II Samuel 7:18-28
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human! 20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. 22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God. 25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight. 27 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
1. More than David Could Have Thought 18-21
God sent a gracious message to David and now David reciprocates with serious observations. We do not know what David said to Nathan, but we do know what he said to God and he did it directly to God. However God speaks to us, directly or indirectly, our response should be directly to Him. The place to which he went was a good choice. Verse 18 says, “King David went in and sat before the Lord.” Probably this meant the tent so he could be near the ark recently brought to Jerusalem—the symbol of God’s presence. Humans are privileged to pray anywhere today, but wherever we pray we must set ourselves before the Lord and the Lord before us.
What do we learn from David’s posture? Usually we kneel, bow or stand because these postures show respect, but we can prostrate ourselves before him or, if this is to be taken literally, we can sit before Him. If it means David literally sat, then it expresses that he may have been there a long time because the human body can only stand so long, or it may suggest a relaxed spirt—he was comfortabe, not disrespectful, but comfortable when he was with the Lord. More than his posture, however, the matter of attitude and location would be the most important consideration. He went in and continued before the Lord. He stayed before the Lord meditating, thinking, and, as we can read, speaking. Oh God I am focusing on you, my heart is fixed on you.
The prayer itself was an expression of devout, righteous and saintly affection towards God, speaking humbly of himself and greatly about God. These two go together just as “I am weak but you are strong” is a great sentence. So David combines his own humility with expressions of God’s greatness. Both cannot be great. If we are great in our own eyes, we may not have room in our heart for God to be great. “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far” (v 18)?
God had just reminded David through Nathan of his small beginnings, “I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel” (7:8) and, in response, here and now, David expressed his agreement. David had been a military hero and now the king, a considerable and valuable man. His gifts both of body and mind were extraordinary. His talents and graces were obvious. He was a man of honor, success, and usefulness, the much-loved darling of his country and the dread of their enemies. Yet he spoke of himself humbly even acknowledging the lowliness of his family: “what is my family?” He was connected to a reputable tribe, Judah, yet, like Gideon he spoke with humility. Judges 6:15 says, “Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’” When Saul’s daughter was suggested to him as a wife, in I Sam. 18:18 it says, “But David said to Saul, ‘Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?’” The greatest of men are worms, the best are sinners, and the highest have nothing but what they have received. David’s words suggest that he could not have arrived where he was by his own efforts if God had not done it for him. All our fulfillments, realizations and acquirements are God’s doings. “All that we have accomplished, you have done for us” (Is 26:12).
David acknowledged God accomplishments. “you have brought me this far” (v 18). We don’t know yet about the future, but we can certainly say “this far,” until now. We can be thankful for what God has done. Before King Agrippa, in Acts 26:22, Paul claimed, “But God has helped me to this very day.” But David’s promise also included the future. “And as if this were not enough in your sight, sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant” (v 19): God has laid out many blessings, but there are infinitely many more things laid up for us. Psalms 31:19 says, “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” The present blessing of God are valuable gifts, but there is more to come reaching into eternity future. As David acknowledged this so should we. Honestly realizing the low character and condition of man, isn’t it awesome, fascinating and incredible that God would treat us as He does. Man is a selfish, lowly and undeserving creature, under a law of death and damnation, but we are brought near to God, purchased at a high price and taken into a favorable contract and treaty with Him. Do men usually deal like this with one another? The ways of our God are far above those of men. Though He be high, He regards the lowly. Though we offend Him, He invites us to be reunited. “What more can David say to you” (v 20)? Since He knows us better than we know ourselves, we can readily be satisfied with His provisions. It is one thing for God to intend good for us, but quite another for Him to graciously encourage us by telling us much about what that will entail. What can we say more for ourselves in our prayers than he has said for us in his promises? Eph. 3:20 is often quoted to emphasize this abundant provision, for God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
2. The Greatness of God 22-24
David credited all to the free grace of God, both the great things He had done for him and the great things He had made known to him. David did and we, too, benefit from the gifts and mercies of God, but there is much more in the overall and more comprehensive picture than us and the benefit we receive. There is God, His purpose and His glory. All that God does for His people in his sovereign plans, and everything He guarantees to them in his promises, is for His pleasure, for His praise, the pleasure of His will and the praise of His word. Verse 21 says, “For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.”
