Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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;II. The divine consecration of the Davidic kingdom by the promise of the imperishable kingly dominion of the Davidic house.
2 SAMUEL 7:1–29
1. David’s purpose to build the Lord a house, and the divine promise that the Lord will build him a house. 2 Samuel 7:1–16.
1AND it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord [Jehovah] had given him rest1 round about from all his enemies, 2That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but [and] the ark of God dwelleth within curtains [the curtain].2 3And Nathan said to the king, Go,3 do all that is in thine heart [All, etc., go do], for the Lord [Jehovah] is with thee. 4And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord [Jehovah] came unto Nathan,4 saying, 5Go and tell [say to] my servant, [ins. to] David, Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah], 6Shalt5 thou build me a house for me to dwell in? Whereas [For] I have not dwelt in any [a] house since the time that I brought up6 the children of Israel 7out of Egypt even to this day, but have walked7 in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places8 wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel, spake I a word with any of the tribes9 of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, 8Why build ye not me an house of cedar? Now, therefore, so [And now, thus] shalt thou say unto my servant, [ins. to] David, Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah] of hosts, I took10 thee from the sheepcote [pasture], from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel; 9And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight [from before thee], and have made thee a great11 name like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. 10Moreover [And] I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own [and they shall dwell in their own place], and move no more [and no more be disturbed], neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, 11And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel,12 [.] and have caused [And I will cause] thee to rest from all thine enemies, also [and] the Lord [Jehovah] telleth thee that he [Jehovah]13 will make thee an house.
12And14 [om. and] when [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,15 and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be 14my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the stripes of the children of men. 15But my mercy shall not depart16 away from 16him, as I took it from Saul whom I put away [ins. from] before thee. And thy house and thy kingdom shall be established [stable] forever before thee;17 thy throne shall be established forever.
2. DAVID’S PRAYER AS ANSWER TO THIS DIVINE PROMISE. 2 SAMUEL 7:17–29
17According to all these words and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David. 18Then went king David in [And king David went in] and sat before the Lord [Jehovah], and he said, Who am I, O Lord God [O lord Jehovah]18, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? 19And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God [O lord Jehovah], 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 this is the law of man,19 O lord Jehovah]. 20And what can [shall] David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord God [om. Lord God], knowest thy servant [ins. lord Jehovah]. 21For thy word’s20 sake, and according to thine own heart hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. 22Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God [Jehovah God]; for there is none like thee, neither is there any [and there is no] God beside thee, according to21 all that we 23have heard with our ears. And22 what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even [om. even] like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you [them] great things and terrible, for thy land [om. for thy land, ins. to drive out] before thy people, which thou redeemedst 24to thee from Egypt, from the [om. from the] nations and their gods? For [And] thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee forever, and thou, Lord [Jehovah], art become their God.
25And now, O Lord [Jehovah] God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house, establish it [om. it] forever, and do as thou hast said. 26And let thy name be magnified forever, saying, The Lord [Jehovah] of hosts is the [om. the] God over Israel; and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee. 27For thou, O Lord [Jehovah] 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. 28And now, O Lord God, [lord Jehovah], thou art that [om. that] God, and thy words be true [are23 truth], 29and thou hast promised [spoken] this goodness unto thy servant; Therefore [And] now, let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant that it may continue forever before thee; for thou, O Lord God [lord Jehovah], hast spoken it, and with thy blessing let [shall] the house of thy servant be blessed forever.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. David’s purpose to build the Lord a house, and the divine prohibition with the promise that the Lord will build him a house. 2 Samuel 7:1–16 (1 Chron. 17).
2 Samuel 7:1–3. David’s resolution to build the Lord a house is approved by the prophet Nathan. Comp. 1 Chron. 17:1, 2.
2 Samuel 7:1. And when the king dwelt in his house (comp. 2 Samuel 7:11). What follows occurred not only after David had built his royal palace, but also after he, having secured external quiet, had taken up his permanent abode therein. The starting-point of David’s words in 2 Samuel 7:2 (like that of the narrative) is the “house” in which he dwelt [Philippson: Abarbanel refers to Deut. 12:9, 10 sq.,24 supposing that David thought the condition there laid down to have now reached a fulfilment.—TR.]—And the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies.—According to these words the following narrative cannot be put chronologically immediately after the Philistine war related in 2 Samuel 5, which view the position of this section after 2 Samuel 6 might seem to favor. Decisive against this is the phrase: “round about from all his enemies,” and 2 Samuel 7:9: “I have cut off all thy enemies before thee.” The temporary quiet that David gained by that double victory over the Philistines he used to bring the ark to Zion; but he soon found himself involved in new wars begun by Israel’s enemies round about, first by the Philistines, according to the narration in 2 Samuel 8. Not till he had crushed all Israel’s pressing enemies could he wish to carry out his determination to build a house for the Lord. On account of its factual connection with the account of the ark the history of this determination is attached to 2 Samuel 6, the narrative throughout, indeed, not appearing to be strictly chronological, but bearing the impress of a grouping of the several sections according to certain principal points of view. (In chs. 8–12 the external wars, in 13–20 the internal difficulties, and in 21. sq. detached occurrences in David’s life are brought together without chronological sequence.) But it is not to be assumed that “our narrative is to be put in the last part of David’s life” (Then.), since, according to 2 Samuel 7:11, he had still other wars to carry on against the enemies of Israel, for which reason precisely, and because he had to be on his guard without, the peaceful work of temple building could not be executed (as Solomon also expressly affirms, 1 Kings 5:17); and since the promise in 2 Samuel 7:12 refers to the seed, that will yet proceed from his body. The time of the words: “when the Lord had given him rest” (wanting in Chron.), is to be put after that of the wars in 2 Samuel 8, whereby David secured his throne against “enemies round about,” without being able thus to exclude further wars; his resolution to build a temple can be referred only to a temporary rest after his first victorious contests against all his enemies.—[Comp. the language in 22:1 and Josh. 23:1.—TR.]
2 Samuel 7:2. David communicated this resolution to the prophet Nathan, who, according to this, stood in a confidential relation to him as counsellor, and this is confirmed not only by Nathan’s reproof after the sin with Bathsheba, but also by the fact (12:25) that Solomon’s education was committed to him, and he with David’s approval anointed Solomon as successor to his father while the latter was still living (1 Kings 1:34). [On Nathan see Erdmann’s Introduction and the Bible-Dictionaries.—TR.]—David states to Nathan as the ground of his resolution the contrast that he dwelt in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God stood within the curtains, that is, simply in a tent (6:15). The word here used (הַיְרִיעָה) means in Ex. 26:2 sq. the inner cover composed of several curtains, that was spread over the board-structure of the tabernacle. The Plu. is used in Isa. 54:2 as=“tent,” and in Song of Songs 1:5; Jer. 4:20 as=“tents.” The “within” refers to the drapery formed by the curtains; Chron. has “under curtains.” David’s words express the pious, humble disposition in which his purpose was founded. The utterance of the purpose itself is not added to this statement of its ground, but is presupposed in Nathan’s approval [2 Samuel 7:3]. All that is in thy heart, that is, in this connection, what thou hast resolved on, comp. 1 Sam. 14:7; 2 Kings 10:30. For the Lord is with thee, where the preceding “do” is based on the Lord’s leading, under which David, as theocratic king, stands. Nathan characterizes David’s purpose as one well-pleasing to the Lord. J. H. Michaelis: “out of his own mind, not by divine revelation.”
2 Samuel 7:4–16. The divine revelation to Nathan for David and his house.
a. 2 Samuel 7:4–7. Not David is to build the Lord a house.
2 Samuel 7:4. In that night, following the day on which David held the above conversation with Nathan, came the word of the Lord to Nathan. Nothing is said here of a divine revelation through a dream (comp. Num. 12:6; 1 Kings 3:5), or through a vision and the hearing of a voice (comp. 1 Sam. 3:5, 10, 15), but the word of the Lord is described as having come to Nathan by night; that is, it is related that he received a divine revelation in the form and through the medium of the word, he receiving its content with the inner ear of the Spirit as a divine decision respecting that which was stirring his heart. Comp. Isa. 21:10. By the conversation held with David during the day Nathan’s soul with all its thoughts and feelings was concentrated on David’s great and holy purpose; this was the psychological basis for the divine inspiration that forms the content of the following revelation, and not in inner contradiction with, but in distinction from his answer to David, informs him that the purposed temple-building is to be executed according to the Lord’s will not by David, but by his seed.
2 Samuel 7:5. Nathan receives the divine revelation that he may officially impart it to David.—Shouldest [or, shalt] thou build me a house to dwell in?—The question has a negative significance=thou shouldest [shalt] not. Chron., interpreting the meaning, has: “not thou.” Certainly Nathan’s assent to David’s thought that a house ought to be built for the Lord is not thereby set aside; but it is true that the opinion that David himself is to be the builder is corrected into this other, that this resolution is to be first carried out by his seed. Hengstenberg’s interpretation, therefore, that David is to build the house not personally, but in his seed [Christol., Eng. tr. I. 126], is forced and in contradiction both with his word and with Solomon’s interpretation (1 Kings 8:15–21).
2 Samuel 7:6. The reason for the no. It is logically obvious that this reason must stand in some relation to the sense in which the “shalt thou?” is spoken. Not thou shalt build me a house, for: 1) “I have not dwelt in a house from the day when I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt to this day.” During this whole period, while the people had yet no secure, firm, unendangered dwelling-place, the symbol of the Lord’s presence and dwelling amid His people could also have no permanent abode. But I was a wanderer in tent and dwelling-place, that is, as the people was in constant movement and unquiet, so my abode was of necessity a movable tent, wandering from place to place; the allusion is to the necessary frequent change of place of the sanctuary, first in the wilderness, and then during the unquiet movements hither and thither in the land itself (Gilgal, Shiloh, Nob, Gibeon). Comp. 1 Chron. 17:5: “and I was from tent to tent and from dwelling to dwelling.” There is no sufficient ground for distinguishing “tent” and “dwelling” as tent-frame and tent-cover (Then.); rather the “dwelling” is to be taken with Keil as explicative: in a tent, which was my dwelling.—[The word mishkan, rendered in Eng. A. V. “tabernacle,” sometimes means the whole structure built by Moses, as in Ex. 35:11, where it includes the boards, the tent (ohel, the goatskin-curtain) and the covering (mikseh, the curtains of ram-skins and seal-skins). Elsewhere (as in Ex. 40:18) it denotes the board-structure with the inner curtains of blue, purple and scarlet; and again it is used (Ex. 26:6) apparently for the inner curtains alone. It seems clear that technically the ohel or tent signified the outer cloth of goat-skin, and the mikseh or covering the two protecting heavy cloths of ram-skin and seal skin, the mishkan proper denoting the rest of the structure; but it is not so probable that the technical distinction is introduced here; the interpretation of Keil seems better. Still, taking the somewhat different reading in Chron., we may suppose that each of the terms ohel and mishkan is put for the whole structure of which they formed a part, a variation of terms for the sake of filling out the conception, the former rather suggesting the wilderness, the latter the land of Canaan.—TR.]
