II Samuel 7
(vs. 1-11) The facts are:
1. David, being settled in his kingdom and furnished with a permanent place of
abode, is dissatisfied that the ark of the Lord should remain in a frail tent.
2. He sends for Nathan, and intimates his desire to build a fitting house for
the Lord, and receives encouragement from the prophet.
3. During a vision of the night Nathan is directed to inform David that his
desire cannot be realized; that all along it had been God’s will to move
from place to place in a tent (v. 6); that it was never His purpose to have
any other abode while
4. He is further to inform David that the dwelling in a tent, and his own call
from the sheepcote (v. 8) to be a leader of
design, and that the success vouchsafed to him (v. 9) was evidence of this.
5. Also, David is to know that, in pursuance of the same purpose, God
gave His people a land of their own, and planted (these verbs to be taken as
perfects, not as converted into futures) them in a permanent abode, free
from the embarrassment of such powerful assailants as annoyed them in the
time of the judges, and from which they now have rest.
6. The good desire of David, though not to be now realized, is
acknowledged by the assurance that God has further purposed to establish
His house in
1 "And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had
given him rest round about from all his enemies;" When the king sat in his
house. The order is not chronological; for the words, Jehovah had given him rest
from all his enemies round about (so the Revised Version, rightly), imply the
successful termination, not of all wars necessarily, but certainly of
something more than that with the Philistine invaders in the Rephaim
valley. A general summary of all David’s wars is given in ch. 8., and it was
probably after he had subdued the Philistines and
now fully established, that in some time of peace, possibly before Hanun
forced him into wars which won for him an empire, David sent for Nathan,
and told him his full desire. Its position here immediately after the account
of the bringing of the ark to
chronology. It shows that David had always a larger purpose than the mere
placing of the ark in its tent; and, as soon as a period of tranquility
arrived, he confided his thoughts to the prophet. Thus, with only one step
taken towards his whole plan, David exercised a wise moderation in
leaving the service at
have to distinguish between the first series of wars, which established
David firmly on his throne, and the second series, which gave him
2 "That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an
house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains." A house of
cedar; Hebrew, cedars. As these trees were sent by Hiram, and as the house was
built, and David now settled in it, some considerable time must have elapsed since
his accession. Moreover, the league with Hiram would be the result of David’s
successes recorded in ch. 8:1; for the bond of union between the two was their
mutual fear of the Philistines. As we have seen before, the alliance with Tyre had
a very civilizing effect upon the Hebrews, who were far inferior to the
Tyrians in the mechanical arts; and David’s house of hewn cedar logs was
marvelous in the eyes of a people who still dwelt chiefly in tents. David
purposed to build even a more sumptuous palace for Jehovah, and advised
with Nathan as his chief counselor, and the person to whom subsequently
the education of Solomon was confided. Within curtains; Hebrew, the
curtain; that is, the tent. The tabernacle prepared by Moses for the ark was
formed of ten curtains (Exodus 26:1), but the significance lay, not in
their number, but in the dwelling of Jehovah still being a mere temporary
lodging, though His people had received from Him a settled land.
3 "And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for
the LORD is with thee." Go, do all that is in thine heart. Nathan rashly
approves. The king’s purpose seems so pious that he does not doubt its acceptance
Commendable but Unseasonable Zeal (vs. 1-3)
Every reader of the narrative at once feels how natural and beautiful it was
in David to desire, for the symbol of God’s presence among His people, an
abode somewhat commensurate with its glory and suggestive of
permanence. It was in keeping with all the antecedents of his life, and there
was manifested an exquisite spiritual sensibility in mentioning first of all so
important a subject as a change in the abode of the ark to the prophet who
represented the Divine source of guidance as distinguished from civil
authority. What are the elements which render such zeal commendable and
at the same time unseasonable?
GOD’S KINGDOM AMONG MEN. God’s kingdom among men was the
great fact to be emphasized and illustrated in the life of the chosen race,
suggestive of a more developed kingdom in later times. This fact had
absorbed the energies of Moses, but was somewhat obscured when the
people, weary of the existing form of the theocracy, asked for and obtained
king in Saul. From the first David had, in his own life, restored the idea of
the Divine kingdom to the distinctness of Mosaic times, and counted
himself to have no function in the world apart from seeking to realize it in
the national experience. For it he lived and ruled; for it he prayed, and of it
he sang. This was the fountainhead of all his zeal, and the key to the
communication made to Nathan. Herein also is the secret of all acceptable
Christian zeal. We are right in feeling and purpose only in so far as our
entire life is one with Christ’s. Human life rises to its highest level only
when it causes all its strength to flow in with the great stream of spiritual
force which one day is to cover the earth (“as the waters cover the sea!”.
Isaiah 11:9 – CY – 2018) It is not patronage of institutions, study or criticism
of Christian forms of thought and action, friendly feeling towards workers in
mission fields, but personal identification with the interests of Christ’s kingdom
as the most vital and precious of all interests. This is a practical illustration of
the phrase, “We have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16)
SECULAR PROSPERITY SHOULD GENERATE SELFISHNESS.
David was blessed with great prosperity in home and in state. In clearer,
more reflective moods, he saw that this was connected with the furtherance
of the great purpose of God in the world; but amidst the hurry of life and
inevitable weaknesses of the moral nature, it was liable to produce a feeling
of selfish content with his own condition. The dangers of prosperity are
proverbial. His words to Nathan, contrasting his own permanent dwelling
with the slender covering of the ark, revealed the thoughts and feelings of a
man sensible of a grave spiritual danger, and anxious not to fall into it. It is
sometimes, in the course of doing God’s work, or what may be called
secular work in a Christly
prosperity. Then comes the testing time of the religious life. Many fall
under the spell, and undue absorption in temporal personal comfort robs
received. The pleasures of the “house of cedar” shut out the condition of
the spiritual kingdom. But where zeal is sound, watchfulness is maintained,
and spiritual growth keeps pace with worldly prosperity, there will be
cherished a wholesome dread lest the blessings which come from God
should in any measure wean the heart from Him and the supreme interests
of His kingdom.
CHARACTER OF EXISTING RELIGIOUS APPLIANCES. Spiritual
instinct led David to feel that the tent was not suited as the abode in perpetuity
of THE ETERNAL, UNCHANGABLE GOD! There was an incongruity
between the nature of the occupant and the frailty and transitoriness of the
dwelling place. Apart, then, from the contrast with his own “cedar house,”
he saw that the arrangement which had received Divine sanction through
many generations was not to be considered as perfect and unalterable. This
was confirmed by the faith he cherished that the presence of God among
His people was in pursuance of the great historic promise made to Abraham
(Genesis 22:17-18), and preparatory to some further unfolding of the
plan which embraced within its scope all the nations of the earth. So far his
zeal in seeking a permanent abode for the ark was enlightened. And this is
a characteristic of all true zeal. It does not merely proceed from impulse
and strong feeling; it has
respect to the nature of the
the variability of its outward appliances according to the stages of its
development. The visible forms and arrangements adapted to one state of
society may need revision and change more or less radical to render the
deposit of truth more effective in its influence on a different state of
society. A mere love of change is not identical with commendable zeal; a
bare feeling that simple variation in outward forms will strengthen the
power of religion is no sure guide; but a distinction between the permanent
truth centering in Christ, and the transitoriness of the setting of that truth,
will lead to a desire, when occasion offers, to make such modifications in
the circumstantials of religion as may best accord with the nature of the
truth on the one side and the development of human society on the either.
AS TO SEASONABLENESS. In this case all seemed right and sound, in
accordance with the purest love and devotion, both to David and to
Nathan. Subsequent light from God Himself showed that here feeling was
right and thought also up to a given point, but that the zeal was
inappropriate by reason of a defective knowledge of the specific purposes
of God. There were reasons in the Divine mind why David, at this juncture,
should not build a house for the Lord. Probably his work of consolidation
was not sufficiently advanced, and either then or later on he was reminded
that a man of peace was alone suited for such work (I Chronicles 22:8;
28:3). The defectiveness of the judgment even of good men is cause of
much mistake in altering the institutions and visible agencies of the Church.
There are times when neither David nor Nathan may depend on their
present feelings and knowledge, but more light must be sought from the
Head of the Church. However sound the principle that forms and
circumstantials do not possess the permanence belonging to the central
truth they cover, still a busy zeal eager to introduce something new as
more suited to a later development, even though shown by the most sincere
of men, must be regarded with
as good to us as was Nathan’s vision to David, makes it quite clear that the
time has come when the old should give place to the new. Holy desire,
even when conjoined with knowledge of a limited experience, may not be
fitly realized because God’s time is not quite come.
Ø Where there is sincere piety there will be jealousy lest the cause of God
should not receive its due consideration.
Ø It will be a mark of prosperous piety amidst prosperous circumstances
when men deliberately study how they may more worthily serve God and
give Him the honor due to His Name.
Ø We should always anticipate that, as time advances, there will be fresh
opportunities for manifesting our devotion, even though our specific
methods be not wisest.
4. It is a noble ambition to seek to render the house of God as perfect as
human means can make it, and in this often we see contrasts in character
(vs. 1-3; compare Haggai 1:2, 5). A good man’s life’s work attains
completion in so far as he combines, with advancing secular prosperity,
regard for the prosperity of religion.
4 "And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto
Nathan, saying," The word of Jehovah came unto Nathan. Not every word of
a prophet was inspired, and only a very few of the prophets, and those only
upon great and solemn occasions, spake under the direct influence of the
Spirit of God. In his usual relations with the king, Nathan was simply a
wise, thoughtful, and God-fearing man. In giving his approval he probably
meant no more than that a permanent dwelling for Jehovah was what all
pious men were hoping for. But from the days of Samuel to those of Ezra,
there was never wanting one or even more holy men who were, on fit
occasions, commissioned to bear a message from God to man; and as these
generally belonged to the prophetic order, men too often now confound
prophecy with prediction. So inveterate is this confusion that even in the
Revised Version Amos is made to say, “I was no prophet, neither was I a
prophet’s son,” whereas the Hebrew distinctly is, “I am no prophet, nor a
prophet’s son [that is, one trained in the prophetic schools], but I am a
herdsman” (Amos 7:14). But though not a prophet by profession, yet
Amos was discharging a prophet’s higher duty in testifying against
wickedness and impiety, and was acting under a special Divine call. Still,
he did not belong to the prophetic order, nor wear the garment of black
camel’s hair, which was their professional dress. On the present occasion,
Nathan, in approving, had spoken as a man, but now a Divine message
comes to him. How we know not. but in v. 17 it is called a “vision;” and
it is also said that it came “that night.”
