God makes a promise to David
v1 King David was living in his palace now. The *Lord had given him peace from his enemies. v2 One day, David said to Nathan, the *prophet, ‘I am living in a palace. And my palace has the best wood, from trees called cedars. But the *ark of God is still in a tent.’
v3 Nathan replied to the king, ‘You should do whatever you have decided to do. The *Lord is with you.’
v4 That night the *Lord spoke to Nathan. The *Lord said, v5 ‘Go to David and say, “The *Lord has sent this message to you.” He says “You must not build a house for me. You are not the right man. v6 I rescued the *Israelites from the country called Egypt. I never had a house from that time until now. I moved from one place to another. A tent has always been my home. v7 So I moved with the *Israelites. And I told the rulers of the *Israelites to be like a *shepherd to the people. I never told them to build me a house or *temple from the wood of cedar trees.”
v8 Nathan, you must give this message to my servant David. “The *Lord is the leader of armies of *angels. And this is what the *Lord says: You were just a young *shepherd who looked after the sheep. But I chose you to lead my people *Israel. v9 I have been with you everywhere that you have gone. I defeated all your enemies. Now I will make you as famous as any of the great people in the world. v10 I have provided a place for my people *Israel to live. They will live in this country and they will be safe. They will have permanent homes here. Wicked people will not continue to cause trouble for my people. They had trouble in the past v11 even when I chose judges (leaders) for my people *Israel. Now I will keep you safe from all your enemies. I, the *Lord, am speaking to you. I will make a house for you. (In other words, I will establish your royal family.)
v12 One day you will die. But I will make one of your own sons the king. I will establish his *kingdom. v13 It is he who will build a house for me. And I will make sure that his *kingdom lasts always. v14 I will be like a father to him. He will be like my son. If he *sins, I will punish him. But I will use other people to give him the punishment. v15 I stopped loving Saul. And I removed him before you became king. But I will never stop loving your son. v16 Your family and your *kingdom will continue always. Someone from your family will always be king.” ’
v17 Nathan told David everything that the *Lord said.
(Verses 1-29 See also 1 Chronicles 17.)
The events of this chapter may have happened a long time after David became king. But the subject follows on from chapter 6 about the *ark of the *Lord.
The writer uses the *Hebrew word for ‘house’ in this chapter. This word has three different meanings. It refers to a building where people live. It also refers to a person’s family, in the present time and in the future. And it is another word for the *temple.
In verse 1, David lived in his house (palace). In verse 2 and 4 he wanted to build a house (*temple) for the *Lord. But in verses 11 and 16 the *Lord said that he would establish David’s house (royal family) to last always. David wanted to give honour to the *Lord. Instead, the *Lord gave honour, which would last always, to David and his family.
There was peace in *Israel. In Deuteronomy 12:10-14, the *Lord said that this would happen one day. The *Lord made David a successful soldier. David fought many battles and he defeated *Israel’s enemies. However, verse 9 says that the *Lord really defeated the enemies. The *Lord provided the land for the *Israelites (verse 10). He had promised this land to Abram (Abraham) in Genesis 15:18-19. The *Lord *kept his promise. There were no wars, so David was not very busy. He wanted to give more honour to the *Lord. David knew that he had an impressive palace. He thought that a tent was not good enough for the *ark of God. He wanted to build a great *temple. Then they would call this *temple ‘the house where God lives’. First, David asked Nathan the *prophet. The *Lord spoke to the *prophets and he gave them messages for people. David’s plan seemed good to Nathan but it was not the *Lord’s plan.
That night, the *Lord gave Nathan a message for David. The *Lord had not asked David to build him a *temple. God called it a ‘house’. In verse 11, he uses the word ‘house’ again. He was referring to the children that David would have. The *Lord wanted David to think about the *Lord’s actions. And the *Lord did not want David to think about what he, David, would do. Also, it was not the right time. And David was the wrong person. The writer of 1 Chronicles 22:8-10 tells us the reason. David was a soldier. He had fought many battles and he had killed many people. However, his son Solomon would be a peaceful king. He would not kill people. Therefore, the *Lord would let him build the *temple. You can read about this in 2 Chronicles chapters 2 to 7.
The *Lord reminded David about all that he had done for David. He was the king of *Israel only because the *Lord had chosen him. David was the *Lord’s servant. But the *Lord promised that someone from David’s family would always be king. David’s family continued to rule two *Israelite *tribes for more than 400 years. The *Lord’s promise in verse 16 referred to more than just human kings. It referred to Jesus Christ. He came from the family of King David (Luke 3:31). People called Jesus the ‘son of David’ (Matthew 21:9). And 1 Timothy 6:14-15 says that Jesus is ‘the king of all kings’. This shows that the *Lord *kept his promise to David.