2 Samuel 7:7. 2. To the statement that the Lord had hitherto had no fixed dwelling, but had dwelt only in a movable tent, is appended a second, that in all this time He had never given command to build Him a fixed abode.—In all wherein I walked, that is, in my whole walk, during the whole time that I walked among all the children of Israel. These words are to be taken not with the preceding (2 Samuel 7:6), which form the adversative definition of the immediately preceding declaration, but with the following, and correspond in context with the statement of time in 2 Samuel 7:6: “from the day. . . to this day.” The “walking” denotes the self-witness of the divine presence, might and help in the whole historical development of Israel up to this time. Spake I a word with any one of the tribes of Israel?—Instead of “tribes” (שׁבטי) Chron. has “judges” (שׁפטי), which is adopted by Ewald, Bertheau, Thenius, Bunsen, after 2 Samuel 7:11. But the “judges” are there mentioned in a totally different connection of thought; and if this were the original word, it would be impossible to explain the origination and general unquestioned acceptance of the difficult “tribes.” The reading of the text “tribes” is to be retained with Maurer, Böttcher, Keil, Hengstenberg. Maurer correctly remarks: “those tribes are to be understood that before the time of David attained the supremacy, as Ephraim, Dan, Benjamin. Böttcher gives a complete list of the tribes that successively attained the headship through the Judges chosen from them. [Abarbanel (quoted by Philipps.) renders “sceptres” = “judges,” but this is not admissible. On the text see “Text. and Gramm.”—TR.] The “feeding” (a figure derived from the shepherd, who goes before the flock, leads it to pasture and protects it) denotes the guidance and defence of the whole people, to which one tribe was called, and which it accomplished through the judge that represented it. The Chronicler had only the line of judges in mind; his alteration is a collateral text that serves very well to explain the main text. Why build ye not me a house of cedar?25—That is, a permanent and costly sanctuary, worthy of my glory. Comp. 1 Kings 8:16, where Solomon, with reference to these words, cites as the Lord’s word: “I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build me a house.” Ps. 78:67 is in like manner elucidatory of this passage; for there the choice of David as prince, and of Zion as the place of the sanctuary, is represented as if it were the choice of the tribe of Judah after the rejection of Ephraim. [Synopsis Criticorum: In this discourse of God some things are omitted that are afterwards represented as having been said here, as in 1 Kings 8:16, 18, 25; 1 Chron. 22:8,9; 28:6; it is Scriptural usage not always to report the whole of a discourse, but sometimes to give a brief summary.—TR.] Thus in 2 Samuel 7:6, 7, looking at the whole past of the people, one side of the reason for the “shalt thou?” in 2 Samuel 7:5 is given: From the beginning of the history till now a permanent dwelling for the Lord, instead of the moving tent, had neither actually existed (because not possible under the circumstances), nor been divinely commanded. [There is no reproof to David in this.—TR.]
b. 2 Samuel 7:8–11. The other side of the reason lies in the history of the Lord’s dealings with David, which point to the fact that the Lord will build David a house before a house can be built to the Lord.
2 Samuel 7:8. The Lord’s first manifestation of favor to him was his elevation from the lowliness of the shepherd-life to the office and dignity of prince over Israel. “From the sheepfold” (נָוֶה) see Ps. 78:70. [Better: “from the pasture.” The word means “habitation,” which in reference to flock means, not where they spend the night (which is, as Thenius says, גְּדֵרָה), but where they feed (see Isa. 65:10, where Eng. A. V. has improperly “fold”), and this suits the context of our passage.—TR.] To this was added the continuous revelation of His gracious presence: 2 Samuel 7:9.—I was with thee in all thy going.—These two facts, the elevation of David to be king and his constant attendance [by God] in all his walk, answer to the elevation of Israel to be his people, and the Lord’s walking with them (2 Samuel 7:6, 7). The wars hitherto waged form the third stadium: I have cut off all thy enemies before thee.—These wars, however, were the wars of the Lord, waged by Him as king of his people (1 Sam. 25:28). On this plane of the Lord’s exhibition of power in wars and victories over enemies rises the glory of the great name that the Lord has made for him in the sight of the nations round about (comp. Psalm 132. 17, 18; 1 Chr. 14:17).
2 Samuel 7:10. These gradually advancing manifestations of the Lord’s favor to David look to the wellbeing of the people of Israel: 1) He thereby prepared a place for them [Erdmann renders: “I prepared a place,” etc.; see “Text. and Gram.”26—TR.]; that is, by subduing their enemies made room for a safe, unendangered expansion in the promised land; 2) Planted them—that is, on the soil thus cleansed and made safe He established a firm, deep-rooted national life; 3) They dwell in their [own] place, their life-power unfolds itself within the limits secured them by the Lord; 4) They shall no longer be affrighted by restless enemies. In these words the discourse turns to the future of the people. The sense is: after all these manifestations of favor in the past up to this time, the Lord will for the future assure His people a position and an existence, wherein they shall no more experience the affliction and oppression that they suffered from godless nations. The “as beforetime” refers to the beginning of the people’s history in Egypt. The words in 2 Samuel 7:11 from “and as since” to “Israel” belong with the “beforetime” as chronological datum, and depend on the “as” in 2 Samuel 7:10. And from the time when I ordained Judges over my people Israel.—That is, not merely during the period of the Judges, but on from the time when the judges began to lead the people, since the Prep. “from” [Eng. A. V.: “since”] gives only the terminus a quo, and consequently the period of the continuous oppression of the people by surrounding nations in the time after the judges till now is not excluded. This glance at the history of Israel’s affliction and oppression from the beginning on answers to the glance at the Lord’s presence and walk with them during their long period of wandering. All this the Lord has done to the people through His servant David (comp. Psalm 89:22–24). The usual connection of these words with the following: “and from the time that.… have I caused thee to rest” (so still Hengst. ubi sup. [p. 130]) is untenable—because: 1) we thus have the impossible statement that God gave David rest from the beginning of the period of the Judges on, and 2) the period of the Judges was any thing but a time of quiet. And I give thee rest from all thy enemies.—The verb (Perf. with Waw consec.) is to be understood of the future, as is usual with this form when, as here, a future precedes. “In the quiet progress of the discourse the Future here passes over into quiet description” (Ges. § 126, 6). It is also here to be considered that the Perf. refers to Future in asseverations and assurances. To take the verb in a Perfect sense [= I have given rest], the narrative concerning the past in 2 Samuel 7:9 being thereby resumed (De Wette, Thenius [Bible Commentary, Philippson]), is inadmissible, because the discourse has already in the preceding words turned to the future, and such a retrogressive repetition, considering the rapid advance elsewhere in all these words, would be intolerable. David’s present rest (2 Samuel 7:1) was only a temporary one—for the hostile nations were ever seeking opportunity to assault Israel. Although David’s wars and victories hitherto had so far firmly established Israel that the former times of “terror and distress” could not return, yet his reign was a constant war with the hostile nations around, in order to maintain the security that had been won, and to ward off the freshly inpressing enemies. To this continuing unquiet refers the first promise of the Lord to David: “I will give thee rest from all thy enemies.” The Chron. has (2 Samuel 7:10): “and I subdue all thy enemies, and tell it thee, and a house will the Lord build thee.”27 The second declaration is introduced by the words: “the Lord announces to thee” (not, has announced), “causes to be announced.” Thereby the promise itself: The Lord will build thee a house is raised to its supereminent importance above all the preceding words. In it culminates the gradually rising line of the Lord’s exhibitions of favor to David, and through him to the people. The “house” is the royal authority in Israel, which is assured and established for his family. According to these words (2 Samuel 7:5–7 and 8–11) there are two principal grounds for the Lord’s negative answer to David’s determination to build him a house: 1) as the Lord could have no fixed dwelling-place amid His people, so long as they were wandering out of Canaan, and in Canaan were constantly disquieted by enemies and driven hither and thither, so also David’s rule, in spite of victories over enemies, was still too much disquieted by external enemies that had to be fought, he being especially called thereby to secure to the people a settled permanent existence for the future. Hence now also the dwelling-place of the Lord amid His people can have no other form than that of the tent, the symbol of Israel’s wandering, which was to be ended and quieted first by David’s battles and victories. 2) David had indeed declared that he wished to perform something for the Lord in the building of a house, but this human plan should and could not reach fulfilment except and before the Lord had completed His manifestations of favor to David and carried out His plan, which looked to confirming the royal authority for his house and family forever, and thereby assuring the well-being of the people. What the Lord had hitherto done for David, and through him for Israel, was only the beginning of this confirmation of his kingdom; it was by its assured connection for all the future with David’s posterity that the firm foundation was first laid, on which could be carried out the work of temple-building as the sign of the immovably founded kingdom of peace and of the theocracy that was to exhibit itself in undisturbed quiet in Israel. The meaning of the divine prohibition, therefore, is this: Thou canst not build me a house, for I must first build thee a house, before the building of a house for me is possible. This second principal ground is connected immediately with the first; for the promise could not be fulfilled, unless by the establishment of external peace the condition for the confirmation of David’s house was given. The first ground is more precisely defined in 1 Chron. 22:7–13; 28:3 sq. by the statement that David was not permitted to build the temple on account of his wars: “because thou art a man of war and hast shed blood.” With this agrees Solomon’s word to Hiram, 1 Kings 5:3: “My father could not build a house to the name of the Lord for the wars that were about him.”28
c. 2 Samuel 7:12–16. The wider expansion and exacter definition of the promise: “I will build thee a house.” 2 Samuel 7:12 starts from the end of David’s life; after his death the promise will be fulfilled. I will set up thy seed after thee.—The “set up” (הֵקִים) denotes not the “awakening” or bringing into existence, but the elevating the seed to royal rule and power. The “seed” is not the whole posterity, as is clear from the explanatory words in 1 Chron. 17:11: “thy seed that shall be of thy sons,” nor merely a single individual, but a selection from the posterity, which will be appointed by God’s favor to succeed David on the throne. Which shall proceed (come) out of thy body.—The seed here spoken of was still in the future when this promise was made to David. We are not, with Thenius, to change “will proceed” (יֵצֵא) to “has proceeded” (יָצָֹא), as if Solomon were then already born. And I will establish his kingdom.—On the setting up and elevation to the royal dignity follows its confirmation to David’s posterity, which has been called to be bearer of the theocratical royal office. This promise was fulfilled in the first place in Solomon, who also expresses his consciousness of this fact in 1 Kings 8:20; comp. 1 Kings 2:12.
2 Samuel 7:13. He, this thy seed, will build a house for my name.—The name stands for God Himself, so far as He reveals Himself to His people as covenant-God and makes Himself known in His loftiness and holiness. “To build a house for His name” signifies therefore not simply “in His honor, or as a place to call on Him,” but “to establish a fixed place, which should be the sign and pledge of His abode in Israel.” To the shorter formula: “To the (or, for the) name of the Lord” (comp. 1 Kings 8:17–20, 48; 3:2; 5:17, 19; 1 Chron. 22:7,19; 28:3) answers the longer: “that my name may be there, my name shall be there” (1 Kings 8:16, 29; comp. 2 Chron. 6:5; 2 Kings 23:27), or, “that my name may dwell there” (Deut. 12:11; 14:23; 16:11; 26:2; Neh. 1:9), or, “that I may put my name there” (1 Ki. 9:3; 2 Ki. 21:7).And I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever.—The royal dominion will not only be one established in David’s house, but also one enduring forever, never to be severed from this house. It is not here the everlasting dominion of one king that is spoken of, but it is said: with the seed of David the kingdom shall remain forever (= everlastingly). The everlasting stay of the kingdom in the house of David is promised. Comp. 2 Samuel 7:25, where David so understands this divine promise. Comp. Ps. 89:30; 72:5, 7, 17.
2 Samuel 7:14. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.—The relation of fatherhood and sonship will exist between the covenant-God of Israel and the seed of David. This denotes in the first place the relation of the most cordial mutual love, which attests its enduring character by fidelity, and demonstrates its existence towards the Lord by active obedience. But besides this ethical significance of the relation of David’s seed as “son” to God as “its father” (indicated by the Prep, “to”), we must, from the connection, note 1) the origin or descent of the son from the father; the seed of David, entrusted with everlasting kingly dignity, has as such his origin in the will of God, owes his kingdom to the divine choice and call, comp. Ps. 2:7; 89:27, 28. 2) In the designations “father and son” is indicated community of possession; the seed, as son, receives the dominion from the father as heir, and, as this dominion is an everlasting one, he will, as son and heir, reign forever in possession of the kingdom. The father’s kingdom is an unlimited one, embracing the whole world; so in the idea of sonship there lies, along with everlastingness, the idea of all-embracing world-dominion, on which the son lawfully enters. Comp. Psalm 89:26–30; 2:7–9. Whom, if he commits iniquity—that is, not hypothetically, “in case he sin,” but actually, when he sins (as cannot fail to happen); the seed, David’s posterity here spoken of is not exempted from the sin that clings to all men—I will chasten with the rod of men and with the stripes of the children of men.29—That is, with such punishments as men suffer for their sins. David’s seed will be free neither from sin nor from its human punishment. “Grace is not to release David and the Davidic line from this universal human lot, is not to be for them a charter to sin” (Hengst.). Comp. Baur: Gesch. d. altt. Weissag. [Hist. of O. T. Prophecy] I. 392 sq. Such chastisement will not be set aside by the cordial relation of David’s seed as son to the Lord as father, but will rather follow David: The father will punish the son for his sins. The elevation of the latter to such glory above all the children of men is not to be a reason for making him an exception in respect to punishableness, but in this regard he will be equalled with all men before God’s righteousness. Clericus, against the connection, explains the “rod of men” to mean: “moderate punishments, such as parents usually inflict.” Wholly wrong is the rendering: “whom if any one offend, or, against whom if any one sin,” comp. Pffeiffer, Dubia Vexata, V. 2, l. 84, p. 390; Russ, De promissione Davidica soli Messiœ vindicata, Jen., 1713. In Ps. 89:31–33 we have the further elucidation: “If his sons forsake my law and walk not in my judgments.… I will visit them with the rod of their sin and with the stripes of their iniquity.” Chron. omits this declaration in order to bring out the more strongly the following thought that the divine favor will, in spite of sin, remain with David’s seed (Hengst. ubi sup. [p. 135]).
