Expository Sermon on 2 Samuel 7
by Maylan Schurch
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church 11/2/2019
©2019 by Maylan Schurch
(To watch the YouTube video for this worship service, click the triangular white “play” arrow on the line below. The sermon starts at 1:23:03.)
Please open your Bibles to Second Samuel, chapter 7.
As you remember if you been worshiping with us for a while, the last few months we’ve been going book by book through the Bible, watching for the footprints of Jesus. As Jesus and two of His disciples were making footprints one Sunday night during a 10 mile walk to the town of Emmaus, He explained to them – even though they didn’t recognize who He was at that point – that He Himself had been present in all of the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus seems to have been the one who has interacted with humanity down through history, so that whenever we see “the Lord” speaking to someone in those ancient books, that is most likely Jesus Himself.
And now we’ve come to the book of Second Samuel. The first part of this book tells about David becoming king, and how he finally subdued all Israel’s enemies.
And as I was reading through Second Samuel during the last few days, my attention was caught by what I consider one of the most amazing chapters in this book. To me, this chapter is breathtakingly, heartbreakingly beautiful. The Bible tells us that God considered David as being “a man after His own heart,” and this chapter gives some delightful examples of this.
And remember, it’s almost certain that this was Jesus Himself speaking to David. The one who would become the Son of David was speaking to His earthly ancestor. And I believe that anyone who wants to have a closer relationship with God can gain some truly valuable insights from watching how David and Jesus communicate with each other.
But first we have to set the stage. The earlier chapters of this book are filled with a lot of power struggles and battles and murders. When all this settles down, David finally is able to bring the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and he is so happy about this that he does a spontaneous dance of joy as he walks along in the procession.
And then comes chapter 7. Remember, as we go through this chapter, let’s look for what David has learned about his Heavenly Friend, and what makes their relationship so close. Because when Jesus became human, that is exactly what He hungered for with His disciples – both the original 12, and everyone who would become disciples through their teaching. And that includes you and me.
Because John 17 says that Jesus does want for us the same kind of close relationship He had with David. Let’s watch how the two of them do it so we can learn how to have that relationship too.
2 Samuel 7:1 – 2 [NKJV]: Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.”
If you’re taking down sermon notes this morning, I’m now going to give you what I think is Sermon Point One. Here’s one thing David did that so endeared him to the Lord.
Learn to look out for God’s interests.
Notice what David does. For several years, he has been running from the jealous King Saul, who constantly harassed him. All this time David has also been fighting battles against the enemies of Israel. And now that things have finally settled down, David could easily have pursued his own interests, maybe built a bigger royal palace, maybe tried to expand his empire.
But that is not David’s style. Just as he’s always done, David puts the Lord’s interests above his own. And now, leaning back on his throne, he tells his friend the prophet Nathan, “I got an idea. Let’s build a house for God.”
If you were attending this congregation as far back as 2013, you will definitely remember the 50th anniversary celebration of our Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist church. To me, that was a sacred weekend. The atmosphere was so filled with memories, and people from the past, and joyous reunions, that the air was almost too joyfully thick to walk through. I remember feeling it strongly as I stood in the foyer and watched all these people, most of whom I did not know, talking together.
Because these were people who had learned to look out for God’s interests as well as their own. These were the people who had met in a little Baptist church down the street while they were building the north wing. And then they held church services up in the Fellowship Hall while they were building this sanctuary wing. They faithfully supported these projects with their offerings, and watched these structures—and our wonderful congregational culture–become reality.
And then, just before that 50th anniversary celebration, this congregation renovated this whole facility, donating so generously and faithfully that we did not have to take out one single penny for a loan, for any of the $350,000 this project cost. This obligation was promptly and systematically met by people who were in the habit of looking out for God’s interests. It is a privilege to be a part of such a congregation.
Because not only did David learn to look out for God’s interests, but his conversation partner, Jesus Himself, would later do this when He became human. Even when He was just 12 years old, He told His anxious parents in Luke 2:49, “Didn’t you know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
So Jesus and David were on the same page. They were both concerned about what God was interested in. And I believe that the more deeply you and I learn to care about God’s interests, the closer our relationship to Him will become.
But there is more to David’s story here in this chapter, and as we read, we’ll learn more about how to deepen our relationship with our Savior.
Remember, David has been chatting with Nathan, and Nathan is on the same page with David. Nathan has been looking out for the Lord’s interests too. And when David says, “It’s not right that I am living in a house made of cedar, and God’s presence is still within the walls of an ancient tent”—and he doesn’t even have to finish his thought. Nathan knows exactly where he’s going.
Verse 3: Then Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.”
Now, if you know much about the story of David, you know that this energetic king is about to get a shock. Because even though he and his friend Nathan are excited about building a temple for God, God does not want this to happen, right now, at this point, with this king.
