After the king had settled into his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him,
I. WHAT WAS THE KING'S DESIRE? To erect a solid, permanent building, of suitable magnificence - a temple - in which the ark should be placed, and where the services of worship should be constantly maintained. Most likely he contemplated what was afterwards effected, the reunion on one spot of the ark and the altars; and the presentation of the daily and other sacrifices and offerings at their proper place before the symbol of the Divine presence - the revival, in fact, of the Mosaic ritual under circumstances and with accompaniments adapted to the existing condition of the nation. The purpose was good and tended to good. It was time that the irregularity and negligence which had prevailed should come to an end, and the requirements of the Law should be obeyed. It was fitting that the unity of the people should be fully symbolized, expressed, and promoted by such a united worship as the Law enjoined. It was also suitable to the more settled state which, under David, the people had reached, that a solid fixed building should supersede the tent which was adapted to the time of wandering and unsettlement; and, as the nation's resources had increased, it was right that the building to be reared should be proportionately costly.
II. HOW IT ORIGINATED.
1. A time of peace favoured it. (Ver. 1.) Giving the king leisure for thought as to how he could further promote the nation's welfare; awakening gratitude; affording means and opportunity. Times of war are greatly unfavourable to such enterprises, forcing minds and hearts into other channels, and swallowing up the resources which might otherwise be expended on them.
2. The solidity, beauty, and comforts of David's own house suggested it. "I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains." David had known for years what it was to have no settled abode, but to wander about the land, taking refuge in woods and caves; and afterwards he was much away from home, engaged in wars. Lately he had built himself a handsome palace, and now for a time he was able to sit quietly in it and meditate; and as he did so, it one day struck him that his abode was superior to that of the ark of God, and the desire was kindled to put an end to the incongruity. Not every one would have been thus moved. How differently the rich man of whom our Lord speaks in Luke 12:16, et seq., "thought within himself"! And how many prosperous people there are, professing to have given themselves to God, who, as they increase in wealth and enjoy comfort and luxury, never turn a thought towards God's house or cause, or inquire what they can do for them! They reflect much, it may be, on the question how best to invest their increasing gains; but it never seems to occur to them that the most suitable and profitable investment might be in the cause of religion or charity. A more fervent piety would suggest such thoughts. Gratitude for the abundance bestowed on them; the contrast presented (see Haggai 1:4) between their residences and their churches, between what they spend on their establishments and, what they spend in the promotion of the kingdom of God; the witness which their mansions and surroundings bear to the ample means with which God has endowed thrum - the large trust he has committed to them; - all would be fruitful of thoughts and emotions to which they are now strangers, and of a style of giving which they have never allowed themselves. It was David's piety more than the surrounding circumstances that originated his generous purpose.
III. HOW IT WAS TESTED. As to its propriety and probable acceptance with God. He consulted his friend and adviser, Nathan the prophet: The more important the steps we contemplate, the more needful is it, before we are openly and irrevocably committed to them, that we should ascertain how they appear to others, especially to the wisest and best whom we know. Feeling is not a sufficient guide, not even pious feeling; and our own judgment may not be of the soundest. Another may put the matter in a new light, which shall convince ourselves that, however good our motives, our purpose is not wise or not practicable. We cannot directly consult a prophet, but we may find good and enlightened and trustworthy men who will be glad to aid us to a fight conclusion. And what joy it gives to Christian ministers to be consulted by such as come saying, "God has prospered me, I have done well for myself and my family, and I should like to do something proportionate for my God and Saviour: advise me as to how I may best fulfil my desire"! Such applicants are few and far between; such a style of thought and purpose is rare. But it ought not to be. It is a sin and shame that God's work should be hindered for want of money in a thriving community which can spend freely in all other directions.
IV. HOW IT WAS REGARDED BY NATHAN. He approved and encouraged the desire, assuring David of the Divine approval add cooperation (ver. 3). He spoke on the impulse of the moment, with the feeling natural to a pious Israelite and prophet, thankful that his king should cherish such a design. He did well, but had he paused and proposed to "sleep upon" the matter, he would have done better, as appeared next day. We should ever be ready to encourage others in good thoughts and purposes, yet in important matters it is well to take time to consider before we advise as to definite proposals.