2 Samuel 7:15. But my favor shall not depart from him.—It is presupposed that in his sinning he remains faithful to the Lord, not departing from Him, and that the chastisement leads him to repentance (comp. 1 Chron. 28:9; Psalm 132:12). This is clear from the following words: as I took it from Saul whom I put away before thee.—Comp. 1 Sam. 15:23, 26, 28. “Before thee,” before thy face; Saul and his kingdom had to disappear before David, who, with his kingdom took their place, and with whose seed the kingdom will remain forever in spite of the sins that shall be found in the individuals of his posterity, “his sons” (Ps. 89:31). “The contrast is that between the punishment of sin in individuals and the favor that remains permanently with the family, whereby the divine promise becomes an unconditioned one” (Hengst.).
2 Samuel 7:16. And thy house and thy kingdom shall be permanent, as the result of the permanent favor and grace assured to David’s seed (comp. Ps. 89:29, 38; Isa. 55:3 [“sure mercies of David,” same word as is here rendered “established” in Eng. A. V.—TR.]), and as the lasting fulfilment of the promise in verse 12: “I will raise up, lift up thy seed.” The word “before thee” is arbitrarily changed by Sept. and Syr. into “before me.” Böttcher explains: “in thy conception” (comparing 7:26, 29; 1 Kings 8:50), and adds: “the reference is to the outlook of the living, not to a conscious participation still granted to the dead.” O. v. Gerlach: “David, as ancestor and beginner of the line of kings, is conceived of as he who passes all his successors before him in vision.” Thy throne will be firm forever.—This answers to the words in 2 Samuel 7:12: “and I will confirm his kingdom,” as the continuous effect of this promise. In the “forever” (here twice given and resumed from 2 Samuel 7:13) in the promise of the everlasting kingdom connected with the house of David, the prophecy culminates. On the “firm” [גָכוֹן, Eng. A. V.: “established,” different from the word so rendered in the former part of this verse, which = “sure,” “faithful.”—TR.], comp. Mic. 4:1, and on the “forever” comp. Ps. 72:17; 89:37; 45:7; 110:4; 132:11, 12. Comp. Jno. 12:34.
2. David’s prayer.
2 Samuel 7:17–29.
2 Samuel 7:17. Conclusion of the preceding section and introduction to the following. According to all these words and according to all this vision.—The words, as the content of God’s revelation to Nathan, are distinguished from the vision as indication of its form and mode. To suppose a dream here (Thenius) because the revelation occurred at night (2 Samuel 7:4) is inadmissible—since nothing is said of a dream; for the vision (חָזוֹן=חִזָּיוֹן) is every where distinguished from the revelation by dream (Keil); and in Isa. 29:7 the word “dream “is expressly added in order to indicate a “vision” that occurred in a dream. Our word signifies the view, vision, as the result of the looking or gazing of the prophets (who are called חֹזִיִם, gazers, seers) with the inner sense, whether in a waking state or in a dream. In the former case the “vision” may denote either collectively a number of divine revelations, taken as a whole (so Isa. 1:1; Obad. 1; Nah. 1:1), or, a single revelation, as here (so Ezek. 7:26; Dan. 8:1, 2,15,17). But it is not the vision or view in itself that forms the essence and substance of the prophetic revelation, but rather the “word” or the “words” of the Lord, which as medium of the Spirit of God come to the prophetic spirit; the vision is the psychical form under which the revelation takes place. David’s answer to the Lord falls into three parts: Thanks for the exceeding abundant favor shown him and his house now in this revelation (2 Samuel 7:18–21), Praise to the Lord for the great things He has done for His people in the past (2 Samuel 7:22–24), and Prayer for the fulfilment of the promise in the future (2 Samuel 7:25–29).
a. 2 Samuel 7:18–21. David’s thanksgiving for the Lord’s gracious manifestation in the great promise now received.—The words “David went in… before Jehovah” indicate the powerful impression that Nathan’s communication made on David’s soul; the divine revelation received compels him to betake himself to the sanctuary “into the presence” of the Lord, where he “remained” (רַיֵּשֶׁב tarried [Eng. A. V. sat]) sunk in contemplation and prayer. It cannot be inferred from Ex. 17:12 that David is to be thought of here as sitting; for Moses there sat from weariness after long prayer. The verb (יָשַׁב usually “sit”) is often used in the general sense: “remain, tarry.” [Bib. Comm. correctly points out that, even if the verb be rendered “sat,” it is not necessary to suppose that David prayed sitting. He may have risen to pray after meditation. Yet sitting under such circumstances would be a respectful attitude, and elsewhere we have no proof in the Scriptures of a customary attitude in prayer; that Solomon (1 Kings 8:22) and Ezra and the Levites (Neh. 8:4; 9:4) stood was due to the peculiar circumstances. It is not stated in what place David offered his prayer; it may have been in his own house or in some part of the tabernacle.30—TR.]—The content of this thanksgiving-prayer is like a clear glass, wherein we see into the innermost depths of David’s heart. His soul, wholly taken up with the divine revelation and promise, expresses itself in the following utterances, which follow one another quickly in accordance with the internal excitement of feeling: 1) The humble confession of unworthiness in respect to all manifestations of favor hitherto made to him and his house Who am I, Lord Jehovah, and what is my house? The words answer exactly to Jacob’s words in Gen. 32:10 as the expression of the deepest humility and feeling of nothingness over against the greatness and glory of God. So in Ps. 8:5; 144:3 there is the contrast between the divine loftiness and human lowliness and nothingness. That thou hast brought me hitherto.—David reviews all the past leadings of God’s grace, in respect to which, as manifestations of the divine favor and love, he so feels his unworthiness and nothingness, and at the same time indirectly declares that he has hitherto submitted himself to the Lord’s guidance. 2) David, with like humility, thanks the Lord for this present supereminent manifestation of His favor in the promise relating to the future of his house.
2 Samuel 7:19. He gives the liveliest expression to his humble and joyfully excited feeling of the greatness and glory of God in the repetition of the preceding address, “Lord Jehovah” (2 Samuel 7:18), and (comparing the abundant fullness of grace in this present revelation with the former exhibitions of grace, which culminate in it) in the first sentence of this verse (from the beginning to “great while to come”). From the far future [Eng. A. V.: “for a great while to come”], that is, of my house; the promise refers to favors in the far future for his house. The sense is: if, looking at former undeserved favors, I must bow low with the feeling of unworthiness, much more in view of the promises made out of free grace to my house for the far future. The last sentence of this verse (וְזֹאת תּוֹרַת הָאָדָם) is as enigmatic as the parallel passage, 1 Chron. 17:17 (וּרְאִיתַני כְּתוֹר הָאָדָם הַמַּעֲלָה). At the outset it must be assumed as certain that this word torah [Eng. A. V.: manner] never=“manner, custom, mode of acting” (מִשְׁפָּט ,חק). Therefore the explanation (in itself very agreeable and easy): “and this (hast thou spoken) after the manner of men, thou actest with me, that stand so infinitely below thee, in human manner,—that is, in such friendly manner as men use with one another” (Grotius, Gesenius, Winer, Maurer, Thenius, and De Wette: “such is the manner of men”) is as untenable as Luther’s translation: “this is the manner of a man who is God the Lord,” which besides rests on the conception of this passage as directly Messianic (pointing to the incarnation of God in Christ), and incorrectly takes “Lord Jehovah,” which here as before and after is an address, as explanatory apposition to “man.” For the same reason the explanation of Clericus and others is to be rejected: “in human fashion—that is, thou hast cared for me and my family as men do for their children and grandchildren, looking out for their future,” especially as it assigns to David’s words the very trivial thought of caring for a family for the future. Ebrard (Herz. VI. 609) characterizes this expression, “the law of man, of the Lord Jehovah,” as a word of “presageful bewilderment,” and finds the explanation in 1 Chron. 17:17, where he renders: “Thou hast looked on me like the form of man, who is God, Jehovah above;” David, says Ebrard, saw that he himself was contemplated, but at the same time so that Jehovah appeared to him here as a man, who was also God and enthroned on high, recognizing the fact that the final point of the promised posterity was Jehovah Himself, but Jehovah as man and God.So already S. Schmidt, who (after Chron.) inserts “as” before torah, taking this last=“condition, state” (תּוֹד): “O Jehovah God, Thou hast looked on me.…Thou who, in the humble condition and infirm state of wretched, afflicted man, art in all things made like man.” Apart from the incorrect, direct Messianic interpretation, all these and similar expositions take torah in a sense that it never has. It means regularly law. Hence Dathe and Schultz render: “such is a law for men”—that is, so should my enemies act when they think to hurl my descendants from the throne. So Bunsen: “This (Thy promise) is an indication (law) for men—that is, Thou wilt make Thy will authoritative even among men.” But this explanation requires too much to be supplied in order that the words may be understood. The same thing is true of the rendering of Hengstenberg—which Keil adopts: “The law of man, the law that is to regulate the conduct of men (comp. the expression Lev. 6:2 (9), the law of the burnt-offering; 14:2, the law of the leper; 12:7, the law of the woman that has borne a child), is the law of love to one’s neighbor, Levit. 19:18; Mic. 6:8; ‘this,’ namely, the Lord’s conduct to him in his love and faithfulness, answers to the law by which men are to be governed in their conduct to one another; when God the Lord so graciously and lovingly condescends to act towards poor mortals according to this law that holds among men, it must fill us with adoring wonder. To this answers the parallel passage in Chron.: and thou sawest me (visitedst me, dealedst with me) after the law of man (תוֹרה = תוֹר), that is, the law of love to one’s neighbor, thou height (!) Jehovah God.” Against this view is to be remarked 1) that it requires too much to be understood in connection with “this” and “law,” 2) that God’s acting according to the law of love (given by Himself) cannot be thus represented as in contrast with His greatness and glory, as if He stood above the conduct that men (according to this law) are to follow, and should therefore be worthy of the greater admiration if He condescended to such conduct.—As torah originally signifies teaching, instruction, both divine (Job 22:22; Ps. 19:8) and human (Prov. 1:8; 3:1; 4:2; 7:2; 28:7, 9), it is possible to render: “and this is a (divine) instruction for (poor, abject) man, to whom Thou so condescendest, O Lord God,” or, to paraphrase with Bunsen: “Thou instructest me (makest disclosures to me) as one man another; so great is thy condescension.” But this rendering, contrary to David’s tone of feeling throughout this whole section, lays all the stress on a formal thing, namely, the fact that God condescends to speak to him, to make disclosures to him, while it must be the content of the Lord’s words about the future of his house that moves him to humble thanksgiving and praise. Not the fact that the Lord condescends to him with His word of revelation (which He has often done before), but what He has now spoken to him is the cause of his humble thanksgiving.—For the explanation of this obscure passage it is further to be considered that these words, uttered abruptly and in lapidary style, are from the connection evidently to be token 1) as the expression of a joyfully excited heart, and 2) as the exclamation of humble astonishment at the greatness and glory of the grace of God in the promise given to his house, in contrast with human lowliness, as is indicated by the word “man” over against the address “Lord Jehovah.” The content of the promise to David’s house for the future, to which David has just referred as the highest evidence of the divine favor, and to which the “this” must beyond doubt be referred, is the divine determination that the kingdom is to be one proper to his house and forever connected with it, and is thus to have an everlasting duration. This is the divine torah or prescription, which is to hold for a weak, insignificant man and his seed, for poor human creatures. In the exclamation “this,” David looks in astonishment and adoration at the glory and the everlastingness (imperishableness) that is promised his house. This kingdom is indeed the kingdom of God Himself, and since it is promised his house forever, divine dignity and divine possession is thus for the farthest future ascribed to this house by that “word of the Lord;” the “Lord Jehovah,” towards whom David already feels so humbled and lowly by reason of His former manifestations of love and favor, now condescends to attach His kingdom in Israel, His everlasting divine dominion forever to his house, to his posterity, that is, to insignificant children of men, by such a law, which is contained in that word of promise. Similarly O. v. Gerlach: “This is an expression of wondering admiration of the gracious condescension of God. Such a law Thou establishest for a man and his house, namely, that Thou promisest it everlasting duration.” Comp. Bunsen: “Of so grand a promise hast Thou, O Eternal One, thought a mortal man worthy.” [Eng. A. V., adopting the interrogative form with negative force, apparently takes the meaning of this sentence to be: “it is not thus that men act towards one another, but Thy ways, O Lord, are above men’s ways.” Against this is that the word torah does not mean “manner” (so Erdmann above), and that the sentence thus stands in no relation as to sense with the parallel passage, 1 Chr. 17:17.