5 "Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me
an house for me to dwell in?" Shalt thou, etc.? The question implies an answer
in the negative; but there is no disapproval of David’s purpose as such; but only
the deferring of its full execution unto the days of his son. There is more
than this. The idea which runs through the Divine message is that the
dwelling of Jehovah in a tent was a fitting symbol of
possession of the laud. It was David’s mission to give them tranquility and
security in the region which they had conquered long ago, but wherein they
had never hitherto been able to maintain their liberty unimpaired. Then,
upon the accomplishment of David’s special duty, his son, Shelomo, i.e.
the peaceful, was to build the solid temple, as the proof that Jehovah had
now taken permanent possession of the land. We find also a further
thought, namely, that the building of the temple signified “the making for
David of a house.” In its full significance this means that the tribe of Judah
and the lineage of David were now chosen by God as the ancestors of the
Consolation in Disappointment.
Although Psalm 132:11-12, make it clear that the psalm was
written after the date of Nathan’s visit to David, it is highly probable that
the sentiments expressed in vs. 3-5 of that psalm were cherished before
the king unbosomed himself to the prophet. In the fallibility characteristic
of prophets when not authorized to speak by God, Nathan piously
encouraged his king in his cherished wishes, and it is certain that that night
David went to rest believing that now, with the concurrence of so good a
man, the great ambition of his heart would soon be realized. The
authorized revelation of the prophet on the following day must have
brought with it a disappointment corresponding in bitterness to the
previous elevation of feeling. But the gentle, kindly way in which it is
allowed to fall is a beautiful instance of God’s tenderness toward His
“tell my servant David.” In the beginning of his career David knew that he
was called of God, but many a year had passed, and many a sore spiritual
conflict with varied success had been endured. It was then refreshing to his
spirit to be thus distinctly acknowledged to be the servant of the Most
High — one honored in heaven and identified with the carrying out of ***
God’s will on earth. To be owned of God, to have the witness of His Spirit
with ours that we are His, to know on good evidence that our life is moving
along the lines of His purpose, — what more satisfying and comforting
when some cherished desire is denied? Paul’s thorn in the flesh and
consequent disappointment of holy ambition was even welcome when the
Lord sent a message assuring that he was His “servant” — to do some
work in the world, though not in the form desired. It is much in life if,
amidst many failures of character and frustration of cherished desires, a
man is permitted to know that God is not ashamed of him, and still honors
him with a place among the great body of coworkers with Himself.
LEAST, THE WISDOM OF THE DISAPPOINTMENT. The first note of
Nathan’s message brought sorrow and even anguish of spirit. Fond hopes
of joyous activity in a blessed cause were crushed. The dream of holy
hours vanished. Loving toil was rejected. The heart sank. But by degrees,
as the message unfolded and the
tabernacle and settlement of
made to wars yet impending (vs. 6-10; compare ch. 8:1-8; I Kings 5:3-4;
8:19), the reasons of the Divine conduct became manifest, and the
troubled heart could rest in an unerring wisdom alone. A similar
course was taken with the apostles when their Lord soothed their
disappointment at His expected departure by partially expounding the
reason of His conduct (John 14:1-4). Sometimes Christian workers who
have, through sickness, failing opportunities, temporal disasters, and
defective holiness of life, been denied the privilege of accomplishing all that
was in their heart for Christ, have had to dwell in dense darkness for a
while; but gradually events have occurred and light from God’s Word has
come which have shown how just and even kind it was that, under all the
circumstances of the case, the disappointment came. The day will come
when the bitter experiences of life will be so seen in their varied relations to
ourselves and others as to give occasion for thankfulness.
WAYS. “My servant” meant to David that there was yet noble work to do
for God. Human choice of the old form of work is not always best. In the
great kingdom that is being established there is scope for many energies in
manifold forms; and as the kingdom is one, every worker is honorable and
every work essential:
Ø to keep the door of the sanctuary,
Ø to wash the feet of weary pilgrims,
Ø to give a cup of cold water,
Ø to feed the hungry,
Ø to place a mite in the treasury, and
Ø to visit the widow and fatherless,
are services honored as truly as erecting a temple and as necessary to the
charm men by unfettered eloquence, but he could bless the universal
Church by his example of loving acquiescence in the Lord’s will
(II Corinthians 12:8-10). Even the very ambitions that have not been
gratified may be used up by God as means to inspire others with generous
aims and lofty aspirations.
It was a repayment of David’s loving devotion in his own kind when the
prophet was instructed to reveal to him that God would “make him a
house.” To an Oriental monarch, especially after the sad failure of Saul,
there could not have been a more coveted distinction than being blessed
with a posterity that should hold his place in the kingdom. The blessing in
this case, we know, carried with it also a spiritual significance embodied in
the expression applied to Christ, “the Son of David.” This cannot be
regarded simply as a reward for the design to build a house for the Lord —
it was part of a great purpose from the beginning; but it was clearly
brought in here as a matter revealed for the soothing of David’s spirit in a
season of disappointment. In this way the future blessedness of the faithful
is revealed in order that they may have abundant consolation. Good men
do not live and labor for future rewards, but from love of Christ and
passionate sympathy with the purposes of his heart; nevertheless, the
pastor, missionary, and parent whose hopes sometimes seem blighted,
rejoice to be able to think of an issue of their life which, in spite of all
appearances, redounds to the glory of God. “Here am I, and the souls thou
hast given me” (Hebrews 2:13), is to be true of multitudes. God will give
a godly seed, “a house” better and more enduring than any we could build
for Him (Psalm 126:5-6; Matthew 19:29).
6 "Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought
up the children of
walked in a tent and in a tabernacle." I have walked in a tent and in a
tabernacle; literally, I have walked continually; that is, I have ever been a
wanderer, first, in the wilderness, and subsequently
to the houses of Abinadab and Obed-Edom, but the words more probably signify
“a tent that was my dwelling.”
7 "In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of
Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I
commanded to feed my people
an house of cedar?" In all the places wherein I have walked; Hebrew, in all
wherein I continued walking; that is, in all my walking, in all the whole
time wherein I have been a wanderer. Instead of tribes, the Chronicler
(I Chronicles 17:6) reads “judges,” the words in the Hebrew being
almost identical. “Judges” is, of course, the more easy and natural reading,
but “tribes” gives a fuller sense, and is supported by all the versions. For in
the troubled anarchy which lasted until Saul’s reign, first one tribe and then
another was called to the front, and had a temporary ascendancy; but
neither did Jehovah give it any command to provide a settled place for his
worship, nor did any one of the judges conceive the thought of making his
tribe permanently the chief, by providing a fixed abode for the ark and for
God’s worship within its borders. To feed my people Israel. The
shepherd, in biblical language, is the ruler, and to feed is to govern, yet in a
kindly way, going in front as the shepherd before his flock, to bear the
brunt of danger, to clear the road, and to guide into the safe pastures. So
tribe after tribe had been called to bear the brunt of war, and, after winning
deliverance, it became its duty to guide and lead the people. In I Kings
8:16, 18, 25, and still more remarkably in I Chronicles 22:8-9, we find
large additions made to the account here given. It follows that we have in
this place only a brief summary of the message brought by Nathan, but one
containing all the chief points.
8 “Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith
the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following
the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over
sheepcote. There is in Nathan’s message a marked advance upon the words of
all previous prophecies. Hitherto God’s promises had been general, and no tribe,
and much less any special person, had been chosen as the progenitor of the Messiah.
The nearest approach to the selection of a tribe had been
the prediction of
expressly declared that Shiloh should be of
clearly chosen. Jehovah takes him from the sheepcote; Hebrew, “the
meadow” (see Psalm 78:70). It was in the meadows, the Naioth, round
Ramah, that Samuel had gathered the young men of
ancient records, and raise their country to a sense of its high calling. In
those meadows David had been formed for his high vocation; but he had
returned from them to
“from following the ewes that gave suck,” Jehovah takes him to be “His
servant,” a word of high dignity, applied to but few persons in the Old
Testament. It signifies the prime minister, or vicegerent of Jehovah, as the
theocratic king, and is the special title of Moses among God’s people, and,
among the heathen, of Nebuchadnezzar, as one summoned to do a great
work for God. But it is in the last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah that the
title reaches its full grandeur. For there, first of all,
Jehovah’s servant, because it
oneness of God amidst the debasing polytheism of all the nations round.
And then, finally, the servant is Messiah, as being the personal
Representative of God upon earth. The title is now given to David as the
type of Christ’s kingly office, and also as the sweet singer, who added a
new service to the worship of God, and made it more spiritual, and more
like the service of angels round God’s throne.
9 “And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off
all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great
name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.”
I have made thee a great name. The widespread conquests of
David, and his great empire, were not for the sake of mere earthly
dominion. It was, first of all, a type of Messiah’s reign, to whom God has
premised the heathen for His inheritance, and that His gospel shall be carried
to the ends of the earth. But, secondly, if Messiah was to be “David’s
Son,” it was necessary that that king should hold a special place in the
hearts of all Israelites. In the fables and tales of the Arabs, it is Solomon
who holds the foremost place. Just as our forefathers showed the native
qualities of the race by making Arthur’s court the abode of prowess and
chivalrous bravery; so the Arabs made Solomon’s court the representative
of that dazzling splendor and magnificence which they so admired; and
invested him with superhuman knowledge and magical power, such as
made janns and ifreets the humble slaves of his will. In the Old Testament
no king is “Jehovah’s servant” but David; no king is ever connected with
Messiah but David. The religious fervor of the people may gather round a
Hezekiah or a Josiah, and prophets may encourage them in their work; but
no prophet sees in either of them the ancestor of Christ. It is, however, in
the Psalms that we learn the full meaning of Nathan’s words. Here a veil is
partly drawn over them. But it would be a willful closing of the eyes to read
this message and not bear in mind the clear light with which every word is
illumined by the inspired outpouring of David’s own heart. He thoroughly
understood the fullness and blessedness of God’s revelation, and has taught
us that it all looked onward to Christ.
10 “Moreover I will appoint a place for my
them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more;
neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,
11 And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my
Also the LORD telleth thee that He will make thee an house.”
Moreover I will appoint... will plant. For “moreover,” the Hebrew has “and.”
The tenses also continue the same: “And I have appointed… and have planted.”
It is all part of the same act. As regards the second verb, the past tense alone makes
sense. Jehovah was not about to plant
done so completely. For David’s kingdom had given them security, and with it
power of doing for God that
duty which was
Had the anarchy of the times of the judges continued, and the energies of the nation
been spent in a hard struggle for existence, that rapid advance in literature
which followed upon the institution of Samuel’s schools, and which filled
David’s court with poets and chroniclers, never could have existed, and
prophecy would have been impossible. The age of Hezekiah was
apparently the culminating period of Hebrew civilization, after which came
the depressing influences of the Assyrian invasions, and then long exile,
followed by a second weary struggle for existence. If writing was at first a
mystery and an art known only to priests, it became throughout the
the possession especially of the prophets, who were
learned men. At the head of their roll stands the matchless Isaiah, and to
render it possible for his genius to display itself, not only Samuel’s schools,
but the security of David’s era of conquest, and the long peace and
magnificence of Solomon’s reign, were all necessary. When “God had
given David rest from his enemies round about,” He had thereby finally
a place for
some difficulty in the verb forms at the end of v. 11, but none in the
meaning. The reign of David marks an era in the national life. Under him
having no longer to waste its energies in perpetual fighting, the national life
grows upwards, and attains to culture, to thought, and
is now their own, and instead of being mere warriors, they develop national
institutions and a national character. What could men do that belongs to a
higher and nobler life who were in daily fear of being swept away by
Canaanites and Midianites, by Philistines and Ammonites? This miserable
period is described as “beforetime,” and as “since the day that I
commanded judges to be over my people
be placed; and the Hebrew will then proceed, “But now I have caused thee
to rest from thine enemies, the anarchy and its attendant weakness is over;
“and Jehovah telleth thee that Jehovah will make thee a house.” Rest has
been given; the establishment of David’s family as the Messianic lineage is
to follow (see on this promise, I Samuel 2:35).
