The Davidic Covenant – 2 Samuel 7

Read the Passage: 2 Samuel 7

David’s Desire (7:1–3)

As this chapter begins, David is in his mid-to-late 30s, he’d recently become king over a united Israel (2 Sam. 5:1–5), he’d conquered what would become his capital city (2 Sam. 5:6–16), he’d defeated the Philistines (2 Sam. 5:17–25), and he’d relocated the ark of God to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6)—albeit with some difficulty. Needless to say, David was experiencing the favor of God upon his life. Indeed, David was a blessed man, and he was aware of this fact, for 2 Sam. 5:12 reports, “So David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.” Perhaps it was in light of his awareness of God’s personal blessings that David purposed in his heart to build a more permanent dwelling place for the ark of God, which he had just relocated to his capital city.

2 Samuel 7:2 reports that David said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” Unlike the details of the later construction of Solomon’s palace complex, which took 13 years to build (1 Kings 7:1), we know very little about David’s house or its construction. At 2 Sam. 5:11 we are simply told that workmen from Tyre “built David a house.” While it may not have been ostentatious, David’s house was surely an improvement over the tents in which he’d slept in the wilderness as he tended sheep and later as he fled from King Saul. Quite naturally, then, since David had moved from a temporary tent to a more permanent house, so he desired the same for the Lord. Nathan’s response to David idea was, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you” (2 Sam. 7:3).

God’s Response (7:4–17)

If we did not have God’s response to David in 2 Sam. 7:4–17, we might assume that David proceeded to construct the Temple with the Lord’s blessing. However, 2 Sam. 7:4 reports that God appeared to the prophet Nathan that very evening and redirected David’s plans and thoughts. While David would later be allowed to prepare the materials for the construction of the Temple, Solomon would be the one whom God would allow to build Him a house. In 2 Sam. 7:5–10 God recounted His history with Israel. Since the ark of God had just been brought to Jerusalem, perhaps David was thinking that he’d brought God into Israel’s capital, therefore God needed a house. Yet, God declared, “I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt” (2 Sam. 7:6). In other words, God was the one who carried Israel out of Egypt, not vice-versa.

2 Samuel 7:11–17 reports that God’s redirection of David extended beyond just prohibiting David from building the Temple. In an amazing outpouring of God’s grace, Nathan informed David, “Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house. . . . Your house and your kingdom shall be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:11, 15). How ironic it was that David desired to build God a house, but was prohibited from doing so; yet, God declared He would build David a house, and could not be prevented from doing so! This passage is the heart of the Davidic Covenant. Note that many later biblical passages look back to this narrative (see, for example, Psalm 89). In fact, on his deathbed, David reminisce about these events, saying, “God has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure” (2 Sam. 23:5).

David’s Thanksgiving (7:18–29)

Given David’s seemingly altruistic desire to build God a house, and God’s thwarting of his plans, we might expect David to have been disappointed in or even angry with God. Yet, in 2 Sam. 7:18–24 David’s response to God’s denial and re-direction of his plans is one of awe, unworthiness, and thanksgiving. Indeed, rather than protesting God’s plans, David praises God’s character. Clearly, David realized that it is always better to follow God’s revealed will than to attempt to get God to bless our wills. In this passage David praises God for His present sustenance (2 Sam. 7:18), His future promises (2 Sam. 7:19–20), His revelation (2 Sam. 7:21–22), and His salvation (2 Sam. 7:23–24). Further, note that David refers to himself as “your servant” some ten times between 2 Sam. 7:19–29. Note that it is not until 1 Chron. 22:8; 28:3 that God gave a reason why David could not build.

Application Questions:

  1. How would you define a biblical covenant? How do covenants differ from contracts? What are some of the more important covenants recorded in the Bible?
  2. In light of the narrative of David’s life prior to this chapter, how has God been preparing David to receive this covenant?
  3. What does David mean in later writing, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Does God always grant our desires?
  4. Have you ever tried to convince God that your will is better than His will? How can we know the will of God? How can we keep the will of God?
  5. Do you think God’s not allowing David to construct the Temple caused him any disappointment? How well do you handle disappointment?