After the ark is brought to Zion, it comes up in David’s heart to build a house for the LORD as a resting place for the ark. Here we see the heart of God and the heart of David. David wants to build a house for God. He brought the ark to Zion and wants to build the temple for it. God does not allow him to do so, but instead He says He will build a house for David.
The tabernacle is currently in Gibeon. The ark was first in Shiloh and is now on Mount Sion. Gibeon is a city of priests. David does not think of the tabernacle. He did arrange a service there (1Chr 16:39-40), but his heart is in Zion, just like the heart of God. It is not in his heart to bring the tabernacle to Zion, but to build a permanent home for the LORD.
1 - 3 David’s Longing for the Ark
1 Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the LORD had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, 2 that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains.” 3 Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your mind, for the LORD is with you.”
David sits as king at rest in his house. The LORD hath given him rest on all sides; all enemies have been conquered. Then comes the desire in his heart to build a house for the ark of God, that is to say for God Himself (1Chr 28:2). He has found peace himself and now he is looking for peace for the ark. He wants to build a house of peace for the ark. The ark is the place of rest for the feet of the LORD. That speaks of the Lord Jesus in Whom God can rest.
What we see with David also happens today in the lives of people who repent. If God points to the Lord Jesus as the resting point for his sins, such a person will find that rest with Him. Then such a person will start thinking about the dwelling of God, that is now the church. The church is a place of rest where the Lord Jesus finds rest, where He finds people for whom He is everything. We can also apply it more generally. If God has done so much for us in His goodness, it should make us think about what we can do for Him and His glory.
David shares his plan with Nathan. He is immediately enthusiastic. He confirms David’s intention. David’s wish is so beautiful! Surely it cannot be other than according to God’s thoughts, can it?
4 - 7 The Answer of the LORD
4 But in the same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, 5 “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? 6 For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. 7 Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”‘
David’s intention, however, is not in accordance with God’s will. Nathan appears to have given a favorable advice too quickly. That may happen to us as well. Something appeals to us, that is what we want to do for the Lord. We talk about it with a brother who is spiritually minded and who also stimulates us. Yet it may still become apparent that what we want to do for the Lord is not our task.
Nathan did not speak on the instruction of the LORD and therefore did not give David permission on His behalf for the execution of his plan. The LORD corrects His prophet in the same night. He does so in a very kind way. He doesn’t reproach him, but tells him His thoughts. He points out to Nathan that He has always been with His people in a way that He adapted Himself to His people. This is expressed particularly beautifully because the LORD speaks here of “all the sons of Israel”. This brings him even closer to every member of his people. He does not speak of a people as a whole, but sees that people in every person who is part of it.
In the time before David He never said anything about building a house to one of the leaders of his people, like Moses, Aaron, Joshua, the judges. He did not want a place of rest until the people had entered into the rest.
8 - 11 The Work of the LORD for David
8 “Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth. 10 I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, 11 even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you.
The LORD sends Nathan to David, whom He calls “My servant”. He also gives Nathan the words in the mouth that he must speak. Nathan must go and say words to David on behalf of “the LORD of hosts”. This impressive name of God shows Him as God over everything. In that majesty He addresses the word to David.
First the LORD speaks of David personally. He speaks of all the benefits He has given him, and how He has been with him, and what He will do with him and for him. He reminds David of what He did with him. He has raised him from the humble position of a shepherd of cattle to leader over His people. He has always been with David in his way to the throne. He has also eradicated all his enemies from before him. He also made him a great name, comparable to other great names.
The LORD speaks in verses 10-11a about a situation for His people that is yet to come. Yet it does not say that God will do it, but that He did it. It stands in the perfect tense, because it is already so for God, even if it is not yet so far in current affairs. There is rest during the reign of David and also in the first years of the reign of Solomon.
The LORD promises David that he will build a house for him. He officially announces this to him here. The house which the LORD will build for David is his descendancy, his family. He is the head of his house here (cf. Zec 12:8). In David we have a picture of the Lord Jesus and in his house a picture of the church of the living God.
