The Expository Files

The King, the Prophet, and God's House

2 Samuel 7:1-16

It seemed like a good idea to everyone. David, the king of Israel, decided a change needed to be made. Nathan, the prophet, thought it sounded good. Certainly David's motive was good. Ever since before entering the promised land and establishing a new nation, for about five hundred years, the worship of God centered around the tabernacle. This was a movable tentlike structure which had been built my Moses about five centuries before. It was needful that such a structure be portable because the Israelites were on their way from where they had been liberated from slavery in Egypt to the land God had promised them as Abraham's descendants.

Those wilderness travels were now a part of the distant past. David decided to build a more permanent structure for the worship of Jehovah at Jerusalem. He would build God's house, or temple. Who could doubt that David was the one to do it? He was described as "a man after God's own heart." And God had blessed the nation with victory over its enemies and prosperity. It seemed the least that a righteous king could do for God.

David's Desire
"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, 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.' And Nathan said to the king, 'Go, do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.'" (2 Samuel 7:1-3). Now, it seemed to both David, the king, and Nathan, the prophet that David's idea was something to go with. In fact, Nathan does not even consult the Lord about it. At David's suggestion, Nathan, apart from inspiration, assures David that the Lord is with him in this endeavor. He was not speaking from God. He was not being "moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20,21). He was simply following his impulse that such a plan must be a good thing.

God's Answer
"But it came about in the same night that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, 'Go and say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord," Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? 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. "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?'"' (2 Samuel 7:4-7).

Though David was sincere and genuine, and though it seems that he probably had a good and commendable idea, the Lord quickly let both Nathan and David know that such was not the case. The first mistake David made was thinking that God needed him, or at least needed a house in which He could dwell. The Lord says He does not really need one (see Acts 17:24,25). But secondly, and more seriously, David presumed what God wanted. He assumed that he should be the one to build God a house. Often people today presume what God wants rather than seek out the answers in His word, the Scriptures. There is lesson after lesson in the Bible illustrating the need to stay with the Lord's word and not to presume beyond that (1 Samuel 15:22,23; Matthew 15:9).

But why not David? God has His reason. We'll look at that in a moment.

God's Promise
"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. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 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, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. "And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."' " (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

This a a very touching passage. In it, to comfort David in what must be a very big disappointment, God gives certain assurances. It was not that God did not approve of David any longer, or that He was displeased with David. He gives David magnificent promises concerning his descendant and kingdom. But who is the fulfillment of these promises? Is it Solomon, David's immediate son, or Jesus, David's future descendant. The answer: They both do! The Lord God will use Solomon and his building of the physical temple to be a pattern of what David's future Descendant will do when He builds a spiritual temple, the church (See Matthew 1:1; Acts 2:29-33; Hebrews 1:8). In these promises, some are fulfilled by Solomon, some by Jesus, and some by both. Solomon would reign as King in Israel, Jesus would reign as king over his spiritual kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Solomon would build a temple in Jerusalem, Jesus would build His out of living stones from all over the world (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:5).

But Why Not David?
"Then he called for his son Solomon, and charged him to build a house for the Lord God of Israel. And David said to Solomon, "My son, I had intended to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. "But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'You have shed much blood, and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me. 'Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. 'He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.' (1 Chronicles 22:6-10).

David had fought wars, and God did not want a man to had shed so much blood to build His house. David had done what had been necessary for him to do, and this ought not to be though of as a punishment, but rather as a clear message of the peace God desires among men. But that age is past. Jesus has built an even better house for God.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 8.4; April 2001