And much later, over in First Chronicles chapter 28, David tells the leaders of the nation what this reason is. He tells them how God told him, “You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.” (1 Chronicles 28:4)
But what is so amazing, so wonderful, so tenderhearted, is that right here, right now, the Lord doesn’t say a single thing about that. Notice how He responds. Let’s pick up the story in verse three. Listen to the gentle and sensitive phrases that the Lord uses.
Verses 3 – 17: Then Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” But it happened that night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, “Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’ ” ’ Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house. “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come 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. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” ’ ” According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
Notice what’s happening here? There’s not one single syllable of the real reason God doesn’t want David himself to build that temple.
In fact, this would be a good time to introduce Sermon Point Two. What’s something else we need to learn which will help us come into a closer relationship with God?
If I want a closer and more satisfying relationship with God, I not only must learn to look out for God’s interests, but I must also learn how gentle God can be.
When I was a kid on the prairies of South Dakota, I noticed that some people were what my mom called “blunt.” One of her female friends, who would call her on the phone a lot and talk with her, was blunt.
When I was five years old I got a bean stuck up my nose. Why I thought it was a good idea to put a bean into my nose, I do not know. But the bean got up there, and stayed there, and Mom finally had to take me to the only doctor in town.
This man was a good doctor, and was deeply respected by the people of the town, but he was also blunt. And evidently Mom had brought her sobbing son to him on a day when other things may not have been going so well for the doctor. Or maybe the doctor had had to deal with one too many little kids with beans up their noses, and maybe I was the last straw. Or the last bean.
Anyway, the doctor was quite blunt. I don’t remember anything about what he said, but Mom remembered that he scolded her for letting me put the bean up my nose. And he must’ve rebuked me as well, and traumatized me further, because Mom developed a very sour feeling about this doctor, and decades later she would still frown when she thought about him.
I was not raised to be blunt. Dad was not blunt. Mom was not blunt. My siblings are not blunt. We were taught to be nice to people.
Now there were times in the Old Testament and in the New Testament where the Lord could be blunt, and was blunt. There were times when both mom and dad were blunt to my siblings and me. But those were times of urgent crisis, when quick, emphatic advice must be given in a way that showed that these issues were serious.
But when it comes to developing a closer relationship with the Lord, we need to learn how gentle and selfless He is. When the Lord told Nathan what to say to David, the Lord knew that David’s heart was full of joy at the possibility of building a house for Him. David didn’t need bluntness. David needed affirmation and encouragement. (Later on, when he was ready for it, the Lord would go into more detail about why someone with human blood on his hands shouldn’t really build God’s temple.)
But gentleness is what the Lord used right here. Later on, when Jesus took on human form, Mark 12:37 says that “the common people heard Him gladly.” The NIV says, “The large crowd listened to him with delight.” Jesus must have been an incredibly encouraging, comforting speaker. Matthew 12:20 quotes an Old Testament prophecy about Jesus’ gentleness: “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.”
Jesus could be blunt, but only when it was necessary to cut through the stubborn calluses on the souls of the religious leaders who were trying to sabotage His God-given mission.
Years ago when I was in seminary, I worked at the campus radio station next to a woman who was a retired attorney and whose father had been a missionary. After working with me for a while, she said, “You’ll never survive in the ministry. You’re too nice a guy.” She did not mean this as a compliment. She had seen her father go through some very difficult experiences, and she was warning me that she didn’t think I was tough enough – blunt enough – to survive being a pastor.
I’m not sure whether the apostle Paul could be called blunt. By some of what he wrote, maybe he was. But in Romans 12:10, he urges his fellow Christians to “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” In other words, be nice. Don’t be wishy-washy, don’t be wimpy, but be gentle and selfless. Because most of the time, that’s what other people need.
Now let’s go back to our story Second Samuel 7. Watch how David reacts to what must’ve been a really disappointing blow, even though the Lord couched it in the gentlest language possible. How is David going to react? Is he going to get bitter against God? Is he going to say, “God, after all I’ve done for you, this is how you treat me?”
Watch carefully, because this will provide us with a third secret to a closer relationship with the Lord.
Verses 17 – 18: According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David. Then King David went in and sat before the LORD . . . .
Went in where? To that tattered old tabernacle tent which he had fond hopes of replacing with a respectable building? Evidently so. David “went in and sat before the Lord.” Since he wasn’t a priest, he probably couldn’t even go into the outer Holy Place. So maybe he just sat near the tabernacle, or maybe inside the outer court, maybe around to the side or rear of the tabernacle where priests normally did not spend much time.
And notice, he doesn’t stand before the Lord. Standing is a valid Bible way to pray, but David doesn’t do that here.
And he doesn’t kneel. Kneeling is also a valid prayer-posture. Paul often speaks of “bowing his knee” in prayer. But now, David just comes and sits. He settles down, as somebody might settle down for a long conversation.
