. 

As David is now leading this new nation he is to seek Godís purposes rather than rule by the edicts that worldly kings use.  Davidís desire to build a palace for God could have been a first step in the wrong direction for David, a direction that Saul took.

2 Sam 7:12-17. 

Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. 12And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: 15But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. 16And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. 17According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.

David is reminded that, as big as he thought his ideas for a great palace were, Godís plan and purpose is far greater, both concerning the house of David and the house of the LORD.  Where David visualized Godís house as an edifice of stone and wood where God would reside, God declares to David that his house is an edifice of obedient hearts, hearts that would be led by David and those who would follow Him.  God does not live in a house of cloth or stone.  Godís house is the nation of Israel.  The leadership over the house of God would be established eternally through Davidís line, a promise that was fulfilled in the incarnation of the LORD through the Christ child and sealed on the Cross of Calvary.

When we compare Godís house to Davidís palace we can begin to understand how Godís purposes are so infinitely greater than our own.  When we accomplish our own purposes, the fruit of our labor is no greater than we are.  However, when we accomplish Godís purposes we accomplish that which is far greater than ourselves, and we position ourselves to receive the blessings of Godís promises.  Davidís kingdom is not about bricks, it is about relationship.  Likewise, the kingdom of God today is still about relationship with Him, and it will continue to be so through the end of the age.  God promised David, as He promises us, that if we serve Him rather than ourselves, He will provide for us, protect us, and guide us.

2 Sam 7:18-20. 

Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? 19And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servantís house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD? 20And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord GOD, knowest thy servant.

David responded to Nathanís prophecy by retreating into the Tent of the Tabernacle to worship God.  The ďproperĒ stance for worship was standing or kneeling, but it is clear that David did neither; he simply sat down on the floor.  The act of sitting comfortably demonstrates the close and familiar relationship that David felt towards God.  David felt at home.  Yet, David did not take this familiarity and comfort for granted.  His prayers were filled with humility as he looked at his own life and recognized his own unworthiness to be in this situation at this time.  Why would God call upon the insignificant family of David to be part of this grand purpose? 

We may be reminded of our own insignificance, and how amazing it is that God would make the same promises to those who place their trust in Him today. 

2 Sam 7:21-22. 

For thy wordís sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. 22Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

We find in Davidís praise at least two reasons that God acts in the lives of His people. God promises to keep his word, and His nature and will demand it.  David recognized that God's character compels Him to bless His people.  This understanding of God's character caused David to praise Him and worship Him. 

As David worshiped, he recalled God's acts for Israel.  God chose and redeemed Israel, acted in the nation's behalf, released them from bondage, and established a permanent relationship with them.

2 Sam 7:23-24. 

And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? 24For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God.

The biblical Nation of Israel is today comprised of those who have placed their trust in God, under the same covenant that God made with Abraham and Moses.  This nation is the one that God described to Abraham as his seed.  This nation is the house that God described to David, the one whose LORD is God, the one whose King is Jesus Christ, born of a virgin in the line of David, born in the City of David.  Today this is the Christian community that draws its family from every tongue and every nation including the Jews of modern Israel.  What nation is there like the nation of Christ?  It is separate from all others by their faith, a people whom God has redeemed.  It is separate from the rest of the world like no other.  There are others who follow mythical gods that are solely the creation of manís imagination.  There are others who acknowledge the existence of God but do not place their trust in Him.  The Christian nation is unique among all others of the world in its unique relationship to God, the One true God whom all others deny.

2 Sam 7:25-29. 

And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said. 26And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee. 27For thou, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee. 28And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant: 29Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.

It is evident that David understands entirely what God has taught him concerning his desire to build a house for God.  As David looked at his life and purpose he sought to bring it into harmony with Godís purpose.  Living in harmony with Godís purposes changes everything about life.  We are no longer its center: God is.  Our personal desire does not come first: Godís desire comes first.  God is not an important part of life:  God is life.  David understood this, and that understanding defined his purpose and ministry as the king of Israel.  Likewise, Christians can look at their own lives and evaluate how the work that they do and the desires that they have agree with Godís purposes and promises for them.  Such an exercise can serve to encourage us to draw closer to God and to continue to trust Him and Him alone.

[1] Genesis 9:13.