I Chronicles 17



Up to this point the life of David had been, to a remarkable degree, one of

action. From childhood upward it is likely that he had passed little enough

time which could be called idle time. The first employment, however, in

which he had been engaged, that of the shepherd, may be safely presumed

to have fostered the power of contemplation as well as of action, and to

have been distinctly favorable to meditation. There can be little doubt that

the very germs of the moral reflection which the psalms of later life

manifest in such rich abundance took their origin thence. The grandeur of

the aspects of external nature were thence suggested to him many a time,

in strange contrast to many of the aspects of human life and the individual

character. And again, from the same source of personal knowledge, at a

glance, and quick as the twinkling of an eye, he saw the analogy that

obtained between the works of nature and those of providence. Most

noticeable, likewise, is it, that David rarely enough speaks in the slightest

approach to the temper of the censorious critic of others, or of men in

general. When his meditation is most comprehensive, and his deliverance

universal in its application, it is perhaps even too plain, rather than not

plain enough, that they come forth strongly marked with the impress of

personal conviction, personal struggle of thought, personal experience. Nor

is it likely that the months and years of his fearing and persecuted life had

passed without much and deep thought. These are the realities of life that

make to think those who have a mind to think. Amazed, pathetic,

melancholy, and anon all strong in faith and buoyant with confidence, were

the thoughts that paced what none would deny, were the ample spaces of

the large mind of David. Yet perhaps, what with personal fear and danger,

wars and rumors of wars, and an ever-increasing load of responsibility,

succeeded now, and somewhat suddenly, by greatness and prosperity, his

care of late had been somewhat too self-regarding. He has made his

position — at all events, his position is made. His home is no longer the

den and cave of the earth; he has builded himself a mansion of mansions —

at all events, such a mansion is builded for him. We wait with interest and

anxiety to know how he will use these great gifts, with what sort of heart

and hand he will address himself to them. We do not wait very long, nor to

be disappointed in the event. David shows that he is moved by a right

principle himself, and he exhibits that principle in a very simple manner, the

convenient example for all others.  He proposes to build God a house.


This chapter is paralleled by II Samuel 7:1-29; and the parallel is for the

most part very close. The purport of the two accounts may be said to be

identical, while the variations of some few words and sentences just suffice

to indicate the somewhat different objects of the two writers, and the very

different time when our compiler was having recourse to the common

authority. The “good” purpose which was in David’s heart is, like many

other good purposes, obstructed by the will and providence of God

Himself. It is not one of that other kind of “good intentions,” with which

the way to hell is so often paved, when the man who forms the resolution

and entertains the intention is he who of his own choice, or fickleness, or

indifference, breaks it. It is acknowledged, therefore, and meets in fact with

a large and gracious reward, in being made the occasion of the distinct

revelation to David of a lasting house and perpetuated kingdom in his line.

The interest of this chapter is heightened, as will be seen, by the aspects of

royal “home” life and peace which it presents.


We may easily imagine how the excitement, though not the deeper interest,

attending the removal of the ark and the festival on occasion of its safe establishment

on Zion had now subsided. David’s thoughts respecting the honor due to God and to

the ark of the covenant had time to grow into convictions, and they were greatly and

rightly stimulated by reflection on his own surroundings of comfort, of safety, of

stability and splendor. He revolves the possible methods and the right methods of

showing that honour due. The completion of his own house, one presumably fit for

the permanent abode of the King of Israel (ch.14:1), is the clear demonstration to

him that the ark should not dwell in a mere tent.


1 “Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to

Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark

of the covenant of the LORD remaineth under curtains.” It is a true touch

of life, when it is  written that as David sat in his house these thoughts possessed

him, and so strongly. The exact time, however, here designed, and the exact

occasion of his revealing the thoughts that burned within him, to Nathan, do not

appear either here or in the parallel place. In the opinion of some, an indication of

some interval having elapsed is found in the words (II Samuel 7:1), “The

Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies;” while others

consider those words to refer to the victories gained over the Philistines, as

recorded in ch. 14. Nathan the prophet. This name suddenly breaks upon

us, without any introduction, here for the first time. Nathan is emphatically

entitled “the prophet,” but perhaps merely to distinguish him from Nathan,

David’s eighth son. Amid many other important references to Nathan, and

which speak for themselves, must be specially noted ch.29:29; II Chronicles 9:29.

