INTRODUCTION TO SECOND SAMUEL 7
This chapter expresses David's concern for building an house for the ark of God, which he communicated to Nathan the prophet, and was approved of by him, 2 Samuel 7:1; and who was that night sent by the Lord to David, to acquaint him, that as he had for many years dwelt in a tent, and had never given directions to the tribes of Israel, and the rulers of them, to build him an house, so neither should David build him one; but his son that would succeed him in the throne should; and also observes to him the many great things he had done for him, and promises him more, and particularly the establishment of his throne and kingdom for ever, in which he has respect to the Messiah, that should spring from him, 2 Samuel 7:4. Then follows a prayer of David, in which he expresses the sense he had of the greatness and goodness of God, and of his own unworthiness to receive such favours from him he had, returns him thanks for the promises he had made, and prays for the performance of them, 2 Samuel 7:18.
and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies; both at home and abroad; though this rest and peace did not last long; for the next chapter gives an account of each of the people he was engaged in war with, 2 Samuel 8:1.
see now, I dwell in an house of cedar; made of the cedars of Lebanon; see what a spacious palace it is:
but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains; in a tabernacle within curtains, as the Targum; not the tabernacle of Moses, for that was at Gibeon, 1 Chronicles 21:29; but that which David had made for it, which consisted of curtains that were drawn around it, 2 Samuel 6:17. It gave him a concern that he should dwell in so magnificent a palace, and the ark of God should have so mean an habitation; wherefore it was upon his mind to build a grand edifice for it, and this he suggested hereby to Nathan, and so he understood him, as appears by what follows; and the rather he was led to such a thought, being now at rest and in peace; for then it was an house was to be built for God, in which he would cause his name to dwell, as David might easily learn from Deuteronomy 12:9; and who so proper to set forward such a work as a king, and he when at rest from his enemies?
(t) Hieron. Trad. Heb. in 2 Reg. fol. 79. M. & in lib. Paralipom. fol. 89. B. F.
for the Lord is with thee; prospering and succeeding him in all he undertook, giving him rest from all his enemies; and he might think that this motion he now made of building an house was from the Lord; the Targum is,"the Word of the Lord shall be for thine help,''
or thine helper, and shall assist thee in this work. David being thus encouraged by the prophet, his thoughts were more employed about it, and he was resolute and eager to perform it; and now it was he penned the hundred thirty second psalm, in which he expresses his oath and vow to find a place to build on, Psalm 132:1.
that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan; the word of prophecy, as the Targum; before he was not under a prophetic influence, but spoke in his own words, and had not the word of God; but now it came to him:
saying; as follows.
thus saith the Lord, shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? no, thou shalt not, as appears from 1 Chronicles 17:4; which seems to be expressed with much spirit, and some degree of resentment, to resolve on such a work, without seeking to know his mind in it. Eupolemus (u) an Heathen, confirms this account, only instead of a prophet he speaks of an angel, whose name he says was Dinnathan, who, when David was desirous of building a temple for God, and very anxious to be shown the place where the altar was to be erected, this angel appeared to him; and, though he showed him the place for the altar, forbad him building it, because he was polluted with human blood, and had been engaged in wars many years, and bid him leave the building of it to his son.
(u) Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 30. p. 447.
since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt,
even to this day; a space of five or six hundred years, though he might before:
but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle; moving from place to place while in the wilderness, and since in the land of Canaan, first at Gilgal, then at Shiloh, afterwards at Nob, and now at Gibeon. "Tent" and "tabernacle" are distinguished, though they were but one building and habitation; the tent was the curtains of goats' hair, and the tabernacle the linen curtains, see Exodus 26:1. In 1 Chronicles 17:5 it is "from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another"; which does not intend variety of tabernacles, but change of place.
spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel; or rather the sceptres of Israel; so the word is rendered, Genesis 49:10; the sceptre bearers, rulers, and governors, whose custom was to carry a sceptre in their hands, as Ben Melech observes; and so in a parallel text, 1 Chronicles 17:6, it is, "to any of the judges of Israel"; any of those from the times of Moses and Joshua to the times of Saul and David, and this is confirmed by what follows:
whom I commanded to feed my people Israel; that is, to rule and govern them, protect and defend them, which cannot be said of the tribes, but of the rulers of them; and the Lord asks this question, whether ever he had said a word to any of those, in all that space of time, expressing anything of this kind:
saying, why build ye not me an house of cedar? they never were bid to do it, or expostulated with why they did not, or ever reproved for not doing it; therefore why should David think of doing it?
thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel; for that was his employment, to keep his father's sheep, before he was taken into Saul's court, and married his daughter, when after his death he came to have the crown, of Israel: now this is said, not to upbraid him with his former meanness, but to observe the goodness of God unto him, and what reason he had for thankfulness, and to look upon himself as a favourite of God, who of a keeper of sheep was made a shepherd of men, to rule and feed them; so Cyrus is called a shepherd, Isaiah 44:28; and Agamemnon, in Homer (w), is called "the shepherd of the people".
(w) Iliad. 2.
and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight: as Saul, and others in the land of Israel, and the Philistines, and other enemies round about him, so that he had rest from them all:
and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth; a name for a mighty king, warrior, and conqueror, such as some mighty kings and great men of the earth had obtained, and such fame, being made king over all Israel; and his success against the Jebusites had got him a name, as well as former victories he had been favoured with; on account of all which his name and fame had been spread abroad in the world, and he was reckoned as one of the greatest princes in it.
and will plant them; so that they shall take root and flourish, and continue:
that they may dwell in a place of their own; and not as they dwelt in Egypt, in a land that was not theirs; or "under themselves" (x); under their own rulers and governors:
and move no more; as they did in the times of the judges, when, sinning against God, they were often delivered into their enemies' hands, and carried captives:
neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime; when in Egypt, and in the times of the judges; all which is supposed, provided they did not depart from the Lord, but abode by his word, worship, and ordinances, and obeyed his will; for it was by their obedience they held their tenure of the land of Canaan, see Isaiah 1:19; or all this may respect future times, when they shall be converted to the Messiah, and return to their own land, and ever continue in it, and never more be harassed and distressed, Jeremiah 32:41.
(x) "sub se", Montanus.
and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies; this belongs to David personally, and intends the same as in 2 Samuel 7:1,
also the Lord telleth thee, that he will make thee an house; not only build up his family, and make that numerous, but establish the house of his kingdom, as the Targum; that whereas he was desirous of building an house for God, God would build up an house for him; which would be a clear proof, that though he did not think fit to make use of him in the building of his house, yet he was not cast out of his favour, nor was it to be so interpreted by himself or others.
and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; die and be buried; for this is a phrase expressive of death, and the grave the common portion of men:
I will set up thy seed after thee; sons to succeed in the kingdom, as they did for the space of five hundred years; though here it respects one particular seed or son, even Solomon, as appears by what follows:
which shall proceed out of thy bowels; be begotten by him, and born unto him, and has regard to a future son of his not yet born; not Absalom nor Adonijah, nor any of the rest born in Hebron were to succeed him in the kingdom, but one as yet unborn:
and I will establish his kingdom; so that he shall have a long and happy reign, as Solomon had.
and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever; that is, for a long time. Solomon's reign was forty years, and the kingdom of Judah continued in his posterity until the Babylonish captivity, and a prince that descended from him was the ruler of the people when they returned: this has its fulfilment more eminently in Christ, who was of his seed, to whom God has given "the throne of his father David", and who "shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever", Luke 1:32.
if he commit iniquity; which cannot be supposed of Christ; for though he was made sin by imputation, he neither knew nor did any, but may be supposed of his spiritual offspring, whom he represented as an head and surety, as of Solomon, who committed many sins and transgressions:
I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men; either with men themselves, as Hadad the Edomite, Rezon the son of Eliadah, and Jeroboam the son of Nebat, by all whom he was afflicted and distressed, after he felt into idolatry, 1 Kings 11:14; or with such rods and stripes as men correct their children with, not to destroy them, but to chastise them for their good; and so the phrases denote humane, kind, gentle, moderate corrections given in love, and which answer some good purposes.