Many years later, the *Israelites and their kings *sinned. They did not obey the *Lord so they were not safe in their country (verse 10). The *Lord punished them (2 Kings chapter 25). The *Lord had warned the *Israelites about this in Deuteronomy 28:15-68.
The *Lord promised always to love David’s son (verse 15). This was a special promise. The *Lord wanted them to have personal relationship like a father and son (verse 14). ‘Son’ refers to Solomon. But it also refers to the other kings who came from his family. So all kings of Israel were sons of God because they were special to God. God wanted to act through them. And God would always love the king (verse 15). A long time later, Jesus was born from David’s family. He was the Son of God in a special way. This contrasts with King Saul. He did not love the *Lord so the *Lord removed him. Nobody in Saul’s family ever became king after he died. Sadly, Solomon did not follow the *Lord as David did (1 Kings 11:4). But the *Lord continued to love Solomon. The *Lord *kept his promise.
Nathan was a good *prophet. He listened to the *Lord and then he told David everything.
David prays to the *Lord
v18 Then David went in and he sat in front of the *Lord. David said, ‘You are God, and you are my master. I am not important. My family is not important. I do not know why you have done this for me.
v19 But now you have done even more, my master and my God. You have told me, your servant, about the future of my family. You do not usually do this for people, my master and my God. v20 I do not know what to say to you, my master and my God. You know all about me. I am just your servant. v21 You decided to do these things. And you said that you would do them. You have done this wonderful thing. And you have told me, your servant.
v22 You are so great, *Lord God. We ourselves have discovered that nobody is like you. There is no other God. v23 There is no other nation like your people *Israel. You, God, rescued them. You chose them as your own people. People abroad know about you because of your people. You did great and wonderful things. Your people were slaves in Egypt so you rescued them. You forced nations and their gods out of the way of your people. v24 You have made the people of *Israel to be your own people always. And you, *Lord, became their God.
v25 Now, our *Lord and God, do what you have promised to me, your servant, and to my family. *Keep your promise always. v26 Then people will always give you honour. People will say, “The *Lord, who is the leader of armies of *angels, is God over *Israel.” The family of David, your servant, will continue to be kings. v27 You are our *Lord. You are the leader of armies of *angels. And you are God over *Israel. You have shown this to me, your servant. You said that you would make my family great. I am your servant. I have been brave enough to pray this to you. v28 My master and my God, you really are God. Everything that you say is true. You have made this promise to me, your servant. v29 I ask you to *bless the family of me, your servant. I pray that my family will always be your servants. You, my master and my God, promised this. You will always *bless the family of your servant.’
Verse 18 means that David sat in front of the *ark of the *Lord. It was probably in a tent. The *ark of the *Lord had a curtain round it (Exodus 40:1-2). Nobody could see it because it was holy. The *Lord used to speak as if he were above the *ark.
David heard what the *Lord had promised. But he did not become proud. Instead, he went to pray to the *Lord. David was a humble man. He referred often to the greatness of God. And he referred often to himself as the *Lord’s servant.
In verses 18-21, David did not know what to say to the *Lord. He could hardly believe what the *Lord had promised. The *Lord knew everything. And he even told David what would happen in the future. This was very unusual. David was very grateful to the *Lord. David knew that he did not deserve anything.
In verses 22-24, David praised the *Lord for all that the *Lord had done for *Israel in the past. David knew that *Israel was the *Lord’s special nation. David knew how wonderful and powerful the *Lord was. Even other nations knew about the *Lord’s great acts.
In verses 25-29, David became confident. David asked the *Lord to *keep his promise. And he knew that the *Lord would do this. David wanted the *Lord to have honour. David was not selfish. He did not want honour for himself or his family. Instead, he wanted everyone to see how great the *Lord is. David knew that he was the *Lord’s servant. And he wanted his family to serve the *Lord always.
David did not build a *temple for the *Lord. He accepted the *Lord’s decision and he obeyed him. However, 1 Chronicles 28:11-19 says that the *Lord gave David the plans for the *temple. We do not know when this happened. But it shows that the *Lord trusted David. David had a lot of knowledge but Solomon did not. Solomon was still young, so David helped him with all the preparations. David provided many materials and skilled men. He also explained to Solomon all the details in the plans of the *temple (1 Chronicles chapters 22, 28 and 29). David always wanted to obey and to *worship the *Lord. And David always wanted to give honour to the *Lord. So David tried to make sure that Solomon built the *temple in the right way. You can read how Solomon built the temple in 1 Kings chapter 6.