And it will be noticed from the former of these references, in particular how

Nathan is the prophet (aybiG;h"); not (like Samuel and Gad) seer (ha,roh;

or hwO,th"). Possibly he is intended in I Kings 4:5. An house of cedars. The cedar

here spoken of does, of course, not answer to our red, odorous cedar. The word

employed is zr,a,, in the plural number. The first Biblical use of this word is found in

<031404>Leviticus 14:4,6,49-52. It is derived by Gesenius from an obsolete

word zr"a;, from the grip and the firmness of its roots. It is probably the

derived signification, therefore, that should be adhered to (as in the

Authorized Version), and not the original, where in Ezekiel 27:24, the

plural of the passive participial is found, “made of cedar,” not with A.

Schultens, “made fast. The cedar genus belonging to the order Coniferae,

is odoriferous, very lasting, and without knots. The numerous good

qualities which it possesses are spoken to in the variety of uses, and good

kind of uses, to which it was put — these all crowned by the almost

solitary spiritualized appropriation of the tree, found in Psalm 92:12.

From a comparison of I Kings 5:6, 8 (in the Hebrew, 20, 22) with

II Chronicles 2:3, 8, and some other passages, we may be led to believe

that the cedar as the name of timber was used occasionally very

generically. Nevertheless, the very passages in question instance by name

the other specific kinds of wood. Two of the chief kinds of cedar were the

Lebanon and the Deodara, which is said not to have grown in Syria, but

abounds in the Himalayas. And as the use of the Lebanon cedar for some

purposes (e.g. for the masts of ships) is almost out of the question, it is

exceedingly probable that this Deodars and some other varieties of pines

are comprehended under the eh-rez. Dean Stanley points out what may be

described as very interesting moral landmark uses of the celebrated cedars

of Lebanon, in those passages which speak of Solomon’s sweep of

knowledge, commencing in the dewing direction from them (I Kings 4:33),

of the devouring fire that should begin with the bramble and reach

high up to those cedars (in Jotham’s parable, Judges 9:15), and (in the

parable of Joash, King of Israel, to Amaziah, King of Judah, II Chronicles

25:18) of the contempt with which the family of the cedars of Lebanon is

supposed to hear of the matrimonial overtures of the family of the thistles of

Lebanon.  Cedar was the choice wood for pillars and beams, boarding and

ceiling of the finest houses; and alike the first and second temples (Ezra 3:7)

depended upon the supply of it. Under curtains. Here rightly in the plural,

though our parallel (II Samuel 7:2) shows the singular (Exodus 26:1-13;



2 “Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God

is with thee.” This verse gives Nathan’s response on the spur of the moment.

And that it was not radically wrong from a prophet may be inferred from

the stress afterwards laid upon the acceptableness to God of what had been

in the heart of David to do. Even with God, silence would sometimes be

understood by a prophet to be equivalent to assent.


3 “And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to

Nathan, saying,” The express word of God came, however, that same night. It

proved to be an overruling word. But it brought with it the point of a fresh

and most welcome new departure for David. We might glean here by the

way a suggestion of the beneficent operation of express revelation,

superceding the thought, the method, the reason of man.


From vs. 4-15, we have the unfolding to David of the magnificent

and far-stretching purposes of God’s grace towards him in his son

Solomon and his descendants for ever. The revelation is made by the

mouth of Nathan.


4 “Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt

not build me an house to dwell in:” Thou shalt not build. The Hebrew

marks the personal pronoun here as emphatic,” Not thou shalt build,” i.e.

 but some one else. In the parallel this prohibition is conveyed by that

interrogative particle which expects the answer No, and may be thus

translated:  “Is it thou shalt build for me,” etc.?  (II Samuel 7:5)


The greatest trials of man’s faith lie in the working of the sovereignty of

God. Yet there is not an individual attribute of the Creator to be yielded to

Him more unreservedly than this same sovereignty, which may be said to

include in it the rights of many an attribute. The Divine frustration of our

purposes, disappointment of our hopes, and summary determination of

many a life that we thought made for the highest service, often enough

elude all the acumen of our reason, and bring to naught in one moment the

pride of creature-wisdom. But so soon as ever we are recovered from the

first severity of the blow and from the deep prostration which it has

inferred, it is always left to us to search for, gather, and compare the

relative uses that may attend cases of this description of suffering. We may

vainly seek the reason, as vainly as try to search the immortal mind itself;

but far from vainly shall we attempt to observe attendant uses and lessons.