Here comes Sermon Point Three.
If I want a closer and more satisfying relationship with God, I not only must learn to look out for God’s interests, and learn how gentle God can be, but I must learn to “sit before the Lord.”
So what do I mean by that? Well, as we’ll see, David is not simply going to sit there in quiet meditation. He has something to say. We need to keep in mind that David was not able to hear the Lord’s voice at this point. The night before, the Lord had spoken to Nathan, and Nathan had relayed that message to David. And here, wherever it is that David is sitting before the Lord, David will speak, but he will probably not expect to hear an audible voice.
And that’s the way it is with us today. We are not able to see or hear our Savior yet, as we will one day. Even Jesus, when He prayed to His Father, rarely heard an audible voice. He heard God’s voice at His baptism, and on a couple of other brief occasions, but in Gethsemane He did not. On the cross, He did not.
I think we need to learn to come and sit before the Lord, to show Him that we are there to talk, to communicate, to open our hearts, to spend time with Him. That’s what David did. David shows us that we don’t always have to kneel when we pray. My mom would often talk to the Lord sitting in an armchair in our living room, after everybody else had gone to bed. I never heard her voice speaking aloud – maybe she was whispering. But she felt comfortable sitting there in God’s presence, talking to him.
Dad would normally drive somewhere by himself in the car, and just sit there and pray. Sometimes he would drive through the streets of our little town, praying for the people in the houses as he drove past.
One night he was doing this, and the local cop pulled him over. The cop walked over to his car and said, “Henry? Is that you? What are you doing?” Dad told him, “I’m just driving along and praying for the people in the houses.” The cop backed respectfully away, and said, “Keep doing it. Don’t stop. They need it.”
Here in this chapter I found just one more principle of developing a closer relationship with the Lord. Let’s watch as David teaches us what it is. Remember, he’s feeling a certain amount of disappointment about having to scrap his temple project. But watch how he responds to the Lord. Again, David is just sitting there all by himself somewhere in the temple courtyard, talking out loud to God. See if you can discover this important principle.
Verses 18 – 29: Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord GOD? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord GOD; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD? Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord GOD, know Your servant. For Your word’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name—and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land—before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods? For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, LORD, have become their God. “Now, O LORD God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said. So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel.’ And let the house of Your servant David be established before You. For You, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You. “And now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant. Now therefore, let it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue before You forever; for You, O Lord GOD, have spoken it, and with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever.”
Notice – just as God does not say anything right then about the real reason He is denying David permission to build the temple, in the same way, David himself doesn’t mention his disappointment. Instead, David looks back on all the Lord’s blessings, and expresses his gratitude for them.
Have you ever heard somebody say that so-and-so has “a long memory”? Usually it means that the person being talked about has a long list of grievances which were perpetrated upon him by other people. He cannot forget those grievances. And he gets more bitter and more bitter the more he stews about them.
I believe that David had a memory that wasn’t so much long as it was wide. He doesn’t seem to have been in the habit of making a list of his grievances. Instead, he is able to look over the entire spectrum of his life, and focuses instead on how God has led him step-by-step.
In fact, let’s put that into our last sermon point.
If I want a closer and more satisfying relationship with God, I not only must learn to look out for God’s interests, and learn how gentle God can be, and learn to “sit before the Lord.” I must also learn to cultivate a memory that is not narrow but wide.
In fact, David’s prayer to God doesn’t mention anything negative at all. David could have made this prayer one long version of the question Why? Why can’t I build you a temple?
But instead, David’s wide memory brings to his mind just how fortunate and how blessed he is, even though for several years he wasn’t able to get an easy night sleep for fear that Saul’s armies would rush out at and try to murder him. And after Saul’s death, David had to maneuver carefully through kingdom politics in order to get everyone on the same page with him.
But in this prayer, David didn’t complain. In some of his Psalms, of course, he does complain, sometimes quite earnestly. He asks questions like why do the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer.
But here, sitting before the Lord, adjusting his mind to God’s decision about the temple, David reaches and gathers in all the memories of how the Lord has blessed him.
How wide is your memory? Somebody once taught me, years ago when I was a kid, that when you pray—especially privately–you should start with the thank-you’s rather than the requests. And you should get in the habit of making that thank-you list longer and longer, because each time you repeat what God has done for you, it makes the challenges you’re currently facing seem more manageable.
Because David had discovered, down through the years, out there in the meadows with the sheep, there with the giant in the valley, with his slingshot gripped in his sweaty fingers, there in the depths of the cave listening to the shouts of Saul’s army on the hills outside – David had discovered that God was dependable, that the Lord was a solid foundation on which to build his faith and lead his life.
Would you like to use David’s methods to let this happen in your life as well? Would you like the closeness he felt with God?