Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies;The Message of the Second Book of Samuel
2 Samuel 7:7
The second book of Samuel does not contain any very definite divisions, but seems most naturally to fall into three parts.
In the first, which includes chapters one to eight, we have the account of David's public doings. In the second section, containing chapters nine to twenty, we have the history of David's court life.
At chapter twenty the third and closing section of the book begins. This section constitutes an appendix of miscellaneous contents. The book closes with the story of the census and the plague which it brought in Israel, with the means taken by David for its removal.
As for the main lesson of this book, it is written across its pages so clearly that none can miss it. Wherever you open the book you find the message, 'Be sure your sin will find you out'.
I. The Awfulness of Sin.—Sin, as we know, is a theological term. The idea of sin is inseparably bound up with the idea of God. Without God you may have evil, vice, crime, you cannot have sin. Sin is a relation between a personal Creator and the personal creature. Hence it follows that our knowledge of God regulates our knowledge of sin. The better we know God the better we know what sin really is.
In reading the story of David we see something of the malignancy of sin, and learn something of its power. David was a good man. David was a Godfearing man. David's heart was on the whole right with God, yet see what sin did to him. It threw him from the throne into the gutter, and made him go mourning all his days.
II. The Limits of Forgiveness.—David sinned, and for months remained with his sin unconfessed and unforgiven. These months David never forgot. But a day came when Nathan reached David. The day came when David could write the fifty-first Psalm, the Psalm which ever since has been the song of broken-hearted penitents. And in that day David received forgiveness. When David said, 'I have sinned against the Lord,' Nathan could say, 'The Lord hath put away thy sin'. And David knew that was true. David was not only forgiven, but he was kept safe, as we can see, to the end of his days in fellowship with God. But even all that did not undo his sin. He was forgiven, but his household was desolated.
III. The Lesson is an Unspeakably Solemn One.—Sin has results which forgiveness cannot cancel. There are consequences of sin which even the grace of God cannot arrest. You may sin and be forgiven, and yet your sin may go down through the ages cursing and destroying men you never knew.
—G. H. C. Macgregor, Messages of the Old Testament, p. 129.
2 Samuel 7:18
Saul's failure and David's success are here indicated; and in essence it came to this, that Saul was rejected for pride, and David was received for humility.
I. In illustration of all this, one of the most remarkable things in the story of David is the way in which he yielded to the guidance and reproof of God's prophets. His attitude of humble praise on this occasion of our text, when Nathan predicted the perpetual dominion of his house, is typical of his temper at all such times. Instead of creating pride and vanity, as it would in a smaller, meaner soul, it crushes him to the dust, makes him feel his unworthiness, and melts his heart with sweet humility.
II. Happiness should not separate the soul of man from God, if it be accepted humbly as from His loving hand and loving heart. It should make a man praise God for His goodness, and make him walk softly and gently all his days. Yet, how rare is this humble attitude of heart, gratefully accepting the unmerited blessing and undeserved favour of God. Our common attitude is exactly the opposite. We do not cultivate the thankful heart.
III. Pride is the first of the seven deadly sins. Humility is the chief of the virtues, because apart from it none of them can grow to full beauty and power. It is the beginning of wisdom; the threshold of grace; the very doorway of the kingdom itself; the good ground ready for the seed that will bear fruit, some an hundredfold. It was of this humble-mindedness and simple-heartedness the Master spoke when He made little children typical of His Kingdom. We must feel in the presence of such love as Communion represents that we have no standing except of grace. We are not worthy to eat the crumbs from His table. And yet He brought us unto His ban-queting-house, gave us to eat the bread of life and to drink the wine of His love. When we have said all we just come back to the mystery of redeeming love, and we bow in humble, adoring praise before our Father in heaven.
—Hugh Black, Christ's Service of Love, p. 221.
The Solicitude of Success
2 Samuel 7:18-20
I. Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me thus far? It may seem paradoxical to say so, but in deep, true souls disappointment and disaster often cause less anxiety and questioning than brilliant success occasions. Success, especially sudden and singular success, brings many heart-searchings and solicitudes.
II. To a certain extent this is the right spirit in which to accept accessions of wealth and power. It is a far truer temper than to regard our success as the reward of merit, and to boast ourselves in our good fortune. To recognize our frailties, and to acknowledge that riches and honours are God's free gifts, is the true attitude towards all worldly advancement Yet at the same time we must not permit morbid feeling to blind us to the graciousness of God, and to rob us of the sweetness of the good things He bestows. The 'gifts of the Greeks' were deprecated by their neighbours, it being generally understood that these favours were prompted by sinister motive or design; but there is nothing sinister in the bright things freely given us of God. The pagan in the day of his success was afraid of the jealousy with which the gods were reputed to view the uncommon happiness of mortals; but the Divine Giver is better known by us, and His delight in all the pure joy of His people is a great truth of that revelation which is 'the master-light of all our seeing'. It is well to feel our unworthiness of the least of His mercies, yet we may greet the shower of gold or roses with the utmost confidence and expectation. It is a fine trait in the Christian character when we are able to fill high places and to enjoy goodly things in the spirit of unquestioning trust and appreciation. A suspicious, ascetic spirit is not the highest mood of life.
