Scripture: 2 Samuel 7:1-17
This past week I had a couple of small, private funerals. All that were in attendance were family and a few close friends. They were nice, quiet times where the family just wanted to have something so they could say good bye to their loved ones.
What’s nice about these services is that they are often much less formal. People tend to be more relaxed, and often, but not always, they are less emotional. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but there is definitely a different feel to these smaller services.
Usually when I meet with a family they just say they want something simple. So I offer some prayers, read some scripture, share some words of hope, and that’s it. There’s no music, no eulogies, we’re in and out in 10 minutes.
But even in their simpleness, there is still something very special about these services. There is still a presence, and I know it touches people because of their comments afterwards. Sometimes it’s a promise to start coming to church, sometimes it’s just a simple thank you, and the way they look me in the eyes to say it tells me God has touched them.
For the families who have no church connection, they feel something. They want to hear that their loved one will be taken care of, that they have gone to a better place. But they also want to hear words of hope, which is why I think scripture is so important to share.
Even people who have no connection to the church find hope in the words of the Bible. I’m sure when I open my Bible and start to read, it probably feels foreign to them, but when they listen to the words, it does touch them in some way.
What is the connection? What is it about hearing scripture that touches people in ways they don’t expect?
I believe it’s because we all have a longing to know the promises of God are for us. We are all created in God’s image. We are all created by and come from God. So there’s something about those words in the Bible which touches us deep inside, it sparks that small light within us many people may have forgotten they carry.
We’ve already looked at the power of the words of the Bible earlier this fall when we heard Jesus say in John 15, “ You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3)
Words have power, we know that. We can lift each other’s mood with just a few friendly words. And we can also hurt a person with words that harm.
It’s God’s words which consistently lift up. Why? Because they touch us deeper than we can possibly imagine. They keep the light of Christ shining within us, they feed our soul.
King David feels this. We jump into his story this morning in 2 Samuel 7. David is resting in his home and he wants to honour God for what He has done in David’s life.
We are coming into the story of David just after he has brought the ark of the covenant back to the Israelites. He has returned it home from the hands of their enemies. David is so excited about this development that he, the king, is dancing in at the head of the parade as the ark is led into the city.
David is the second king of the people of Israel, after Saul. And the reign of Saul was not a very good one. Saul became king in a time of turmoil, and little changed. Under David’s leadership the nation has been reunited, and the return of the ark is a big boost to the people.
David is on a huge spiritual high right now. God continues to do great things in his life. Remember how David was the youngest of Jessie’s sons. How he was so small they didn’t even think to line him up when they were looking to find someone to defeat the giant. They left him in the field watching the sheep.
Yet, he was chosen by God to take on that role. Too small to wear armour, he defeated Goliath with a single shot to the forehead.
God has been working in David’s life and David is so grateful. It inspired David to write poetry honouring God and reflecting on his daily life in God’s presence. David wrote most of the Psalms we see in our Bibles.
Now David is most definitely a flawed man. He makes many mistakes, as we all do, but through his story we continue to see he has a huge love for God.
So when David brings the ark of the covenant home, he wants to do something. He sees how he was this great cedar planked palace, yet they have simply put up a tent to house the ark, and therefor God, as they see it.
David recognizes the contrast here. He knows God is capable of awesome works, he has experienced so many in his life, so he wants to build a home for God. He wants to build a temple.
So David calls the prophet Nathan, his spiritual advisor and Samuel’s son, and begins to speak, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” (v2)
David doesn’t even finish when Nathan interrupts him. Nathan is excited and knows where David is going with his thoughts and says, “Go right on ahead! God is with you!”
So I’m sure David feels well supported and ready to draw up the plans for a great temple where they can store the ark of the covenant.
Yet, that night God speaks to the prophet Nathan. God gives Nathan a message for David. God speaks about how He has never had a house for many generations, going all the way back into Egypt.
God goes on to say He has never questioned this, He has never asked anyone to build him a temple. So why start now?
The rest of our reading, 2 Samuel 7:8-17, are significant not just for the life of David, but they are significant for us today as well. So let’s take a good look at them.
“I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.” (2 Samuel 7:8-9)
God reminds David that He has been active in David’s life, from a very young age. God has brought peace to David’s life, and the kingdom. And then God makes David a promise, “I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.”
As we look over our Bibles, we see this to be true. God does make a great name out of David. As a historical figure, David is on par with Abraham and Moses, the great fathers of the faith.
If we skip down to verse 11 we hear this promise,
“Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:11-13)
The descendants of David will reign over the Southern Kingdom for 400 years after his death. It seems clear that God has indeed kept his promise for a long time. But 400 years is not forever. I’m sure the people over those 400 years were rejoicing that the promise was kept, but what of when the reign finally ends? Was the promise broken?
Let’s keep reading.
“I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:14-16)
Who is God talking about here?
God has made a promise for forever. He says it three times, once in verse 13 and twice in verse 16! David’s line will rule forever!