V. HOW IT WAS REGARDED BY GOD. The proposal was approved, commended, rewarded, and - rejected. The refusal was softened by the terms in which it was conveyed, and the representations and promises by which it was accompanied (vers. 4-17; 2 Chronicles 6:8); declaring that it was well that it was in his heart to build a house for God's Name, although it was a matter of indifference to the Most High what sort of dwelling places men provided for him; reminding David of what he had done for him; assuring him that he would continue to favour the nation, that he would build a house for him as he had sought to build one for himself, and that his son should fulfil the father's desire, and the throne should continue in his family forever. This was the greatest promise David had received, greater than he himself could then understand, for it looked forward to the everlasting kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. But though his knowledge of its purport was imperfect, his pain at the rejection of his proposal was more than soothed; his heart was filled with adoring gratitude and joy.
VI. HOW ITS SINCERITY WAS PROVED. If he might not do all he desired, he would do all he might and could. He, therefore, prepared plans for the building, accumulated materials for its erection, and urged the work on his son Solomon and the chief men of the nation. An example for us if, setting our hearts on some particular work for God, our purpose is frustrated. Let the diverted energies be employed all the more in such services as are within our reach. A contrast to the conduct of many who, disappointed in reference to some cherished desire (e.g. to become clergymen or missionaries), allow their zeal to decline to the common level, if it do not pass away altogether. In conclusion:
1. Christian piety will kindle earnest desires to do the greatest possible work for God. Such desires should be cherished in subordination to the Divine will. For though approved of God, they may be denied (Proverbs 10:24 notwithstanding). If denied, we should be content, assured of the perfect wisdom and goodness of the purpose of God which has frustrated ours, and that for us and others he has some better thing in store than we had thought of. Though denied, our desire may be fulfilled (as David's by Solomon). Whether denied or gratified, goal desires (such as are really good, and not mere idle wishes) are always valuable, for what they indicate in ourselves, for the Divine approval they elicit, for their influence on ourselves, and their influence on others (as David's on his successor and on the chiefs of the nation).
2. The desire to build or aid in building a house for the worship of God is good.
3. We may all assist in the erection and adornment of a nobler temple than that which David sought to build. "The house of God is the Church of the living God" (1 Timothy 3:15), and all who labour for the conversion and spiritual improvement of men are helping in the glorious work of building and adorning this spiritual house. Let all Christian workers realize the dignity and glory of their work. Let us all ask ourselves whether we have any heart for it, are doing anything towards it; whether we are capable of doing anything in it that shall be acceptable to God, having first given our own selves to him, and received his Spirit. - G.W.
I. THE SANCTUARY, IN DAVID'S VIEW WAS THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. The sanctuary signifies a holy or a sanctified place — a dwelling-place of the Most High — a place where people assembled to honour God and worship Him in the spirit of liberality and holiness.
I. DAVID'S COUNSEL AND PURPOSE TO BUILD THE TEMPLE ALLOWED BY MAN BUT DISALLOWED BY GOD.
I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.1. The spirit of David was essentially active and fond of work. Even in Eastern countries, with their proverbial stillness and conservatism, such men are sometimes found, but they are far more common elsewhere. Great undertakings do not frighten them; they have spirit enough for a lifetime of effort, they never seem weary of pushing on. When they look on the disorders of the world, they are not content with the languid utterance, "Something must be done;" they consider what it is possible for them to do, and gird themselves to the doing of it. For some time David seems to have found ample scope for his active energies in subduing the Philistines and other hostile tribes that were yet mingled with the Israelites, and that had long given them much annoyance. When all his enemies were quieted, and he sat in his house, he began to consider to what work of internal improvement he would now give his attention. Was it right that there should be such a contrast between the dwelling-place of David and the dwelling-place of God? It was the very argument that was afterwards used by Haggai and Zechariah after the return from captivity, to rouse the languid zeal of their countrymen for the. re-erection of the house of God. "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your celled houses and this house lie waste?" A generous heart, even though it is a godless one, is uncomfortable When surrounded by elegance and luxury, while starvation and misery prevail in its neighbourhood. To the feelings of the godly a disreputable place of worship, contrasting meanly with the taste and elegance of the hall, or even the villa, is a pain and a reproach. What we have more need to look at is the disproportion of the sums paid by rich men, and even by men who can hardly be called rich, in gratifying their own tastes and in extending the kingdom of Christ. Wealth which remunerates honest and wholesome labour is not all selfishly thrown away. But it is somewhat strange that we hear so seldom of rich Christian men devoting their superfluous wealth to maintaining a mission station with a full staff of labourers, or to the rearing of colleges, or hospitals, or Christian institutions, which might provide on a large scale for Christian activity in ways that might be wonderfully useful. It is in this direction that there is most need to press the example of David.