—Other interpretations (see Poole’s Synopsis) take אָדָם as the proper name Adam, and explain: “as Adam’s posterity rule the world, so shall mine rule Israel,” or: “as Thou madest a covenant with Adam and his posterity, so with me and mine;” but the proper name Adam occurs nowhere else in the Davidic period, and this interpretation does not suit the context, especially the sense of unworthiness expressed by David.—This word again is taken as =“a great man” (so Bib.Com. and Abarbanel), or as =“a mean man,” neither of which senses it can have by itself. We cannot therefore explain: “Thou dealest with me as is becoming (to deal with) a great man,” or: “this is the law (or prerogative) of a great man, to found dynasties that are to last into the far future” (Bib. Comm.), which interpretations (though agreeing somewhat with 1 Chr. 17:17) do not accord with the humility that characterizes the whole passage. Chandler’s rendering: “this is according to the constitution of men,” namely, that the crown should be hereditary (God graciously making it hereditary in David’s family), is somewhat far-fetched and unsuitable to David’s line of thought. The early English commentators mentators generally interpret the passage as directly Messianic; but the context does not permit this.—If our text be retained, the sentence must be rendered: “and this is the law of man,” that is, the promise given is the prescription made for the government of man, who, in comparison with God, is so low, so unworthy of such honor; and Dr. Erdmann’s explanation is the most satisfactory. But regard must be had to 1 Chr. 17:17, in which it is evidently intended to give the same thought as is given here, and which, as it now stands, is to be rendered: “Thou regardest me according to the line of men on high.” It is difficult to bring these two declarations into harmony. Moreover, the two texts have enough similarity and difference to suggest that one has been altered from the other, or that both are corruptions of the original text. The ancient versions give little or no aid in determining text or meaning; they mostly either render literally, or give paraphrases that cannot be gotten from the existing Hebrew, and that offer no fruitful suggestion. It is noticeable, however, that the Chald. in “Samuel” has: “and this is a vision of men,” while the Sept. in “Chronicles” renders: “Thou regardedst me as a vision of man,” and these translations favor the causative form of the verb in Chron. (Hiph. תַּרְאֵני), or else a reading ראי “vision” instead of תוֹרה or תור.—Ewald (after Chron.) reads the Samuel text: וְהִרְאִתַנִי בְתוֹר הָאָדָם לְמַעֲלָה “and Thou hast made me look on the line of men upwards,” that is, into the future; and Wellhausen changes תּוֹרָה (and תּוֹר) into דּוֹרוֹת “Thou hast made me see generations.”—Since none of the proposed amendments of the text are quite satisfactory (for it is not clear how our present text originated), we must be content to know the general idea of the passage (which does not essentially vary in the renderings of Erdmann, Ewald and Wellhausen), namely, that David here continues his humble acknowledgment of the divine favor.—
2 Samuel 7:20. David here affirms 3) the inexpressibleness and exceeding abundance of the divine favor bestowed on him, and the consequent impossibility of setting forth in words the thankfulness that he feels in his heart. And what shall David say more to thee?—Language fails; silence is here the most eloquent thanks. And thou knowest thy servant, Lord Jehovah.—As in 2 Samuel 7:19 the exclamation “Lord Jehovah!” formed a sharp contrast to the “man,” so it does here to “thy servant,” answering to the humble consciousness of the endless distance between him and his God, with which, however, is connected the childlike consciousness of immediate cordial community with God: for, as he often elsewhere appeals to God, who knows the heart, for consolation and justification against man, so he does here in respect to his thankful heart, since he is sure of having the testimony of the Omniscient for him (see Ps. 40:6, 10 [5, 9]).
2 Samuel 7:21. For thy word’s sake and after thy heart hast thou done all these great things to make them known to thy servant; the concrete “great deeds”31 is here meant, not the abstract “greatness,” see Ps. 71:21; 145:3. The word “this” [Eng. A. V. “these”] shows that the great things here referred to are the splendid promises that the Lord announced through Nathan to Him, his servant. Looking, now, at all the great things that the Lord has done for him in this revelation, David declares 4) the supernatural, superhuman eternal ground and origin of these new great manifestations of favor (which exceed all preceding ones) in “the word” and in “the heart” of God, that is, in His free gracious will, which is independent of all human merit. For Thy word’s sake. Chron. 5:19: “for thy servant’s sake,” that is, because Thou hast chosen and called me to be king of Israel. “For David does not boast before God that his own merit had gained him these things” (Cler.). According to this point of view “the word” is perhaps that word of choice and destination given in 1 Sam. 16:12 (“the Lord said, Arise, anoint him, for this is he”), as Hengst. supposes. It is possibly, however, the old prophecy concerning the Tribe of Judah in Gen. 49:10; “for that David recognized the connection between the promise given him through Nathan and the prophecy of Gen. 49:10, is shown by 1 Chr. 28:4, where he represents his choice to be king as the result of the choice of Judah to be prince” (Keil). [It does not appear from this passage in Chron. that David means more than that the tribe of Judah had been now selected in his person as the royal tribe.—TR.]. “And according to thy heart,” that is, according to the love and grace by which thy heart is filled, from thy loving will.32 Clericus: “From the spontaneous motion of thy mind, without external incitement.” Comp. Ex. 34:6; Ps. 103:8. Over against “God’s heart” as the source of the great favor received David sets his heart as filled with humble thanks therefor; but his word of thanks must stand dumb before the clear Yea and Amen and the earlier words of promise of God, the Yea and Amen of which is this exhibition of favor. In thus deriving it from God’s faithfulness to His promise, and from His heart-love, he adds the positive thought to the negative “who am I?” of 2 Samuel 7:18, and so leads the conclusion of this thanksgiving back to its beginning. [“To make thy servant know,” or, as in Chron. (5:19) “to make known all (these) great things.” God not only in His sovereign mercy determined great things for David, but further for his consolation and strengthening made them known to him through His prophet.—TR.]
b. 2 Samuel 7:22–24. Praise of the Lord’s greatness and incomparable glory as manifested by this highest exhibition of favor, in accord with the great deeds whereby in times of old He made Himself known to His people as their God.
2 Samuel 7:22. Therefore, because Thou hast done so great things for me, on the ground of this experience of Thine abounding favor, thou art great, Lord God; comp. 2 Samuel 7:26: “and Thy name will be great,” not: “considered great” (Luth.), nor: “be Thy name praised by me” (5. Gerl., Then.), but it is an assertion of greatness manifested objectively in facts. The factual confession “great is the Lord” (comp. Ps. 35:27; 40:17 (16) is precisely praise to God. —Now follows the ground for this praise of the Lord’s greatness: For there is none like thee—this declares God’s incomparableness. Comp. Ex. 15:11 “who is like thee, etc.?” Deut. 3:24. And there is not a God beside thee, declaration of God’s aloneness and exclusiveness, comp. Deut. 4:35; 1 Sam. 2:2. According to all that we have heard with our ears;33 David here passes from the contemplation of the greatness, incomparableness and soleness, wherein the Lord has declared Himself to him in the present, to the praise of God in the review of the great deeds whereby in the past He has revealed Himself to His people as such a God. “In Ps. 40:6 David rises, just as here, from his personal experience to the whole line of God’s glorious manifestations in the history of His people” (Hengst.).
2 Samuel 7:23. And what nation is as thy people, as Israel any [nation] on earth? The initial “and,” according to the sense, gives the factual ground of what precedes. We cannot render: “where is, as Israel, a nation, etc.” (De W. [and Luther])34, nor “for whose sake God went, etc.”, (Hengst.), but must translate: “what nation … whom God, etc.” Elohim35 here stands with a plural verb—as often elsewhere where heathen idol-worship is referred to, as in Ex. 32:4, 8, where Elohim is used of the golden calf (“these are thy gods, that brought thee out of Egypt”), comp. Deut. 4:7; 1 Kings 12:29, while, as name of the God of Israel, it has a singular verb or other complement—because the thought is here intended to be expressed that there is no nation but Israel that had been redeemed by its deity or its idols by such a deed as that by which the true God had redeemed Israel to be His people. It is therefore unnecessary to change the verb into the singular, reading “brought” ( הוֹלִיךְ) [הוֹלִכוֹ] instead of “went” (הָלְכוּ). In consequence of God’s great deeds Israel is a people sole of its kind, to be compared with no other, comp. Deut. 4:7; 33:29. By His great deed, the deliverance out of Egypt, He has proved Himself to His people to be the only God, besides whom there is no God, and with whom no other is to be compared (Ex. 15:11–13; Deut. 4:34). Whom God went (put Himself in motion) to purchase to himself (redeem) for a people; the deliverance from Egypt was the suigeneric, incomparable deed of the incomparable, sole God, whereby He made Israel an independent nation and gained them out of all nations as His own possession. And to make himself a name; that deed of redemption is the factual historical proof that He is the true God, who has not His equal, and the God of Israel in the fulness of His might and of the revelation of His grace, and this fulness it is that makes His name. In this His name (whereby Israel only knows and names Him as the God that led them out of Egypt) He is contrasted with the vain idols of the heathen nations as the one true God (Josh. 24:17; Judg. 2:1, 12; 6:13).—And to do for you great things and terrible. The “for you” refers not to “gods” (Elohim), but to “people;” but it is not necessary to change the text to “for them” (after the Vulgate), because, David’s soul being filled and excited with the thought of his people, in the course of his prayer his words turn suddenly in increasing vividness from reference to the people naturally and immediately to the people itself, and “since also 1 Chr. 17. has in its ‘for thee’ this easily explicable leap to an address to the thing spoken of” (Böttch.). [But the address to the people is much harder than the address to God, and it seems better to read “for them.”—TR.].—On the other hand, the “for thy land” gives no good sense without forcing, and Chron. has instead of this “to drive out” (2 Samuel 7:21). It is therefore better (with the Sept. τοῦ ἐκβαλεῖν σε) to suppose a clerical error, and (taking לְגָרֶשְׁךָ as the true text) to render: (namely) that thou drovest out before thy people.—The frightful, terrible things are the great deeds of the Lord in connection with the destruction of the heathen nations. On this idea comp. Ex. 15:11; Deut. 10:21. The fundamental passage respecting the expulsion of foreign nations is Ex. 23:27–33, where this verb “drive out” (גּרשׁ) is repeatedly used. Which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt.—This fundamental deed of the God of Israel is expressly mentioned in this parenthetical sentence, because the right of property that He thereby had in His people chosen out of the nations, necessarily led to His maintaining and defending them against the heathen nations, and the destruction of the Egyptians in this deed was the prelude to God’s for Israel “great” but for the hostile Canaanites “terrible deeds,” whereby He placed Israel in position to drive their enemies out of the land. The heathen and their gods; these words depend on the verb “drovest out.” Keil (who retains the “for thy land,” rejecting the alteration according to Chron.) takes these words as apposition to “from Egypt” and supplies the prep. “from” before them [so Eng. A. V. and Philippson.—TR.].—But this construction is inadmissible, because the Plur. “nations” does not accord with the Sing. “Egypt.” After the deliverance from Egypt David will celebrate the expulsion of the heathen from Canaan as a great deed of God. The Sing. suffix [Heb. “nations and its gods”] gives no sense after the Plu. noun; to take it distributively, as Keil does (“the gods of each of these heathen nations”), is too hard; we must therefore read the Plu. suffix “their gods.”
