2 Samuel 7:7
In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spoke I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build you not me an house of cedar?
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(7) The tribes.—In the parallel place, 1Chronicles 17:6, the word is “judges,” the difference in Hebrew being only of a single similar letter. But a like use of “tribes” for the judges sprung from them may be found in Psalm 78:67-68; 1Chronicles 28:4.

2 Samuel 7:7. The tribes of Israel whom I commanded to feed my people Israel — The word tribes seems here to be put for judges, appointed to govern the tribes. Indeed, the Hebrew word שׁבשׂי, shibtee, here rendered tribes, signifies also sceptres, and, consequently, supreme governors or rulers; such as the judges were, who had the supreme authority in Israel. Saying, Why build ye not me a house of cedar? — God was the most proper judge what house was agreeable to him, and he never signified that he disliked his present, and desired a more stately habitation. Though God was pleased to give Moses directions for erecting the tabernacle, and afterward appointed Solomon to build him a more magnificent temple; yet this was done only with respect to, and as suitable to men, and not in regard of, or as any way suitable to himself. And the Scripture has taken great care to inculcate on us, that the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, Acts 7:4. Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things, Acts 17:24. And this is perhaps peculiar to the pure religion of the Scriptures; for if we attentively examine them, we shall find in all other religions something in the principle of them, as if the worship of God was founded on his needing something. And among most of them we find a meanness of thought, as if temples were something to the Deity himself; and not, as the Scriptures rightly describe them to be, as witnesses only to men, that God concerns himself with the inhabitants of the earth, and will hearken to their prayers. Thus we find St. Stephen, in the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 7:4,) calling the tabernacle, which Moses was ordered to make, The tabernacle of witness. And the Spirit of God put such a prayer into the heart and mouth of Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, as may sufficiently instruct us in what light the Holy Scriptures consider temples of any kind, namely, as concerning and having respect to men only, and as being nothing to God himself. But will God indeed (says Solomon) dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven, and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have builded? And the Scriptures everywhere represent God as the maker of the world and all things therein, as the supreme Lord of heaven and earth, as having the whole heavens for his throne, and the earth for his footstool; and therefore needing or requiring no worship from men, but as it is conducive to their welfare and happiness. 7:4-17 Blessings are promised to the family and posterity of David. These promises relate to Solomon, David's immediate successor, and the royal line of Judah. But they also relate to Christ, who is often called David and the Son of David. To him God gave all power in heaven and earth, with authority to execute judgment. He was to build the gospel temple, a house for God's name; the spiritual temple of true believers, to be a habitation of God through the Spirit. The establishing of his house, his throne, and his kingdom for ever, can be applied to no other than to Christ and his kingdom: David's house and kingdom long since came to an end. The committing iniquity cannot be applied to the Messiah himself, but to his spiritual seed; true believers have infirmities, for which they must expect to be corrected, though they are not cast off.The tribes of Israel - The duplicate passage reads judges (see margin and compare 2 Samuel 7:11). But a comparison with such passages as Psalm 78:67-68; 1 Kings 8:16; and 1 Chronicles 28:4, favors the reading "tribes," and the phrase is a condensed one, the meaning of which is, that whatever tribe had in times past supplied the ruler of Israel, whether Ephraim in the days of Joshua, or Benjamin in the time of Saul, or Judah in that of David, God had never required any of these tribes to build a house in one of their cities.

An house of cedar - See 1 Kings 7:2-3; 1 Kings 10:17, 1 Kings 10:21; Jeremiah 22:14, Jeremiah 22:23. Beams of cedar marked a costly building. The cedar of Lebanon is a totally different tree from what we improperly call the red or Virginian cedar, which supplies the sweet-scented cedar wood, and is really a kind of juniper. The cedar of Lebanon is a close-grained, light-colored, yellowish wood, with darker knots and veins.

2Sa 7:4-17. God Appoints His Successor to Build It.

4-17. it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan—The command was given to the prophet on the night immediately following; that is, before David could either take any measures or incur any expenses.

Spake I a word? did I ever give any command about it? without which neither they did, nor thou shouldst attempt it.

With any of the tribes: in 1 Chronicles 17:6, it is of the judges; and to them, not to the tribes, the following words agree,

whom I commanded to feed my people Israel. Either therefore the tribes are here put synecdochically for the rulers of the tribes, as the word church is sometimes used for the governors of it; or the word here rendered tribes may be rendered sceptres, as it is used Genesis 49:10, and sceptres put for sceptre-bearers or rulers, as is very frequent. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel,.... See Gill on 2 Samuel 7:6 on the places mentioned there:

spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel; or rather the sceptres of Israel; so the word is rendered, Genesis 49:10; the sceptre bearers, rulers, and governors, whose custom was to carry a sceptre in their hands, as Ben Melech observes; and so in a parallel text, 1 Chronicles 17:6, it is, "to any of the judges of Israel"; any of those from the times of Moses and Joshua to the times of Saul and David, and this is confirmed by what follows:

whom I commanded to feed my people Israel; that is, to rule and govern them, protect and defend them, which cannot be said of the tribes, but of the rulers of them; and the Lord asks this question, whether ever he had said a word to any of those, in all that space of time, expressing anything of this kind:

saying, why build ye not me an house of cedar? they never were bid to do it, or expostulated with why they did not, or ever reproved for not doing it; therefore why should David think of doing it?