Here we do not find the argument that David may not build because he has blood on his hands (1Chr 28:3), but that the LORD only wants rest when His people have it. David has to learn that that time is not yet there. David may not build a house for the LORD because the LORD will build a house for him. God reveals Himself here as the Giver.
12 - 17 The Son of David
12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took [it] away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”‘“ 17 In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
After His words to and about David personally the LORD speaks about his successor. When David is asleep, the LORD will take care of a successor. That shall be one that cometh forth out of his body, his son. The LORD will confirm the kingship of that son.
Except that the son shall take the place of David on the throne, the son shall build the house desired by David for the LORD. To the building of His house by this son the LORD immediately connects a new confirmation of the kingship of the son of David. The LORD even says here that He will “establish … forever” this kingdom.
The word ‘forever’ appears seven times in this chapter. It is not about temporary things. What is unfolded in this chapter is in connection with the eternal thoughts of God. The favor David receives is greater than what God has done for Moses, or for Joshua, or for any of the judges He called to pasture His people. David’s government is the first to be hereditary. It is a government that will be fully fulfilled when Christ exercises His kingship ‘forever’. In the first place, forever looks at the millennial kingdom of peace, but also at the eternal state thereafter.
The LORD connects a third remarkable thing – after the building of His house and the establishment of an eternal kingdom – to the son of David. He adopts David’s son as His own son and says that He will be a Father to him. As soon as Solomon is born David gives him a name, but immediately the LORD speaks about who Solomon is for him (2Sam 12:24-25). Solomon is a picture of the true Son of David, who is also the Son of God, in whom God has found His pleasure.
At the same time it becomes clear that under Solomon the full counsel of God in relation to Christ is not fulfilled. Solomon is a picture of Christ, and his government points to the government of Christ, but Solomon himself is a weak and fallible human being. That is evident from his life. He has finally failed in his responsibility as king. In view of this responsibility, the LORD speaks here of “commits iniquity” and “correct him”, something that cannot possibly be said of the Lord Jesus.
But the LORD promises his constant mercy. He points to Saul and reminds David how He “removed” Saul “from before you”. The remembrance on Saul and how the LORD had to deal with him, is a serious warning. If the LORD adds that the house and kingship of David “shall endure before Me forever”, that enormous contrast must fill David with the greatest gratitude.
Nathan has passed on the message of the LORD and what he has seen word for word to David. How must David, speaking with Nathan, have been increasingly impressed by the great grace that is being shown to him. The climax is the comparison with Saul. Surely he is not better in himself than Saul, is he? As far as he is concerned, it can only be God’s electing grace. Grateful and over-whelmed by that grace, David impressively expresses the prayer of thanks that follows.
18 - 29 David’s Thanksgiving Prayer
18 Then David the king went in and sat before the LORD, and he said, “Who am I, O Lord LORD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far? 19 And yet this was insignificant in Your eyes, O Lord LORD, for You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future. And this is the custom of man, O Lord LORD. 20 Again what more can David say to You? For You know Your servant, O Lord LORD! 21 For the sake of Your word, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness to let Your servant know. 22 For this reason You are great, O Lord LORD; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land, before Your people whom You have redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, [from] nations and their gods? 24 For You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O LORD, have become their God. 25 Now therefore, O LORD God, the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and his house, confirm [it] forever, and do as You have spoken, 26 that Your name may be magnified forever, by saying, ‘The LORD of hosts is God over Israel’; and may the house of Your servant David be established before You. 27 For You, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. 28 Now, O Lord LORD, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant. 29 Now therefore, may it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You. For You, O Lord LORD, have spoken; and with Your blessing may the house of Your servant be blessed forever.”
After all that David has heard from Nathan, he goes to the LORD. He takes his place “before the LORD”. He sits down with Him, in peace and quiet in His presence (verse 18). This shows a high degree of confidentiality. He feels at home with God. At the same time he is full of respect for that God. He is impressed by everything God has done and will do for him. He feels overwhelmed by God’s mercies for him and his descendants.