In the Bible we see it lasts 400 years. Yes that’s a long time, but it’s not forever. Do God’s promises have a time limit?
We simply need to skip to the New Testament to find an answer to that question. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, we can read a list of ancestors. The list begins with Abraham, goes down to David, then through his son Solomon, and continues to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
If we look at Luke 3, we see the list goes back to Adam, the first man, continues down to Abraham and David, and all the way to Joseph, the earthly, or the adopted, father of Jesus.
And if we’re wondering who Jesus is, let’s look at John 1.
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” (John 1:14-18)
All of this leads to the story of Jesus. This promise God made to David in 2 Samuel is showing us just how “forever” God intends the promise to last.
The reference to God acting as a father is not very common at all in the Old Testament. Yet God says He will be a father to a child of David, and this child will be a son to God.
This son will build a temple. This son will establish a throne forever. The kingdom will last forever.
How long will this forever last? Let’s look at the last words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew as he gathers with his disciples one last time after his resurrection and before he goes to live with God.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The king will reign forever. A reminder that this promise of God is true and continues to be true because Jesus is here with us today.
Jesus is the ancestor of David, the one who truly establishes the kingdom, God’s kingdom, God’s reign, God’s place in the world in which we live. Jesus extends the promise because he lives. Jesus is not dead, he is alive and he continues to reign over God’s kingdom still today.
In a few minutes we will be praying together the prayer Jesus taught us. And we will acknowledge that God is the Father of Jesus, and by extension He is also our Father in heaven.
But what will we pray for? We will pray for God’s kingdom. Not God’s kingdom in heaven, but we will pray for the kingdom to be right here, and right now. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done…” Where? “… on earth as it is in heaven.”
We are asking God to continue His promise, and that we will witness it for ourselves. We might even have a part in it!
This is why this simple reading from 2 Samuel to an excited king riding high on a massive victory is so important.
God’s promise to David is not just for David.
God’s promise to David is for each and every one of us. It is saying that some day there will be an ultimate king. There will be an ultimate ruler of all of creation. This king will rule forever and ever and ever.
And this king has already come.
In Jesus this promise lives on. Jesus came and he did just what God said he would do. Jesus established what it means for the kingdom to exist on this earth. Jesus came and showed us all how to live with respect to God and with each other. Jesus extends God’s grace and mercy to all who follow him.
Yet, there was another part of the promise we skipped over. A part which shows Jesus was a ruler who also suffered.
“I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.” (2 Samuel 7:14).
Yes, Jesus was punished brutally at the hands of human beings. It seemed again, in that moment, that the promise of God would end. If Jesus was the Son of God, if he was to establish God’s kingdom forever, how could he die?
The very next verse says, “But I will not take my steadfast love from him…” (2 Samuel 7:15).
And He didn’t.
Nor did he ever take His love away from us. Three days after Jesus died, women walked to the tomb to see the body… but it wasn’t there. Jesus was no longer in the tomb, he was no longer dead. He met Mary in the garden and gave her a message to share. Jesus met his disciples, and gave them a job to do; to continue his work.
In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we see God’s promise to David continue forever. It will not end.
God has set Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour for the entire world forever.
God will never leave us.
There may be times when we feel like the promise has been broken. There may be times when we see a new king rise above the others. There may be times when we worship other leaders and look to them for guidance.
Can anyone say “election time?”
And it doesn’t just happen in the United States. We have seen it here in Canada for generations as people get excited for the new face on the political scene. But, no matter how charismatic they are, no matter how wonderful their promises may be, they will come to an end. They will not reign forever. And there’s a good chance they will fail us and let us down. And there may not even be a happy ending in some cases, maybe even many cases.
There is only one who will never fail us. Only one who will never let us down. Only one who can walk with us each and every day forever and ever; in this life and in the life to come.
We need to turn to Jesus Christ.
In Romans 2 the apostle Paul writes,
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
We need to trust in God, that through His Son we are swept up into His promise to be with us, walk with us, and love us. Just as God said He would always do for David in his life. And by accepting this promise in our own lives, God will transform us into His children, not children of this broken world.
Are we so trusting?
Are we willing to hear this promise and accept that those words are for us today?
Because they are.
In Jesus, those words from thousands of years ago apply to us as well.
God has established a king for us. God has extended love to His people.
God has sent us a Saviour to show us grace and mercy in our lives.
And God has extended to us an invitation.
An invitation to be His people forever.
And the invitation has your name on it.
What is your response?
How does it make you feel to know you have a promise from God?
Let us pray,
Lord God, thank You for Your steadfast love for us. Thank You for blessing us here with Your Holy Spirit which has been shared to us by Your Son.
Now as we live our lives, we ask that You will watch over us, helping us to experience Your love, helping us remember Your promise.
May we be always aware that You are nearer to us than we know, and may we reach out and know it for certain.
This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen and amen.