David adored God. This is putting it plainly and simply. David adored God. Here is what adore means: to regard with the utmost esteem, love, and respect to honor, to pay divine honor to; worship as in: to adore God, to like or admire very much.
No matter how much God honored David and lifted him, none of that lessened the honor and special regard David had for God and His majesty. The nearer we are brought to God, the more we see of his glory. The more clearly we understand how dear we are in His eyes, the greater He should be in ours. As verse 22 says, “There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” The queen of Sheba had not heard the half of the glory of Solomon and we have neither seen nor heard the half of what we shall see and what we will experience when we “see” God.
There was none among all the gods of David’s day that compared to his great God. David expressed a great esteem for the Israel of God as Verse 22 says, “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.”
The great works God did for Israel and for the church are very similar. The redemption of Israel, demonstrates our redemption by Christ. “And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt” (v 23)? They were redeemed from the nations and their gods; so are we from all sin and all conformity to this present world. Christ came to save His people from their sins. They were redeemed to be a special people unto God, purified and given to Himself, that He might make Himself a great name and do for them great things. In redemption two things are accomplished: the honor of God, and the eternal happiness of the saints. God and we both benefit, but differently.
God made a special and lasting covenant with them, “You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.” Our own emotions and personal circumstances change from day to day, but the covenant we have with God remains the same.
3. God’s Promise, the Foundation for Confident Prayer 25-29
David concluded his prayer with humble petitions to God. The promise of God was the basis for his prayer. Verse 27 says, “you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’” This idea was initiated by God. Then David does something that everyone of us can and should do—claim the promise. You have said you would build my house or else I could never have presumed to pray like this. If I had not been emboldened by your promise, I would never have thought to ask for this, but you said . . .” These promises are too great for me to ask, but apparently not too great for you to give. Verse 25 says, “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised,” This prayer was bold, but not brazen, and confident, but not presumptuous. Why? Because David was only claiming what God Himself had promised. This is another reason for us to read the Bible regularly—so that we know the promises. We can let the promises guide our prayers. Psalm 119:49 says, “Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.” The promises of God not only make us bold, but also give us hope. Since the promises are so abundant, we can say, “I desire no more, and I expect no less.”
When we turn God’s promises into prayers, next He turns them into performances. With God, saying and doing are identical; not different things. Surely the Lord cannot be displeased when we pray as David prayed that God would glorify His own name. He prayed for the glorifying of God’s name “Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever” (vs 25-26). This ought to be the basic content of all our prayers, the Alpha and the Omega of them. Begin with “Your name is holy" and end with “Yours is the glory forever.” ‘Whether I be magnified or not, it does not matter, but let your name be magnified.’ Centuries later the Son of David prayed as recorded in John 12:28, “‘Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’”
David concluded his prayer with a request that everyone of us should make often—a prayer for our house and family. Verse 29 says, “Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” What God blesses is blessed. Good men are concerned about their families and prayer for one’s family is the best exercise possible.
We could well wonder if David knew that his prayer entailed the perfection and eternal nature of the kingdom of the Messiah. Surely this promise was fulfilled when Jesus Christ sat down at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Heb. 10:12 says, “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”
From the prayer of David there is much to learn about God, His person, His character, His promises and His plans. David was a thinker and we benefit from knowing His thoughts. You and I have not been promised exactly the same things that David was singularly promised, but David’s response to God’s promises provide a model for you and me. What God has done and is doing for us is different, but the attitude, the spirit, the mental and spiritual posture David demonstrated can be ours. That is what I want to take away from this lesson. David was a leader. He was a thankful person. Thankfulness is a wonderful attribute of great people.