as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee; and therefore must be understood of his mercy and kindness, in giving him a kingdom, and setting him on the throne; this should not be taken away from him, as it was from Saul, whom God rejected from being king; not him personally, but his posterity; but so the Lord would not do, nor did he, to Solomon, in whose posterity the kingdom of Judah continued to the Babylonish captivity.
thy throne shall be established for ever; which is a repetition of the same in other words for the confirmation of it.
so did Nathan speak unto David; though in the part which related to the history of the house of God, it was contrary to the advice which he had given; but he was not ashamed to retract his sense, when he was made acquainted with the mind of God.
and sat before the Lord; before the ark, the symbol of his presence, and prayed, and gave thanks, as follows: from whence it appears that a sitting posture was sometimes used in prayer, of which we have other instances, Exodus 17:11. It is said (y) that Pythagoras, and also Numa, ordered that worshippers should sit. So that this act of devotion is not to be limited to any particular posture, though it seems most agreeable either to stand or kneel; and the Jews look upon this to be a peculiar case, and infer from hence that none were allowed to sit in the court but the kings of the house of Judah (z); and some of them (a) will not allow that to them, since the seraphim above are even said to stand, Isaiah 6:2; and suppose the meaning of this to be only that David supported himself in the court; and some render the words, "he remained before the Lord" (b); he continued in meditation, prayer, and thanksgiving, and such like acts of devotion, for a considerable time; so the Targum, in 1 Chronicles 17:16."King David came and continued in prayer before the Lord:"
and he said, who am I, O Lord God? a creature, a sinful creature, a mean and unworthy one, undeserving of a place in the house of God, and of access unto him, and to receive any favour from him, less than the least of all saints, less than the least of all mercies:
and what is my house: or family of which he was, the family of Jesse; for though it sprung from a prince in Israel, yet was but low and mean, in comparison of some others, and especially unworthy of the regard of the great God:
that thou hast brought me hitherto? to such grandeur and dignity, as to be king over all Israel and Judah, to have all his enemies subdued under him, and to be at peace and rest from them, and established in his kingdom; and which he signifies the Lord alone had brought him to, through many difficulties and tribulations, and which he could never have attained unto by his own wisdom and power, nor by the assistance of his friends; it was all the Lord's doing, and wondrous in his eyes.
(y) Vid. D. Herbert. de Cherbury de Relig. Gent. c. 7. p. 65. (z) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 69. 2. Maimon & Bartenor. in Misn. Yoma, c. 7. sect. 1.((a) Midrash in Abarbinel in loc. (b) "et mansit", Vatablus.
but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come; since he had not only spoken of a son that should succeed him in the kingdom, but that he would make him an house, and establish his kingdom; yea, that the throne of his kingdom should be established for ever, that a race of kings should spring from him, and especially the King Messiah, of whose kingdom there would be no end; and so the Targum,"thou hast spoken of the house of thy servant unto the world to come,''a phrase often used by the Jews for the times of the Messiah; see Hebrews 2:5; and so Abarbinel thinks this clause has respect to Messiah the son of David:
and is this the manner of man, O Lord God? to bestow their favours on their inferiors, persons of no worth and merit, and is a profuse manner? it is not; and yet to one so much below thee, and so undeserving, hast thou most largely and liberally given such great and unmerited mercies: or is it the manner, or customary to deal thus with men mean and abject, though it may with great personages that make a great figure in the world? it is not: and yet I am regarded by thee as if I was one of the greatest monarchs on earth: this sense agrees with the parallel text in 1 Chronicles 17:17; "and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree"; or, "this is the law", or "doctrine of the man who is the Lord God" (c). This doctrine contained in the promise now made respects the seed of the woman, the promised Shiloh, the illustrious man, Jehovah's fellow, the incarnate God, the Messiah, who is Jehovah our righteousness, the true God and eternal life.