III. If it please God to exalt us to brilliant posts, to invest us with authority and influence, to dower us with riches, to give us favour in the sight of the people, to establish our house, let us dismiss all heathen solicitude, and, praying for God's grace, use everything for His glory.
—W. L. Watkinson, Themes for Hours of Meditation, p. 163.
References.—VII. 18.—Walter Brooke, Sermons, p. 72. VII. 18-22.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx. No. 1166. VII. 18-29.—Ibid. vol. xlviii. No. 2811; see also vol. 1. No. 2869. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Samuel, p. 36.
More Than Human
2 Samuel 7:19
Again and again we see in the Bible that God is like none but Himself. He has no compeer. He challenges the gods; He takes them up, as it were, in His fingers, and nails them to the walls of the universe and laughs at them, and asks them to come down and assert themselves in fair reason and in miracles of undoubted beneficence. As with God so with the Church. We can only live in our distinctiveness; not wherein we are like other people, but at the point where we are unlike everybody else does our power come in. If the salt have lost his savour, his weight will do nothing for him or his whiteness; his reputation was founded in his savour; that gone, cast him out and let men tread him under foot. You must not try to make God like man, nor must you endeavour to make the God of the Bible like the gods of the heathen. The God of revelation astounds even His most reverent prophets and minstrels by His mercy, His tenderness, His power, and His pity.
I. It is the same throughout the whole circuit of human inquiry. We might say, for example, of the Bible, Is this the manner of our books? There is no book like it; it is so curiously composed, it is hardly composed at all; it seems to fall into place in great star-quantities; we cannot trace its genesis, its intellectual evolution, and its literary polish in its full verbal accomplishment. The Bible is not after the manner of our books; it is a book by itself, it is many books in one, it is all literature in one statement, and that statement is as a burning bush within whose fiery branches the Jehovah of the universe dwells and glows.
II. We might say the same thing of the Christ Whom we serve and Whom we adore, blessing His name as we bless the name of the Father. When we watch Him, when we hear His words, when we study His methods, we say, 'Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?' Hear the people, the people who did not care for Him, the people who were hostile to Him; when they returned they said, 'Never man spake like this man'. There we come upon our central doctrine, namely, there is in Him something more than human, more than measurable, more than common. When He came to the end of His Sermon on the Mount, the only sanctuary worthy of such a discourse, the people were astonished at His doctrine, for He taught them as One having authority, and not as the scribes.
III. We might say the same thing of the morality of the New Testament. Jesus Christ said, 'Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven'; and the scribes and the Pharisees were there, and He offended every man of them. Jesus Christ took the soul back into the very sanctuary of the Divine wisdom and grace, and having wrought there in the innermost place the miracle of conversion, He said, Now, down, away to the paths and the market-place and the homes of the world, and love thy neighbour as thyself. Never man spake like this man!
Then take His attitude towards life. Sometimes He seemed to regard it as worthless; He said, Take no thought for it. Once He even went so far as to say that if any man would gain his life he must lose it; once again He declared in a startling paradox that if any man would gain his life he should lose it, and if he lost it in the right way he should gain it. There is no making a common line of this Man's talk, it does not fit into any other conversation, it is not an eloquence that falls like splashing water into the cadences of other rhetoric; it stands alone, it is full of paradox, full of mercy, full of light; and no man can interpret Christ until he has been buried with Him in the very baptism of a common suffering.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 77.
References.—VII. 19.—J. Parker, The City Temple Pulpit, vol. i. p. 77. VII. 21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlv. No. 2641. VII. 25.—Ibid. vol. ii. No. 88. VII. 27.—Ibid. vol. xxiv. No. 1412; see also vol. 1. No. 2869. IX. 1-13.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Samuel, p. 42. IX. 13.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. i. p. 62. X. 8-19.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture —2 Samuel, p. 49.
That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.
And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee.
And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying,
Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?
Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a 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?
Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel:
And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.
Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,
And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house.
And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.
Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?
And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord GOD, knowest thy servant.
For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them.
Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for 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, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?
For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God.
And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said.
And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee.
For thou, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.
And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:
Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.