Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD remaineth under curtains.
In the Chronicle, as in 2 Samuel 7, the account of the removal of the ark to the city of David is immediately followed by the narrative of David's design to build a temple to the Lord; and this arrangement is adopted on account of the connection between the subjects, though the events must have been separated by a period of several years. Our account of this design of David's, with its results for him and for his kingdom, is in all essential points identical with the parallel account, so that we may refer to the commentary on 2 Samuel 7 for any necessary explanation of the matter. The difference between the two narratives are in great part of a merely formal kind; the author of the Chronicle having sought to make the narrative more intelligible to his contemporaries, partly by using later phrases current in his own time, such as אלהים for יהוה, מלכוּת for ממלכה, partly by simplifying and explaining the bolder and more obscure expressions. Very seldom do we find divergences in the subject-matter which alter the meaning or make it appear to be different. To supplement and complete the commentary already given in 2nd Samuel, we will now shortly treat of these divergences. In 1 Chronicles 17:1, the statement that David communicated his purpose to build a temple to the Lord to the prophet Nathan, "when Jahve had given him rest from all his enemies round about," is wanting. This clause, which fixes the time, has been omitted by the chronicler to avoid the apparent contradiction which would have arisen in case the narrative were taken chronologically, seeing that the greatest of David's wars, those against the Philistines, Syrians, and Ammonites, are narrated only in the succeeding chapter. As to this, cf. the discussion on 2 Samuel 7:1-3.
Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee.
And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying,
Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not build me an house to dwell in:
For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another.
Wheresoever I have walked with all Israel, spake I a word to any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people, saying, Why have ye not built me an house of cedars?
Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, even from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be ruler over my people Israel:
And I have been with thee whithersoever thou hast walked, and have cut off all thine enemies from before thee, and have made thee a name like the name of the great men that are in the earth.
Also I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, and they shall dwell in their place, and shall be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more, as at the beginning,
And since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel. Moreover I will subdue all thine enemies. Furthermore I tell thee that the LORD will build thee an house.
In 1 Chronicles 17:10, וּלמיּמים, like וּלמן־היּום (2 Samuel 7:11), is to be connected with the preceding בּראשׁונה in this sense: "As in the beginning (i.e., during the sojourn in Egypt), and onward from the days when I appointed judges," i.e., during the time of the judges. למן is only a more emphatic expression for מן, to mark off the time from the beginning as it were (cf. Ew. 218, b), and is wrongly translated by Berth. "until the days." In the same verse, והכנעתּי, "I bow, humble all thine enemies," substantially the same as the והניחתי, "I give thee peace from all thine enemies" (Sam.); and the suffix in אויביך is not to be altered, as Berth. proposes, into that of the third person אויביו, either in the Chronicle or in Samuel, for it is quite correct; the divine promise returning at the conclusion to David direct, as in the beginning, 1 Chronicles 17:7 and 1 Chronicles 17:8, while that which is said of the people of Israel in 1 Chronicles 17:9 and 1 Chronicles 17:10 is only an extension of the words, "I will destroy all thine enemies before thee" (1 Chronicles 17:8).
And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.
In 1 Chronicles 17:11, עם־אבתיך ללכת, "to go with thy fathers," used of going the way of death, is similar to "to go the way of all the world" (1 Kings 2:2), and is more primitive than the more usual אבות עם שׁכב (2 Samuel 7:12). מבּניך יהיה עשׁר, too, is neither to be altered to suit ממּעיך יצא אשׁר of Samuel; nor can we consider it, with Berth., an alteration made by the author of the Chronicle to get rid of the difficulty, that here the birth of Solomon is only promised, while Nathan's speech was made at a time when David had rest from all his enemies round about (2 Samuel 8:1), i.e., as is usually supposed, in the latest years of his life, and consequently after Solomon's birth. For the difficulty had already been got rid of by the omission of those words in 1 Chronicles 17:1; and the word, "I have cut off all thine enemies from before thee" (1 Chronicles 17:8), does not necessarily involve the destruction of all the enemies who ever rose against David, but refers, as the connection shows, only to the enemies who up till that time had attacked him. Had the author of the Chronicle only wished to get rid of this supposed difficulty, he would simply have omitted the clause, since "they seed" included the sons of David, and needed no explanation if nothing further was meant than that one of his sons would ascend the throne after him. And moreover, the thought, "thy seed, which shall be among thy sons," which Bertheau finds in the words, would be expressed in Hebrew by מבּניך אשׁר, while מבּניך יהיה אשׁר signifies, "who will come out of (from) thy sons;" for מן היה does not denote to be of one, i.e., to belong to him, but to arise, be born, or go forth, from one: cf. Ben. 1 Chronicles 17:16; Ecclesiastes 3:20. According to this, the linguistically correct translation, the words cannot be referred to Solomon at all, because Solomon was not a descendant of David's sons, but of David himself.
(Note: As old Lavater has correctly remarked: Si tantum de Salomone hic locus accipiendus esset, non dixisset: semen quod erit de filiis tuis, sed quod erit de te.)