The Historic Development of God’s Purpose Concerning Man
Here we have an exposition of the grounds on which God declined
to accept David’s proposal to build a house for Him. The motive was good,
and there was a certain perception of propriety in the design, but as its
unseasonableness resulted from imperfect knowledge of the Divine will,
that will is here made known.
declaration to David. It may, indeed, be said that there is a Divine purpose
in the existence of every atom and form of force, since each is what it is by
the will of God, and is related to all the rest of the universe in a definite
way, so as to issue in a progressive order. Every change is thus the
working out in the material world of a purpose of the eternal mind. But
while this is true of man also considered as an organized creature in the
world, it is further true of him that there is a purpose in the eternal mind of
which he is the object, and to work out which all other things are means
and agents. God has something to effect for man as well as by man. The
New Testament informs us that it is spiritual in its nature, and abounding
Ø good to man and
Ø glory to God..
· GOD’S PURPOSE CONCERNING MAN IS INCORPORATED
WITH HUMAN AFFAIRS. It is pointed out to David that the history of
his ancestors in
history, have been the vehicle through which this purpose has been
gradually working. God’s thoughts for man assume concrete forms. They
enter as THE GOLDEN THREAD into the rough web of human life.
Human wills work in their own free way, but another will works with them,
and uses them in their free course for the manifestation of itself. Abraham’s
existence during the period of the judges, and the raising up and fall of
Saul, and the exploits of David, were occasions and forms by which that
purpose revealed itself which later on
and in the ages of Christendom, became more distinct and yet more one
with human interests.
INSTITUTIONS ARE CREATED. The ark and the tabernacle were the
creation of the Divine purpose working along the line of human history.
They were the product of two things — the purpose and the incidents of
temporary; but he is reminded (v. 6) that it expressed the Divine will for
the time because of the human element through which that will was
working onwards. A succession of temporary expedients is traceable from
the first to the second Adam. One by one they disappeared before the
approach of THE TRUE LIGHT! Many of the modern expedients of the
Church will prove their temporary character in so far as Christ’s holy will
works its way into the heart of the world, and men, possessing this life,
become in the best sense a law to themselves (I Corinthians 13:8-10).
FROM STAGE TO STAGE. The words to David were:
“I brought up the
Ø “I have walked in a tent;”
Ø “I commanded to feed;”
Ø “I took thee from the sheepcote;”
Ø “I have appointed a place.” (vs. 6-10)
Thus men were free, and history was formed by the free action of man; but,
still, in pursuance of the Divine purpose, an unseen hand so fashioned the
sum of human free action that
and a good shepherd appeared to care for the flock in that settled home.
It was this recognition of the actual control of God so as to shape the items
of human history and secure a succession of transitions towards a definite
goal that distinguished the teaching of the prophets. It is this which gave
such assurance to apostles (Romans 8:22, 28, 31). The contending
forces of each age are subject to Him who by His mighty working can
subdue all things unto Himself (Philippians 3:21).
PURPOSE IS RELATIVE. David’s pious dissatisfaction with the
tabernacle as an abode for the ark was met by the assurance (vs. 6-7)
that God was not dissatisfied, but had shown His approval of His servants
who were identified with its maintenance. The tabernacle may have been
inadequate to the later stage, but it was perfect in its adaptation to the early
stage of God’s method of working. He never complained of disrespect to
His Name; He even honored His servants who served Him with such humble
means. This applies to the methods by which, in different ages, revelations
came to men — agencies for diffusing and preserving the truth, the
condition of the Churches by which His will is still done and the individual
efforts of Christians to bring on THE FINAL TRIUMPH OF CHRIST!
Those who will not approve of action and appliances and methods till they
meet with what is absolutely perfect, do not know history, or else, knowing
it, are unwilling to accept its lessons. In an imperfect world where perfect
holiness has to be attained through means inferior, and out of perfect
relation to the end in view, we have to estimate each method and agency
by its fitness to raise us to a stage above the present, and in which it may
be dispensed with for something that will be a stepping stone to a still
PERMANENT DWELLING OF GOD WITH MAN. David was right in
his ambition and faith. To have God permanently among
perfection of holy desire. All hitherto had pointed in that direction; and
though in the visible sense in which David desired it his wishes were not to
be granted, yet he was pointed on to the reality of a “house” (v. 11),
which we know involved the raising up of Immanuel. This is the goal of all
Old Testament revelations and ancient forms of instruction and discipline.
And now that God has been visibly manifest in the flesh, the process is
going on by which spiritually the dwelling of God with man in permanent
union is to be realized (II Corinthians 3:7-11; compare Ephesians 2:18-22).
Ø Life should be conducted on the principle that God is with man and
working with and for him.
Ø The comparison of events illustrated by the Bible teaching will enable us
to trace out the line of God’s Working.
Ø Although occasions may arise, as during
when the signs of God’s working are obscured (Isaiah 45:15), our faith
should rest on the general revelation.
Ø However unable we may be sometimes to see the unity of God’s
walked,” “I took thee,” our confidence will be confirmed.
Ø All our desires and efforts and methods should, in their nature, have
reference to the great issue — God’s habitation of the Church
through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
(vs. 12-29) The facts are:
1. The prophet declares to David
discipline, if needed, shall not be cast off as was Saul; and
2. David, in response to the message, acknowledges ,the condescension
and bounty of God in what He had done and promised.
3. He confesses that all is of the free unmerited loving kindness of God,
and regards this wonderful superhuman goodness as being an illustration of
the existence of a love transcending all that is known to man.
4. He recognizes the
guidance of One so supremely good, and in being honored to be
distinctively His people.
5. He prays that the good and glorious things said of his house and of
glory of God.
6. He concludes with a prayer, based on the faithfulness and goodness of
God, that grace may be bestowed on the house of David, so that it may
fulfill the purpose so graciously formed and now more explicitly revealed.
12 “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy
fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of
thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.” Thy seed… which
shall proceed. As the son is to be established in the kingdom and to build
the house, he must be Solomon, who plainly, therefore, was not as yet born
(see note on v. 1).
The Prospect of Death (v. 12)
The view of earthly glory is apt to suggest, by contrast, the thought of its
transitory duration, and no one can look forward to the days to come
without having “the shadow of death” presented before his mind. Of its
unavoidable approach, the message which David received, telling of his
present prosperity and future prospects, reminded him. It is:
1. An event of inevitable occurrence. “What man is he that liveth, and shall
not see death?” (Psalm 89:48). “The small and great are there” (Job 3:19).
“The path of glory leads but to the grave.”
“Death comes with irrespective feet,
And beats upon the door
That shuts the palace of the great,
The cabin of the poor.”
2. An end of allotted time. “When thy days be fulfilled.” There is “an
appointed time to man upon earth” (Job 7:1; 14:5; Psalm 31:15), in
a. pass his probation,
b. form his character, and
c. perform his work.
Unknown to him, it is determined by God, and, however brief, it is
sufficient for that purpose. Happy is he who therein, like David,
“serves his own generation by the will of God” (Acts 13:36).
3. An exit from earthly cares, labours, conflicts, and sorrows. “Thou shalt
sleep,” and be at rest (Job 3:17; John 11:11; I Thessalonians 4:14); not
necessarily in absolute unconsciousness and inactivity. Death is a
“decease” (II Peter 1:15), departure, exodus of the spirit from “this
tabernacle” to an eternal home (II Corinthians 5:1, 8).
4. An entrance into heavenly .fellowship. “With thy fathers;” in the
possession of conscious, personal, immortal life, of a common heritage in
God, and happy communion with each other (ch. 12:23; Psalm 16:11; 17:15).
David’s hope of this, indeed, was dim, in comparison with the Christian hope,
as the morning twilight compared with the perfect day (II Timothy 1:10;
5. An enlargement of beneficent influence. “I will set up thy seed after
thee,” etc. He lives in his children; his words; his works; the manifold
influences which he exerted on others, and which continue operating after
his decease, and contribute to the building up of the temple and kingdom of
God. His departure is even expedient and necessary in order to the
activities of others; and, instead of becoming extinct, his power for good is
thereby extended and exalted. His name “liveth forevermore” (Ecclesiasticus.
6. An object of profitable contemplation. By meditating on it, especially in
its moral and spiritual aspects, he learns:
“Thou must shortly die! O man, set thy house in order.
There is a house of thy conscience, a house of thy body, a house of thy
family, a house of eternity. All these must be set in order” (Christopher
Sutton, ‘Disce Mori’). Learn to die. Learn to live. Learn to pray.
13 “He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne
of his kingdom for ever.” I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
The temple which Solomon was to build was the symbol of the new
unworthy of so great an advance in the accomplishment of the nation’s
mission. Had we, indeed, only this passage, we might be content to take it
in a popular sense, as signifying that, whereas Saul’s throne (and
subsequently that of the many usurpers in
existence, Solomon’s descendants should hold for many centuries
undisputed possession of the
89:29 we read, “His (David’s) seed will I make to endure forever, and his
throne as the days of heaven.” And again in vs. 36-37 a continuance is
assured to it as lasting as that of the sun and moon. We can scarcely,
therefore, be wrong in the conviction that these promises pointed onwards
to the establishment of Christ’s kingdom, and that the great importance
attached to the building of the temple finds its explanation in its relation to
Him. This full establishment after so long a delay of the Mosaic typical
ritual, the addition to it of psalmody, giving it a spiritual side, and making
the worship that of the heart, the bestowal of empire, and the rapid
development of the people under David and Solomon, were all steps in that
wonderful series of special providences which made the Jews fit to be the
progeniters of the Messiah, which surrounded Him during His ministry with
companions capable of understanding and recording His teaching, and
provided for Him, after His death, missionaries, not merely with zeal
enough, but with intellectual gifts sufficient to enable them to persuade
that GOD FOR OUR SALVATION HAD BECOME MAN! Keil also well
points out that the temple was a symbol of Christ’s incarnation; for it meant
the dwelling of God on earth. “I have surely,” says Solomon, “built thee a house of
habitation, a place for thee to dwell in forever” (I Kings 8:13). The
same thought was in John’s mind when he said, “The Word became
flesh, and dwelt as in a tabernacle among us” (John 1:14). For the verb
used by him, literally “tabernacled,” is a comparison between Christ’s life
on earth, and the dwelling of God in “the tent of meeting.” But there is
more than this. Christ Himself calls His body “the temple” (John 2:19, 21).
