This chapter contains the first mention of a permanent temple for God.
2 Samuel 7 (NRSV)
God’s Covenant with David
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”
3Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
So David told Nathan that he wanted to build a temple to replace the tabernacle. When Israel was in the wilderness more than 400 years before this, God commanded Moses to build a tent of meeting according to a specific pattern (Exodus 25:8-9). God never asked for a permanent building to replace the tent, but now David wanted to do this for God.
The tent of meeting — also known as the tabernacle — was perfectly suited to Israel in the wilderness because they constantly moved. Now that Israel was securely in the land and the ark of the covenant was in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17), David thought it would be better and more appropriate to build a temple to replace the tabernacle.
The two men agreed that it’s a great idea. But no one thought to ask God for His opinion!
4But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in?
David’s desire was commendable, but his gift and mission were to fight the Lord’s battles until Israel was securely at rest in the promised land.
–from the NIV Study Bible
6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”
8Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies.
Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.
In a beautiful play on words God says that David is not to build him a house (temple); rather, God will build David a house (royal dynasty) that will last forever.
–from the NIV Study Bible
12When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.
The Lord refuses David’s offer, and instead says that one of David’s sons will build the temple for the Lord. We learn the reason for God’s decision in 1 Chronicles 22:8-10:
But this word of the LORD came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’
When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
17In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
David’s prayer expresses wonder that God would make such commitments to him and his descendants. But he also acknowledges that what God has pledged to him is for Israel’s sake, that its purpose is the fulfillment of God’s covenanted promises to his people—and that its ultimate effect will be the honor and praise of God throughout the world.
–from the NIV Study Bible
18Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people, O Lord God!
20“And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it.
22“Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23Who is like your people, like Israel? Is there another nation on earth whose God went to redeem it as a people, and to make a name for himself, doing great and awesome things for them, by driving out before his people nations and their gods? 24And you established your people Israel for yourself to be your people forever; and you, O Lord, became their God.
25“And now, O Lord God, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, confirm it forever; do as you have promised. 26Thus your name will be magnified forever in the saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and the house of your servant David will be established before you.
27“For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true,
and you have promised this good thing to your servant; 29now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”
David learned that God didn’t want him to build the temple, but David didn’t respond by doing nothing. According to 1 Chronicles 29:2-9, David gathered all the materials for building the temple so that Solomon could build a glorious house for God.
David boldly prays that, even though he cannot do what he wants, that the Lord will do just what the Lord has promised. As the psalmist wrote in Psalm 138:8 —The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.
HERE is “You Are Holy (Prince of Peace).”
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.