The author of the Chronicle has interpreted אחריך את־זרעך theologically, or rather set forth the Messianic contents of this conception more clearly than it was expressed in ממּעיך יצא אשׁר. The seed after David, which will arise from his sons, is the Messiah, whom the prophets announced as the Son of David, whose throne God will establish for ever (1 Chronicles 17:12). This Messianic interpretation of David's זרע explains the divergence of the chronicler's text in 1 Chronicles 17:13 and 1 Chronicles 17:14 from 2 Samuel 7:14-16. For instance, the omission of the words after בּן in 2 Samuel 7:13, "If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men" (2 Samuel 7:14), is the result of the Messianic interpretation of זרעך, since the reference to the chastisement would of course be important for the earthly sons of David and the kings of Judah, but could not well find place in the case of the Messiah. The only thing said of this son of David is, that God will not withdraw His grace from him.
The case is exactly similar, with the difference between 2 Samuel 7:14 and 2 Samuel 7:16. Instead of the words, "And thy house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee, thy throne shall be established for ever" (Sam.), the promise runs thus in the Chronicle: "And I will settle (העמיד, cause to stand, maintain, 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Chronicles 9:8) him (the seed arising from thy sons) in my house and in my kingdom for ever, and his throne shall be established for evermore." While these concluding words of the promise are, in the narrative in Samuel, spoken to David, promising to him the eternal establishment of his house, his kingdom, and his throne, in the Chronicle they are referred to the seed of David, i.e., the Messiah, and promise to Him His establishment for ever in the house and kingdom of God, and the duration of His throne for ever. That בּיתי here does not signify the congregation of the Lord, the people of Israel, as Berth. thinks it must be translated, is clear as the sun; for בּית, immediately preceding, denotes the temple of Jahve, and בּיתי manifestly refers back to לי בּית (1 Chronicles 17:12), while such a designation of the congregation of Israel or of the people as "house of Jahve" is unheard of in the Old Testament. The house of Jahve stands in the same relation to the kingdom of Jahve as a king's palace to his kingdom. The house which David's seed will build to the Lord is the house of the Lord in his kingdom: in this house and kingdom the Lord will establish Him for ever; His kingdom shall never cease; His rule shall never be extinguished; and He himself, consequently, shall live for ever. It scarcely need be said that such things can be spoken only of the Messiah. The words are therefore merely a further development of the saying, "I will be to him a Father, and I will not take my mercy away from him, and will establish his kingdom for ever," and tell us clearly and definitely what is implicitly contained in the promise, that David's house, kingdom, and throne will endure for ever (Sam.), viz., that the house and kingdom of David will be established for ever only under the Messiah. That this interpretation is correct is proved by the fact that the divergences of the text of the chronicler from the parallel narrative cannot otherwise be explained; Thenius and Berth. not having made even an attempt to show how בּבּיתי והעמדתּיהוּ could have arisen out of בּיתך ונאמן. The other differences between the texts in the verses in question, לי (Chron.) for לשׁמי, את־כּסאו for ממלכתּו כּסּא את (1 Chronicles 17:12, cf. 2 Samuel 7:13), and לפניך היה מאשׁר instead of וגו אשׁר שׁאוּל מעם (1 Chronicles 17:13, cf. 2 Samuel 7:15), are only variations in expression which do not affect the sense. With reference to the last of them, indeed, Berth. has declared against Thenius, that the chronicler's text is thoroughly natural, and bears marks of being more authentic than that of 2 Samuel 7.
In the prayer of thanksgiving contained in 1 Chronicles 17:16 to 27 we meet with the following divergences from the parallel text, which are of importance for their effect on the sense.
He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.
I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee:
But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.
According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.
And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O LORD God.
Instead of the words האדם תּורת וזאת (2 Samuel 7:19), the Chronicle has המּעלה האדם כּתור וּראיתני, and sawest me (or, that thou sawest me) after the manner of men; תּור being a contraction of תּורה equals תּורה. ראה, to see, may denote to visit (cf. 2 Samuel 13:5; 2 Kings 8:29), or look upon in the sense of regard, respicere. But the word המּעלה remains obscure in any case, for elsewhere it occurs only as a substantive, in the significations, "the act of going up" (or drawing up) (Ezra 7:9), "that which goes up" (Ezekiel 11:5), "the step;" while for the signification "height" (locus superior) only this passage is adduced by Gesenius in Thes. But even had the word this signification, the word המּעלה could not signify in loco excelso equals in coelis in its present connection; and further, even were this possible, the translation et me intuitus es more hominum in coelis gives no tolerable sense. But neither can המעלה be the vocative of address, and a predicate of God, "Thou height, Jahve God," as Hgstb. Christol. i. p. 378 trans., takes it, with many older commentators. The passage Psalm 92:9, "Thou art מרום, height, sublimity for ever, Jahve," is not sufficient to prove that in our verse המּעלה is predicated of God. Without doubt, המּעלה should go with וגו ראיתני, and appears to correspond to the למרחוק of the preceding clause, in the signification: as regards the elevation, in reference to the going upwards, i.e., the exaltation of my race (seed) on high. The thought would then be this: After the manner of men, so condescendingly and graciously, as men have intercourse with each other, hast Thou looked upon or visited me in reference to the elevation of myself or my race, - the text of the Chronicle giving an explanation of the parallel narrative.