2. When the thought of building a temple occurred to David, he conferred on the subject with the prophet Nathan. Nathan was to inform David that, unlike Saul, he was not to be the only one of his race to occupy the throne; his son would reign after he was gathered to his fathers, the kingdom would be established in his bands, and the throne of his kingdom would be established for ever. To this favoured son of his would be entrusted the honour of building the temple, God would be his father, and he would be God's son. The proposal which David had made to build a temple was declined. The time for a change, though drawing near, had not yet arrived. The curtain-canopied tabernacle had been designed by God to wean His people from these sensuous ideas of worship to which the magnificent temples of Egypt had accustomed them, and to give them the true idea of a spiritual service, though not without the visible emblem of a present God. The time had not yet arrived for changing this simple arrangement. God could impart His blessing in the humble tent as well as in the stately temple.
3. But the message through Nathan contained also elements of encouragement, chiefly with reference to David's offspring, and to the stability and permanence of his throne. To appreciate the value of this promise for the future, we must bear in mind the great insecurity of new dynasties in Eastern countries, and the fearful tragedies that were often perpetrated to get rid of the old king's family, and prepare the way for some ambitious and unscrupulous usurper. To David, therefore, it was an unspeakable comfort to be assured that his dynasty would be a stable dynasty; that his son would reign after him. A father naturally desires peace and prosperity for his children, and if he extends his view down the generations, the desire is strong that it may be well with them and with their seed for ever. But no father, in ordinary circumstances, can flatter himself that his posterity shall escape their share of the current troubles and calamities of life.
4. The emotions roused in David by tills communication were alike delightful and exuberant. He takes no notice of the disappointment — of his not. being permitted to build the temple. Ally regret that this might occasion is swallowed up by his delight in the store of blessing actually promised. And here we may see a remarkable instance of God's way of dealing with His people's prayers. Virtually, if not formally, David had asked of God to permit him to build a temple to His name. That petition, bearing though it did very directly on God's glory, is not vouchsafed. But in refusing him that request, He makes over to him mercies of far higher reach and importance. And how often does God do so! How often, when His people are worrying and perplexing themselves about their prayers not being answered, in God answering them in a far richer way! Glimpses of this we see occasionally, but the full revelation of it remains for the future.
5. It is a striking scene that is presented to us when "David went in, and sat before the Lord." It is the only instance in Scripture in which any one is said to have taken the attitude of sitting while pouring his heart out to God. Yet the nature of the communion was in keeping with the attitude. We seem to see in this prayer the very best of David — much intensity of feeling, great humility, wondering gratitude, holy intimacy and trust, and supreme satisfaction in the blessing of God. We see him walking in the wry light of God's countenance, and supremely happy. The joy of David in this act of fellowship with God was the purest of which human beings are capable. It was indeed a joy unspeakable and full of glory. Oh that men would but acquaint themselves with God and be at peace!
(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)
1. First, the moving cause of this counsel was the peace God had given him now round about.
2. Second, Nathan's over-hasty approving of David's purpose (v. 3) before he had well considered it in his own mind, or consulted with God about it. This was Nathan's private opinion, but not by Divine revelation, which showeth, that the prophets did not always speak by prophetical inspiration, but sometimes as private men by a human prudence.
3. Third, God suffers not His servants to lie long under mistakes. He comes to Nathan that night to rectify both his and David's error (verses 4, 5, 6, 7), from whence:(1) This mistake arose from a pious mind, therefore God soon discovers it, and reveals His will therein (Philippians 3:15).(2) David thought, because God had promised .there should a house be built him, when Israel was once settled in Canaan (Deuteronomy 12:10, 11), that now the time was come, and he was the man whom God had designed to do this great work.(3) God took this pious purpose of David's so well that he accepted of the will for the deed (1 Kings 8:18, and 2 Corinthians 8:12). Nay, God doth not only graciously accept it, but he doth bountifully reward it (v. 10, 11), etc., here, as if David had done the deed.(4) This Divine acceptance of David's pious purpose (as if it had been a performance) was signified by God's calling him twice over My servant David (v. 5, 8).
