What is your dream for your life? If you could do anything you wanted or be anything that you wanted to be, what would you do or what would you be? Maybe your dream is to be in business for yourself or be a teacher or a simply retire. Maybe it is to do what you are doing right now. What is your dream for your life? It is an important question for it provides us with motivation and drive in our lives. But now here is an even more important question: “What is God’s purpose for you in your life?” What does God want you to do or to be? That can really be quite a different question. You see, God’s purpose for your life may be quite different than your own dream. Even if your dream is to do great things for God, it may be different than what God has in mind for you.
That is what David learned in the verses that we will look at this morning. David came up with a great dream for God that would honor and glorify God. But God had something else in mind for David that was far better than what David could imagine. We continue our study of the covenant this morning and look at the Covenant of Grace as given through David. God’s covenant with David far exceeds what David could imagine. The covenant fulfilled in Jesus far exceeds what we can imagine as well. Let’s read 2 Samuel 7:1-16.
I. Let’s look at David’s plan versus God’s plan.
It is important to note the four key events which lead up to this which advance the Covenant of Grace. First, the long civil war between Saul and David has been brought to an end and now David is king. God had been with him as God had promised and now David has control over the kingdom. There is now a great nation, which God had promised to Abraham. David has captured Jerusalem from the last of the Canaanites and has made it his capital. Now the land which God had promised to Abraham is truly in the hands of God’s people. In 2 Samuel 6, we read that David brought the ark of the Lord to the Jerusalem. This highlights the rule of God in Israel for the symbol of the presence of God is in their midst. Finally, this begins an unprecedented period of peace for the people in the promised land.
Within this setting, David comes up with a plan which is described in verses 1-3. Verse one says that one day David was sitting in his brand new lavish palace. And it suddenly occurs to him that while he is living in a lavish palace, God, as symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant is still in a tent or tabernacle made of goat-skins. This doesn’t seem right to David so he expresses his dream to Nathan: “I am going to build a brand new temple to put God’s ark in.”
What lay underneath David’s plan? Perhaps David felt guilty that he had something nicer than God did. David may have been influenced by the surrounding pagan people. In pagan cultures when a king had achieved some success, one of the first things he was expected to do was build a temple to his god to show gratitude for the god’s blessings. And David may have been motivated a bit by some personal pride. He recognizes that his success comes from God but now that he is in a position to repay God, and he would like to do so. Whatever the reason, Nathan evidently thought that this would be indeed what God wanted David to do and gives his approval because God had indeed been with David. However, verse 4 makes it clear that God has a very different plan for David and Nathan goes back to David to give God’s answer to David’s request.
In verses 5-7, God makes it very clear that this is not what he wants David to do. First of all, God points out that he certainly doesn’t need a temple to live in. God had been caring for the people all this time without a temple. Even more, while the people were traveling and living in tents, God was always with them and living in a tent as well, the Tabernacle, showing them that he was indeed with them. Remember the Immanuel principle that God stated to Abraham: “I will be with you.”
II. And so God lays out very clearly his past and future blessings to David.
In verses 8–9, the past blessings are given as God remembers David’s rise to power. First, God addresses David as his “servant David.” Now this was a title of honor for David for a servant of God was indeed a privileged person. However, this is also a subtle reminder to David that he was still the servant of God and God is the Master of David’s life. First, God took David from the flock he was shepherding. God reminds David that while he is king now, if it weren’t for God’s gracious action, he would still be watching sheep on a hillside. And from that humble beginning, God made him a ruler over the people. Literally, the word for “ruler” God uses to describe David is “prince” not a king. This is another way of reminding David that though he is king, God is still the ultimate king and David is just a prince serving under God. The point is that God is the one who has caused David to be blessed.
God next describes the future blessings David can expect in verse 9b-11a. God promises that David will have a great name; his greatness will go beyond his own lifetime. Moreover, God will provide a place for his people Israel where they can have rest. This is a renewal of previous covenant promises as well when Abraham was promised a land and Moses was told that God would lead them to a land. Here in verse 11 is the promise of the Sabbath rest with God that God had created people to have. This is a powerful reminder to David that God is the one who will control all things in his life.
