Most of us would like to make a significant difference with our lives. Probably every young boy (and many girls) has dreamed of making the last second basket or hitting a homerun to win the World Series. Many have dreamed of being President of the United States. Others dream of owning their own company or being a counselor to the stars. Some dream of staring in a movie or television show. Some dream of winning a NASCAR race or defeating Tiger Woods in a Golf Tournament. Others dream of not having any payments or debt. The point is everyone has or had big dreams.
This morning we will look at a big dream of David. The dream is eventually realized but not by David himself. But what is most significant in the passage is not David’s vision for the future but God’s plan for the future. As we look at this I hope you will see that David’s big plans also impact our lives.
The House David Wanted to Build
2 Samuel 7 begins with this statement, “After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him…” It appears a significant amount of time has passed since chapter 6 of 2 Samuel. David is now established in the new capital city of Jerusalem. The Ark of God has been installed in the Tabernacle inside the city. We are told David had rest from all his enemies. In 1 Chronicles 14 (1 Chronicles parallels 1 & 2 Samuel) we are told, “Hiram King of Tyre sent cedar logs, stonemasons and carpenters to build a palace for him.” David is living in a brand new palace. Life is good.
One day David was sitting on the porch of his new home enjoying the peace and contentment of His life and he looked over at the Tabernacle of God. The comparison between his beautiful new home and the tents of the Tabernacle sobered David. So the King summoned the prophet Nathan to consult with him about his dream of building a majestic Temple for the Living God. Nathan’s initial response was, “Go for it!”
Notice some things here. First, what David wants to do is a good thing. David’s desire is to honor the Lord. Later in the history of Israel (after the people had been dispersed to Babylon and then brought back by the Lord) the Israelites were rebuked because they lived in nice houses and gave no attention to rebuilding the house of God. The prophet Haggai told the people that they were struggling economically because they were indulging themselves and neglecting the house of God. David knew instinctively that it is important to honor God. David understood that our love for God is often most clearly revealed by our checkbook.
Second, notice that David does not act unilaterally. As King, David could have simply commanded that a temple be built. He didn’t do this. Instead he consulted the prophet of God. Even though David is the King, he recognized that he is accountable to the Lord. He recognized that the nation would be blessed only as they sought the Lord’s will and followed His ways. David stopped to check with God before he moved ahead with his plans. If you have been paying attention, this is a common theme. When David waited on the Lord, He reaped blessing. When he rushed ahead he reaped trouble.
Nathan returned home that night after talking to David and we are told the Word of the Lord came to Nathan. God vetoed the plan that Nathan and David agreed was good. Don’t miss this lesson: good plans implemented at the wrong time are bad plans.
God’s response is interesting,
Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” ’
God seems to say to David and Nathan, “You will build me a house when I ask for a house and not before.” He reminded them that the Tabernacle (a portable Temple kind of like a M.A.S.H. unit) was portable so God could travel with Israel. It was not that God needed someplace to live. . . God is ever present. He would be with them with or without the Tabernacle. The point was to remind the people that God is not localized. He is not the deity of a certain region. God traveled with the Israelites, He supported them; He was their God.
Other religions make pilgrimages to temples and locations so they can meet with God. The Israelites had God in their midst. With the coming of Christ this fact is even more pronounced. After the resurrection we were given the Holy Spirit to live in or “tabernacle” with us.
The Blessing of Grace- The House God Was Going to Build
The message to Nathan was not a rebuff of David’s desires. Quite the contrary. David wanted to make a house for God. God turned that around and told David the incredible house He was going to make for David!
God reminded David that He had been His source of strength over the years. He was the one who called him to his post, he is the one who protected him in the desert, and he is the one who cut off his enemies. Then God said, “I will make your name great like the greatest men of the earth…I will provide a place for my people Israel and plant them so that they can have a home of their own. . . I will give you rest from your enemies.”
That’s not all! He continues in verses 11-16
“ ‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’
This is known as the Davidic Covenant (or the Covenant made with David.) It’s important for you to understand this idea of a covenant. The Bible consists of a number of covenants. Think of a covenant as an agreement between two parties. If you go to work for an individual you enter into a covenant. You agree to do certain work and the employer agrees to compensate you in a certain manner. When a couple exchanges vows they are entering into a covenant.
In the Mosaic Covenant (the one given to Moses), God gave the people His commands and promised that if they kept God’s commands, God would bless them. If they did not, they would face God’s discipline and wrath. This covenant includes the Ten Commandments.
In other covenants in the Bible God made promises that were unconditional. God made such a promise to Abraham in Genesis 12. He told Him that he was going to make Abraham (and his descendants) into a great nation and that nation would end up blessing the entire world.
To drive home the point, in Genesis 15 there is an incredible scene. Abraham was a little unsure of the conditions of the promise. God told Abraham to take some animals and cut them in half with a path between the halves. (This was the practice in a covenant ratifying ceremony). God reiterated the promise and then we read,
When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. (Gen 15:17 NLT)
Normally the two people who made the promise would both walk through this path of cut in half animals. It was a way of declaring “If I do not keep the conditions of this covenant may I become like these animals.”
This was a common practice. What was uncommon was the fact that God (represented by the smoking firepot) was the only One to walk the course. The responsibility for fulfilling the promise is all on God.
This Promise to David is another unconditional covenant. One commentator made these observations about the Covenant to David.
a. Death will not annul it 12-13. Even though David would eventually die, God would continue to bless David through his descendents. What dad would not be thrilled by such words?
b. Sin cannot destroy it 14-15 God told David that even when his sons strayed and required God’s discipline and correction, even then, God would not finally withdraw His love.
c. Time will not exhaust it 16 The blessing would be forever. His kingdom would endure forever. Think about how wonderful it would be to know that the family farm was going to remain the family farm forever. This is much better.