II. THE REASONS GOD RENDERED TO DAVID WHY HE WAS REFUSED TO BUILD THE TEMPLE.
1. He was a martial man, and had shed much blood. The temple was a type of the church built by Christ, that Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), therefore saith God, I reserve this piece of service for thy son Solomon, whose name signifies peaceable.
2. It was meet the shadow should be suitable to the substance.
2. A second reason is rendered by Solomon (1 Kings 5:3), that God had designed David soon after this transaction to wage war with the nations round about Israel, therefore could he look for little leisure to carry on so great and glorious a fabric.
3. The third reason of God's refusing David for this work is found in this Divine oracle to David here, saying, there is no necessity or present haste for building Me a house, seeing that a tent has given Me content to dwell in, ever since Israel's coming out of Egypt, and so will be still till My time be come; yet as I have been hitherto all-sufficient unto Israel, so will be as efficacious to them from the ark of My presence in the tabernacle, as if it were magnificently fixed in the temple.
4. The oracle of God secretly taxeth David for being too preposterous in his zeal, saying all the judges of Israel were willing to wait for a Divine warrant to this great work, none of them durst undertake it for want of my commanding warrant, and wilt not thou wait also? Zeal must be rightly timed (1 Chronicles 17:6.)
II. IN THE SANCTUARY, WORK MUST BE DONE FOR THE WORLD. The religion of Christ reaches out to the lost and the undone. Giving is not a hindrance but a help. The poorest as well as the richest feel that it is a blessed privilege to give. The widow's mite has a right to a place in the aggregations which support missions and which build up the waste places.
III. THE SANCTUARY IS THE TRAINING-PLACE FOR THE NOBLER NATURE. Business is laid aside. The sharpness, the grasping, the watching, the suspicious spirit may be banished.
IV. THE CONDITION OF THE SANCTUARY EVIDENCES OUR REGARD FOR GOD. What we do for friends at home attests our love for those committed to our keeping. So what is done for the sanctuary proves the regard cherished for every effort put forth to promote the glory of God and advance the interests Of our fellow-men. David felt this when he called attention to the fact that he dwelt in cedar while the ark of God dwelt within curtains. He did not desire to build the temple to save his soul, but because of his love for God and of his desire to promote the interests of His cause.
(J. D. Fulton, D. D.)
1. Having come into personal comfort, David will do good. That is the right expression of gratitude. What can I do for the Church? What can I do for the poor? Having read many books, and acquired some information, what can I do for the ignorant?
2. Nathan and David settled the matter according to their own will. Nathan was a man who might perhaps be not indisposed to agree with the king whatever he said. He may come to another temper under Divine ministry; for that we must wait. The idea struck Nathan as a good one. Nathan had no objection. He said, The idea is beautiful; carry it out instantaneously; the Lord is evidently with thee; that is a thought the image and superscription of which cannot be mistaken; and Nathan went home to sleep. There are some things that appear to need no judgment. There are some proposals that are so beautiful and precious that we at once accept them, endorse them, and pass them on to fulfilment, and then retire to rest. The Lord taught David another lesson; he said: This thing is all wrong; it is out of season; there is much more to be done before this man can advance in the direction he has proposed: my house must not be built by his hands; I have an interest in my house: I care for the masonry as well as for the sanctuary. No blasphemer ought to be engaged in building the walls of a cathedral; no flippant man ought to touch the meanest part of God's house; and no man of blood should build s temple.
3. Yet how gentle is the Most High! Who can speak like God? It is the dignity that gives the value to the condescension. The lesson which God taught to David is to trust the providence which has been good from the very first: — "Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote," — so I am not going to forsake thee; if I had taken thee from a throne, reasoning in another direction might have been at least partially justified, but "I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel." God will have His providence judged as a whole — that is to say, he will have the mind thrown back to the point of origin, and have all the days linked, like loops of gold, like loops of light; then he will say to the subject of His gracious government: Look back at the beginning; count the days; read between the lines; study the whole, and see how all the time I have been building thee a house; and, until that house is finished, wait! What peace it would give to us all if we could adopt this holy method of criticism I Look at the beginning: Where were we? What were we? How have we been trained, watched, defended!