Human wisdom is, indeed, never in so fair a way for increase and

improvement as when thus engaged. The present narrative contains little or

nothing of difficulty, however, either in respect of finding the reasons of

God’s prohibition, in the instance before us, or in respect of gathering the

lessons and uses suggested by that prohibition.  It is remarkable

that neither this passage nor the parallel to it states the one of these reasons

on which the real stress would have been supposed to fall. We will notice

this, therefore, in its place (ch.22:8), inasmuch as the silence about it here is entire.

We must not pass unnoticed, however, one and perhaps the only sign of an

explanation of this silence which we can find. In both this and the parallel place

the historian speaks. In ch.22:8, 28:3, where all the facts are boldly stated, it is

he noble-hearted David himself who speaks; and in I Kings 5:3, where we have

what may be called an intermediate account as regards fullness, the son Solomon




Unfitness for Some Parts of God’s Work (v.4)


God sent a distinct refusal of David’s request by the Prophet Nathan. “Thou shalt

 not build me an house to dwell in” But this refusal may not be regarded as an

act of mere sovereignty; it was based upon the Divine recognition of the unfitness

of David as the instrument for this particular work. Much he might do for God

(and he served his generation well – Acts 13:36), but this he may not do; and the

disability even followed upon his very fitness for the other work which God had

called him to do. He was a man of war. His work had been the extending

and settling of the new kingdom. But the “man of blood” must give place

to the “man of rest,” to whom could be more wisely committed the work

of building a temple for God. We are here taught that God’s work, which

He would have done on earth, is divided into pieces; that one piece only is

usually committed to the trust of each man; that every man finds he has one

such trust, and that all the pieces and parts fit together, and make up one

great whole of DIVINE PURPOSE!   There is a Divine arrangement of the

pieces. There is a Divine allotment of the pieces to individuals. And this

involves the selection of individuals upon a Divine recognition of particular

gifts and endowments. Then a man may be either fitted or unfitted for

some positions and for some work; and God will, by His providence, guide

each man to the work that he may hopefully do; and no man has occasion

to envy the place or work of another man.



reproach David for wishing to build the temple. He now says, “Thou didst

well that it was in thine heart.”  (II Chronicles 6:8).  It is a good sign that

we want to serve; though so often it is only a sign of our restlessness in

 the work we have, and our foolish fancying that some one else’s work

is better, or easier, or nobler than our own. Faithful doing of present

duty may be quite consistent with earnest desire to do something else and

better, provided it finds expression, as David’s did, in patient waiting

on God, and earnest prayer for Divine direction.



FROM THE SPHERES HE SEEKS. Such disabilities may arise out of

natural disposition and character; educational conditions; local

circumstances; or, as in David’s case, out of the very life-work which may

be entrusted to us. When we remember how actions bear the stamp of the

character of those who perform them, and men receive their impressions of

the thing itself from the person who does it, we realize how God may

properly refuse to permit us to do just the work we may wish to do.

We need to satisfy ourselves that God knows both us and our work, and

so can fitly match the two together, and keep us from unfitting spheres.



WHAT WE PLAINLY HAVE TO DO. Forming a very high value of our

present trust. Quite sure that it is the very thing for us; and cherishing the

assurance that God makes our work fit into the work that others do, and

that the very thing which we would like to have done ourselves, God gets

done in His own time and way, and by the agents He pleases. “One

planteth, another watereth,” and God gives the increase that

crowns the union of various labourers and labours  (I Corinthians

3:5-9).  We may learn:


Ø      The lesson of submissive obedience to the Divine appointments.

Ø      The importance of keeping our minds free from all envy of other

workers, even of those who seem to be doing the very work

which we would like to have done.

Ø      And to be thankful for the work that is entrusted to us; quick to

discern the dignity and importance of it; and supremely anxious

that we should be found of God faithful in the doing of it.


5 “For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up

Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one

tabernacle to another.” This verse contains the three terms — house, tent,

 tabernacle (see notes on ch.16:1). Gesenius observes that when the

Hebrew of the last two words is used distinctively, the tent describes the

outer coverings of the twelve curtains; and the tabernacle, the ten inner

curtains and framework as well, in other words, the whole equipment of

the well-known tabernacle. As compared with the version we have here,

the parallel place (v.6) speaks an almost pathetic condescension, “I was a

shifting traveller in tent and tabernacle.” God meant to remind David how

surely and faithfully HE HAD SHARED THE PILGRIM LOT AND

UNSETTLEDNESS OF HIS PEOPLE!   What most holy the tabernacle

contained was herein a type of the bodily tabernacle of Jesus Christ in

 later times.