At the Resurrection He raised up again the temple of His body which
the Jews had destroyed, and at the Ascension it was removed from the
earth, to be reserved in heaven UNTIL HIS SECOND ADVENT! His reign
now is spiritual, and His temple is not a building made with hands, but is the
heart of the renewed believer (I Corinthians 6:19). And this indwelling of
Christ in the heart will continue unto the end of the present dispensation.
For Christ’s indwelling is that also of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:16);
and the gift of the Spirit continues unto the end of the world. “The
Father shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you
forever” (John 14:16).
14 “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I
will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the
children of men:” I will be his Father, and he shall be my son. Between father
and son there is not only love, but oneness. Whatsoever the father hath,
that belongs also to the son by natural right. But this sonship is magnified
in the Psalms beyond the measure of Solomon or any natural limits. The
Son there is “the Firstborn,” which Solomon was not, “higher than the
kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27); and He must have “the nations for his
inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession”
(Psalm 2:8). Psalms like 2 and 72 belong not to Solomon personally, but to
him as the type of the prince of Peace; and they help to show us what is the
true meaning and fulfillment of the words here. The rod of men; that is, such
punishment as men fitly receive for their faults. David’s natural posterity was
to be exempt neither from human depravity, nor from punishment, nor from
the changes and chances of mortal life. With them, as with men generally, there
would be a tangled skein (a tangled or complicated arrangement, state, or situation):
But there was to be no blotting out of David’s lineage. Great
earthly houses, in the long course of events, one after another become
extinct, and even the tabernacle of David was to fall (Amos 9:11), but
not forever. God would “raise up its ruins’ in Christ, and “build it as in the
days of old.” So in Isaiah 9:1 there is the same thought of the complete
down-hewing of David’s earthly lineage, yet only to rise again to nobler life
and vigor, in the Branch, or Sucker, that was to spring from the fallen
15 “But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul,
whom I put away before thee. 16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall
be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”
Before thee. This does not refer to time, but means “in thy presence,” or “before
thy face,” that is, “as thou hast thyself been witness.” There is a strong contrast
between the fate of Saul’s house and this eternal endurance promised to that
of David. The lineage of Saul might have made a new start in Jonathan, and
even when he died at Gilboa, he left a son behind him. Still, no one ever looked
upon Mephibosheth as having any title to the throne; and though Shimei 9ch. 16:5)
may have conceived the hope that, if David were overthrown, the kingdom
might return to Saul’s family, yet, as a matter of fact, among the many
vicissitudes of the ten tribes, the attempt never was made to search for a
descendant of Saul to be
generation; DAVID’S THRONE WAS TO BE ESTABLISHE FOR EVER!
Not because David was sinless. His character is sullied by crimes of the
darkest hue. But he never sank into a mere tyrant, such as Saul was towards
David and towards the priests at Nob. Nor did David ever become an irreligious
man (I Samuel 22:18-19; 28:15), though there is in him a strange and
painful mixture of great good and great evil. The salt that preserves his
character is his genuine sincerity and earnestness both towards God and
man; and these qualities make him not unworthy of the high place he holds
among God s people. Still, the premise was not because of David’s deserts,
but because from him was to come the Christ, who is blessed. forevermore.
The Blending of the Temporal and the Eternal (vs. 12-16)
The prophecy here is not as be regarded as a sudden and isolated
revelation of the purpose of God, which burst upon the mind of one who
had no previous conceptions of a great purpose being wrought out in the
line of human history. All along David was aware of his being used for
more than ordinary issues in relation to the great promise made to
Abraham. The Aurora Borealis seems, to ignorant men, a disconnected
unaccountable phenomenon, but others know it to be a natural occurrence
in a beautiful order of things correlated to all else in the material world. In
like manner, we now know that this prophecy is part of an order of
revelation, coming in at just the right time, and interpretable on principles
well ascertained. The temporal and eternal are blended:
constitution and order of material things show that the visible, changeable
forms of matter coexist with a permanent something which works in and
through them. They vary; it abides. They prepare the way for others of
kindred nature and form; it uses up the old and the new and marks out its
eternal course by means of them. Men call it force. Possibly, probably,
there is a persistent something answering to that name — the correlative of
our exertion of will power — but it, at all events, is only the mode in which
the Divine purpose works itself out into visible forms and changes. The
temporal and eternal are ever blended. (“While we look not at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things
which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are
eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18 – CY – 2018)
appearance, is ever associated with the permanent invisible spirit; the one
exists for the other, and is used by the other for expressing its thoughts and
purposes. “Mortal and immortal” may be written of man. He comes forth
and passes away: he abideth forever. Paradox is true, because the
perishable and imperishable coexist and work one through the other.
subject to death; and yet the strong, unchangeable, deathless Son of God.
The temporal and eternal were most mysteriously united in Him, and the
visible and perishable were the vehicle through which the unseen and
eternal worked out our redemption. There is language by which men, if
they will, can prove his simple humanity, and other language by which they
can prove his true Divinity. It is the ignoring of this blending of the
temporal and eternal which accounts for certain heresies and perversities
is pleased to give of His will concerning our redemption is intended for the
entire race, and adapted in matter and form to the progressive character of
the race. It was not given once for all in concise abstract form; nor was its
matter and form given to suit the later ages of the world only; it ran along
the line of history from the very first, and was suited as time went on to
men of diverse ideas and conditions. But from first to last THE DIVINE
IMPERISHABLE TRUTH was blended with the temporal history of men.
The natural development of families and nations was the vehicle through or
along which, as occasion required, the one unchangeable purpose gradually
marked itself out into the clear light that shone in THE FACE OF CHRIST!
duality of temporal and eternal thus seen to run through all things,
becomes, therefore, a priori natural in any predictions concerning Him
whose throne is from everlasting to everlasting. That in vs. 12-16 we
have reference to a mortal Solomon, who should build a perishable temple,
sit on a visible throne, and hand down to a terminable though long
succession of kings an earthly kingdom, is the interpretation required by
subsequent facts. That the “seed” refers also to Christ the “Son of David,”
the house to a spiritual temple, the “throne” and “kingdom” to the
absolutely everlasting dominion of Christ over the redeemed people of
God, is the sense put on this and kindred passages by the New Testament
(Psalm 72:17; 89:35-37; compare Luke 1:31-33, 68-79; Hebrews 1:5-13).
That the two references should be couched in one form of expression
is natural when we consider:
Ø that the temporal and eternal are blended, as just seen, in one form of
nature, in one human being, in the one Christ Jesus, and in the one historic
Ø that this harmonizes with the twofold sense of the prediction made to
Abraham (Genesis 21:12; 22:17-19; compare Romans 9:7-9; Acts 3:25;
Galatians 3:26), and with the twofold meaning of our Lord’s
words in reference to “the end” (Matthew 24:9-14, 29-44). The human
relationship, the human throne, the possible human frailty, and the human
relative permanence, are the lower earthly vehicle by which the Divine and
absolutely enduring are set forth and inaugurated.
Ø God secures to all His truly faithful ones the realization of their highest
and holiest ambitions, as surely as He secured to David the realization of his
desire for a seed, and the completion of his life’s work in the establishment
of his throne; for He makes life here to issue in the glory, of the kingdom of
Ø It behoves us to remember that there is an eternal element interwoven
with common life, and to subordinate everything temporal to its action.
Ø The fact that chosen instruments are used in working out eternal
purposes does not exempt them from the frailties of their nature and the
corrections necessary to their preservation for the service of God (v. 14).
Ø The chastisement due to the literal son of David for sins of his own
foreshadows dimly the spiritual fact that the great Son of David took upon
Himself the iniquities of us all, and experienced the “chastisement of our
peace” (Isaiah 53:5)
The strong and repeated assurances of THE UNIVERSALITY AND
PERMANANCE OF CHRIST’S REIGN should inspire us with calm
confidence and untiring zeal.
Ø Human fidelity in God’s service is a condition of the progressive
bringing into clearer view and nearer realization THE GLORIOUS
END FOR WHICH ALL THINGS CONSIST!
The Promise of an
(vs. 12-16; I Chronicles 17:11-15)
“And thy house and thy kingdom shall be permanent;
Thy throne shall be established forever.” (v. 16)
1. The position of David was a very exalted one. He was the chosen earthly
head of the theocracy, or
its glorious consummation. He would be succeeded in the theocratic throne by his
posterity, and his dynasty and kingdom would endure forever. This is a part
of THE SURE MERCIES TO DAVID.
“Incline your ear, and come unto me: bear, and your soul shall live:
and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure
mercies of David.” (Isaiah 55:3)
I GOT so far this morning as to plead with men to come to God to hear
what he had to say, to give diligent and earnest heed to his teaching about
their souls and about salvation; and while I pleaded, I can truly say, with all
the strength I had, I made this one of the master arguments that, in hearing,
their soul would live, and in coming to God, they would find him ready to
enter into covenant with them, “an everlasting covenant, even the sure
mercies of David.”
That seemed to me to be one of the most astonishing truths that was ever
given to man to preach, that God would be a high contracting party with
poor insignificant and guilty man, that He would make a covenant with
man; yes, with you and with me; that He would bind Himself by a solemn
promise, give His sacred pledge, and enter into a holy contract of mercy
with the guilty sons of Adam. I thought that, if men were in their right
minds, and God had taught, their reason to be reasonable, they would be
drawn to the Lord by such a wonderful promise as this, “I will make an
everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”
4. This promise, the great charter of the house of David, was “the
foundation of all Messianic prophecies and hopes in the prophets
concerning the completion
and its blessings of salvation” (Erdmann). It was —
This expression of abounding grace, the free, condescending, unspeakable
favor of God toward David, deeply affected him (vs. 19-21). The good pleasure
of the Lord had been shown:
while to come;” whereby his noblest aspirations would be fulfilled
(ch. 23:5), and through him and for his sake blessings would
abound unto many. In like manner “the exceeding riches of His grace”
(Ephesians 2:7) are apparent in all the promises pertaining to
eternal life and salvation, and the whole history of the progress of the
5. The unchanging mercy of God, founded on this relation. “But my mercy
shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul,” etc. (v. 15). If,
indeed, the individual king should forsake the Lord, he would be “cast off
forever” (I Chronicles 28:9). “The contrast is that between the
punishment of sin in individuals and the favor that remains permanently
with the family, whereby the promise becomes an unconditional one”
6. The eternal duration of his dynasty and kingdom once more assured,
with all the advantages of a government faithfully exercised according to
the will of God. As above, this was “the everlasting covenant, ordered in all
things, and sure;” and these were the “sure mercies of David” (Isaiah 55:3).
entirely new element into his consciousness, which, as his psalms show,
moved him powerfully.
aspect. One points to David’s natural posterity and temporal kingdom;
the other to the Messiah and the
former only as types and pledges of the latter.
