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Life of David

Plans, Promises and Prayers

2 Samuel 7

One of the temptations for the intelligent Christian is to give good policy advice to God. We are so convinced that we know best. David does something like that in our Scripture today:

(2 Sam 7 NIV) After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, {2} he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent." {3} Nathan replied to the king, "Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you." {4} That night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying: {5} "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?"' {8} "Now then, tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. {9} I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. {10} And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning {11} and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. "'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.'" {17} Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation. {18} Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: "Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? {19} And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign LORD, 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? {20} "What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign LORD. {21} For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. {22} "How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. {23} And who is like your people Israel--the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? {24} You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, O LORD, have become their God. {25} "And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, {26} so that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, 'The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!' And the house of your servant David will be established before you. {27} "O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, 'I will build a house for you.' So your servant has found courage to offer you this prayer. {28} O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. {29} Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, O Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever."


So many of us start with this assumption: "If my motives are good, and my plans are careful, God will honor those plans. I don't need to talk to him about it." We think that if our motives are pure, then God will "play along." It is not so:

  • Good idea vs. God's idea. David looked at his magnificent palace of cedar and thought God would like one too. But we need to realize that whatever we plan on our own, it is tainted by the fact that we are sinners. We cannot conceive what God can do. His plans are always greater than our own, and we need to recognize that fact.
  • Approval by the people of God. Often, to "verify' our thoughts, we will consult with another Christian. If David had asked me, I would have said, "Great idea!" What I should say is, "Have you talked to the Father about this?" Even the most mature of Christians needs the guidance of God. It is condescending on our part to presume that God would approve.

David was actually proposing what would be a fundamental change in the way Israel would worship - though he might not have realized that. David's changes, however, were trivial to the changes God wanted. We see some side notes about worship here:

  • We often say that we don't need a building in which to worship. We say, "I can worship God amidst the trees just as well as in church." As Teddy Roosevelt replied to that, "Yes - but you won't." You need the sense of place.
  • The greatness of God is not confined to the spectacular. Sunsets and starts remind us of his creation, but so should the still, small voice.
Our plans and God's plans
  • Our plans tend to be superficial - "Let's build a temple." God's plans are significant - the Temple was to symbolize that which was to come.
  • Our plans tend towards security; God's plans make us trust in him.
  • Our plans are for the temporary - things in our own lifetimes. God plans for eternity, and we may be just a small link in his golden chain.

Considering the difference, it was mighty gracious of God to stop David before he had spent a lot of money on this.

God's plan

The magnificence of what God wanted to do is seen here. In this short passage God reveals two of the most significant developments in the Old Testament.

  • He reveals the Davidic Covenant - his agreement with the house of David that this line of kings would always be the rulers over Israel, and from his line would come the Christ. (That's why those genealogies in the New Testament are so important.)
  • He reveals the plan of the Temple - which symbolically foreshadows the coming kingdom of God.

Would you want David's small plan to get in the way of God's magnificent one?


Just what did God promise David?

  • He promised to make his name great - and this certainly has happened.
  • He promised to provide a place of safety for his people Israel. This has yet to be fulfilled.
  • He promised that Solomon would build the Temple, which he did.
  • He promised that his throne would endure forever. Punishment to the wicked was promised, but never again would God take his love from the house of David. In the history of Israel there were many dynasties; Judah had only one.
  • Most important was this: he promised a father/son relationship between God and David's descendant. This was fulfilled in Christ, the Son of God.
David's reaction

Perhaps it amused God to reveal all this to David. "David want to build me a house? I'll build him a house." The general reaction is one of astonishment. David had no idea what great plans God had for him.

  • He "sat down" before the Lord- a gesture of great respect.
  • He didn't complain (which is most unusual - but David is a man after God's own heart).
  • Most of all, he expressed his gratitude to God in praise and adoration.
Claiming the promises

David gives us a superb example here. God has promised, and it seems that David is going to hold him to it. We need to examine this in more detail. Consider these questions:

How do I know that God will keep these promises? David gives us three very good reasons, all based upon the character of God, which never changes:

  • He will do it for the sake of his word. God said it; he is truth and it will be done.
  • He will do it because it is his will. He is not like man who changes his mind.
  • He will do it for the sake of his great name, which should not be insulted. So that we may praise the name, he will deliver his promises.

How do I claim these promises? David gives us two ways to claim the promises:

  • In verse 21, he treats the promise in the past tense. He talks like it has already happened.
  • Elsewhere, he explicitly claims the promise, "in God's name" and "by his word." He relies on God's unchanging nature and sworn word.

Why would God want me to do this? C. H. Spurgeon put it this way:

"Nothing pleases our Lord better than seeing his promises in circulation." It's as if you can take that note to the bank.

  • First, it is an act of faith, trusting God to do what he says.
  • Next, it is an act of obedience, for he commands you to do it.

(One reason we read Scripture diligently: you can't stand on the promises if you don't know what they are.)


With such a great blessing, David goes to prayer.

Relationship with God

We need to see the relationship between David and God:

  • It is a personal relationship. God is not some force in David's life; he is a person with characteristics to be learned and loved, not equations to be plotted.
  • It is based upon David knowing, "Who am I?" - in comparison to God.
  • It also rests on the fact that God knows David - completely.
  • See how David acknowledges God's sovereignty - and this is from a man who is king, and ought to know!
  • Finally, cherish this: the revelation of God has brought courage to David. When God speaks, David is emboldened. When God is silent, he withdraws.
Attitude of Gratitude

This is first and foremost a prayer of thanksgiving. But thanksgiving must be done in the proper way. Your mother taught you to write thank-you cards for a reason.

  • His gratitude is anchored in the grace of God. This is not God paying David for services rendered, and David knows it.
  • He thanks him for favors past, present and future.
  • He thanks him for favors not only for himself, but for all those for whom he has responsibility - his people.

Is it not the case that our greatest blessings come not from our own labors, but from the hand of God? Mine certainly do.

The glory of God

All this is done for the glory of God. God's glory, eternal, constantly in harmony with his will, is the focus of this prayer. God is glorified here in

  • His word - which is true.
  • His will - which is perfect
  • His name - which is holy.

So I end with some questions for you:

  • Who's making the plans for your life - you, or God?
  • Are you claiming the promises God has made to you? Are you relying on him to deliver?
  • As he does, do you go to him in prayer, thankful and giving glory to his name?

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