The Word Made Fresh
1Some time after David had moved into his house he told the prophet Nathan, “I am living in a house made of cedar, but the LORD’s covenant chest is under a tent.”
2“Do whatever you think best,” Nathan replied. “God is with you.” 3But later that night the LORD said to Nathan, 4“Tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: It is not for you to build a house for me to dwell in. 5I haven’t had a permanent dwelling since I brought Israel out of Egypt until this very day. I dwelt in tents, and in a sanctuary. 6Everywhere I went with Israel, did I ever say anything to any of Israel’s leaders whom I appointed to lead my people? Did I ever ask them why they hadn’t built me a house of cedar wood? 7So, tell David this; I took you from watching sheep in the fields to be the ruler of my people. 8I have been with you everywhere and I cut down all your enemies. I will make your name great on the earth. 9I will set aside land for my people Israel to settle and they will have their own place in peace. The wicked will no longer bother them as they did 10from the time of the judges I appointed over them, and I will keep all your enemies down. And I promise you that I, the LORD, will build a dynasty for you. 11When your days are ended, and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your own son to rule the kingdom. 12He is the one to build my house, and his throne will be permanently set in history. 13I will be as his father and he will be like a son to me. I will never remove my steadfast love from him as I took it from the one who ruled before you. 14I will confirm him in my house, and I will settle him in my kingdom, and his throne will be established forever.’” 15These were the words and this was the vision Nathan passed on to David.
16King David went in and sat before the LORD. He said, “Who am I, LORD God, and what is my family, that you have guided me this far? 17And this was a small thing in your eyes, O God. You have spoken of my descendants for years to come, and you have treated me as if I am important to you. 18What can I say to you for so honoring me? You know me. 19For my sake, LORD, you have done great things and made them known, because that is the will of your heart. 20There is no one like you, LORD; there is no God besides you. Everything we have heard attests to that. 21There is no other nation on earth that you deliberately rescued to be your people. You made for yourself a name for great and terrifying things. You drove out whole nations before your people whom you rescued from Egypt. 22You established Israel to be your chosen people forever, and you, LORD, became their God.
23“And so, LORD, what you have said about me and my family, let it be true forever. Do as you have promised. 24Then your name will be remembered and glorified forever. People will say, ‘The LORD of multitudes is the God of Israel.’ And then the family of your servant David will be firmly established before you. 25For you, my God, have let me know that you will establish my family. That is why I have found the courage to come before you. 26You, O LORD my God, have promised these wonderful things for me. 27May it please you to continue to bless my family, because if you, O LORD, declare it, it will be so forever.”
1-2: David confides in the prophet Nathan that he is feeling some guilt for living in a fine house while the covenant chest rests under a tent. Nathan tells him to go ahead with whatever is on his mind.
3-15: That night, though, Nathan hears God saying that David is not to build a temple, but rather that God will build David a “house,” meaning a dynasty, that will last forever. These verses are nearly identical to 2 Samuel 7:4-17, with one rather prominent omission. In verse 13, after “and he shall be a son to me,” the previous account in 2 Samuel has, “When he sins, I will punish him with blows delivered by other mortals.” (2 Samuel 7:14) This admonition is missing here. The chronicler will report nothing to cast aspersions on the character of David – the affair with Bathsheba, for example, and the murder of her husband Uriah, is completely omitted in Chronicles.
16-27: David goes into the tent and sits before the covenant chest and prays a prayer of thanksgiving. The prayer is essentially the same as that recorded in 2 Samuel 7:18-29.
This is the longest prayer recorded of David. When he wanted to ask God something he usually made the request through a priest. Here, however, he goes directly to the tent containing the ancient covenant chest and acknowledges and gives thanks to God. The important thing, I think, is that God is promising something David has not asked for! What a great lesson for us! It’s easy to ask God for something and then imagine God has said yes; but how much more rewarding when we realize God has already blessed us beyond measure without our ever having asked for anything.