(c) So Luther and Osiander; or "this is the delineation of the man who is the Lord", &c. So Hiller. Onomastic. Sacr. p. 447.
for thou, Lord God, knowest thy servant; what a sense he has of his own meanness and vileness, what gratitude his heart is filled with, and what his wants and necessities are, which God only can supply, and does abundantly, even more than he is able to ask or think. The Targum is,"and thou hast performed the petition of thy servant, O Lord God.''
and according to thine own heart; of his own sovereign good will and pleasure, of his own grace, as the Arabic version, and not according to the merits and deserts of David:
hast thou done all these great things; in making him king of Israel, and settling the kingdom in his posterity to the times of the Messiah, who should spring from him:
to make thy servant know them; as he now did by Nathan the prophet, what he and his should enjoy for time to come; so that it is not only a blessing to have favours designed, purposed, and promised, but to have the knowledge of them, to know the things that are freely given of God.
for there is none like thee; for his essence and attributes, for his greatness and goodness, for what he is in himself, for what he is to his people, and has done for them:
neither is there any God beside thee; there is but one God, the living and true God, the former and maker of all things; all others are but fictitious and factitious gods, see 1 Samuel 2:2;
according to all that we have heard with our ears; concerning what he did in the land of Egypt upon the Egyptians, and in the wilderness, in favour of the Israelites, and in the land of Canaan, by driving out the inhabitants before the people of Israel, and in the times of the judges, in raising them up to deliver his people.
whom God went to redeem for a people to himself; the words are plural, "whom the gods went to redeem"; the Targum is,"they that were sent from the Lord,''meaning Moses and Aaron, of whom Jarchi interprets them, of the first of which it is said, "I have made thee a god unto Pharaoh", Exodus 7:1; but Kimchi and R. Isaiah understand it of the true God, only suppose, as the former, that the plural expression is used for the sake of honour and glory; whereas, no doubt, respect is had to the three divine Persons in the Trinity, who were all concerned in the redemption of Israel, see Isaiah 63:9, where mention is made of the Lord, and of the Angel of his presence, and of his holy Spirit, as engaged therein:
and to make him a name; either to get himself a name, and honour and glory in the world, to show forth his power and might, as well as his mercy and goodness, or to make his people famous, great, and glorious in the earth:
and to do for you great things and terrible; as he did in the land of Ham, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, and in the land of Canaan, great things for his people, and terrible ones to their enemies:
for thy land; which is either spoken to God, whose was the land of Israel, and which he had chosen to dwell in, and had given to his people; or else to Israel, to whom the grant of this land was made, and who were put into the possession of it:
before thy people which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt: that is, the great and terrible things were done in their sight, when they were redeemed from the bondage of Egypt, see Psalm 78:12,
from the nations, and their gods? meaning, that they were redeemed not only from Egypt, but the nations of the Canaanites were driven out before them; nor could their idols save them, but destruction came upon them as upon the gods of the Egyptians: some leave out the supplement "from", and interpret this of the persons redeemed, even of the nations and tribes of Israel, and their great men, their rulers and civil magistrates, sometimes called gods.
and thou, Lord, art become their God; their covenant God, they having avouched him to be their God, and he having avouched them to be his people, Deuteronomy 26:17.
the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever: he prays for the sure performance of the promise of God respecting himself and his family, and the stability and perpetual continuance of the kingdom in it, and has, no doubt, a special regard to the Messiah, the promised seed that should spring from him:
and do as thou hast said: for though God had purposed and promised to do those several things, and would do them, yet it was expected by him, and it was right in David to pray for the performance of them; see Ezekiel 36:37.
saying, the Lord of hosts is the God over Israel; the Lord of armies above and below, is God over all, and in a special and peculiar manner God over Israel, literal and spiritual, that takes care of them, supplies, protects, and defends them:
and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee; as he had promised, 2 Samuel 7:16.
hast revealed to thy servant; which he otherwise could not have known:
saying, I will build thee an house; see 2 Samuel 7:11,
therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee; found his heart disposed to this service, or found freedom and boldness in him to put up this prayer to God; what encouraged and emboldened him to do it was the gracious promise of God, that he would build up his family, and establish his kingdom; or otherwise he could not have taken such liberty, and used such boldness with God in prayer, as to have requested it of him.
and thy words be true; are truly, punctually, and faithfully performed, never fail:
and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant; concerning building and establishing his house. David repeats this promise as being greatly affected with it, and fully assured of the performance of it.