The Word Made Fresh
1When the king was settled in his house and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies, 2he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a nice house of cedar, but the covenant chest of God stays in a tent.”
3Nathan responded, “Do whatever you wish; the LORD is with you.”
4But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan. 5“Tell David this is what the LORD says: Should you build me a house to live in? 6I haven’t lived in a house since the day I brought the people out of Egypt. I have been moving from place to place in a tent and a sanctuary. 7Wherever I was with the people of Israel did I ever say anything to any of those I ordered to lead my people? Did I ever ask them why they haven’t built me a house of cedar? 8Now, go back and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I took you from the fields following the sheep and made you the leader of my people. 9I have been beside you everywhere you’ve gone. I have struck down all your enemies, and I will make your name as great as anyone who has ever lived on earth. 10And I will settle my people in the place I have chosen so they may live in their own houses and have no enemies. Wicked people will never afflict them again as they have before 11when I appointed judges over them. I will give you rest from all your enemies. What’s more, the LORD declares that your house will be a dynasty. 12When your days have ended, and you lie down to rest with your ancestors, I will elevate your own son in your place, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for me, and I will guard his throne from now on. 14I will be a parent to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he sins, I will punish him with blows delivered by other mortals. 15But my love for him will be steadfast. I removed my support from Saul; I put him aside out of your way. 16But your house and your kingdom I shall protect from this day forward. Your throne, your dynasty, will be established permanently.’
17Nathan conveyed these words and this vision to David.
18Then king David went in and sat before the LORD. He said, “Who am I, LORD God? Who is my family, that you have rewarded me so? 19And yet I know it was an easy thing for you, LORD God. And now you speak of your servant’s dynasty far into the future. Is this something you had already planned for your people? 20What can I say? You know me, LORD God! 21Because of the promise you made, and in keeping with your will, you have determined all this and have revealed it to me, your servant. 22You are great, O LORD God! There is not another like you — no other God! Everything we have heard reveals that to us. 23And what other nation is like your people Israel? Are there other people on earth whose god upheld them and redeemed them, and did great and mighty things for them, like driving out before them other nations and their deities? 24And here now you settled your people Israel forever. You, LORD, became their God! 25So, LORD God, do what you have said you would do for your servant as you have promised. 26Your name will be praised forever. People will say, ‘The LORD, the holy one, is Israel’s God!’ and the house of David will be planted in your presence. 27For you, LORD Almighty, Israel’s God, have revealed this to me your servant. You have said ‘I will build you a dynasty.’ And so I, your servant, have found the courage to say these things to you. 28Lord God, you are God! Your words are guaranteed, and you have promised all this to me! 29May you be pleased to bless your servant’s household, that it may last forever before you. You, LORD God, have spoken it, and if it is your will, your servant’s house will indeed be upheld forever!”
1-3: We are introduced to the prophet Nathan, another of the holy men with whom David has surrounded himself. Nathan is not a “yes man” by any means, as we shall learn. David asks for his advice on building a “house” for the covenant chest, and Nathan gives him a thumbs up.
4-17: But God has other plans. Nathan is told that David is not the one to build God’s house. Instead, God says that he will build David a “house,” meaning a dynasty of his own sons and grandsons succeeding him on Israel’s throne. Nathan reports this to David.
18-29: David is humbled by Nathan’s report, and goes into the tent to pray. He acknowledges God’s mighty work in Israel’s past, and claims the future God has revealed to him through Nathan.
This is the most significant conversation David has had directly with God. You may have noticed that he usually asks a priest — Abiathar, for example, and now Nathan. Notice that when he wants to ask God something he goes through a priest. Only when he wants to acknowledge what God has already said or done, or wants to give thanks to God, does he approach God directly. What a great lesson for us! How easy it is to ask God for something and then imagine God has said yes; but how much more rewarding when we ask someone else to raise the prayer for us, so that we can be sure we’re not just imagining, or engaging in wishful thinking that God wants what we’re asking for.