The early years of David’s reign in Jerusalem were characterised by warfare against a range of opponents. Battles were necessary in order to establish his authority and to secure his kingdom from external threats. Eventually a measure of security was achieved – ‘the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him’ (2 Samuel 7:1). He has time to think of other, deeper issues, such as the provision of a suitable resting place for the ark. In The Bible’s Covenant Story, we consider 8. 2 Samuel 7:1-17 God’s Covenant with David
1. The Lord rejects a plan
The ark of the covenant – the symbol of the Lord’s presence with his people – sits in a tent, the tabernacle. David wants to build a temple to house the ark that will be worthy of the Lord. Here is a mark of David’s spiritual mindedness, showing himself to be ‘a man after my own heart’ (Acts 13:22). It is a laudable aim, but it is not God’s will for David: ‘because you have shed much blood’ (1 Chronicles 22:8). The defensive wars were necessary, but it is not yet time for this decisive step regarding a temple. God also has a greater plan relating to his eternal covenant.
2. The Lord makes a covenant
This is a renewal of the Covenant of Grace with David – not Psalm 89:3 ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one’ (a poetic version of 2 Samuel 7). The Lord promises he will be God to David and his descendants. Instead of David building a house for the Lord, ‘the Lord himself will establish a house for you’ (v11). A line of descendants will occupy the throne, beginning with Solomon. He acknowledges this in 1 Kings 8:15-20. It will be a warm covenant relationship – ‘I will be his father’ (v14). A response of obedience is required. Though Solomon did stray gravely, the love of the Lord remains and overcomes.
3. The Lord provides a king
What is the relevance of this to us? The covenant promises were not fulfilled in any earthly king – all were imperfect, yet the Lord said, ‘your throne shall be established for ever’ (v16). This points to a future eternal king and is fulfilled in the incarnate Son of God (Acts 2:30-31; Luke 1:32-33). The Messiah is the ‘seed’ of David (v12). He fulfils the promise of an eternal king and enters upon his reign through his death on behalf of his people (Philippians 2:8-9). He reigns so that his people will enjoy all blessings of the covenant, to the glory of his name.
4. The Lord builds a house
More is involved in the covenant promise, all linked to the person and work of Christ. The temple was built by Solomon (v13), but it too is to be eternal (v16, 1 Kings 8:13). The temple symbolised the Lord’s presence among his people and is fulfilled in ‘Immanuel’ (Isaiah 7:14). Christ spoke of his body as a temple (John 2:19) – God present in a unique way. The final step in fulfilment is the building of the church, united to Christ crucified and risen (Ephesians 2:21). It is a holy place where covenant obedience is rendered to the Lord by his grace.