2 Samuel 7:24. The result of God’s mighty deeds stated in 2 Samuel 7:23. And thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel, comp. 2 Samuel 7:10; it is God’s act whereby in the conquered land the people were led to the firm establishment of their dwellings, their possessions, and their whole life. The thought does not go back to the time of Moses, but advances from the foregoing fact of the subjection and expulsion of “the heathen nations and their gods” to the establishment of the people in Canaan. To be a people to thee forever. The design of God’s gracious benefits was: 1) Israel was to belong to Him alone as His property;36 through God’s mighty deeds the long-since executed choice of the people as His property is ever anew confirmed, and their obligation, to belong to and serve Him alone as people, ever repeated. 2) “For ever” they were to belong to Him as His people. This appointment of the people to be everlasting is remarkable; there shall never cease to be such a people of possession on the ground of such gracious manifestations and saving acts of the Lord. To this idea of the everlasting continuance of a people of God, (—“all nations are finally merged in this people, the divine Israel, the congregation of Jesus Christ,” O. v. Gerlach), answers the promise of the everlasting continuance of the throne of David, which gave him occasion thus to praise God for His deeds, whereby He has established and prepared Israel for Himself as His people forever. And thou, Lord, art become their God, as Israel has become Thy people. This His relation to His people as their God has been established by all His revelations and deeds; for He has thereby testified that He is their God and given Himself to them as their own. The people on their part have contributed nothing thereto. The Lord’s free grace in its great and glorious manifestation is the source and origin of this covenant-association, wherein God is His people’s God and the people their God’s people. [Bib. Com. here refers well to Gen. 17:7, 8; Ex. 6:7—TR.]
c. 2 Samuel 7:25–29. David’s prayer for the fulfilment of the promise, attached to his thanksgiving for the past, his glance passing from the splendor of the present (to which the promise has led him) to the future.
2 Samuel 7:25. David here distinguishes between the two applications of the promise, to him personally and to his house: that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house; “establish it forever,” as indeed it has promised the everlasting continuance of the house and of the kingdom. Let thy word become deed.
2 Samuel 7:26. Design or consequence of the fulfilment: that thy name may become great forever.—David has in eye, as the highest end of the fulfilment, not the honor of his house, not the glory of the people, but solely the honor of the Lord. Saying, the Lord of Sabaoth is God over Israel, that is, “the almighty God, who rules heaven and earth, is the defender and protector of Israel, His people; He attests Himself as their God by protecting the royal house on which depends Israel’s welfare” (Hengst.). And the house of thy servant David will be established before thee.—The petition here assumes the form of confident hope. This expression of definite expectation by reason of its boldness needs basing on a sure foundation, as is done in 2 Samuel 7:27, where it returns to the form of confident petition. For this reason the initial particle in 2 Samuel 7:27 (כִּי) is to be rendered “for” (with Luth., Buns., De W., Hengst.) as giving the ground of what precedes, and not to be connected with the following “therefore”: “because thou… therefore has” (Böttch., Then.). The former rendering accords with the liveliness of feeling with which David prays; the latter gives a construction too sluggish for his feeling. For thou, Lord of Sabaoth, hast uncovered the ear of thy servant, that is, hast revealed to him through thy word (comp. 1 Sam. 9:15), saying, a house will I build thee.—David goes back to this fundamental promise, because in it are contained all the manifestations of favor that are promised to his family for the future. It is on the firm basis of this word, wherein the Lord acknowledged him and condescended to him, that David founded that confident petition: Therefore has thy servant found his heart, that is, found courage [Eng. A. V. “found in his heart”]. Heart = courage, Gen. 42:28; 1 Sam. 17:32; Ps. 40:13  and often elsewhere.—In 2 Samuel 7:28 and 2 Samuel 7:29 follows the conclusion and the completion of the petition; its ground on the subjective side of confidence and courage (which is exhibited in 2 Samuel 7:25, 26) having been given by appeal to the divine promise (2 Samuel 7:27), the content (not yet expressed) of that which completes the petition, is based on the truth of the Lord’s word [that is, he first (2 Samuel 7:28) appeals to God’s truth and then (2 Samuel 7:29) sets forth his petition in final form.—TR.]. And now, Lord Jehovah, thou art God,37 and thy words are truth, not: “may thy words be truth,” [nor, “will be truth.”—TR.]. The following words of the verse are to be taken as protasis (Thenius): And thou spakest this goodness to thy servant, wherein the content of the promises is briefly condensed and recapitulated.
2 Samuel 7:29. The “and now” resumes the “and now” of 2 Samuel 7:28: And now begin (not: let it please thee) to bless (Sept., Vulg.) the house of thy servant that it may continue forever before thee; the everlasting continuance of the house depends on the blessing of the Lord; the beginning in the blessing that secures the everlasting continuance is related to the “forever.” [Erdmann here follows Thenius in rendering “begin” instead of “let it please thee” as Eng. A. V.; the Hebrew word properly means “to set one’s self to do a thing with free determination of will,” and the rendering of the Septuagint and Vulgate “begin” is only a very general one and not very correct. We cannot easily find a better rendering than that of Eng. A. V., which is the usual one; other possible translations are: “make up thy mind, set thyself to, take in hand.”—TR.] For thou, Lord Jehovah, hast spoken; these words represent the content of 2 Samuel 7:28 as the divine ground of the desired fulfilment of the promise, since in them is given the security for the confident hope that is expressed in the concluding word: And from [or, with] thy blessing will the house of thy servant be blessed forever. Instead of “thou wilt bless,” it reads: “from thy blessing” as the source of all blessings “will the house of thy servant” to which thou hast promised everlasting existence “be blessed forever,” which is the condition of everlasting continuance. David’s prayer is completed by the expression of confident hope, and goes over into prophecy. [This future rendering of the last clause gives a richer sense and one more appropriate in the connection (God has spoken and it will be so) than the optative form of Eng. A. V. So substantially 1 Chr. 17:27.—TR.].
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. Historically the divine revelation and promise that came to David through Nathan, concerning the theocratic-messianic kingdom that was forever connected with his seed, presupposes the previous development of the idea of the theocratic kingdom. Comp. pp. 68 sqq., 186 sqq. [Hist. and Theol. to 1 Sam. 8.]. In this development (which advances from the general to the particular, from the promise of salvation for all nations to be realized through the whole nation descended from Abraham) the promise that assigns to the house and family of David the position of bearer and mediator of the Messianic blessing is based on the prophecy which, out of the seed of Abraham as represented by the twelve sons of Jacob and the corresponding tribes, designates the tribe of Judah as the bearer of a royal dominion that embraces and brings peace to all the nations of the earth (Gen. 49:10). “While up to this time the tribe only had been designated in which an imperishable dominion was to be established, and out of which at last the Saviour was to come, under David the designation of the family also was added” (Hengst. Christol. [Eng. tr., p. 123]). The really existing theocratic kingdom, as exhibited in David’s government, approximated very nearly to the ideal significance of the kingdom over Israel; that is, to being God’s dominion over His people through the human organ chosen by Him, who was in humility and obedience unconditionally to subject his own will to the divine will. On the basis of this fact the prophecy of a future seed of David, that should, in the possession of an everlasting royal dominion, stand in closest community with God as His son, could take shape, as here in Nathan’s word. In contrast with the kingdom of Saul, which came into sharp opposition to the idea of the absolute divine dominion in Israel, and consequently into permanent conflict with the other theocratic institutions (the Prophetic office and the Priesthood), there appeared, through the rule of David, the man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), on the one hand, the idea of the theocracy, in such manner that David regarded himself only as the “servant of the Lord,” and wished to be nothing but the humble, obedient instrument of the divine government over the people, and on the other hand, the royal office was elevated to the position of being the controlling and centralizing point of all the theocratic main elements of the national life. This, then, was the basis of the further development of the Messianic idea, the way for which was paved by Nathan’s word to David, wherein the idea of the theocratic kingdom, which reached its highest point in David, was most intimately connected with David’s royal house.
2. The historical character of Nathan’s prophecy shows itself in the first place in its factual occasion. This lies in the relative contrast in the plans of human and divine wisdom. David’s plan, after subduing his enemies, to build a temple to the Lord’s honor in the midst of His people, together with Nathan’s agreement thereto, corresponds thoroughly with the theocratic disposition of the two men, and with their recognition of the Lord’s relation to His people as the people of His possession, and of the people’s character as a priestly kingdom. But according to God’s thought, the right time for this was not yet come; for the execution of this plan (which is not in itself rejected) the divine wisdom demands 1) that the present condition of the people should cease, for (despite David’s victories) they were still surrounded by threatening heathen nations, had not found sure and permanent rest, and so God’s sanctuary must still be a wandering tent; 2) that David’s house and the kingdom therewith connected should be completely, forever and finally established as basis for the unfolding of the divine dominion [theocracy] over the people of Israel and the other nations, as this dominion was to be exhibited in God’s enthroned dwelling in the permanent house [temple]. Nathan is made acquainted with these thoughts and ways of God’s wisdom through a divine revelation, in consequence of which he now in his divine-prophetic word does not indeed principially [fundamentally or essentially] reject the plan to build a temple to the Lord, but still announces the Lord’s will that the execution of this plan is to be reserved for the seed of David. The view that the prophet’s restraining word declares that Jehovah needs in general no stately house (Diestel, Jahrb. f. deutsche Theol., 1863, p. 559) finds no support in the text, which says nothing more in 2 Samuel 7:5 than that David should not build; and the assertion (ubi sup.) that the prohibition is in no way based on grounds derived from the special situation is obviously opposed to the statement of reasons in 2 Samuel 7:6–11, wherein Israel’s wanderings are connected with the still continuing unrest and insecurity of David’s time (the enemies being yet not definitively subdued), and the thought is clearly enough expressed that the temple cannot yet be built because quiet is still to be secured against enemies. There is, therefore, no ground for referring (Diestel) the prohibition of the temple-building to an ancient strict opinion [against such building]; nothing of this sort can be meant here, since the symbolical conception of God’s dwelling in space amid His people in a permanent temple is no more opposed to the strict conception of the being [essence] of God than that of His dwelling in a movable tent. And so also there is no sufficient ground for assigning this prohibition to some one else than Nathan, to Gad, for example. Rather the section 2 Samuel 7:4–16 is in accord both with the historical situation that it presupposes and to which it refers, and with itself.—From another side the concrete38 reference to Solomon’s birth and the temple-building to be completed by him has been adduced against the purely historical character of the words of Nathan and David; it is affirmed to be clear—from this reference, and from a comparison between it and the ideal picture of the kingdom contained in the words, and by comparing the brief and very peculiar “last words of David,” especially 2 Sam. 23:5—that we have here a later post-Solomonic remodelling of the original promise, and that this original promise, which was of a more general form, was at a later time more distinctly stated according to events that had meantime occurred (G. Baur, ubi sup., p. 394, 405). Against which, however, is to be remarked 1) that those special designations are by no means so concretely set forth; there is nothing but a general statement of the raising up of the seed after David and of a building of the temple by this seed; 2) Solomon’s discourse in 1 Kings 5:5 presupposes that Nathan’s words contained precisely this statement. Thenius also opposes this supposition of an ex post facto remodelling of these prophetic words, remarking (p. 176, 2d ed.): “For the rest there is no ground to suppose with De Wette that Nathan’s prophecy was not composed till after Solomon; Ps. 89. (2 Samuel 7:4, 5, 20–38 [3, 4, 19–37], especially 2 Samuel 7:20 ), Ps. 132:11, 12, and Isa. 55:3 attest its historical truth, and rightly understood it as Messianic also.”—To this must be added that David’s prayer (2 Samuel 7:18–29) which in its peculiar individuality bears the marks of genuineness or originality, presupposes the whole content of Nathan’s words as here reported, especially the reference to the future and to the everlasting continuance of David’s house (comp. 2 Samuel 7:19, 25, 26, 27, 29); and so also his Ps. 18. (2 Samuel 22), especially the close, and his last word (23:1–7).