The promise “refers neither only to Solomon nor only to Christ; nor has it a
twofold application; but it is a covenant promise, which, extending along
the whole line (of David’s posterity), culminates in the Son of David, and
IN ALL ITS FULLNESS APPLIES ONLY TO HIM!
“Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom to order it, and to
establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even
for ever. THE ZEAL OF THE LORD OF HOSTS WILL PERFORM
THIS!” (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:32-33; Acts 2:25-36).
The promises of God are faithful and true; His covenant is a sure
foundation of hope amidst human failures and earthly changes (Psalm
89:1-37; II Corinthians 1:20; Hebrews 6:18).
The hope of humanity is in “the Root and the Offspring of David, and
the Bright and Morning Star!” (Revelation 22:16).
Glimpses of the King Messiah (v. 16)
Looked at in the light of the development of the Divine purpose, rather
than of the conscious knowledge of the time,
(1) the royal office of David and Solomon (in its typical significance), and
(2) the promises and prophecies uttered more or less directly in connection
therewith, especially as recorded in the last words of David (ch. 23.) and in
the Psalms, clearly pointed to the coming of an extraordinary, theocratic,
Divine King. They indicate that He would be:
5:3; Acts 4:27). Psalm 89., ‘The faithfulness of the Lord.’
“Once thou spakest in vision to thy beloved, and saidst:
I have laid help upon a mighty one,
I have exalted one chosen out of the people.
I have found David my servant,
With my holy oil have I anointed him.”
“Jehovah hath sworn unto David
In truth that which He will not recall:
Of the fruit of thy body
Do I appoint a possessor of thy throne.”
Romans 1:4.) Psalm 2., ‘The triumph of the Lord’s Anointed.’
“Jehovah saith unto me: Thou art my Son:
I have this day begotten thee.”
“He shall cry unto me: My Father art thou,
My God, and the Rock of my salvation!
Also I will make Him my Firstborn,
Highest of the kings of the earth.”
“In the Old Testament the relation between father and son denotes the
deepest. intimacy of love; and love is perfected in unity of nature, in the
communication to the son of all that the father hath. ‘The Father loveth the
Son, and hath given all things into His hand’ (John 3:35). Sonship,
therefore, includes the government of the world (Keil).
Conqueror of all opposing powers (through conflict and suffering); the
Saviour and Benefactor of those who trust in Him; the supreme Lord
(v. 13; Psalm 22; 40:6; Matthew 22:45; Hebrews 1:8).
“The oracle of Jehovah unto my Lord:
Sit thou at my right hand
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
“Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”
14:23; I Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:20-23; 2:20-22;
I Peter 2:5; Revelation 21:1-3.)
“Thou hast received gifts among men,
Yea, even the rebellious, that the Lord Jehovah
might dwell among them.”
“He shall have dominion from sea to sea,
And from the river to the ends of the earth.”
“His Name shall endure forever;
His Name shall be continued as long as the sun.”
“An allegory may serve to illustrate the way in which the Old Testament
proclamation of salvation unfolds itself. The Old Testament in relation to
the day of the New Testament is night. In this night there rise in opposite
directions two stars of promise. The one describes its fall from above
downwards; it is the promise of Jehovah who is about to come [Psalms
96:13; 98:9]. The other describes its path from below upwards; it is the
hope which rests on the seed of David, the prophecy of the Son of David,
which at the outset assumes a thoroughly human and merely earthly
character. These two stars meet at last, they blend together in one star; the
night vanishes, and IT IS DAY!. This one star is Jesus Christ, Jehovah
and the Son of David in one Person; the King of
time THE REDEEMER OF THE WORLD; in one word, THE GOD MAN!
17 “According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so
did Nathan speak unto David.” Vision. This word does not imply that Nathan
saw anything with the natural eye, but signifies that sort of prophecy which was
vouchsafed to a “seer.” Thus the prophecies of Isaiah, of Nahum, and of
Obadiah are called “visions.” Probably the word is taken from the fixed
gaze, with which the seer looked into the far off world with unmoved eyes,
yet seeing not with them, but with the spiritual sight within. It would thus
be an intellectual process accompanied by a rigidity of the natural organs,
caused partly by intensity of feeling, but chiefly by mental preoccupation,
which left no faculty at liberty to discharge its ordinary function.
18 “Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said,
Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought
me hitherto?” David… sat before the Lord. The word “sat” is usually
explained by commentators as meaning “tarried.” The rabbins give the
word its ordinary meaning, and say that it was the privilege of kings to
pray in a sitting posture. But we cannot possibly believe that kings at this
early stage had established a special etiquette for observance in prayer, and
the difficulty is merely imaginary. Because the Jews prayed standing, and
we moderns pray kneeling, we both assume that to pray sitting was an
irreverent act. It was not so, nor are we to think of David as sitting at ease
in a chair. He sat upon the ground, as was the Oriental custom, with his
feet doubled under him, and his head bent forward; and in this posture
meditated upon Jehovah’s message, and then poured out his thoughts. As it
is expressly said that “he sat before Jehovah,” the place must have been the
outer court of the tabernacle. Who am I, O Lord Jehovah! In the
Authorized Version Jehovah is rendered “God,” because it has the vowels
of the word Elohim; usually it is rendered “Lord,” because the Masserites
attached to it the vowels of Adonai, “lord,” equivalent to Dominus. As
Adonai here precedes Jehovah, the Massorites were driven from their
usual practice, and were so superstitious as to suppose it more reverent to
pronounce the name Elohim than that of Jehovah, to which the Jews
attached magical powers. David’s words are not so much a prayer as a
meditation, full of thanksgiving, and even of wonder at the greatness of
God’s mercies to him. In it he first acknowledges his own unworthiness
and the meanness of his father’s house compared with the high dignity
which God is bestowing upon him. For not only has He raised him to the
kingly office, but promised him the continuance of his house “for a great
while to come.” (v. 19) Whether David understood as yet that he was now placed
in the same position as Abraham of old, in that “in his seed all the families
of the earth should be blessed,” is uncertain, and depends upon the
interpretation put upon the following words. This only we may affirm, that
wheN he says in this place of his house remaining until a distant future falls
far short of the meaning of the passages quoted above from the Psalms.
19 “And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou
hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come.
And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?” And is this the manner of
man, O Lord God? Hebrew, and this is the law of man, O Lord Jehovah. In the
parallel passage (I Chronicles 17:17) the Hebrew has, “And thou hast regarded me
according to the law of a man of high degree.” The rendering of the Authorized
Version here, which, by making the clause interrogative, implies a negative,
gives absolutely no sense; but some commentators render, “And this is the
manner of men, O Lord Jehovah,” understanding thereby that God was
acting towards David in a human manner, that is, as an earthly friend and
benefactor would do. But though the Revised Version favors this
rendering, the Hebrew word torah never has this meaning, and, unless, the
attempt be made to amend the text, for which the versions give no help, we
must take torah in its usual sense, and understand that this continuance of
David’s house into the distant future has now become a human law, that is,
a divinely constituted ordinance, which must now take its place among the
laws which govern human affairs. The words are undoubtedly difficult, and
we feel that David was speaking in an ejaculatory manner, in sentences but
half expressed, breaking forth from him bit by bit, under the pressure of
deep excitement within. We notice too that, while there is no direct
reference to the Messiah in David’s words, yet that the Psalms indicate that
he did connect the duration of his house with the Messiah’s advent; and
this ejaculation may have sprung forth, if not from a fully formed
conviction, yet from the feeling that the permanence of his house was for
the purpose of a
higher kingdom than that of
was a “law of man” and the promulgation of a decree which affected the
whole human race. This may be the meaning of the Vulgate, which renders
“a law of Adam,” that is, one embracing within its scope all Adam’s race,
20 “And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord GOD,
knowest thy servant.” Thou, Lord. God, knowest thy servant. The Hebrew
throughout has Lord Jehovah, except in vs. 22, 25, where it has
“Jehovah God,” the title of Deity used in Genesis 2. The repeated use of
this covenant and personal name of God is very emphatic; and the appeal
to Jehovah’s knowledge of his heart reminds us of similar outpourings of
David’s consciousness of his sincere devotion to his Maker, as for instance
in Psalm 17:3.
21 “For thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou
done all these great things, to make thy servant know them.”
For thy word’s sake; In I Chronicles 17:19 we read, “For thy servant’s sake.”
The phrase seemed, perhaps, to the Chronicler difficult, but it does not mean
“because of thy previous promise,” for no such promise had been given, but
“because thou hast now said it.” Nor does it imply pre-existing merit in David,
but that God had now chosen to declare His will, and what was according to
His own heart. It thus makes God’s own good will and pleasure the cause of
the great honors bestowed upon David. Instead of these great things, the
Hebrew has this great thing; that is, the lasting continuance of David’s family.
22 “Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee,
neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have
heard with our ears.” Wherefore thou art great. God’s goodness is to David
a proof of His greatness, and he sees it displayed, not only in His dealings
with himself, but also in the past history of the Jewish nation. There is in
this a depth of evangelic piety. An unconverted heart would see the
greatness of God in the majesty of creation, or in severe dealings with the
impenitent. David saw it in acts of mercy and kindness. We look upon
Elijah as the very type of sternness, yet he too recognized the presence of
God in “the still small voice” of gentleness and love (I Kings 19:13).
23 “And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like
make Him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for
thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from
The translation should be, And who is like thy people,
upon earth which God went to redeem for Himself to be His people, and to make
for Him a name, etc.?
history, both in those early dealings of God with it, and also in its later history and
its marvelous preservation unto this day. It is remarkable that in this place
the word for “God,” Elohim, is followed by a verb plural, the almost
invariable rule in Hebrew being that, though Elohim is itself plural, it takes
a verb singular whenever it refers to the true God. In the corresponding
passage (I Chronicles 17:21) the verb is in the singular. No adequate
reason has been given for this deviation, but probably the usage in these
early times was not so strict as it became subsequently. It is the influence
of writing, and of the eye becoming conversant with writing, that makes
men correct in their use of language and in the spelling of words. In the
spoken of in the feminine gender, because “Word” and “Spirit” are both
feminine nouns; but grammar soon gave way to soundness of thought and
feeling. So probably in colloquial language Elohim was often used with a
verb plural, but correct thinking forbade and overruled grammar. We may
regard this, then, as one of the few passages in which the colloquial usage
has escaped correction, and attach no further importance to it. For you.
“You” is plural, and refers to the people. The Vulgate has “for them,”
which is in accordance with the greater exactness of modern grammar. But
sudden changes of person are very common in Hebrew, which follows the
rules of thought rather than of written composition; and so David speaks of
however, that in the words that follow, for thy land, and thy people, the
pronoun is singular, and refers to God. From the nations and their gods.