The person who knows history might observe that after 586 B.C. Israel no longer had a King from the line of David. Did God’s promise fail?
When you turn from the Old Testament to the New Testament you read these significant words, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David. . . . “ In the first words Matthew wants us to understand that he is going to tell us about the fulfillment of God’s promise! Jesus is the next and FINAL King of Israel. Through His death and Resurrection He became a King forever. Promise fulfilled.
The Faithful Response to God’s Astounding Grace
I hope you can see what a significant event and promise this is to David and why the promise is also significant to us. In the rest of 2 Samuel 7 David responds to what he has just heard. You can learn a great deal about a person if you can listen to them pray. We learn a great deal about the heart of David in the last half of our text.
David began with the words, “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” Is we understand what God has done for us in Jesus Christ we should say the same thing. Paul said something similar, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15).
John Stott writes,
Towards the end of my time as a theological student at Ridley Hall, Cambridge the Rev. Paul Gibson retired as Principal, and a portrait of him was unveiled. In expressing his thanks, he paid a well-deserved compliment to the artist. He said in the future he believed people looking at the picture would ask not ‘Who is that man?’ but rather ‘Who painted that portrait?’ Now in our case God has displayed more than skill. A patient after a major operation is a living testimony to his surgeon’s skill, and a condemned man after a reprieve to his sovereign’s mercy. We are both –exhibits of God’s skill and trophies of his grace.[i]
It is easy to take for granted the grace and mercy of God extended to us in Jesus Christ. I have said the words at the funerals of Christian people many times . . . “my confidence that this person is in Heaven is not because they were good people (though by the world’s standards, perhaps they were). My confidence of their eternal destiny is anchored to the fact that they trusted a great Savior.
Think about it. We have scorned and disobeyed God’s commands thousands of times (that we are willing to admit). We deserve Hell. Time and again He has extended forgiveness and we have fallen again.
Think about someone who has hurt you. They tell you they are sorry and you (trying to be a good Christian) extend forgiveness. Suppose the same person hurts you in the same way again. Let’s say they do it many more times. How do you respond now? Most of us would become cautious and reluctant to believe the person was serious in their apology. We would make sure we were not vulnerable again and might even end our relationship with the person.
We have offended the Lord again and again. Instead of God turning away He became man and took upon Himself the just punishment for our sin. He was wounded for our transgressions. He died in our place. We are indeed saved by good works . . . but they are not OUR good works (which the Bible says are like filthy rags). We are saved because of the works of Christ who lived in obedience to the Law (fulfilling all the demands of the covenant) because He then gave us His righteousness and took upon Himself our sin.
God offers us forgiveness and new and eternal life. This is a covenant of grace. The only requirement for us is that we embrace Jesus as our Savior and our Lord. In other words, He asks us to take Him at His Word. Our Lord promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. He promises that no one can snatch us from His hands. He says “nothing can separate us from His love.” He told us that we will live even though we die. He says He will supply all our needs. He will help us in our praying, equip us for our tasks, and use us for His glory.
Many times people as, “Why doesn’t God save everyone?” It is better for us to ask, “Why me, God? Why have you been so kind to me?” I don’t know about you but I say this often. If you understand the nature of the blessing, you can’t help being deeply humbled by that blessing.
David moved naturally from humble gratitude to heartfelt worship. The first step to effective worship is to realize how small we are before Him. The person who understands grace realizes how worthy God is of our praise. He should be adored and celebrated. We owe Him the obedience of our lives. Paul says presenting ourselves to God is our spiritual act worship.
Hear the good news: the Lord is working in your life. God is not indifferent to you. As with David, He has been guiding your path. In fact, you are here today because of His kindness and His grace. You are here so you can know how much He loves you. Let me give you three take-home points.
First, good plans + bad timing = bad plan. This is a lesson we all need to learn. God’s timing is perfect and we must trust Him. David did not build God a temple as he desired, but his son Solomon, did. Near the end of his life David worked hard to get things ready for the project. The lesson is: when God says “No”; when he shuts a door; when things don’t go as expected; it may not mean the plan is bad . . . it may simply mean the timing is wrong. Don’t despair. Wait for the right time.
Second, God’s offer of salvation is staggering in its generosity, mercy and grace. God has consistently shown us love but we have spurned that love and gone our own way. The Creator of the universe could have wiped us all out and simply started over. That’s not what He chose to do. Instead He revealed Himself to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses, to David. He chose one nation and sought to show us His kindness and Grace by the way He dealt with that nation. He also reached out to us through His Son, Jesus. Christ who left the glory of Heaven to take on the nature of man. He lived a perfect life, was rejected, beaten, and crucified. However that was not near the worst of what He endured for us. Jesus suffered the wrath of God on our behalf. This is a horror we can’t begin to comprehend.
Why did He do all of this? The answer staggers us with its simplicity. He did it because He loves us. He did it because this is what He promised Abraham and what He promised David. And how do we know that this grace will be extended to us after all we have done? We know it for the same reasons: because He loves us and because He promised.
Third, a true understanding of grace will make us humble not proud. Sometimes you can walk into a place with a bunch of Christians and feel like everyone feels they are better than you are. Sometimes we look down at others and conclude they could experience God’s blessing if they worked a little harder like we do.
These are sinful moments. The person that truly understands grace is stunned that God could love one such as them. They are not swallowed up by their goodness, they staggered by God’s love and humbled by His mercy. They are grateful, not arrogant. They are soft, not hard.
The gratitude of grace leads us to worship. It spurs us to action. It convinces us that no one is a lost cause and consequently it motivates us to share the message with others. This grace, when understood, transforms us. It makes us alive. It makes us secure. It sets us free. It leads us home.