(Note: This interpretation of this extremely difficult word corresponds in sense to the not less obscure words in 2nd Samuel, and gives us, with any alteration of the text, a more fitting thought than the alterations in the reading proposed by the moderns. Ewald and Berth. would alter וראיתני into והראיתני (hiph.), and המעלה into למעלה, in order to get the meaning, "Thou hast caused me to see like the series of men upwards," i.e., the line of men who stretch from David outward into the far future in unbroken series, which Thenius rightly calls a thoroughly modern idea. Bttcher's attempt at explanation is much more artificial. He proposes, in N. k. Aehrenlese, iii. S. 225, to read למעלה...וּראיתני, and translates: "so that I saw myself, as the series of men who follow upwards shall see me, i.e., so that I could see myself as posterity will see me, at the head of a continuous family of rulers:" where the main idea has to be supplied.)
The divergence in 1 Chronicles 17:18, את־עבדּך לכבוד אליך instead of אליך לדבּר (2 Samuel 7:20), which cannot be an explanation or interpretation of Samuel's text, is less difficult of explanation. The words in Samuel, "What can David say more unto Thee?" have in this connection the very easily understood signification, What more can I say of the promise given me? and needed no explanation. When, instead of this, we read in the Chronicle, "What more can Thy servant add to Thee in regard to the honour to Thy servant?" an unprejudiced criticism must hold this text for the original, because it is the more difficult. It is the more difficult, not only on account of the omission of לדבּר, which indeed is not absolutely necessary, though serving to explain יוסיף, but mainly on account of the unusual construction of the nomen כבוד with את־עבדּך, honour towards Thy servant. The construction יהוה את דּעה is not quite analogous, for כבוד is not a nomen actionis like דּעה; את־ כבד is rather connected with the practice which begins to obtain in the later language of employing את as a general casus obliquus, instead of any more definite preposition (Ew. 277, d, S. 683f., der 7 Aufl.), and is to be translated: "honour concerning Thy servant." The assertion that את־עבדּך is to be erased as a later gloss which has crept into the text, cuts the knots, but does not untie them. That the lxx have not these words, only proves that these translators did not know what to make of them, and so just omitted them, as they have omitted the first clause of 1 Chronicles 17:19. In 1 Chronicles 17:19 also there is no valid ground for altering the עבדּך בּעבוּר of the Chronicle to make it correspond to דּברך בּעבוּר in Samuel; for the words, "for Thy servant's sake," i.e., because Thou hast chosen Thy servant, give a quite suitable sense; cf. the discussion on 2 Samuel 7:21. In the second half of the verse, however, the more extended phrases of 2nd Samuel are greatly contracted.
What can David speak more to thee for the honour of thy servant? for thou knowest thy servant.
O LORD, for thy servant's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all this greatness, in making known all these great things.
O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy people, whom thou hast redeemed out of Egypt?
The combining of ונוראות גּדלּות with שׁם לך לשׂוּם as one sentence, "to make Thee a name with great and fearful deeds," is made clearer in 2nd Samuel by the interpolation of לכם ולעשׂות, "and for you doing great and fearful things." This explanation, however, does not justify us in supposing that ולעשׂות has been dropped out of the Chronicle. The words ונוראות גּדלּות are either to be subordinated in a loose connection to the clause, to define the way in which God has made Himself a name (cf. Ew. 283), or connected with שׂוּם in a pregnant sense: "to make Thee a name, (doing) great and fearful things." But, on the other hand, the converse expression in Samuel, "fearful things for Thy land, before Thy people which Thou redeemedst to Thee from Egypt (from) the nations and their gods," is explained in Chronicles by the interpolation of לגרשׁ: "fearful things, to drive out before Thy people, which ... nations." The divergences cannot be explained by the hypothesis that both texts are mutilated, as is sufficiently shown by the contradictions into which Thenius and Bertheau have fallen in their attempts so to explain them.
All the remaining divergences of one text from the other are only variations of the expression, such as involuntarily arise in the endeavour to give a clear and intelligible narrative, without making a literal copy of the authority made use of. Among these we include even להתפּלּל עבדּך מצא, "Thy servant hath found to pray" (1 Chr. , as compared with להתפּלּל את־לבּו עבדּך מצא, "Thy servant hath found his heart," i.e., found courage, to pray (2 Samuel 7:28); where it is impossible to decide whether the author of the books of Samuel has added את־לבּו as an explanation, or the author of the Chronicle has omitted it because the phrase "to find his heart" occurs only in this single passage of the Old Testament. להת עבדּך מצא signifies, Thy servant has reached the point of directing this prayer to Thee.
For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, LORD, becamest their God.
Therefore now, LORD, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house be established for ever, and do as thou hast said.
Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee.
For thou, O my God, hast told thy servant that thou wilt build him an house: therefore thy servant hath found in his heart to pray before thee.
And now, LORD, thou art God, and hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:
Now therefore let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may be before thee for ever: for thou blessest, O LORD, and it shall be blessed for ever.