Both the Authorized Version and the Revised Version, by inserting “from,”
which is not in the Hebrew, take “nations” as in apposition with “
but a moment’s consideration shows that this is untenable, as “nations” is
plural. But the whole verse is so full of grammatical difficulties as to make
it extremely probable that the text is corrupt, and that we ought to supply
the verb “to drive out,” which is actually read in I Chronicles 17:21, or
even to substitute it in the place of “for thy land,” which is omitted in the
parallel passage. The nations which God drove out had nothing to do with
with His people as the Exodus itself. Thus the reading will be, To drive out
people, whom thou purchasedst for thee from
and their gods.
thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people
thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God.” For thou hast
confirmed. The word means “thou
hast firmly and securely established
to “be thy people.”
This plainly refers to the settlement in
completed by David’s victories, and not to the
words that follow David recognizes the spiritual importance, not only of the
permanent continuance of his house, but also of the empire given unto him.
their God. It is very necessary to retain here the personal name, Jehovah, as it
is in the Hebrew, and not dilute it down to the Lord of the Septuagint. For now,
to David’s mind, the covenant seemed complete, and ratified forever.
have an everlasting existence — a promise belonging to it in its full sense only
spiritually. For as long as the world lasts, it is against
that the gates of hell shall never prevail. And next, first as the theocratic
people, and then as the Church, it is to hold a unique relation to Jehovah,
who is to be its God. For
Church, worships, not the God of nature, Elohim, but Jehovah, the God of
grace; and they learn His attributes, not from philosophy, nor by
metaphysical inquiry, but from His own revealed will, in which He teaches
us what He is, what we are, and how we are to become one with Him.
25 “And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken
concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for
ever, and do as thou hast said.
26 And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of
hosts is the God over
be established before thee.” And now, O Lord God; Hebrew, Jehovah God.
Similarly, in v. 26 the Hebrew is “Let thy Name be magnified forever,
saying, Jehovah Sabaoth is God over
Name of Deity in covenant with His people, and it is in the confirmation
and permanence of the covenant that David sees the true value of the
lasting continuance of his own house.
thou, O LORD of hosts, God of
servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy
servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.”
Thou hast revealed to thy servant; Hebrew, thou hast uncovered the ear
of thy servant. (see note on I Samuel 9:15). Hath thy servant found in his heart;
Hebrew, hath found his heart. The word “heart” has a wide meaning in Hebrew,
embracing both our intellectual and our moral powers. Here it simply means
“courage,” as in, I Samuel 17:32. The Revised Version puts this in the margin:
“Therefore hath thy servant been bold to pray this prayer.”
28 “And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true,
and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:” And now,
O Lord God, thou art that God. The pronoun rendered “that” is really a personal
pronoun used as the copula, which the Authorized Version inserts in italics. As
this grammatical usage, which is common to all the Semitic languages, was not
understood at the time when our version was made, we find all the parts of the
verb “to be” constantly printed in italics, as though absent, while really they are
expressed in the Oriental way. This has the advantage, however, of reminding the
reader that wherever the verb “to be” is printed in Roman characters it has a much
stronger meaning than the mere union of subject and predicate. Thus in
Genesis 1:2 the first “was,” in Roman type, means “existed,” or
possibly “became;” the second “was,” in italics, is simply the copula. Here
the correct translation is, And now, O Lord Jehovah, thou art the God; i.e.
the one real, true God.
29 “Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant,
that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD,
hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be
blessed for ever.” Let it please thee to bless; or, begin and bless. Literally, the
verb signifies to make up the mind and set about the doing of the thing
purposed. Thus David prays that the blessing may now at once begin to
take effect. It is often rendered “please” in our version, because the verb is
one used only of a determination resolved upon of the free will of the
purposer. Its force is well seen in Job 6:9, where what Job prays for is
that God would deliberate no longer, but decide the matter and set about
destroying him. The Authorized Version was led, by the use of this verse
“please,” to adopt the optative form. Really, it is the language of firm faith,
and should be rendered, And now [there is no “therefore”] begin of thy own
good will, and bless the house of thy servant.
The Educational Influence of God’s Great Love (vs. 18-29)
In these verses we have described, in broken sentences, the effect on the
spirit of David of the marvelous loving kindness of God in having
guaranteed unto him such a glorious completion of life’s work, and the
unspeakable honor of being associated in name and work with the
Redeemer of the world. The real nature of a man is tested in seasons of
great prosperity as well as in adversity. David bears the strain. Never in the
past history of the world had God spoken so distinctly and emphatically to
any of His people of the personal honor He would confer. In the effect of
this on David we may see an illustration of the general educational
influence of God’s love on His people.
the strange words he at once went and “sat” before the Lord! The first
impulse was to get near to the visible symbol of the Divine presence, and
simply sit still in amazement. That silence held his tongue for a while seems
indicated in the embarrassment (v. 20). What could a devout man do but
muse and wonder at the largeness of the grace? There was a marvel in
what God had done in the past (v. 18), in what was to be in the future,
and in the ordination or law, in respect of the man, or otherwise in
the superhuman bearing towards one so unworthy (compare Isaiah 55:8).
This is the general effect of a recognition of God’s love to us, whether
Ø the unspeakable gift of Christ,
Ø the greatness of His long suffering,
Ø the tenderness of His pity,
Ø the provision for our temporal and eternal good,
Ø the use He makes of us in His service, or
Ø in the blessed inheritance promised in the future.
There is a devotion of feeling which consists in a permanent silent wonder
that God should have dealt so with us. This tones our spirit into quiet
gentleness, and we can in some measure understand why seraphim and
cherubim should be absorbed in wonder at His ways.
himself that all these things were done to David, but because God was
pleased out of His own heart so to deal with him (v. 21). Nothing tends
more to develop humility than a survey of the wonderful love of God. The
contrast of our deserts with His grace bows the spirit down, not to
abjectness and loss of heart, but to the tender feeling of self-depreciation
and self-abnegation which ever becomes a sinful creature in the presence of
the Eternal. Great grace bestowed is an educator in what most befits one
who was lost but is now found (Psalm 115:1; Romans 3:27; I Corinthians
15:10; I John 3:1).
(v. 22) seems to complete the silent reasoning which must have gone on
in the mind of David for many a year. The general care of man (Psalm 8.),
the heavens (Psalm 19.), and the terrible works of God among the nations
(Psalm 48:4-7, 10-11), had ever furnished occasion for adoration; but
all this is surpassed by the great love wherewith He has now loved His
servant, and in this lies the moral greatness which most of all wins the
adoring love of the soul. It is a well-known psychological truth that the
feelings are not under the direct control of the will, and especially not
obedient to a bare command. Nor are they developed in noblest form by
mere externals. It is when the actual love of God, as seen in deeds done for
us and blessings freely showered on us, is manifest to the eye of the soul,
that true worship arises. The greatness of love draws forth the homage of
the redeemed (Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10).
know what personal piety is imagine that it consists in selfish delight in
one’s own favored condition — a continuous self-congratulation that we
are snatched as brands from the burning. David’s deep interest in others, as
seen in vs. 23-24, establishes the reverse. The love we share in is a love
embracing others, and it awakens and nourishes a joy in them and their
happy lot. It is an unspeakable delight to a true Christian that a multitude
that no man can number are the people of God, “redeemed” by the
wondrous grace which amazes while it blesses himself.
meaning of David in vs. 24-27. He surrenders his heart and life afresh to
the one great purpose which has been graciously revealed. It is not mere
acquiescence that so it should be, but intense desire, self-identification
afresh with the work and ways of God. He wants to be used in the
accomplishment of the great design. This was the secret of the Apostle
Paul’s ever-deepening consecration. The love of God to him and others
was a constant subject of thought, and hence he was daily “constrained” to
live for Him who had died to make him what he was (II Corinthians
5:14-16). The love of God contemplated and felt renders every yoke
welcome and easy.
the instrument of this working in the line of the great purpose required
distinguished qualities, and a revelation of it (v. 27) very naturally made
David sensible of the insufficiency of himself and successors, and called
forth the prayer for a blessing on his house (vs. 28-29). The blessing of
God is necessary to man’s successful working out of the Divine will;
and the heart that appreciates the honor of being so employed will
earnestly plead the promises in seeking the grace required.
“The world has yet to see what God can do with and for
and through and in and by the man who is fully and
wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man.”
(D. L. Moody)
“It remains to be seen what God can do through a man
who will not touch the glory!” (C. H. Spurgeon)
Among the great things which God did for David, He gave him a great
name, like that of others, statesmen, warriors, kings, who, on account of
their abilities, successes, power, and influence, were renowned “in the
earth.” “The fame of David went out into all lands” (I Chronicles 14:17).
“Glory consists in the honourable and widespread reputation of
numerous and important services rendered to one’s friends, his country, or
the whole human race” (
Ø A desired possession. The love of human esteem, praise, and honor is
natural, universal, beneficial, though often perverted to unworthy ends,
and not subordinated to the voice of conscience and of God.
“That characteristic of man which is at once the most unworthy and
the most exalted is his desire of glory. It is the last passion that becomes
extinct in the heart of man. There is such a charm in glory that, whatever
we connect with it, even death itself, we love it still” (Pascal).
“Desire of glory is the last garment that even wise men lay aside”
In the midst of its enjoyment the soul craves something higher, and can find rest
only in the approbation and fellowship of God (Psalm 4:6; 73:25; 119:57;
Ecclesiastes 8:11) It cannot impart inward peace; it endures but for a season,
and then passes away. “Where are those rulers of the earth gone, with their
guards, armies, and carriages, of whose departure the earth stands a witness
unto the present day?” (‘The Hitopadesa’).
Of worldly fame is but a blast of wind,
That blows from diverse points, and shifts its name —
Shifting the point it blows from. Shalt thou more
Live in the mouths of mankind, if thy flesh
Part shrivel’d from thee, than if thou hadst died
Before the coral and the pap were left;
Or ere some thousand years have past? and that
Is, to eternity compared, a space
Briefer than is the twinkling of an eye
To the heaven’s slowest orb.”
Ø A great name is not always a good name.
Ø A good name may be possessed, though a great name may be
Ø To some men (like David) it is given to possess both.
Ø True greatness consists in Christ-like goodness (Matthew 20:25-28),
and true glory in “the honor which cometh from God only”
1. It is one of the sweetest joys of life granted by God when, in his
providence, he gives intimation to parents that their immediate posterity
are likely to take up the religious work they love, and carry it on towards
the completion of God’s will on earth (v. 12).
2. What parents need is that God would “set up,” in positions of
righteousness and true honor, their offspring, and “establish” whatever
work or interest they may have in hand (v. 12). (My grandson Graham’s
comment in early 2018 implying he would like to continue my website.