David knows that the LORD did this according to his own heart and made him part of it. He will talk about this with the LORD, thank Him for it in the awareness of proven grace. He is deeply imbued with his own unworthiness. We listen in to that: “Who am I … and what is my house” (cf. Gen 32:10). This attitude characterizes his whole prayer of thanks.
God communicates His plans to us. This is true for His counsels and also for the way we have to go on earth. Do we thank the Lord for including us in His plans and making us part of them? We will do so when we are overwhelmed by His mercy. We will thank Him for making us feel comfortable with Him. We will thank Him for allowing us to rely on His Word, on what He has said, as the basis for every blessing also for us. We will thank Him for allowing us to address him as David does in verse 28: “Lord LORD, You are God, and Your words are truth.”
David not only expresses his amazement at what the LORD has done, but also at what He will do into the distant future (verse 19). He will do this according “to the custom of men”, that is to say, by following generation by generation. The LORD will always take care of a descendant.
Notice how often David speaks here about God’s Word and what God has spoken. God keeps His Word, as evidenced by the deeds that make it come true. It is also striking that David addresses God six times as “Lord LORD” and speaks of himself ten times as “Your servant”. David knows the power of the word of the LORD, that what He says also happens. He trusts it. He sees it fulfilled in his life and knows that everything will be fulfilled. The word comes from God’s heart. He sees and knows the heart of God.
In verse 20, however, he begins with the LORD knowing him. Not only is it important to know God, it is also important to be aware that God knows us. Paul even says that the awareness that God knows us is more than the awareness that we know God (Gal 4:9a). The reason is that our knowledge of God is partial, but God’s knowledge of us is perfect. That is what impressed David and what should impress us.
He praises the incomparable greatness and power of God. There is no one like Him. To this he directly connects the incomparability of His people with any other people. After David had said of himself in verse 18, “Who am I”, he says in verse 23, “what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel?” He also sees God’s goodness for His people that He has redeemed. God’s greatness, power and grace can be seen in His election and liberation of Israel. Just as no one among the gods is equal to God, so no people among the nations are equal to His people. The people belong to God and God belongs to the people. God makes the name of David and His people great; but that is that David and His people may make His Name great.
In view of his own house David has a prayer (verse 25). He yearns for it and prays that God will make great His Name, which is great, and that He will make it greater, and that He will do so in accordance with His promises concerning Israel and the house of David. He does not speak about what God has spoken about his name, the name of David, but what God has spoken about His own Name, the Name of God (verse 26).
David ends his prayer of thanksgiving by asking that God may bless his house (verse 29). The basis for this prayer is: “For You, O Lord LORD, have spoken.” His house will be eternally blessed by the birth and reign of the great Son of David.
It is good to see David sitting on the throne in this chapter. Yet it does not reach the scene of the previous chapter, where we saw David sitting before the LORD. As believers, we are destined to sit on thrones. But it is bigger to get off of these thrones to prostrate at the feet of the Redeemer and throw down our crowns there. Just as sitting with David in the LORD’s presence is the high point of his life, so is our high point that we prostrate before Him. Worshipping is greater than reigning.
In this chapter we see David as the man of faith. He breaks the power of the enemy and takes his goods. He also makes preparations for the government of peace and prosperity of his son Solomon.
We also see him as the picture of the Lord Jesus, the King of Zion, Who gains the victory over the enemies of Israel and who gives his people the possession of the promised land right up to the Euphrates (Gen 15:18). David rules over all Israel and exercises justice and righteousness over all the people. Those who have shared his wanderings now also share in the glory of his kingdom. In everything we see a picture of the reign of Christ.
David successively overcomes the Philistines, the Moabites, the king of Zobah, the Arameans and the Edomites. He also deals with the Ammonites and the Amalekites. All these enemies represent sin in its many manifestations. All these manifestations are as many enemies who want to have influence in our lives. The Lord wants to give us the strength to overcome those enemies. The armor of God described in Ephesians 6 is given to us (Eph 6:10-18). If we wear it, without forgetting a part, we can stand up and be victors.