David’s Greater Son

2 Samuel

Now that Israel has been given some degree of security and resides in its permanent land, and that the tabernacle and its furniture are settled in a central place, David felt that giving a settled place for the practice of worship would be congruent with the present condition of the people of God. God’s glory should be reflected with a structure fitting the greatness of Yahweh.


I. David Sought to correct a seeming incongruity.

A. David observed the striking difference between his dwelling, recently built by Hiram of Tyre (5:11) and the housing of the ark.

  1. He implied that he should undertake the construction of something magnificent for the ark, the place that God designated as his presence. What David refers to as “tent curtains” in the place within the Tabernacle designated for the ark. The description of it construction is in Exodus 37-40, and the glory of the Lord filled it (Exodus 40:34-38).
  2. After the Babylonian exile, the people built grand houses for themselves but did not attend to building and restoring the house of the Lord that had been destroyed (Haggai 1:1-9).
  3. David’s desire was not illegitimate, for the tabernacle had been, and the temple would be, a type of the incarnation. In Christ, God himself would tabernacle among men (John 1:14). His desire was pure and eventually would be realized (1 Chronicles 28:2).

B. Nathan consented to it. Nathan discerned that the motives of David were pure and honored the reality that the Lord had chosen Israel and had made his presence known among them.


II. God corrected David through Nathan (verses 5-17). It was important for Nathan to bring this correction to David, for it was followed by good news. Later he would be called upon to give a correction followed by bad news (2 Samuel 12:1-15). He also would be a part of informing David of Adonijah’s attempt to usurp the throne (1 Kings 1:22-27).

A. The question is posed, “Are you the one who should build me a house to dwell in?”

  1. Even though prompted by good motives, in such a matter as this, David should not assume that he would perform this work. Only the one specifically designated by God should do this in light of its importance in the continued revelation of God concerning the ultimate presence, ultimate sacrifice, and ultimate manifestation of glory in the incarnation.
  2. First Chronicles 28:3 reveals that David was not to do this for he had shed blood and was a man of war.

B. God reminded David that the ark itself had been designed as a mobile unit and was housed in a tent made to be deconstructed and transported from place to place. Refer again to Exodus 40: 36-38. “The cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

C. He had given no command for a permanent housing during the time of the Judges. God had given specific instruction about the construction of the Tabernacle, and the location of every piece of furniture in it. He had given no further instructions. The Tabernacle had been at Shiloh since the arrival of the Jews in the promised land (Judges 18:31; 21:19; 1 Samuel 1:3; 3:3).

D. When David brought back the ark, it is naturally to be assumed that he brought from Shiloh the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 16:1; 2 Samuel 6:17; 1 Kings 8:4, where Solomon brings the ark as well as the Tabernacle and its furnishings to the newly constructed temple).


III. God reveals what he will do for David.

A. God reminds David of what already has been given to him (8, 9).

  1. God took David from an extremity of insignificance in Israel to the highest place in the nation. He was the youngest of his brothers, he was “following sheep,” and now God has made him ruler, supreme leader, of a nation. Even so, the chosen of God are raised from death to life and made kings and priests (Ephesians 2:1; Revelation 1:5, 6)
  2. God had been with him in all the permutations of his relationship with Saul, Jonathan, Abner, and Ish-bosheth. Perhaps it was not always easily seen during moments of danger, isolation, flight among the enemies of God, and treachery all around him, but God was with him “wherever you have gone.” Divine providence operates secretly and within the framework of earthly developments, but surely and according to eternal decree.

B. God tells David what is yet to do.

  1. He will give him a name. Now, instead of the anonymous shepherd, David, even in earthly relations will have a great name, feared and revered among that nations surrounding Israel. David sang, “You have kept me as the head of the nations. A people I have not known shall serve me. The foreigners submit to me. As soon as they hear, they obey me.” (2 Samuel 22:44, 45). David’s last words are introduced this way: “Thus says David the son of Jesse; Thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel.” ((2 Samuel 23 1).
  2. He will secure for Israel a place. (See 1 Kings 1:8), What Saul had begun, David brought to culmination in defeating and subduing the enemies of Israel. David fought successfully until his age and weakness did not permit his engagement in battle (2 Samuel 21:15-17). After that his mighty men continued winning battles (21:18-22:1).
  3. He will establish a condition of peace and rest. For example, see 1 Chronicles 19:19: “And when the servants of Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with David and become his servants.”
  4. David’s posterity will build a house and God will establish his kingdom forever (verses 13 and 16). First Kings 2: 12 says, upon the death of David, “Then Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.”
  • David collected all the material including enormous contributions from his own estate (1 Chronicles 28 – See especially verse 19 “All this the Lord made me understand in writing, by his hand upon me, all the works of these plans.”– 29:1-9 – See verse 3, “Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver.”)
  • The ultimate fulfillment is found in Christ, descended from David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3) and enthroned with all things under his feet (Ephesians 1:20-23; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 11:15).


IV. David responds to these covenantal arrangements.

A. He probably went into the tent and sat before the ark of the covenant (verse 18). No matter how restricted the physical surrounding—even a dungeon or the belly of a whale—the realization of the immensity of the presence of God eliminates all sense of limitation. No matter how ornate the physical surrounding, how splendid the plan and the execution for a dwelling, none of these could transcend the pleasure of sensing the uncreated and infinite glory of dwelling in the presence of the triune God. David’s encouragement and confidence came from an awareness of the presence of God himself: “I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells “ (Psalm 26: 6-8).

B. He recognized that he had nothing intrinsically worthy of any of these promised blessings on him and his house. Psalm 131 begins, “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother.”

C. “You have spoken also of the house of your servant concerning the distant future.” David knew that he was lifted up only by the decree and the present power and grace of God. He knew that his house would, like the incarnation of the Son of God himself, tie the temporal to the eternal and the infinite to the finite in the eternal reign of the Messiah over all things.

D. David reflected on the greatness of God.

  1. David knew of the divine exclusivity. There was no God but the Lord God before whom David at that moment sat, enjoying his gracious presence and meditating on the extent of his promises.
  2. He reflected on the reality of election (verses 23, 24). “What one nation on the earth is like your people Israel whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for himself.”
  3. With an even greater sense of the divine prerogative, David prayed for the fulfillment of the revelation. He reiterated that his prayer arose from revelation: “The word you have spoken:” “do as you have spoken;” “You . . . have made a revelation;” “You are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.”
  4. From the depths of revealed truth, David found courage to pray for the fulfillment of the promises made by God according to his eternal decree based on his inexhaustible wisdom (verse 27).
  5. Our prayers are most worshipful and most effectual when they are filled with the promises of God, in acknowledgement of his sovereignty, and applied fittingly.
Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
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