4. God further shows that all things are critically timed: "Thou shalt sleep with thy fathers" (v. 12) — But God never sleeps. He says: "I will put thee to rest, O brave soldier, chivalrous grand heart I will close thine eyelids, stained with rivers of tears; I bury the universe." We must leave something for the future to do. All things are written down in God's book.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Sunday School Times.The cedar was largely used for decorative purposes throughout the whole East. In "Nineveh and its Remains," Layard thus describes the internal appearance of an Assyrian building: "The ceilings... were divided into square compartments, painted with flowers, or with the figures of animals. Some were inlaid with ivory, each compartment being surrounded by elegant borders and mouldings. The beams, as well as the sides of the chambers, may have been gilded, or even plated with gold and silver; and the rarest woods, in which the cedar was conspicuous, were used for the woodwork." (Zephaniah 2:14; Jeremiah 22:14; 1 Kings 6:15; 1 Kings 7:3.) The true relation of the houses of men to the house of God may be illustrated from Ancient Athens. The dwelling-houses of Athens were mean; its temples were the wonder of the world, abounding in all magnificence of wealth and art.
(Sunday School Times.)
(H. O. Mackey.)
I. STILL CONCERNED FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. Looking round upon the splendid house he has reared, the contrast between that and the place where was the ark of God grieves him. "I dwell in a house of Cedar. but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains."
1. The gratitude of his heart to the Giver of all his mercies is strongly characteristic of the man. His heart was tender as a woman's and strong as a hero's. True gratitude always acknowledges first the Band Divine. The grateful heart needs no constraint to bring the offering of the first-fruit to the Lord.
2. The piety of David is unmistakably shown here. The needle suddenly disturbed and forced from its centre trembles to return. David is never at rest, never restful, until he is obeying and serving God. A gracious soul will always revolt from meanness towards God's house and luxury toward his own. Devoted souls love to consecrate wealth and leisure to God. Gracious hearts can never do enough for God. These remove the reason for the sarcasm of the infidel, "that, "judged by the houses they are said to dwell in, the Christian's gods are very human."
II. GOD'S REPLY AND DAVID'S RECEPTION THEREOF.
1. The purpose in David's heart is accepted.
2. The actual building of the Temple is denied him. Generous impulses should be taken to God. He speeds not who tries to run before the Lord sends him. Impatient hurry is apt to lead astray.
3. A wonderful promise is given him. Dr. Kennicott, Bishop Horsley, and others point out that the Hebrew verb translated "If he commit iniquity" is not in the active but in the passive voice, and thus the passage would be rendered, "I will be his Father, and he shall be my son: even in his suffering for iniquity I shall chasten him with the rod of men (with the rod due to men), and with the stripes (due to) the children of men." Another view is presented in Psalm 89. It is not the king himself but his children that are supposed to transgress and require correction, but out of faithfulness to them their chastisements are not to be destructive. Dr. Gifford, in his "Voices of the Prophets," thus writes: — "The seed which shall be of David's sons must be some descendant later than Solomon; "and the whole description is such as cannot be applied to a mortal king, or only as far as he is type of one greater than himself. It points to eternal and spiritual truth prefigured and embodied in the Kingdom of David to be realised in the Kingdom of his Son. David seems to have grasped the double application of this prophecy, to have risen to the prophetic within the promise. Reference to his Psalms will clearly establish this (62, 45, and 110.). And also study of David's prayer and thanksgiving will establish this.
4. David's reception of the promise. His heart is filled with warmest emotions of gratitude and delight. Large as the promise would be if confined to Solomon, it .would scarcely account for the profound humility and reverence depicted in the language used by David. His emotions are irrepressible.
(H. E. Stone.)
Links2 Samuel 7:1 NIV
2 Samuel 7:1 NLT
2 Samuel 7:1 ESV
2 Samuel 7:1 NASB
2 Samuel 7:1 KJV
2 Samuel 7:1 Bible Apps
2 Samuel 7:1 Parallel
2 Samuel 7:1 Biblia Paralela
2 Samuel 7:1 Chinese Bible
2 Samuel 7:1 French Bible
2 Samuel 7:1 German Bible
2 Samuel 7:1 Commentaries