This is also a good reminder that our faithful covenant God, who has blessed us in the past, will bless us in the future as well. I think that it is our human tendency to do precisely what David was doing. We certainly recognize that God has been instrumental in helping us. In fact, we would freely say that if God had not done anything, we would have nothing at all. However, over the course of time, as we enjoy the blessings from God, we may begin to think that now it is our turn to give something back to God. God has caused us to flourish and so now we can do something nice for God. God has saved us from sin and death itself and now we can do something nice for God.
Now please don’t misunderstand me on this. God has given us great things and has blessed us tremendously in the past and we should want to express our love and gratitude to Him. However, we must be careful that in our expression of that gratitude that we do not start telling Him what we will do for Him. The best way to express our gratitude to God is submit fully to his will as given in his laws to us.
III. Let’s look at God’s plan for a house for David.
David wanted to build a house for God, but instead in verse 11, God says, “No, I am going to build a house for you, David.” The words for house or dynasty are the same in Hebrew. God will build David a house or dynasty or family that will last forever. Moreover, it is this offspring who will build a literal house for God. God will allow a temple to be built. But it will be a place where God’s name will be. The temple will be a symbol of the fact that God is always present with His people even though in reality He is in heaven ruling over all. God says that he will establish a kingdom for David and his offspring will rule on this throne forever.
God then describes what His relationship will be with this son of David. God says this relationship will be like that of a father and son. Nowhere has this kind of language been heard before where God calls someone his son. No Jew would call God “Father,” but now we can call God “Father.” When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray “Father,” it was a jaw-dropping moment. Here is a glimpse of what lies ahead in the New Testament. David’s heir will be punished for sins but he will not be cast off like Saul. But this also means that the son of David will be disciplined by God. Regardless of what may happen, God will always love the offspring of David and will keep His promises to them.
God closes this by saying: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” That is astounding but that leads to the question: what is David’s kingdom now? In actual history, the monarchy lasted 500 years or so and so how is this covenant promise going to be fulfilled? The only way is Jesus and it is Jesus’ kingship that will continue and will last forever. In Matthew 16, Jesus said he will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Jesus is building his church which will last forever and this is a fulfillment of this covenant.
Again, David must learn that in a special covenant relationship with God, God is always the one who sets the plan, determines the direction. God wanted David to learn that in all things God is the one who will do what he will do. The question again is whether or not we will submit to that plan or pursue our own dreams. Did you know that in flight in outer space you must “slow down in order to catch up?” If two satellites, or spacecraft, desire to rendezvous, the one that is making an approach cannot accelerate, it must decelerate. If it increases its speed, the craft goes into a higher orbit and grow farther away, but if it decreases its speed, it will drop into a lower orbit and actually gain on the craft ahead of it. Most rendezvous are designed so that the approaching craft comes in from a higher orbit and “slows down, in order to catch up.” As a result, it drops into place by decelerating. In a sense this is how we best discover God’s will for our own life. If we struggle spiritually and emotionally to please God, we will move further away from God’s will. The best way to serve God is to submit our lives to his control. What David also learned in this case is that when one does fully submit to God, the results are far greater and far better than what any of our plans or dreams could possibly be.
Jesus is son of David whom God would send from David’s family line. He wouldn’t just rule forever over the people of Israel, but over the whole world. Jesus would come and although He would be perfect, He would take on the sins and guilt of the whole world and be punished by God when he hung on the cross. But even though Jesus would suffer the punishment for sin, God would always love him. Moreover, Jesus would build the house of David, not a physical temple, but the church of Jesus Christ. When God promised David that He would build a house, he meant the whole people of God that Christ would gather together in his church.
The house that Jesus, the Son of David, is building is the church. And the kingdom that will last forever is the kingdom of Christ which we are a part of. Jesus is still building that temple today. Through us and the church, God is reaching out to others who don’t know about Jesus. God took David’s dream and plans and turned them into something that was far beyond what he could imagine: the coming of Christ, which meant the salvation of the whole world.