In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a {c} word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?

(c) Concerning building a house: meaning without God's express word, nothing should be attempted.

7. with any of the tribes of Israel] 1 Chronicles 17:6 reads judges for tribes, and at first sight this appears to be required by the following words, “whom I commanded,” &c., which seem more applicable to an individual ruler than to a tribe. But the reading “tribes” is supported by the versions, and may be understood of the different tribes which through the Judges and leaders chosen from them successively attained the supremacy, as Ephraim in the time of Joshua, Dan in the days of Samson, Benjamin in the reign of Saul. Compare David’s expression in 1 Chronicles 28:4, “he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler,” and the reference to the choice of the tribe of Judah and the rejection of the tribe of Ephraim in Psalm 78:67-68.

to feed] To tend, as a shepherd tends his sheep. Cp. note on ch. 2 Samuel 5:11.

a house of cedar] Cp. 2 Samuel 7:2. A permanent sanctuary with beams of the most costly timber. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 5:11.Verse 7. - In all the places wherein I have walked; Hebrew, in all wherein I continued walking; that is, in all my walking, in all the whole time wherein I have been a wanderer. Instead of tribes, the Chronicler (1 Chronicles 17:6) reads "judges," the words in the Hebrew being almost identical. "Judges" is, of course, the more easy and natural reading, but "tribes" gives a fuller sense, and is supported by all the versions. For in the troubled anarchy which lasted until Saul's reign, first one tribe and then another was called to the front, and had a temporary ascendancy; but neither did Jehovah give it any command to provide a settled place for his worship, nor did any one of the judges conceive the thought of making his tribe permanently the chief, by providing a fixed abode for the ark and for God's worship within its borders. To feed my people Israel. The shepherd, in biblical language, is the ruler, and to feed is to govern, yet in a kindly way, going in front as the shepherd before his flock, to bear the brunt of danger, to clear the road, and to guide into the safe pastures. So tribe after tribe had been called to bear the brunt of war, and, after winning deliverance, it became its duty to guide and lead the people. In 1 Kings 8:16, 18, 25, and still more remarkably in 1 Chronicles 22:8, 9, we find large additions made to the account here given. It follows that we have in this place only a brief summary of the message brought by Nathan, but one containing all the chief points. When David was dwelling in his house, i.e., the palace of cedar (2 Samuel 5:11), and Jehovah had given him rest from all his enemies round about, he said to Nathan the prophet: "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, and the ark of God dwelleth within the curtains." היריעה in the singular is used, In Exodus 26:2., to denote the inner covering, composed of a number of lengths of tapestry sewn together, which was spread over the planks of the tabernacle, and made it into a dwelling, whereas the separate pieces of tapestry are called יריעת in the plural; and hence, in the later writers, יריעות alternates sometimes with אהל (Isaiah 54:2), and at other times with אהלים (Sol 1:5; Jeremiah 4:20; Jeremiah 49:29). Consequently היריעה refers here to the tent-cloth or tent formed of pieces of tapestry. "Within (i.e., surrounded by) the tent-cloth:" in the Chronicles we find "under curtains." From the words "when the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about," it is evident that David did not form the resolution to build the temple in the first years of his reign upon Zion, nor immediately after the completion of his palace, but at a later period (see the remarks on 2 Samuel 5:11, note). It is true that the giving of rest from all his enemies round about does not definitely presuppose the termination of all the greater wars of David, since it is not affirmed that this rest was a definitive one; but the words cannot possibly be restricted to the two victories over the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:17-25), as Hengstenberg supposes, inasmuch as, however important the second may have been, their foes were not even permanently quieted by them, to say nothing of their being entirely subdued. Moreover, in the promise mentioned in 2 Samuel 7:9, God distinctly says, "I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies before thee." These words also show that at that time David had already fought against all the enemies round about, and humbled them. Now, as all David's principal wars are grouped together for the first time in 2 Samuel 8 and 10, there can be no doubt that the history is not arranged in a strictly chronological order. And the expression "after this" in 2 Samuel 8:1 is by no means at variance with this, since this formula does not at all express a strictly chronological sequence. From the words of the prophet, "Go, do all that is in thy heart, for the Lord is with thee," it is very evident that David had expressed the intention to build a splendid palatial temple. The word לך, go (equivalent to "quite right"), is omitted in the Chronicles as superfluous. Nathan sanctioned the king's resolution "from his own feelings, and not by divine revelation" (J. H. Michaelis); but he did not "afterwards perceive that the time for carrying out this intention had not yet come," as Thenius and Bertheau maintain; on the contrary, the Lord God revealed to the prophet that David was not to carry out his intention at all.
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