6 Wheresoever I have walked with all Israel, spake I a word to any of

the judges of Israel,” - The substitution of the Hebrew character beth for pe,

in the word “judges,” would make it “tribes,” and bring it into harmony with

the parallel place (v.7). But the succeeding clause,whom I commanded to

feed my people,” - would rather suggest that the parallel place, which adds the

same clause, should be brought into harmony with this (see again v. 10 of this

chapter). The general meaning and the gracious spirit underlying it is evident

enough. God had never made a suggestion to tribe, or leader of tribe, nor to judge,

who had been temporarily raised up to lead, and so to feed, all His people Israel,

to build Him an house. He had shared their lot, and had shared it without

murmuring.  He also “had not opened His mouth” ( ch. 28:3-4; I Kings 8:12-16;

Psalm 78:67-71). Note also the expression, “I chose no city out of all the tribes

 of Israel (I Kings 8:16). It is to be remarked that we learn from chapters 22:8

and 28:3 the fuller causes why David was not to be permitted to be the builder of

the house. It is not apparent why those causes are not recited here. The same

remark applies to the parallel place -“saying, Why have ye not built me an

house of cedars?”


7 “Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus

saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee” -  (So I Samuel 16:11-12; II Samuel 7:8;

Psalm 78:70) “from the sheepcote,” - The Hebrew hz,n; strictly signifies a

resting or place of resting. Hence the habitation of men or of animals, and

in particular the pasture in which flocks lie down and rest (Psalm 23:2,

plural construction; Job 5:24; Hosea 9:13; Jeremiah 23:3; 49:20). The sheepcote

was sometimes a tower, with roughly built high wall, exposed to the sky at the top,

used for protection from wild beasts at night; sometimes the sheepfold was a larger

low building of different shape, to which a fenced courtyard was adjacent, where

the peril of cold or of wild beast was less imminent. The word of our present passage,

however, cannot be compared with these places; compare rather Exodus 15:13;

II Samuel 15:25; Isaiah 33:20; 65:10, as above - “even from following

the sheep, that thou shouldest be ruler over my people Israel:”


8 “And I have been with thee whithersoever thou hast walked, and

have cut off all thine enemies from before thee, and have made

thee” - This may be rendered and will make thee; in which case the promise

to David commences with this rather than the following clause - “a name like

the name of the great men that are in the earth.”


9 “Also I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and will plant them,

and they shall dwell in their place, and shall be moved no more;

neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more, as at

the beginning,” All the verbs of this verse are in the same tense as those of the

foregoing verse, which are correctly translated. For an expression similar

to the last clause of the verse, Neither shall the children of wickedness

waste them any more, may be found in Psalm 89:22.


10 “And since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people

Israel. Moreover I will subdue all thine enemies. Furthermore I tell

thee that the LORD will build thee an house.” This verse should read on

continuously with the preceding, as far as to the word “enemies.” The time here

denoted will stretch from the people’s occupation of the land to the death of Saul,

as the expression, “at the beginning,” in v. 9, will point to the experience of

Egyptian oppression. Will build thee an house; i.e. will guarantee thee an

unfailing line of descendants.


11 “And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must

go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which

shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.”  The promise is now,

not to “David and his seed,” but to David personally. The verse contains, no

doubt, the original of the Apostle Peter’s quotation (Acts 2:29-30; see also Acts

13:34; Luke 1:32-33). The last clause of this verse has Solomon, for the object

of its pronoun “his.”


11 “He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.

12 I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my

mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee:

14 But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever:

and his throne shall be established for evermore.” The promises in these

three verses were also to Solomon, and to him they were faithfully fulfilled.

They were early perceived to be prophecies also, and of the highest significance

and application (Psalm 89:26-37; Isaiah 9:7; 55:3-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:17-21;

Zechariah 6:12-13; Hebrews 1:5; 3:6). The alternative of the “son who commits

iniquity(II Samuel 7:14) is omitted from the middle of our thirteenth verse. The

latter half of v.13 manifestly purports to say, “I will not take my mercy away from

Solomon, as I did take it away from Saul.” The close of our fourteenth verse is in

the parallel place (II Samuel 7:16) distinctly referred to David, with the use of the

second person possessive pronoun.


15 “According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so

did Nathan speak unto David.”