CY – 2018)
3. To “build a house” for God is an unspeakable privilege (v. 13). It may
be done variously:
a. by rearing up a personal character of our own on the One Foundation
(I Peter 2:6), so that it may be a fit habitation of God through the
Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19);
b. by teaching the cardinal truths of the gospel among men, so that on the
One Foundation (I Corinthians 3:9-11) there may be reared a Christian
Church, as is still often done by missionaries in heathen lands;
c. by devoting money to the erection of a sanctuary where needed
(Luke 7:5). A more noble use of wealth can scarcely be conceived.
prevision of the imperfections and sins of His people, and with providential
provision for their correction (v. 14). Not one of the distinguished men
who prepared the way for Christ was perfect. The Antitype alone is free
from sin. It was in the occupying of a throne, not in the details of private
conduct, that Solomon the son of David prefigured the true Son of David.
disqualify them utterly from sharing in the highest and noblest work. Saul’s
obstinacy, self-will, and inability to rise to the conception of the purpose
and scope of the theocracy, rendered him unfit that he should found the line
by which the Christ should come (v. 15). Solomon’s imperfections were
those of another character, springing more from unwatchfulness against
certain snares of his position. These imperfect workers suffer loss and
shame, but the substantial part of their work abides (I Corinthians 3:12-15).
knows our unexpressed thoughts and feelings, our depth of love and
gratitude, our sorrow over sin, our most secret motives, and the path we
take. Our ease of mind in remembrance of this is one of the marks of true
sonship and service.
a profound conviction of His greatness and glory (v. 22). Men who study
only the physical aspects of nature lose much. The moral universe is the
grandest arena on which the power and blessedness of the Eternal shines
(v. 23) which conferred on them the most enduring distinction. As a fact,
Israel has done more than either Egypt, Greece, or
elevation of mankind; for
operation the mighty renovating principles of the
alone can secure the permanence of civilization, and also educate the
higher nature of man for time and eternity. “Blessed is that people whose
God is the Lord!” (Psalm 33:12)
God, “Thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it” (v. 29). Modern speculations
are beside the mark. The first question covers all! Have we historically the
declaration of God? Then, if He has said a thing, it must be so. Difficulties
are relative to man’s ignorance and weakness, and have no place with the
Eternal. Faith in God is a rational exercise of the human mind; it is not
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Vers. 18-24 (1 Chronicles 17:16-22). — (THE TABERNACLE ON
Thanksgiving and praise.
The duty of rendering thanksgiving and praise to God is seldom disputed,
though its performance is often neglected. It is beneficial to the offerer
himself, as well as to others. The conduct and language of David, on
receiving the Divine communication here recorded, famish an admirable
example of the spirit in which “the sacrifice of thanksgiving” should be
I. DEEP HUMILITY before the presence of God. “Then went King David
in” from his palace of cedar to the lowly tent (the palace of the Divine King
custom (expressive of his lowly state of mind), “before Jehovah,” the
symbol of whose presence stood veiled before him. “And (after devout
thought on the communication)he said, Who am I, O Lord God?” etc. (ver.
18). Although in comparison with other men he “might have whereof to
glory,” yet in the conscious presence of God he had a profound sense of his
weakness, insignificance, dependence, and unworthiness (<013210>Genesis
32:10; Job 42:5, 6; Isaiah 57:15; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Peter 5:5,
6). The proud heart is never a thankful heart. The poorer we are in our
own estimation the more disposed we are to “praise the Lord for his
goodness.” Humility is the first step of a ladder whose top reaches heaven
II. CALM REFLECTION on his benefits. “And this was yet a small thing
in thy sight, O Lord God,” etc. “And this [which thou hast graciously
promised concerning my house] is the law [established order or decree] of
[or pertaining to a mortal] man, O Lord God!” (ver. 19). “Is this the law of
one who is a mere man created from the dust as I am, that I should be
elevated to such a glorious altitude as this?” (Wordsworth). “Thou hast
regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree” (1
Chronicles 17:17). An expression of humble astonishment. The more he
pondered it in his heart, the more he was humbled, surprised, and filled
with thankfulness. We have not less cause for gratitude (Psalm 8:4, 5;
< Corinthians 2:9, 10). “Forget not all his benefits,” past, present, or to
come. We are apt to forget them, and therefore should contemplate them
frequently, enumerate them one by one, and endeavour to estimate their
exceeding worth. Meditation is like a lens, by which the rays of the sun are
collected into a focus and produce so intense a heat that coals of fire are
kindled by it (Psalm 39:3; 48:9; 77:11, 12; Luke 2:19).
III. INTENSE CONVICTION of his claims. “And what can David say
more unto thee? for thou knowest thy servant, O Lord God!” (ver. 20).
The great things which had been promised, the obligations under which
they laid him, and his conviction and impression thereof, were all
indescribable. Words failed him; and he could only appeal to Omniscience
to witness the sincerity and depth of his grateful feeling (<432117>John 21:17).
Every additional benefit conferred upon us increases the claims of our
Divine Benefactor on our love and devotion. His mercies are “new every
morning” (<250323>Lamentations 3:23); and the debt we owe is ever
“How can I repay to Jehovah
All his benefits toward me?”
IV. FERVENT GRATITUDE for his grace. “For thy Word’s sake;” in
fulfilment of thy purpose and promise formerly expressed, “and according
to thine own heart,” of thy spontaneous, sovereign, unmerited favour,
“hast thou done all these great things to make thy servant know them,” for
his consolation and encouragement (ver. 21). It is the disinterested love
and abounding grace of God, displayed in his gifts, that more than anything
else touches the heart and constrains it to fervent gratitude. “To my eye the
workings of a heart oppressed and overflowing with gratitude are painted
stronger in this prayer than I ever observed them in any other instance. It is
easy to see that his heart was wholly possessed with a subject which he did
not know how to quit, because he did not know how to do justice to the
inestimable blessings poured down upon himself and promised to his
posterity; much less to the infinite bounty of his Benefactor” (Delany).
V. LOWLY ADORATION of his perfections. “Wherefore thou art great,
O Lord God,” etc. (ver. 22). The greatness of Jehovah, the incomparable
One, the only God, was manifested in his dealings with his servant, as in
the whole history of
ears.” David had the most exalted views of his character as the All-wise
and All-powerful, the Condescending, Faithful, Gracious, Merciful, and
Just (<090202>1 Samuel 2:2; <19B306>Psalm 113:6); and he delighted in the
contemplation and praise of his infinite excellence. God himself is greater
than anything he has done or promised to do; but by means of his doings
and revelations we are enabled to know him and draw nigh to him in
worship and adoration, wherein the soul finds its noblest activity, rest, and
VI. GENEROUS SYMPATHY with his people. “And what one nation in
the earth is like thy people,” etc. (vers. 23, 24)? An incomparable people!
1. Redeemed by mighty acts.
2. Designed for a special purpose — to be his possession or property, and
to “show forth his praise.”
3. Established in covenant relationship forever (ver. 16; <662103>Revelation
21:3, 7). David “glorified God” in them; and in doing so he showed his
love for them, his sympathy and identity with them (<100512>2 Samuel 5:12).
His thanksgiving and praise were large hearted and disinterested. The
selfish heart (like the proud heart) is never a thankful heart. The more we
esteem others the more numerous the occasions we find for gratitude to
God, and the more we abound therein,
VII. ENTIRE CONSECRATION to his service and glory. He avowed
himself the servant of God (ver. 21), freely and gladly surrendered his will
to him, sought what he promised, and desired that his Name might be
“magnified forever” (ver. 26). This is the essence of the sacrifice of praise.
“Father, glorify thy Name” (<431228>John 12:28; <500120>Philippians 1:20).
“As of their will, the angels unto thee
Tender meet sacrifice, circling thy throne
With loud hosannas; so of theirs be done
By saintly men on earth.”
(Dante, ‘Purg.,’ 11.)
Vers. 25-29 (<131723>1 Chronicles 17:23-27). — (
Promise and prayer.
“Do as thou hast said” (ver. 25).
1. God has spoken to men. “His greatness is unsearchable” (ver. 22;
<19E503>Psalm 145:3); nevertheless, he has surely spoken to them in his Word
(ver. 4; <580101>Hebrews 1:1).
2. He has spoken in the way of promise (ver. 28). A large portion of
Divine revelation consists of promises, “exceeding great and precious”
(<610104>2 Peter 1:4), pertaining to the life that now is, and that which is to
3. And as God has spoken to men in the way of promise, so they should
speak to him in the way of prayer (<090109>1 Samuel 1:9; 8:6; 14:16, 36).
“A breath that fleets beyond this iron world,
And touches him who made it.”
I. PROMISE SUPERSEDES NOT THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER;
inasmuch as the latter is commonly the expressed or implied condition of
its fulfilment. As a bank note must be presented that we may obtain the
gold which it represents, so the Divine promise must be sought in prayer
that we may receive the good of which it gives assurance. A child does not
refrain from asking his father for what he wants because it has been
promised, but rather asks him all the more. David prayed for what he had
been promised. “I will yet for this be inquired of,” etc. (<263637>Ezekiel 36:37).
“Ask, and it shall be given you” (<400707>Matthew 7:7; <195015>Psalm 50:15;
<381001>Zechariah 10:1). “The prayer that prevails is a reflected promise.”
II. PROMISE CONFIRMS THE DUTY OF PRAYER; by indicating the
will of God concerning us. To neglect the condition of receiving the
blessing, or to refuse to comply with it, is to despise the blessing itself.
Why such a condition?
1. To give to God the honour which is his due.
2. To teach a spirit of dependence.
3. To promote personal and direct intercourse with God.
4. To call into exercise the noblest principles of our nature.
5. To incite cooperation towards the attainment of what is
6. To make its bestowment more beneficial to the recipient.
Some things may be beneficial in connection with prayer that would not be
so without it.
III. PROMISE AUTHORIZES THE PRIVILEGE OF PRAYER. What
greater privilege can there be than that of “making known our requests
unto God”? But who, without his promise, could venture to believe that
these requests would be heard; especially when made for the “great things”
contained in it? Even now, how doubtful and timid are we in claiming the
privilege! The promise gives encouragement and confidence; and should,
therefore, be pondered in the heart, as it was by David; who was thereby
emboldened (Authorized Version, “found in his heart “) “to pray this
prayer” (ver. 27). “Thy words are truth” (ver. 28). “When thou saidst,
Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, O Lord, will I seek”
(<192708>Psalm 27:8; 119:49; <013212>Genesis 32:12).
IV. PROMISE TEACHES THE MATTER OF PRAYER. “We know not
what we should pray for as we ought,” and are apt, in this respect, to “ask
amiss.” But the promises constitute an invaluable, directory of prayer,”
1. The things for which we ought to ask, both temporal and
2. Their relative importance.
3. Their application to others as well as to ourselves (vers. 25, 29).
4. Their chief design (ver. 26).
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,” etc. (<431507>John 15:7;
<662220>Revelation 22:20). “Pause over each promise, and let your faith in it
blossom into a prayer for it. This will be the true, responsive reading of the
sacred Scriptures, wherein there shall be not simply the answering of voice
to voice as among men, but the responding of your heart to God. Happy
are they in whose souls there is thus a continual recurring ‘Amen’ to the
benedictions of the Lord” (W.M. Taylor).
