2 Samuel 7:1-17
(sermon note: 10-25 Sermon note)
(watch here: https://youtu.be/jZSO8nfSlHE)
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the 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.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: “Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I 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. Wherever 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?’ Now 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; and 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. And 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, from 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. When 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. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.” In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
This morning’s reading reminds me of the one about a man who spoke to each of his three sons when he sent them to college. He said, “I feel it’s my duty to provide you with the best possible education, and you do not owe me anything for that. However, I want you to appreciate it. So as a gesture of appreciation, I want each of you to promise to put $1,000 into my coffin when I die.” And so it happened. With the help of their solid education, his sons became a doctor, a financial planner, and a lawyer, each successful financially. When their father died and they saw him in the coffin, they remembered their promise. First, the doctor stacked ten crisp $100 bills onto the chest of the deceased. Next, the financial planner placed $1,000 there in twenty crisp $50 bills. Finally, it was the heartbroken lawyer’s turn. He slowly reached into his pocket, pulled out his checkbook, wrote a check for $3,000, put it into his father’s coffin, and took the $2,000 cash.
Well, you can’t fault the lawyer for not keeping his promise! The good old “check-in-the-coffin” solution…there’s always someone gutsy enough to try and pull off such a stunt over an unsettled debt. Or to keep a promise as that lawyer was bound to keep. Just another smarmy lawyer joke…you’d think I didn’t have much respect for lawyers from all the smarmy lawyer jokes I’ve lifted up! Well, I know not all lawyers are smarmy. In fact, most lawyers are decent, justice-minded folks. My own dad is one of those folks. He’s spent a lifetime defending people, good and bad, not necessarily focused on making a quick buck off the bad decisions of others. He genuinely wants to help people and see that justice is served. But boy, those lawyers who take advantage of the system and people within the system sure have painted the profession in a bad light!
In our reading for this morning, we hear of another important covenant God makes with one of his beloved servants. By now in the biblical narrative, we’ve heard God make a few other covenants: one with Noah never to try and destroy all that lives of non-aquatic living things with a flood and one with Abraham to make him the “father of many nations.” Along came another key character in the biblical narrative, David, with whom God makes another covenant or promise: “your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.” It’s a particularly important covenant for a couple of reasons. Not only did it establish a never-ending legacy for David but it served as the backdrop for the authority of Jesus. Recall in looking at the long lineage of Jesus that he directly descended from David. Though his situation as a carpenter’s son didn’t suggest it, Jesus came from royal blood and thus deserved to be seated on the throne. He was of David’s kin! His kingship was predestined! Of course, the unending reign of David ends with Jesus, the one true, eternal king that forever sits on that throne. But David’s covenant with God is an important covenant among the biblical covenants.
And not just because it established the never-ending legacy of David and the authority of Jesus. Unlike the covenants with Abraham and Noah, God’s covenant with David was both a conditional and an unconditional covenant. Yes, David’s descendants would reign forever but only certain descendants for certain times. Not all of his descendants would reign…nor should they! Some of his descendants were wicked, unfit to reign over anyone. David’s only grandsons, Jeroboam and Rehoboam, were wicked men who fought and divided David’s kingdom. Not all of David’s descendants deserved to reign and God considered this in making his covenant with David. In 1 Kings, we hear God say to David, “if your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.” (2:4) Only heirs committed to loving and serving God with all their hearts and souls would qualify to fulfill the covenant. Again, we hear God a little later in 1 Kings say, “There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.” (8:25) God uses only the worthy to fulfill his promise to David.
On the one hand, God’s conditions to his covenant can seem like a clever lawyer slipping a check in the coffin to keep a promise. But is that the way our God operates: cleverly? Perhaps his conditions to the covenant are meant for our own good instead. After all, a wicked ruler benefits no one. No, only a humble, God-fearing ruler stands to benefit those beneath them. They serve their people in the way that Jesus served us. Only the righteous can adequately fulfill God’s covenant and God knew this. Friends, we’d be foolish to think that God doesn’t keep his promises or that He keeps them through clever means. No, God delights in keeping his promises! God eagerly wants to keep his promises! And He only wants to keep them if they stand to benefit us.
This is the God we know and love! Recall the wisdom of Deuteronomy that says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” (7:9) God is faithful to those who are faithful to him. God loves those who love him, plain and simple. In 1 Thessalonians we hear Paul proclaim, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.” (5:24). Our God is faithful and committed to keeping his promises at all times! Don’t think He’s kept a promise to you? Pray on it again. 2 Peter says, “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” (3:9) God is not only faithful and committed to keeping his promises, He’s patient in keeping them. Be assured that God doesn’t make promises He can’t or won’t keep.
God’s covenant with David was important for a number of reasons. It established David’s legacy and Jesus’ authority as well as revealed just how serious He takes his promises. Sometimes He sets conditions on his promises but only to ensure that they’re kept. God loves keeping his promises. Heck, He loves you and me! Let us give thanks for his covenants and the seriousness of which He keeps them. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.