3. The chief points in the content of this prophecy, which is introduced by the word: “Not thou shalt build for the Lord a house, but the Lord will build thee a house,” are the following (in order of mention): 1) God promises David a seed destined and called to be the bearer of the theocratical kingdom. It is true, the promise relates to David’s house in general (2 Samuel 7:11, 16, 19, 25, 26, 27, 29). But the house is not identical with the seed, to whom refer the declarations that form the gist of the prophecy. This seed is not the whole posterity, but a selection from it; comp. 2 Samuel 7:12: “I will raise up thy seed after thee” with 1 Chr. 17:11, according to which the seed is to be of the sons of David; nor is it restricted to a single person, but signifies the posterity selected and appointed by God, which is to be bearer for all future time of the theocratic kingdom. 2) For this seed chosen by God’s free grace, wherein is represented the house that the Lord builds for David, the kingdom is firmly established; the securely established royal authority will be attached to the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12). 3) To the Davidic kingdom, the bearer of which is David’s seed, an everlasting duration is promised; the reference is not to the everlasting rule of a single king, but to the endless continuance of the kingdom of David’s seed. Like the promised kingdom, the house of David also has a perpetual duration (2 Samuel 7:13, 16). 4) God promises to be the Father of David’s seed, and pledges it such an intimate relation to Himself that it shall be His son. As God is the Father of the people of Israel by the fact that He has chosen them as His people by free grace, made them His people by redemption, led them by His paternal love, obligated them to obedience, and sanctified them to be the people of His possession, so He is the Father of the everlasting royal seed of David by the fact that He has chosen it for His kingly house in Israel, and made and formed it to be bearer of His everlasting dominion over His people, and it is His son by love of most intimate fellowship with God, and by the humble obedience wherein it thoroughly subjects its will to the divine will. “As all Israelites are sons of Jehovah (Deut. 14:1), so must the king be in special measure, but only as the head of the chosen people of God” (Diestel, ubi sup. 559). 5) On the ground of this relation of father and son the favor of God will abide unchanged with the seed of David, that is, the theocratic king. He will, indeed, be punished for the sins into which he falls; but these chastisements will never reach the point of rejection, as happened in Saul’s case; the sins of David’s seed will, for the sake of the promise given to David, never set aside the divine counsel.—“The word of the prophet Nathan and the thanksgiving of David mark the culmination of the Davidic history” (Baumgarten).
4. The significance of the prophecy for the Messianic expectation of salvation. The direct Messianic reference to Christ (Tertull. ad Marc. iii. 20; Lactant. divin. instit. 4, 13; August. de civ. Dei, 17, 8; Rupert von Deutz, Beza, S. Schmid, Calov, Pfeiffer, Buddeus, and other old theologians [Patrick (in part), A. Clarke]) stands (apart from the un-historical view of the nature of Messianic prophecy that lies at its foundation) in contradiction with the sinning of David’s seed (2 Samuel 7:14, 15), whereby a purely human and sinful posterity is designated, and with the temple-building (2 Samuel 7:13), which can only be understood of earthly work. [Some attempt to set aside these objections to a direct Messianic interpretation by suggesting that the sin in the case of Christ is the sin He bore for men, as in Isa. 53. (Gill), or by rendering 2 Samuel 7:14 “even in his suffering for iniquity I shall chasten him,” etc. (A. Clarke), and by regarding the house built by Christ as a spiritual one; but this translation of the Heb. is not admissible, and the spiritualizing in the other case is harsh and contrary to the plain meaning of the text. Such a prophecy must be treated as that of the “Servant of Jehovah” in Isaiah and as the Parable of the Prodigal Son; the main spiritual idea must be determined, and its fulfilment looked for in the Messiah, without attempting to transfer all the details into the sphere of permanent spiritual history.—TR.]—The limitation of the prophecy to Solomon and his immediate posterity (Rabbinical writers, Grotius) is opposed to the “everlasting” duration that is promised the Davidic kingdom, and that cannot be weakened into a designation of a long period of time (comp. Ps. 89:30 ). [The phrase “forever” (the Eng. rendering of several different but substantially equivalent phrases in Heb.) sometimes indicates a limited period of time (as in 1 Sam. 1:22), where the limitation is determined by the nature of the case or by statements in the context; here the absence of any special limiting statements, taken in connection with the general tone of the promises to Israel in the Old Test., leads us to the conclusion that an unlimited duration is intended to be expressed.—TR.]—The interpretation that refers the words in part immediately and directly to Christ, in part to Solomon and his nearest posterity is found already in Theodoret (2 Reg. quœst. 21), who explains 2 Samuel 7:12, 13 a, 14 b, 15 of David’s immediate bodily descendants, but 2 Samuel 7:13 b, 14 a, 16 of Christ. So also Brenz: “he does not wholly exclude Solomon, yet refers principally to Christ.” Similarly Sack (Apologet. 243 sq.) says that the seed of 2 Samuel 7:12 and 13 is to be understood of the Messiah, but the content of 2 Samuel 7:14, 15 of the earlier scions of the Davidic house, from whom, notwithstanding their sins, the kingdom is never or at least not soon to be withdrawn. But this supposition of a double reference is as much opposed by the unity and continuity of the prophet’s thoughts and views (as traced in the Exposition) as the related supposition (based on the presupposition of a double sense in the Scripture) according to which Nathan’s word refers in the literal sense to Solomon, in the mystical sense to Christ (Glass, philol. sacra, p. 272). [We must distinguish between this mechanical view of a double sense in Scripture and the view that assigns to certain persons and things a typical-prophetical position in the development of the plan of salvation.—TR.]
In the first place it must be determined in what respect we are to suppose a factual fulfilment of this promise in David’s own lifetime, and then in his posterity. David himself, in 1 Chr. 22:9 sq., refers them first to Solomon, applying to him the words: “he will be to me a son and I will be to him a father, and I will establish the law of his kingdom over Israel for ever.” David does the same in 1 Chr. 28:2 sq., both times with the exhortation faithfully to observe the commandments and judgments of God, and by obedience to the Lord’s will to live worthy of his high calling in order that the promise might be fulfilled. So also Solomon applies the promise to himself, 1 Kings 5:5; 2 Chr. 6:7 sq.; 1 Kings 8:17–20. In 1 Kings 9:4, 5 God confirms to him the power given to David, assuring him that if he would walk before His face as David did, and faithfully keep His commandments, He would establish the throne of his dominion forever, in accordance with His promise to David: “there shalt not fail thee a man from the throne of Israel.”—Punishment for his defection from the living God was visited on Solomon by the separation of the Ten Tribes under Jeroboam; but the promise that His favor should yet not be withdrawn from David’s house is also fulfilled, the kingdom “for David’s sake” and “that David, the servant of the Lord, might always have a light before him in Jerusalem, which He had chosen to put His name there,” remaining to the seed of David, which for this sin “is to be afflicted, but not forever.” The humbling of David’s seed was to be only temporary, and the promise of the everlasting kingdom was to be fulfilled not in Jeroboam’s house, but in David’s, 1 Kings 11:31–39. Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, walked in the sins of his father, and his heart was not wholly with the Lord; but for David’s sake the Lord his God gave Rehoboam a light in Jerusalem, in that he raised up his son after him and let Jerusalem stand, because David had done what was right in the sight of the Lord (1 Kings 15:4, 5). Jehoram did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord; but the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as He had promised to give him a light in his sons alway (2 Kings 8:18,19). “While prophecy announces the downfall of one dynasty after another of the Ten Tribes, it also indeed threatens individual apostate kings in Judah with the divine judgment, but never questions the continuance of the right of David’s family to the throne. David’s crown may be taken away; but there will come one to whom it belongs, Ezek. 21:32 ” (Œhler, Herz. IX. 412). The promise is thus referred to all David’s descendants that were called to the throne from Solomon on (comp. Ps. 89:20–50; 132:10, 11) in accordance with the word of David in 2 Sam. 7:25, wherein he speaks of the promise of an everlasting kingdom as one that is given forever to his house.—Nathan’s prophecy has thus in the first place a fundamental significance for the development of the kingdom of God and the salvation therein unfolded, in so far as from now on for all time the kingdom of Israel with its theocratic calling to realize God’s dominion in the life of His people, and to fulfil the ends of His kingdom, towers far above the Prophetic Office (as the organ of the revelation and announcement of God’s will to His people), and above the High-priesthood (as expiatory mediation between the sinful people and the holy God). All hopes and expectations of the future salvation under the theocracy that is realizing itself in the people attach themselves to the idea of the theocratic kingdom, which is the representative and manifestation of the kingdom of God itself and therefore everlasting, as also the people of God themselves have received the promise of everlasting duration (Deut. 11:21). But this kingdom is exclusively the Davidic; with the seed of David (so far as this seed is chosen and appointed for it) it goes forth as everlasting bearer of the favors and blessings of God, of which the people partake on the ground of the covenant that God has concluded with David (Isa. 55:3). “Things may indeed be affirmed of every king that sits on David’s throne that are true in the first instance not of him personally, but of the kingdom that he represents (comp. passages like Ps. 21:5, 7; 61:7). But, impelled by the Spirit, the sacred poesy produces a kingly form that far transcends what the present shows, and exhibits the Davidic and Solomonic kingdom in its archetypal completeness” (Oehler, Herz. IX. 412). The idea of the theocratic Davidic kingdom of everlasting duration, and with the stamp of sonship assumes from this prophecy a concrete form in the ideal of a theocratic king who proceeds from the seed of David. This latter is called in Ps. 2:7, 12, “the son of God” absolutely; in Ps. 110:1 declared to be the ruler that shares with God His unlimited might and power over heaven and earth, and even David’s lord; in Ps. 72 everlasting dominion to the ends of the earth is ascribed to him, and in Ps. 45:2 the name “Elohim, God,” itself is given him. In David’s prophetic word in 2 Sam. 23 this ideal takes the form of a righteous ruler, who introduces a glorious future, in Ps. 2, 110, that of a victorious prince who as son and heir of God in unconquerable power extends his dominion by vigorous battles over the whole earthy and brings His foes to his feet, and in Ps. 72 that of a powerful prince, who conducts His government in divine righteousness, dispenses weal and blessing to the wretched, stretches out His kingdom of peace and its blessings over all princes and nations of the earth and receives their homage.—[More correctly, these passages refer first to a present earthly monarch looked on as representing the ideal king, and their assertions, partially true of the finite earthly king, are to be realized in one that shall be identical with the ideal.—TR.] Further the promise given to David is the foundation of all Messianic prophecies and hopes in the prophets concerning the completion of the kingdom of God, its revelations of grace and its blessings of salvation, comp. Oehler ubi sup. 413. The idea of the everlasting victorious and peaceful theocracy that embraces not only Israel, but all the nations of the earth, and the ideal of the theocratic king, proceeding from David’s house and seed, and standing in the exclusive relation to God of son, who introduces and exercises this dominion [the theocracy], finds its full reality in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Song of Solomon of God and Song of Solomon of David, who is anointed without measure with the Holy Ghost and by the complete indwelling of God in His person exhibits Himself as the personal principle of the kingdom of God. The view that the descent of Christ from the Davidic race does not belong to the essential content of the fulfilment of the idea of the Old Testament-kingdom (G. Baur, 407) is refuted by the constant declarations of the prophets concerning the Davidic descent of the great king, as well as by the universal Jewish conception of the Messiah as the son of David (Matt. 22:42 sq.), both of which rest on this fundamental prophecy. Jesus Himself accepts the name of “Son of David” without protest; Paul (Rom. 1:3), the Epistle to the Hebrews (7:14), and the Apocalypse (5:5; 22:16) declare Him to be a descendant of David. “How deep this promise penetrated David’s soul is shown by his thanksgiving prayer in 2 Sam. 7:18 sq. The Messiah is not therein spoken of in the first instance; it relates to the ideal person of the Davidic race; but its final fulfilment in the Messiah is already contained indirectly in its own content, since the everlastingness of a merely human kingdom is inconceivable; this became clearer to David the more he compared this promise with the Messianic idea that had come down from the fathers; it finally reached full certainty in his mind through the further inward disclosures that attached themselves to this fundamental promise which occupied David day and night” (Hengst., Gesch. d. Reich. Gott. unter d. Alt. Bundes, 1871, II. 2, 124 [Hengstenberg’s Hist. of the Kingdom of God under the Old Covenant]).