The last twelve verses (vs. 16-27), contain David’s response to the gracious

communication which had been made to him, and thanksgivings for the

promise made to him as regards his seed. His appreciation of the contents

of that promise is expressed in a manner which would seem to indicate that

he was not altogether untaught, even then, by the Spirit of some of the

deeper significance of the far-reaching promise.


16 “And David the king came and sat before the LORD,” -  i.e. before the ark.

It has surprised many that it should be said that David sat before the Lord, in the act

of prayer or devotion. But this was not altogether unusual (I Kings 19:4) in the first

place; and then, secondly, it is not quite clear that this is said. Possibly he sat awaiting

first some such token as he might know how to construe into the presence of Jehovah,

and into His gracious vouchsafing to give him audience, and thereupon he may have

altered his attitude. Confessedly, however, the other is the more natural reading.

(In Hebrews 4:16, we are encouraged to “come boldly unto the throne of

grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

- CY – 2012) -  and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house,

that thou hast brought me hitherto?”


17 “And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast

also spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and

hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O

LORD God.”  David here makes a clear sad very just difference between all

that had been done for him, and the very great prospect now in addition

put before him: Thou… hast regarded me according to the estate of a

man of high degree; i.e. thou hast treated me, or dealt with me, in this

promise as though I had been of high rank indeed. The parallel reading is

very concise (II Samuel 7:19), and perhaps somewhat obscure, “And is

this the manner [or, ‘law’] of man?” or, “And this is to be a law of man,”

i.e. this continuity of a great while to come. Elliptical as this reading may

seem, there is no real difficulty in feeling its essential harmony with the

passage before us. David’s unfeigned surprise and joy in the great while

to come nature of the promises made to him and his house overpower all

else in his estimation. It is, indeed, a most opportune emphasis that he lays

upon this element of the full promise, and accords exceptionally well with

our later knowledge and brighter light. Our Authorized Version rendering

throws out sufficiently this surprise, and gives not inadequately the drift of

the passage. The continuity and exaltedness of the promise, which was only

fully realized in the greater Son of David, the Christ, might well astonish



This verse contains a part of David’s response to the communication which

had been made to him. That communication had contained a refusal, and

one which under most circumstances would have been felt to be charged

with a disappointment sufficient to overspread all the scene with gloom,

and to require some little time to recover from. But there was much in the

communication to heal at once that disappointment, and to prevent the

rankling of offended feeling and affection. It was all couched in gracious

language, spoken in a gentle tone though firm, accompanied with reasoning

and some individual reasons, softened by tender memories, and memories

very suggestive and instructive; and above all, if it wanted in the present,

the present want was abundantly compensated for by a sure promise of the

future; if it lacked anything directly to himself, it were easy to bear it, when

that lack was to be turned into glorious abundance in the person of his own

best-loved Son. Accordingly, this response of David is found to be one of

very prompt, very dutiful submission. David bows to the Divine fiat and

kisses the rod which smites. The response goes beyond meek surrender and

unhesitating acquiescence. David cordially accepts the representations

made, and every turn and illustration and enforcement of them drawn from

his own fast life. He knows every word to be true. He knows what he owes

to special favor, special promotion, special deliverance, and continued

faithful protection. The “sheep-cotes” of old, and his “palace of cedars” of

to-day, proclaim facts and tell a tale that melt his heart not to submission

only, but to grateful love. And his response is filled with grateful

thanksgiving, trustful prayer, adoring praise. In all this response of David,

nothing, perhaps, is more effective, nothing meant more than the touch

contained in this verse, “Thou hast spoken of thy servant’s house for a

great while to come.”


David has been reminded, in language very plain, of the rock whence he was

hewn, and the pit whence he was digged; of the low estate of his onetime

life, and of how he owes an unwonted much to the goodness, unmerited,

sovereign, of his almighty Patron and Defender (vs. 7-8).  His early life is

summarized. All his past life to this throbbing hour is exhibited, brought

well into the foreground. Not a feature of it does David dispute. No

wounded vanity, nor vanity unwounded, strives to draw a veil on his

humble origin. To the full he accepts and proceeds upon the description

given him of himself, and acknowledges, Who am I, O Lord God, and what

is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And yet this was a

small thing in thine eyes, O God” (it evidently was now, comparatively

speaking, a small thing in his own eyes); “for thou hast also spoken of thy

 servant’s house for a great while to come.” The continuity of the goodness

and favor of God, and the continuity of them to a future a great distance off,

evidently riveted and fascinated the thought of David.


