II Samuel 7. The Covenant.
Key Notes: A house for God; a house for David. Forever ? The Torah of Mankind. Messianic milestones.
Summary: What happened to David on this occasion was beyond his wildest dreams. It is called a “vision” (7:17) and a “revelation” (7:27). A superficial reading would make it out to be a confirmation of David’s dynasty, but there is more.
7:1–3 Given a period of stability and peace, David decided to build a temple for the Ark of the Covenant. Why should he live in a house of cedar, while God’s house was a tent? Nathan the prophet said, “Go ahead”. This was a happy moment. Why was Nathan involved? Perhaps because he will have the very sensitive task of confronting David later.
7:4–7 But the prophet was incorrect—an extremely rare event for a true prophet of God. The message was changed over-night. God gave him another message. Was the Lord asking for a house? In all these years of wandering, had He ever asked for such a place? Plainly not. It sounds like a human voice expressing love, amusement and warmth.
7:8–10 God reminded David that He had had the initiative all along, taking David from the sheep and making him king, giving him a name like the great ones of the earth, providing security and rest to Israel.
7:11–17 Will David build God a house? God will make David a house!
David’s son, Solomon, will continue the kingdom.
Solomon will build the temple David is thinking of.
I will relate to Him as Father to Son.
When he sins, I will chastise him by war and insurrection.
My steadfast love will not be taken away from the King.
Your throne shall endure forever.
Three of the promises will be fulfilled in Solomon. Three will not. As with many prophecies, part of the fulfillment was in the near future; part, in the distance. (This is an example of the telescoping of prophecy.)
7:18–24 David’s response was to pray. He went in (to the tent where the Ark stood?), sat down and prayed. He is amazed. First he extolled God.
God has indeed brought him so far.
God has shown him the Torah of mankind.
God’s own heart has brought about all this greatness and revealed it.
God has not done so with any other nation, redeeming them and attaching His Name to theirs: Israel is a prince with God.
He has established Israel and become their God.
7:25–29 Then he asked the Lord to accomplish what He had offered. May the Lord confirm His word, establishing his house, blessing his house and His servant. He give his Amen to the promise.
: The topic of this chapter is a play on the word “house”. The word is used in two ways, as a temple for God, and as a dynasty for David. David proposed to build a temple, a small, very costly building for worship; God retorted that He would give David a family line that would go on to eternity. That is unimaginable. David would offer God a gift of gold. God will give salvation to the world through David’s son. It is an awesome concept even for us three millennia later to know that Jesus, the Son of David, is the Christ / Messiah, and will be King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all the nations. David was amazed.
The word “forever” is given seven times in the text. It is easy to brush it off as hyperbole because David’s dynasty died out in 586 B.C., four hundred years later.
Psalm 89 begins (1–37) as an elaboration of II Samuel 7, but it concludes (38–52) with a lamentable breakdown in the Israel’s relationship to God:
“But now Thou hast cast off and rejected, Thou art full of wrath against Thy anointed.
Thou hast renounced the covenant with Thy servant; Thou hast defiled his crown in the dust ...
How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou hide Thyself for ever? How long will Thy wrath burn like fire?" (Psalm 89:38–39, 46).
So how can the covenant be “forever” and not “forever”. The answer is clarified to Mary by the Angel Gabriel in Luke:
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His Kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32).
That is the real fulfillment of the prophecy from Nathan to David. It is clear that there are two levels of fulfillment of the prophecy. That is suggested by the warning of chastisement of the kings who commit iniquity. The covenant promise was “forever”, even though it lapsed for four hundred years from Malachi until the coming of John the Baptist. Jesus announced the opening of the Kingdom to Israel at the beginning of His ministry. Matthew 4:17
David said in his prayer, “You have shown me 'the Torah of mankind.” (7:19) That phrase is in both Hebrew and OT Greek (LXX), but is translated weakly in English:
“You have shown me future generations” (RSV)
“... You have spoken also of Thy servant’s house for a great while to come” (KJV)
“... You have also spoken about the future of the house of Your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord?” (NIV).
"...and this is instruction for mankind...." (ESV)
“The Torah of mankind” is a much more powerful concept. The word “Torah” is commonly translated “law” in English but covers much more. A more suitable translation of Torah is instruction or teaching. The Hebrew scholars used the word to refer to the first five books of the Bible (Pentateuch), or the whole of Scripture or even the whole of revelation. So the “Torah of Mankind” is a revelation, a sweeping panorama of world history. (Walter Kaiser so teaches. [Public lecture.]) It is revealed as a human lineage ending in an eternal kingdom. It sounds impossible. But the Incarnation, God becoming man, unites the prophecy to David, son of Jesse, as king, to Jesus as his offspring and ultimate Ruler of the nations, forever. AMEN!
This is the fifth Messianic milestone:
The Seed of the Woman will bruise the Serpent’s head. Genesis 3:15
In Abraham all families of the earth will be blessed. Genesis 12:2
The scepter will not depart from Judah until He comes to whom it belongs. Genesis 49:10
The Lord God will raise up a prophet like Moses who must be obeyed. Deuteronomy‘:18
“Your throne will be established forever”. II Samuel 7:14
How much did David understand? More than Adam, Abraham or Moses. God is progressively revealing the promise of the Messiah, with the word being passed from generation to generation:
He is Coming! He is Coming!
For a comprehensive list of the Messianic prophecies, see the entry called “20 Questions” in Micah 1–5.