5. The prayer of David after the reception of the Lord’s promise of favor (2 Samuel 7:18–29) bears testimony to the unexpected, joyfully surprising revelation that was made to him, and mirrors his childlike humility, fervid devotion and unshakable confidence towards his God. To this prayer which proceeds from a joyfully shocked and deeply moved heart, applies (so far as is possible from the Old Testament stand-point) what Bernard of Clairvaux says of true prayer: “If the way to God’s throne is to stand free and open to our prayer, and it is there to find ready acceptance and hearing, it must proceed from an humble, fervid and trusting heart. Humility teaches us the necessity of prayer, fervor gives it flight and endurance, trust provides it with an unmovable foundation.” The humility of the praying servant of God expresses itself in the declaration of its own littleness and unworthiness: 1) in view of the many manifestations of favor, through which the Lord has brought him in the past up to this point (2 Samuel 7:18); 2) In view of the great promises for the future that He has given him out of free grace (2 Samuel 7:19); and 3) In view of the paternal kindness, wherein He has condescended to him in this present revelation of love (2 Samuel 7:20, 21). “All without merit or worthiness of mine” (Luther).—A further special exhibition of humility is the occurrence of the word “servant” three times in 2 Samuel 7:18–21 and seven times in 2 Samuel 7:25–29. “This thanksgiving confirms anew the fact that the only foundation on which the true godliness and everlastingness of the kingdom can rest is the purity and holiness of an humble heart, and therefore the hearty and living humility of David’s thanksgiving may give us the strongest assurance that here is really enthroned the culmination of all royal rule” (Baumgarten).—In the prayer humility is combined with childlike fervor and sincerity, wherewith: 1) God’s power and glory, as revealed in His previous gracious deeds for His people, is praised and celebrated (2 Samuel 7:22, 23); 2) God’s love, wherein He acknowledges Himself to be His people’s God and Lord, is declared (2 Samuel 7:24); and 3) God’s name is invoked from the depths of a heart full of the consciousness of His gracious presence. (“The name Jehovah occurs twelve times, and is ten times addressed. In the address the simple Jehovah occurs once, Adonai Jehovah six times, Jehovah Elohim twice, and Jehovah Sabaoth once. The address Adonai Jehovah is found at the beginning and at the end. The third division first takes up the divine names of the second, and then returns at the close to that of the first.” Hengst., ubi sup., 158.)—[Compare the use of divine names in the parallel passage in 1 Chron. 17.—TR.]). With humility and fervor is combined hearty trust 1) in the prayer for the fulfilment of the gracious promise; 2) in the appeal to the truthfulness of God’s word; and 3) in the confident hope of God’s blessing (2 Samuel 7:25–29).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Samuel 7:1–11. “The Lord is with thee” (2 Samuel 7:3). I. How the Lord owns Himself as thine: 1) In battle and victory over all thy enemies; 2) In the quietness and peace of thy heart; 3) In the blessing of thy house; 4) In the instructions of His word. II. How thou shouldst consequently place thyself with respect to the Lord: 1) In joyful willingness to prove thy gratitude to Him; 2) In humble obedience of faith to His will when it rejects thy thoughts; 3) In humbly letting thy house be built for thee by Him, and letting Him give to thee before thou wilt give to Him; and 4) In awaiting with childlike confidence His blessing for the future.
Giving and Taking in the relation of man to God: 1) “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven;” but 2) A man can also give nothing to God the Lord, except it be first given him by the Lord.
“I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest” (2 Samuel 7:9): 1) How far this divine testimony has been confirmed in the guidance of thy whole course of life; 2) How its truth should qualify thee to know His ways in the guidance of His people, and in the history of His kingdom; 3) What obligation is thereby laid on thee in relation to thy God.
2 Samuel 7:12–16. The fulfilment of the great and gracious promise of God to David, in Christ the Son of David: 1) In His person, He is not merely David’s seed = seed of the woman = Abraham’s seed, but also God’s Son; 2) In His office, He is King over the kingdom of God, King of all kings; 3) In His possession of power, He has an everlasting kingdom, to Him is given all power in heaven and on earth; 4) In His work, He builds for the name of God the Father a house, a spiritual temple in humanity, out of living stones (comp. John 2:19).
[2 Samuel 7:16, 17. ROBERT HALL: The advantages of Civil Government contrasted with the blessings of the Spiritual Kingdom of Jesus Christ (Works, Am. Ed., III., 444): 1) As to security, and the sense of security. 2) Liberty. 3) Plenty. 4) A tendency to improvement in social institutions. 5) Stability.—TR.]
2 Samuel 7:18–24. The greatness of the manifestations of God’s grace: 1) They infinitely surpass the desert and worthiness of sinful men (Who am I? etc.), 2 Samuel 7:18; 2) They fill all times, from the remotest past into the farthest future (2 Samuel 7:18, 19); 3) They are high-exalted above all human thoughts and words, which cannot comprehend and express them (2 Samuel 7:20); 4) They are deep-grounded in God’s word and heart (2 Samuel 7:21).
2 Samuel 7:22–24. The right praise of God on the part of His people: 1) Looking to that which He is to them, as their incomparably gracious God, and exclusively their own; 2) Looking to that which He as their God has done in them in the wonders of His redeeming might and love; and 3) Looking to that for which He has made them His people, and prepared them for Himself.
2 Samuel 7:25–29. The right prayer and supplication of living faith: 1) It grounds itself firmly in the word of God’s promise (2 Samuel 7:25); 2) It aims at nothing but the honor of God’s name (2 Samuel 7:26); 3) It springs from a heart which is moved by God’s promise (2 Samuel 7:27); 4) It appeals to God’s faithfulness and truth; 5) It receives the fulness of God’s promised blessing.
[2 Samuel 7:18–29. HENRY: David’s Prayer: 1) He speaks very humbly of himself, and his own merits (2 Samuel 7:18). 2) He speaks very highly and honorably of God’s favors to him (2 Samuel 7:18–20). 3) He ascribes all to the free grace of God (2 Samuel 7:21). 4) He adores the greatness and glory of God (2 Samuel 7:22). 5) He expresses a great esteem for the Israel of God (2 Samuel 7:23, 24). 5) He concludes with humble petitions to God (2 Samuel 7:27–29).—TR.]
2 Samuel 7:1–4. [HENRY: When God His providence gives us rest, and finds us little to do of worldly business, we must do so much the more for God and our souls. How different were the thoughts of David, when he sat in his palace, from Nebuchadnezzar’s, when he walked in his, Dan. 4:29, 30.—TR.]—J. LANGE: It is not enough to have a good design in a matter, but one must also have a particular assurance as to whether this or that is according to God’s gracious will.—SCHLIER: Alas for us, if the Scriptures were nothing more than human, well-meant thoughts of holy men of God; who could then rely on them? who could live and die on them? But well for us that we have a word of God, a word out of God’s own mouth, which God’s Spirit has given us.
2 Samuel 7:4, 5. WUERT. BIBLE: God is much more desirous of giving to us than of receiving from us.—S. SCHMID: God demands not so much splendid outward service, but rather an inner and honest service of the heart, Isa. 4:24.—SCHLIER: The true house of God is His people; there would He make His abode in the hearts of His own. A human heart that opens itself to God is a temple more pleasing to Him than the stateliest structure of gold and marble, and a church that really has the Lord dwelling in its midst is in the sight of God more precious than the noblest showy building which sets all the world a wondering.
2 Samuel 7:8–11. We always indeed imagine that we must first give something to the Lord, and that if we have not been beforehand with Him, the Lord will not bless us; and yet what is all that we do, if the Lord has not first taken hold of us?—We must first experience the Lord’s blessings in ourselves, and then first can we do any thing for Him in return.
2 Samuel 7:12–16. STARKE: Christ’s kingdom is a firmly established kingdom; even the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (Matt. 16:18).—Christ is the right architect of the spiritual house of God; and through Him alone can we become temples and abodes of the living God (1 Cor. 6:16; 1 Pet. 2:5).—SCHLIER: The true and living house of God, which He has built, is the church of the Lord which He has bought with His blood and gathered by His Spirit.
2 Samuel 7:17. S. SCHMID: A faithful servant of God speaks according to the direction of God’s word—takes nothing therefrom, and adds nothing thereto (Deut. 12:32).
2 Samuel 7:18. CRAMER: That is the true complexion of the saints: the more they are exalted by God and favored with gifts and goods, the more they humble themselves and count themselves unworthy thereof (Gen. 18:27; 32:10; Luke 1:48).
2 Samuel 7:20, 21. OSIANDER: When a devout man’s heart is stirred up by the Holy Spirit to gratitude towards God, it can often not find words enough to utter its hearty love, and to exalt God high enough over all (Luke 1:46 sq.).—STARKE: In praying we must not merely recognize and acknowledge our unworthiness, but also praise God’s grace and compassion (Luke 1:48–50).
2 Samuel 7:17–21. SCHLIER: God’s goodness should awaken us to a recognition of our sins, it should bring us down on our knees, it should make us little and worthless. The more God the Lord does us good, so much the more should we humble ourselves; and the higher He places us, so much the more should we recognize our unworthiness; and when He lifts us up from the dust to the height and blesses us with the fullness of His blessing, then first should we become thoroughly little and worthless in our own eyes.
2 Samuel 7:22. CRAMER: God demands of us not only the faith of the heart, but also the confession of our lips (Rom. 10:10).
2 Samuel 7:23. S. SCHMID: Not their own deeds make a people great, but the works of God which He does among such a people. Blessed is that people whose God is the Lord; but this blessedness comes from the mere compassion of God.
2 Samuel 7:22–24. SCHLIER: It is a great gain when, through God’s benefits, we learn to recognize the benefactor, and let ourselves be drawn by God’s goodness to the Lord Himself. God’s goodness should make us little and worthless, and bow us down on our knees, but God’s goodness should also make the Lord in our estimation ever greater, worthier and nobler.
2 Samuel 7:25, 26. CRAMER: Although we have God’s fair and rich promises before us, and have once found grace, yet we should always continue to seek confirmation and increase thereof (1 Kings 8:25, 26).
2 Samuel 7:28 sqq. BERL. BIBLE: The greatest act in praying is the persevering supplication of faith for the performance of God’s blessed purpose; to hold fast the everlasting truth made known to us, and as if seeking payment of a debt to remind, urge, press, knock, beat the door.—STARKE: Every blessing in heavenly good things is derived from the gracious pleasure of God (Eph. 1:3).
[2 Samuel 7:2. It seems natural and appropriate that our houses of worship should be not less substantial and elegant than our dwelling-houses.
2 Samuel 7:3. The Lord’s having evidently “been with us” does not prove that He approves all we have done; still less that He will approve all we feel inclined to do.—It may be perfectly proper that a thing should be done, and yet not proper that we should undertake to do it.—Our wisest friends may give us wrong counsel, in hastily taking for granted that what seems to them good will seem good to the Lord.—In denying us the gratification of some pious wish, God may design accomplishing it in a way that He sees to be better; and He may commend and reward the wish He does not gratify. (“Thou didst well that it was in thine heart,” 1 Kings 8:18)—A sermon on Nathan, 2 Samuel 7:1–17 and 12:1–14.
[2 Samuel 7:9. Fame.—“And have made thee a great name,” etc. I. Fame is a gift of God’s Providence—hence to be enjoyed with humility. II. Fame is one of God’s noblest gifts—hence may be desired and earnestly sought, if righteously. III. Fame, like all other gifts, has weighty responsibilities—hence to be used for the good of men and the glory of God.
2 Samuel 7:14. “I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” This true—1) of Solomon and other descendants of David who were kings of Judah; 2) of Christ, “the son of David,” Heb. 1:5; 3) Of every one who is a believer in Christ, and thus a child of God, 1 John 3:1; 5:1.—TR.]
[2 Samuel 7:18–21. A model of devout thanksgiving: I. Over what he rejoices. 1) Over great blessings received in the past, 2 Samuel 7:18:2) Over yet greater blessings promised in the future, 2 Samuel 7:19:2. In what spirit he regards these favors. 1) As utterly undeserved by himself, 2 Samuel 7:18, 20. 2) As the gift of God’s sovereign grace, 2 Samuel 7:21; Matt. 11:26.