Davud was very aware of God’s attention and love in his life and His regard

for both body and soul after death. For the pious Israelite great was the

fascination of the future THAT FUTURE THAT BEGAN WHERE

SENSE ENDED.  His reverent provision for the body then meant something

altogether different from the ostentation of funeral obsequies. It was thought and

imaginings up-borne on strong pinions of faith, and impelled by the temperate and

obedient force of a far-enduring patience. Pride of pedigree and of the traceable

genealogies of a dozen centuries past, how this dwarfs before the excursions of

a taught faith, a trained imagination, an inspired hope, that peer into that

great while to come” called THE ETERNAL FUTURE!  It is evident that

this lies at the root of David’s deep satisfaction and adoring gratitude now.

He had been reared of nothing, and was but of yesterday, but the revealed word

that is spoken to him gives him hope of a far future. And for him to feel joy in this,

two elements must have been present:


  • A very vital faith took hold of the idea that was contained in assurance

and promise for his son and his people.


  • And the idea becomes at once welcome fact; the earnest is possession.

His heart transports him into the future, and converts that future into so

much good bona fide present. These are among the greatest triumphs

of a taught, a receptive, a willing spiritual nature. It is the diametrical

opposite of the disposition of THOSE WHO MUST HAVE ALL NOW

and to whom the future is LESS THAN SHADOW and  nothing more

than UTTER FICTION!  There are not a few who want to have things

irreconcilable. They want to have the pleasures of sin, which are essentially

for a season,” (Hebrews 11:25), and not forfeit those advantages

which as essentially come of present abstinence and a patient waiting. The

faith that really apprehends the unseen, the patient waiting that willingly

defers fruition, are the two guarantees, so far as human quality and human

conditions are involved, that qualify the human to transmute itself into the

Divine, and the mortal to merge into immortality. And David testifies to

these imperial possessions now. He acquiesces in one moment in

everything that is evidenced derogatory to claim, merit, dignity, in his

 own past, in order to seize with passionate eagerness, with grateful

acknowledgment, on that which is spoken concerning him and his,

 for the “great while to come.” In these essential facts, then, David is a

religious model for even Christian times, for all times. To be able to lose

sight in favor of gaining faith, to part with sense to apprehend spirit, to quit the

present in order to dwell in the future and occupy it with the objects of

affection beforehand, — these are the distinguishing characteristics of the

spiritual anti the newborn. (“For we walk by faith, not by sight:” –

II Corinthians 5:7;  While we look not at the things which are

seen, but at the things which are not seen:  for the things that

are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are

eternal.”  (Ibid. ch. 4:18).  And the best part of these David had, when

he pleaded guilty to any and all disparagement of the past; didn’t stop to

look a second time at the personal disappointment of the present, but did

embrace” eagerly and with all his heart the proffered possession of the

            great while to come.”  (Some very touching words are the last words

            of David in II Samuel 23:1-5 – especially, v. 5.  I think that David,

            like so many of us, when we come to the end of life, understand how

            far short we have come to God’s will and expectations in our lives, but

            are so blessed with the eternal promises and counsels of God of which

            we are the beneficiaries and recipients!  CY – 2012)


18 “What can David speak more to thee for the honor of thy servant?

for thou knowest thy servant.” Thy servant. The Septuagint Version has not

got these words on their first occurrence. They may have found their way in

wrongfully out of the next clause. They are not found in the parallel place.



Our Relation to God (vs. 16-18)


The attitude which David assumed and the words of devotion he uttered on this

occasion are suggestive of the relation in which we stand to our Creator and

Redeemer. We gather:




GREATNESS. When Nathan had delivered his message David placed

himself in the posture of deliberate reflection (v. 16), and, thus seated, he

became possessed of a profound sense of his own unworthiness. “Who am

I, O Lord, and what is my house?” (v. 16). He soon passed on to

cherish a deep feeling of God’s supremacy. “O Lord, there is none like

thee,” (v. 20). This is a most suitable end to any transaction between

our God and ourselves. We are then arriving at the truth, reaching a place

of spiritual safety, in an attitude that is most becoming, when we are

impressed with our own nothingness and with the absolute greatness of our

God and Saviour.



US AS HIS CHILDREN. “Thou hast regarded me according to the

Estate of a man of high degree” (v. 17). This probably means that, in David’s

thought, God had treated him as one who was most exalted, and who

might on that ground look for the largest things. At any rate it was true —

if this be not the exact thought of the obscure passage — that God was

treating David in a way which corresponded with the exalted position to

which He had called him. And this truth has its illustration in the Divine

dealing with all His sons. In the gospel we are all called to be the sons of

God (John 1:12; I John 3:2). And having reinstated us in this filial

position, our heavenly Father treats us as the reconciled sons and daughters

we have become.


Ø      He confides in us; not laying down a multitude of precepts in detail, but

giving us a few living principles to apply for ourselves.

Ø      He gives us constant access to His person (Hebrews 4:16); whenever

we will we may approach and address Him.

Ø      He chastens rather than punishes us (Ibid.12:5-11).



IN JESUS CHRIST. David felt that God had put so much honor on him

that he did not know how he could ask for more (v. 18). The utmost

desires of his heart were fulfilled. And what more of honor and position

could we have asked of God that he has not given us in the gospel of His

grace? We are even said to be “kings and priests unto God”

(Revelation 1:6).


Ø      We are children of the heavenly Father: “now are we the sons

of God.” (I John 3:2)

Ø      We are heirs of God (Romans 8:17).

Ø      We are the friends of Christ (John 15:14-15).

Ø      We are fellow-laborers with the living God, “workers together with

Him” (I Corinthians 3:9; II Corinthians 6:1; Acts 15:4). What

could we speak more for the honor of His servants?


19 “O LORD, for thy servant’s sake,” - The parallel place reads, “For thy

word’s sake.” This reading is superior, and well suits the connection,

suggesting also whether the first occurrence of the word “servant” in the

previous verse might not be similarly explained. The similarity of the

characters of the words in the Hebrew would render easy the exchange of

the one word for the other -“and according to thine own heart,

hast thou done all this greatness, in making known all these great

things.  20  O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God

beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”


21 “And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom

God went to redeem to be His own people, to make thee a name of

greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy

people whom thou hast redeemed out of Egypt?”  In the parallel verse

(II Samuel 7:23), our Authorized Version, following the Hebrew text (μk,l]),

reads, “To do for you great things and terrible.” The transition is awkward,

no way in harmony with the other short clauses of the passage, and it would be

inexplicable except for the alternative open to us, of regarding it as a quotation

from Deuteronomy 4:34, brought in regardless of the context into which it

was introduced. The difficulty does not meet us in our present passage,

being obviated by the other sentences of our compiler. Both places,

however, manifestly quote from the Book of Deuteronomy, with the grand

passages and grand verbiage of which we may well imagine David familiar.

A similar familiarity is also betokened in the following verses, as regard

other Pentateuchal passages.


22 “For thy people Israel didst thou make” -  This appears in II Samuel 7:24,

“Thou didst confirm.” - thine own people for ever; and thou, LORD,

becamest their God.”  23 Therefore now, LORD, let the thing that thou

hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house be established

for ever, and do as thou hast said.”



God Incomparable (vs. 20-22)


Surrounded as they were by idolatrous nations, it was natural that the Israelites

should often draw comparisons between their own God, and the God of the whole

earth, on the one hand, and the so-called gods of the heathen on the other. The most

important contrast would be in character; for, whilst the idolatrous peoples worshipped

gods who were the impersonation of cruelty, caprice, and lust, Jehovah was worshipped

as a holy, a righteous, a merciful Lord and Ruler. Yet there was another contrast —

that between the powerlessness of the idols of the nations, and the might and wisdom

of the true and living God. In Psalm 115, this contrast is wrought out with vigor and



  • THERE IS NONE LIKE GOD IN HIS BEING. All creatures, as their

name implies, are fashioned by a superior power, and upheld in life by Him

in whom they “live and move and have their being”  ( Acts 17:28).





qualities of mind are derived FROM HIM, and, so far as they are

excellent, they are gleams of His brightness. Human virtues are the growth





especially to have impressed the mind of the king, when he poured forth his

adoring thanksgiving before the Lord. The recollection of God’s goodness

and faithfulness, not only to himself and his household, but also to the

nation of Israel, awakened his grateful and admiring praises. And we

too have these reasons in abundance to prompt our thanksgivings and




These are attributes of God; but they are attributes called into

exercise by our state and position as sinners in the sight of the Searcher of

hearts, the righteous Judge and King. In this passage David acknowledges

that God redeemed His people Israel, made them His own, and became their

God. How gloriously are these expressions justified in the dispensation of

the gospel, of God’s infinite love towards our race in THE GIFT AND




Ø      awaken our gratitude to Him who has made Himself known to us,

and who, though incomparable and alone, deigns to communicate

in grace and compassion with us; and


Ø      prompt us to testify to His adorable excellence, and to summon our

brethren, the children of men, to put their trust under the shadow

of His wings.