2 Samuel 7:22. The greatness of Israel’s God argued from the wonders of Israel’s history. Comp. 2 Samuel 7:23, 24.—TR.]
[2 Samuel 7:27. Promise and Prayer. 1) The promise does not prevent prayer. 2) The promise authorizes prayer that would otherwise be presumptuous. 3) The promise gives assurance of success in prayer. Comp. 2 Samuel 7:28, 29.—TR.]
1[2 Samuel 7:1. Sept. κατεκληρονόμησε “caused to possess,” reading נָחַל for נוּהָ.—TR.]
2[2 Samuel 7:2. Sept. “tent” (אֹהֶל), others δέῤῥεως “curtain of skins.” Vulg. has the plural here, as in 1 Chron. 17:1. The difference is not important.—TR.]
3[2 Samuel 7:3. This word (רֵךְ) is wanting in a few MSS. and in Syr. and Ar.; it is of the nature of an expletive.—TR.]
4[2 Samuel 7:4. “Nathan the prophet” in Syr., Ar., and in 5 MSS., a natural scriptio plena.—TR.]
5[2 Samuel 7:5. Philippson: wilt thou [wishest thou to] build?; Cahen: is it thou that wishest? Sept. and Syr.: thou shalt not build. Chald. has: a house for my presence [Shekinah] to dwell in. We may render either “shall” or “will.”—In the first clause some MSS. and EDD., and all the ancient VSS. except Chald. omit the second “to,” probably to ease the construction (as in Eng. A. V.); so also in 2 Samuel 7:8.—TR.]
6[2 Samuel 7:6. Thenius, citing the ancient VSS. (especially Sept., Syr., Chald.), would read the Perf. הֶעֱלֵתִי instead of the Inf. הַעֲלֹתִי, and would then supply אֲשֶׁר; but the masoretic pointing is at least as suitable as that of the VSS., and these last may easily be a free translation of our text.—TR.]
7[2 Samuel 7:6. Lit.: “have been walking,” “have been a perambulator.”—TR.]
8[2 Samuel 7:7. So Sept., Vulg., Chald., Ew., Then., Philippson, Cahen. De Wette and Erdmann have less well “in the whole time.”—TR.]
9[2 Samuel 7:7. This reading is discussed in the exposition.—TR.]
10[2 Samuel 7:8. In this address to David (2 Samuel 7:8–16) the sequence of verb-form? (in respect to time) presents some difficulty. The passage begins with a Perf. (past time), which is followed in regular sequence by Waw with Impfs. till we reach the last verb in 2 Samuel 7:9, where the form changes to Waw with Perf., followed by similar forms in apparently future sequence up to the Athnach in 2 Samuel 7:11; in the last clause of this verse we find Waw with Perf., where the time is present. The remaining portion (2 Samuel 7:12–16) is clearly future. The difficulty concerns the rendering of the verbs in 2 Samuel 7:8–11. Here it is to be observed that the change of form in 2 Samuel 7:9 after the Athnach is somewhat strange if the past time is to be maintained, and on the other hand, for future time we should expect the Impf.; it seems better, therefore, to take it as present (as in 2 Samuel 7:11). But in 2 Samuel 7:10,11 a the time is more naturally fixed as future by the Impfs. that there occur, and the introductory Waw with Perf. (וְשַׁמְתִּי) may be explained by supposing that the preceding עָשִׁיתִי “I make,” extends into the future, so that according to the law of sequence it would be followed by Perfs. Thus, then, we should render in the past from 8 b to 9 a, make 9 b a transitional present, 10 and 11 a future, and 11 b present.—This is nearly the order of the Sept.; it varies only in 9 b where the Greek has the Aorist (so Vulg.). Philippson and Bib-Com. render throughout in the past, except in 11 b where the former has, and the latter permits the present. So Böttcher, Then., Cahen. The rendering here given is nearly that of Eng. A. V. and Wellhausen.—According to the one view God has given His people rest, and will now make David a house; according to the other He has cut off David’s enemies, and will give him rest and make him a house.—The past form in 2 Samuel 7:1 “had given him rest” is the strongest argument for a past rendering in 2 Samuel 7:11, and therefore throughout; but this is not conclusive, since the “rest in the latter case may be completer than in the former.—TR.]
11[2 Samuel 7:9. The adj. is omitted in 1 Chr. 17:8, and in Sept., which is better.—TR.]
12[2 Samuel 7:11. The first clause of 2 Samuel 7:11 is now (as the connection requires) generally taken as the conclusion of 2 Samuel 7:10, with a full stop after “Israel” (but Philippson connects it with the following: “and since the time… I have caused thee, etc.”). Instead of וַהֲנִיחתִֹי לְךָ Ewald (followed by Wellh.) reads וה׳ לוֹ “and I will cause them [Israel] to rest,” on the ground that here (from 2 Samuel 7:10) it is Israel that is spoken of. This reading would remove the above-mentioned objection to the future rendering, but cannot be regarded as more than a conjecture, since in such a discourse the change of reference (as in the last clause of 2 Samuel 7:11) would not be strange.—TR.]
13[2 Samuel 7:11. The proper name “Jehovah” is here inserted probably for clearness.—TR.]
14[2 Samuel 7:12. There is no connective in the text, but 1 Chr. 17:11 and Sept., prefix וְהָיָה “and it shall come to pass.” which, according to Wellh., has here fallen out by reason of the preceding יחוה.—TR.]
15[2 Samuel 7:12. The divergences of the text of Chron. from ours are obvious. The former is briefer and simpler, and confines itself to the expression of the divine blessing, omitting (as unessential) the minatory clause in 2 Samuel 7:14.—TR.]
16[2 Samuel 7:15. Instead of the Qal we find Hiph. “I will not remove” in 1 Chr. 17:13, Sept., Vulg., Syr., At., which form De Rossi thinks is supported by some MSS., which have 1 sing. Qal Impf. (אסוּר); it is scarcely possible to decide between the two readings.—So in the latter clause of this verse Sept. has καθὼς ἀπέστησα ἀφ’ ῶ̇ν ἀπέστησα ἐκ προσώπου μον as I removed it from those whom I removed from before me,” and Chron.: “as I took it. from him that was before thee.” Here from the connection the “thee” of the Heb. seems preferable to the “me” of Sept.; as between “Samuel” and “Chron.” the general presumption is that the latter condenses and abbreviates an originally longer text. The “Saul” may be insertion for clearness of reference, and the difference in the two texts may be connected with the repetition of the verb הֲסִיוֹתִי (which in Eng. A. V. is here given by the two words “took” and “put away”). It is perhaps better to suppose that the two editors (of “Samuel” and “Chron.”) have wrought the original material each in his own way.—TR.]
17[2 Samuel 7:16. Some MSS. and Sept. and Syr. read “before me,” which is preferred by De Rossi.—TR.]
18[2 Samuel 7:18. In Heb.: Adonai Jahveh. Where this combination occurs, the Masorites call the second name Elohim (instead of the ordinary Adonai); the Chald. has Jahveh Elohim, Syr. Lord God, Sept. κύριός μου κύρῐος and Vulg. Dominus Deus, whence Eng. A. V. Lord God.—TR.]
19[2 Samuel 7:19. For discussion of the text of this clause see Exposition and Notes.—TR.]
20[2 Samuel 7:21. It is to be noted that, whereas Sept. here has “for thy servant’s sake” (as 1 Chr. 17:19), it omits this clause in the parallel passage in Chron.; this may point to a correction of the text by the Greek translators (Wellh. takes a similar view, holding the Sept. “according to thy heart thou hast done” to be taken from Chr.). The context seems to favor the reading in Chron.—TR.]
21[2 Samuel 7:22. In some good MSS. and EDD. “in all,” which is preferred by De Rossi.—TR.]
22[2 Samuel 7:23. The text of this verse can hardly be satisfactorily restored, even after introducing the changes suggested by the Chronicles-text (as given in the brackets). There seems to be a mingling of two forms of assertion, in one of which Israel is compared with a heathen nation and Jehovah with a false god, while in the other the comparison expresses only what Jehovah had done for Israel. To the first form, perhaps, belongs the Sept. phrase “what other nation,” and the Plu. verb “went” in “Samuel,” and to the second belong the phrases “for you.” “for thy land,” “redeemedst from Egypt.” As regards the testimony of the ancient versions, the Vulg. renders our Heb. text (as Eng. A. V.), except that it has at the end “nation” instead of “nations” (because elo-him has the Sing. suffix); the Chald. gives the Heb. paraphrastically: and who is as thy people, as Israel, a people one, chosen… whom men sent from Jehovah went to redeem… till they came to the land of thy presence which thou gavest to them,” etc.; Syr. “on the earth aforetime” (לְאַרְצֶךָ מִפְּנֵי); Sept. has “other nation” (instead of “one nation”), “as God led them” (הֹלִכוֹ instead of הָלְכוּ), “to drive out (as in Chron.)… nations and tents” (אֹהָלִים for אֱלְהים). Instead of “for you,” Vulg. and Chald. have “for them;” our text here is defended by Böttcher and Erdmann, but even if such change of conception is possible for David, it is harsh and is perhaps better omitted in a translation.—See further in the Exposition.—TR.]
23[2 Samuel 7:28. The fut. rendering is given by Sept., Syr., Vulg., but the Pres. is better (with then. and Erdmann), because the whole clause is a declaration of what God is essentially. Philippson has less well: “and thy words will be (werden, ‘become,’) truth, since thou hast spoken.”—TR.]
24[To this Josephus perhaps alludes when he says (Ant. 7, 4, 4) that Moses predicted the building of the temple.—TR.]
25[Bib. Comm.: The cedar of Lebanon is a totally different tree fro n what we improperly call Virginia cedar (Juniperus Virginiana). It is a close-grained, light-colored, yellowish wood, with darker knots and veins.—TR.]
26[The general sense is not changed by this slight difference of translation.—TR.]
27[The sense is the same as in Samuel.—TR.]
28[See the thought here well brought out in Keil on “Samuel,” Eng. tr. p.344 sq.—TR.]
29The Rel. sentence begun with אֲשֶׁר is broken off, the Inf. (בה׳), as indication of cause, acting as protasis and the Perf. with Waw cons. as apodosis in a future sense, giving the result of the sinning. Ges. §126, 6 d, Rem. 1. then. strikes out the second ו (as a mis-copy of the first), and connects the Rel. with the suffix in הֹכַחְתִּיו.
30[On David’s posture see notes of Patrick and Gill in loco.—TR.]
31This is the only meaning of גְּדוּלָּה (גְּדֻלָּה. [But see 1 Chr. 29:11; Esth. 1:4—TR.]
32[Note that the word “heart” in the usage of the O. T. means the whole inner nature, including intellect, affections and will.—TR.]
33[This phrase probably refers to the oral tradition by which Israel’s history was handed down from father to son.— TR.]
34 מִי is not = “where” (De W.), but is to be connected with גּוֹי אֶחָד (comp. Judg. 21:8; Deut. 3:24). See Ew. § 325a: “what one people, what people ever [whatever people]…?”—אֲשֶׁר is to be connected with לִפְדּוֹת as accus. of the object. [On the text see “Text. and Grammat.”— TR.]
35[The Heb. word elohim is in form plural, but is the usual word for God.—TR.]
36[This is the phrase found in Ex. 19:5 “ye shall be to me a possession or property” (Eng. A. V. “peculiar treasure”), in Dt. 7:6 “a people of possession” (Eng. A. V. “Special people”), and in Mal. 3:17 they shall be to me, in the day that I make, “a possession.” The Hebrew word (סגלה) is rendered by the Sept. περιούσιος and περιποίησις, which have thus passed into the N. T. in this sense of “property, possession,” as Tit. 2:14 “a peculiar people” = “a people that is God’s property,” and 1 Pet. 2:9—TR.]
37 הוּא here stands for the 2d person (as the 3d pers. pron. is often used for the verb “to be”): “Thou art God,” comp. Ps. 44:5 ; Zeph. 2:12; Ew. § 297 b. [The “that God” of Eng. A. V. is incorrect, and Dr. Erdmann’s rendering is right; but it is not true that the 3 pers. pron. is ever used for the 2 pers. or for the substantive verb; the literal translation here is “thou art He (namely) God,” the copula being omitted as often in Heb.—TR.]
38[That is, the specific reference, the idea being clothed in a person.—TR.]