24 “Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for

ever,” - The Hebrew text reads here naturally enough, And let be

established and magnified for ever thy Name. The “established” in the

last clause of the verse is not the same word with that used here -“saying,

The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let

the house of David thy servant be established before thee.

25 For thou, O my God, hast told thy servant that thou wilt build him

an house: therefore thy servant hath found in his heart to pray

before thee.  26 And now, LORD, thou art God, and hast promised this

goodness unto thy servant:”


27 “Now therefore let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant,

that it may be before thee for ever: for thou blessest, O LORD, and

it shall be blessed for ever.”  The marginal, It hath pleased thee, is the

correcter rendering of the Hebrew here, though the parallel place exhibits the

imperative mood.  That it may be before thee for ever. The fulfillment of these

words can ONLY BE FOUND IN THE MESSIAH ALONE!   (compare

Psalm 2:6-12).


The Blessedness of God’s Blessings (v. 27)


David puts his desire and prayer into the one expressive word “bless,” and

that because he has such a full apprehension of what God’s blessing is to

His people. For thou blessest, O Lord, and it shall be blessed for ever.”

Men ask for the summum bonum (the highest good). David finds it in the

enrichment and the satisfying of the Divine goodness. “The blessing of the

Lord maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

As the verse on which we are dwelling reads in II Samuel 7:29, “With

thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.” The word

bless is used with great frequency in the Old Testament, and evidently

with a variety of meanings. It is difficult to fix upon a definition of the term

which will express the essential idea that underlies the diversity of its

forms. A distinction, however, is made in Psalm 145:10, “All thy works

shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.” From this

choice of different terms we may learn that “bless” carries the idea of the

intelligent agent who knows and loves the object with which He deals, and

seeks for gracious adaptations to feeling as well as to need. If saints bless

God, it means that they intelligently and lovingly apprehend the goodness

of His dealings, and express their feelings of thankful love. If God blesses

saints, it means that He intelligently considers their conditions, and finds

and adapts grace precisely to their needs; and that whatsoever He does for

them turns out to be for their ultimate good. We have come to use the term

without due consideration, and as a mere formality. It often hides the fact

that we have no precise petitions to present; and so we fall back upon the

general prayer for blessing. We should be placed in extreme difficulty, if

God were to say in reply to our prayer for blessing, “Say precisely what it

is you want. Translate your word. Use exact terms. Ask for the very things

which press upon your heart (“Pour out your heart before Him” - Psalm 62:8). 

For my blessing is this — “the supply of all your needs out of my riches in

 glory.”  (Philippians 4:19)  It may be well to show further what

God’s blessing would be to a royal house or dynasty, and to a nation or

people, noting the special features of that blessing as applied to David’s

house and kingdom.



without venturing to specify any. It may fittingly be used in prayer

when we have no specific desires, and only want to run into the shadow

of God’s goodness. And it may be used when we are in difficulty, and do

not even know what things we ought to ask. (Romans 8:26 – My son-in-

law tragically lost his father this week and I overheard he and my

daughter, his wife, discussing this very situation – CY – 2012)  Sometimes

we are afraid to ask definitely lest we should ask amiss (James 4:3); and

then we may leave the form of the answer with God, only asking Him to bless.




of Esau, “Bless me, O my father!” (Genesis 27:34)  - He could not tell what

to ask, but left the matter with his father, and with full confidence in the fatherly

love. So for us to ask God to bless us should be the expression of our full

submission and entire surrender to his wisdom and grace in fixing the

 form which the good shall take; so it may be — and should be — a fitting

expression of the right attitude and spirit of God’s people, WHO TRUST


GOOD TO HIM, and will not even seem to dictate to Him. (“O Lord,

I know that the way of man is not in himself:  it is not in man that

walketh to direct his steps”  (Jeremiah 10:23).   Enough for all true hearts

to pray with David, “Let it please thee to bless us,” “for with thy

 blessing shall the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.”




BLESSED. The things God sends will make them blessed, and their

gracious moral influence on such recipients will make them double

blessings. Christ’s miracles of healing were Divine blessings, and the healed

ones were doubly blessed, in body and in soul. God’s gifts and

providences now become DOUBLE BLESSINGS,  they order and

hallow our lives; they help to prepare us for the “inheritance of the saints

in the light” (Colossians 1:12).  God still blesses with THE




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