V. PROMISE INCITES THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER.
1. A reverent regard for God.
2. A lowly estimate of ourselves.
3. Fervent desire for the blessing of God.
4. Childlike confidence in his Word.
5. Unreserved submission to his will.
6. Patience and perseverance.
“Wait on the Lord,” etc. (<192714>Psalm 27:14; <421101>Luke 11:1-13; 18:1).
“Prayer is nothing else but the language of faith, love, and hope: of faith, a
believing of God’s being and bounty, that he is willing and able to succour
us; of love, which directeth us to the prime Fountain of all the good we
have and would have, and to the end and glory of God, and regulateth all
our choices by it, and to those means which conduce to the enjoying of
God; and of hope, which is a desirous expectation of the promised
blessing” (T. Manton, ‘Works,’ 18:72).
VI. PROMISE ENSURES THE ANSWER OF PRAYER; not always in
the immediate and conscious experience of the petitioner, but always at the
proper time (<271012>Daniel 10:12), the delay being needful and beneficial; not
always in the literal terms of the promise, but often in a more spiritual and
glorious manner; and never wholly withheld (<620514>1 John 5:14, 15). “He is
faithful that promised” (<581023>Hebrews 10:23). “The promises of God are the
free expressions of his goodness and beneficence; but then their meaning
has in it something of that Divine attribute. Nothing that he says can be in
the mere narrow proportions of man. The words are necessarily those used
by man, but the meaning is that of God; and we may be confident that what
will be given in fulfilment of them will be according to the magnitude of the
Divine goodness; as far, at least, as the faculties of the recipients will
admit, and these can be enlarged. The Divine goodness being
transcendently above all other goodness, the gifts of it will be according to
its own manner, and not limited to the human import of the words, as if
merely preserving the bare truth of the words. So that he will surprise his
servants, as they find the earthly terms of his promises translated as it were
into celestial language, when they arrive in his presence and have those
promises acknowledged” (John Foster, ‘Literary Remains’). — D.
Ver. 27. — (
A prayer found in the heart.
When a prayer such as David’s is found in the heart, it is:
1. Found in the right place. If only on the tongue it is not really found at
all Its proper abode is the heart; yet it is not always found there, even when
renewed, as the heart must be for its dwelling.
2. Possessed of priceless worth; in contrast with other things that are often
found in the heart (<401519>Matthew 15:19). A rare flower among weeds, a
fountain in the desert, a treasure in poverty, a friend in need! “I have no
earthly friend,” said one; “but I have a praying heart.”
3. Derived from a Divine source. It is not indigenous. Its orion is in “the
Father of lights,” from whom comes “every good gift and every perfect
boon;” its production is due to the teaching of his Word and the operation
of his Spirit (<381210>Zechariah 12:10).
4. Destined for a proper use. Not to be neglected, repressed, or restrained
(<181504>Job 15:4); but appreciated, guarded, cherished, freely and fully
“poured out” at the feet of the Giver, that he may be glorified. — D.
HOMILIES BY G. WOOD
Vers. 1, 2. —
David’s desire to build a temple.
After the conquest of Jebus by David and his appointment of the spot to be
the capital of the
became his earnest purpose to bring thither the long-neglected ark of the
covenant, that the city might be the sacred as well as the civil metropolis.
This purpose was at length fulfilled. The ark was settled
prepared for it, and a daily service established in connection with it. But the
king was not long satisfied with what he had done. Larger and more
generous thoughts took possession of his mind, and stirred within him
I. WHAT WAS THE KING’S DESIRE? To erect a solid, permanent
building, of suitable magnificence — a temple — in which the ark should
be placed, and where the services of worship should be constantly
maintained. Most likely he contemplated what was afterwards effected, the
reunion on one spot of the ark and the altars; and the presentation of the
daily and other sacrifices and offerings at their proper place before the
symbol of the Divine presence — the revival, in fact, of the Mosaic ritual
under circumstances and with accompaniments adapted to the existing
condition of the nation. The purpose was good and tended to good. It was
time that the irregularity and negligence which had prevailed should come
to an end, and the requirements of the Law should be obeyed. It was fitting
that the unity of the people should be fully symbolized, expressed, and
promoted by such a united worship as the Law enjoined. It was also
suitable to the more settled state which, under David, the people had
reached, that a solid fixed building should supersede the tent which was
adapted to the time of wandering and unsettlement; and, as the nation’s
resources had increased, it was right that the building to be reared should
be proportionately costly.
II. HOW IT ORIGINATED.
1. A time of peace favoured it. (Ver. 1.) Giving the king leisure for thought
as to how he could further promote the nation’s welfare; awakening
gratitude; affording means and opportunity. Times of war are greatly
unfavourable to such enterprises, forcing minds and hearts into other
channels, and swallowing up the resources which might otherwise be
expended on them.
2. The solidity, beauty, and comforts of David’s own house suggested it. “I
dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.”
David had known for years what it was to have no settled abode, but to
wander about the land, taking refuge in woods and caves; and afterwards
he was much away from home, engaged in wars. Lately he had built
himself a handsome palace, and now for a time he was able to sit quietly in
it and meditate; and as he did so, it one day struck him that his abode was
superior to that of the ark of God, and the desire was kindled to put an end
to the incongruity. Not every one would have been thus moved. How
differently the rich man of whom our Lord speaks in <421216>Luke 12:16, et
seq., “thought within himself”! And how many prosperous people there
are, professing to have given themselves to God, who, as they increase in
wealth and enjoy comfort and luxury, never turn a thought towards God’s
house or cause, or inquire what they can do for them! They reflect much, it
may be, on the question how best to invest their increasing gains; but it
never seems to occur to them that the most suitable and profitable
investment might be in the cause of religion or charity. A more fervent
piety would suggest such thoughts. Gratitude for the abundance bestowed
on them; the contrast presented (see <370104>Haggai 1:4) between their
residences and their churches, between what they spend on their
establishments and, what they spend in the promotion of the kingdom of
God; the witness which their mansions and surroundings bear to the ample
means with which God has endowed thrum — the large trust he has
committed to them; — all would be fruitful of thoughts and emotions to
which they are now strangers, and of a style of giving which they have
never allowed themselves. It was David’s piety more than the surrounding
circumstances that originated his generous purpose.
III. HOW IT WAS TESTED. As to its propriety and probable acceptance
with God. He consulted his friend and adviser, Nathan the prophet: The
more important the steps we contemplate, the more needful is it, before we
are openly and irrevocably committed to them, that we should ascertain
how they appear to others, especially to the wisest and best whom we
know. Feeling is not a sufficient guide, not even pious feeling; and our own
judgment may not be of the soundest. Another may put the matter in a new
light, which shall convince ourselves that, however good our motives, our
purpose is not wise or not practicable. We cannot directly consult a
prophet, but we may find good and enlightened and trustworthy men who
will be glad to aid us to a fight conclusion. And what joy it gives to
Christian ministers to be consulted by such as come saying, “God has
prospered me, I have done well for myself and my family, and I should like
to do something proportionate for my God and Saviour: advise me as to
how I may best fulfil my desire”! Such applicants are few and far between;
such a style of thought and purpose is rare. But it ought not to be. It is a
sin and shame that God’s work should be hindered for want of money in a
thriving community which can spend freely in all other directions.
IV. HOW IT WAS REGARDED BY NATHAN. He approved and
encouraged the desire, assuring David of the Divine approval add
cooperation (ver. 3). He spoke on the impulse of the moment, with the
feeling natural to a pious Israelite and prophet, thankful that his king
should cherish such a design. He did well, but had he paused and proposed
to “sleep upon” the matter, he would have done better, as appeared next
day. We should ever be ready to encourage others in good thoughts and
purposes, yet in important matters it is well to take time to consider before
we advise as to definite proposals.
V. HOW IT WAS REGARDED BY GOD. The proposal was approved,
commended, rewarded, and — rejected. The refusal was softened by the
terms in which it was conveyed, and the representations and promises by
which it was accompanied (vers. 4-17; <140608>2 Chronicles 6:8); declaring that
it was well that it was in his heart to build a house for God’s Name,
although it was a matter of indifference to the Most High what sort of
dwelling places men provided for him; reminding David of what he had
done for him; assuring him that he would continue to favour the nation,
that he would build a house for him as he had sought to build one for
himself, and that his son should fulfil the father’s desire, and the throne
should continue in his family forever. This was the greatest promise David
had received, greater than he himself could then understand, for it looked
forward to the everlasting kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. But
though his knowledge of its purport was imperfect, his pain at the rejection
of his proposal was more than soothed; his heart was filled with adoring
gratitude and joy.
VI. HOW ITS SINCERITY WAS PROVED. If he might not do all he
desired, he would do all he might and could. He, therefore, prepared plans
for the building, accumulated materials for its erection, and urged the work
on his son Solomon and the chief men of the nation. An example for us if,
setting our hearts on some particular work for God, our purpose is
frustrated. Let the diverted energies be employed all the more in such
services as are within our reach. A contrast to the conduct of many who,
disappointed in reference to some cherished desire (e.g. to become
clergymen or missionaries), allow their zeal to decline to the common level,
if it do not pass away altogether.
1. Christian piety will kindle earnest desires to do the greatest possible
work for God. Such desires should be cherished in subordination to the
Divine will. For though approved of God, they may be denied
(<201024>Proverbs 10:24 notwithstanding). If denied, we should be content,
assured of the perfect wisdom and goodness of the purpose of God which
has frustrated ours, and that for us and others he has some better thing in
store than we had thought of. Though denied, our desire may be fulfilled
(as David’s by Solomon). Whether denied or gratified, goal desires (such
as are really good, and not mere idle wishes) are always valuable, for what
they indicate in ourselves, for the Divine approval they elicit, for their
influence on ourselves, and their influence on others (as David’s on his
successor and on the chiefs of the nation).
2. The desire to build or aid in building a house for the worship of God is
3. We may all assist in the erection and adornment of a nobler temple
than that which David sought to build. “The house of God is the Church of
the living God” (<540315>1 Timothy 3:15), and all who labour for the
conversion and spiritual improvement of men are helping in the glorious
work of building and adorning this spiritual house. Let all Christian
workers realize the dignity and glory of their work. Let us all ask ourselves
whether we have any heart for it, are doing anything towards it; whether
we are capable of doing anything in it that shall be acceptable to God,
having first given our own selves to him, and received his Spirit. — G.W.
Vers. 12-16. —
David’s everlasting kingdom.
These words relate, first, to Solomon; then to successive generations of
David’s posterity; and, finally, to the Christ. They promise that David’s son
should be God’s son, and should build the house for God which David had
desired to build. They promise also that the rule over
continue in the line of David’s posterity, and that his house and kingdom
should be established forever. They were partly fulfilled in the long
continuance of the reign of David’s descendants. They receive their most
ample and splendid fulfilment in the eternal kingdom of the greatest Son of
David, our Lord and Saviour — a fulfilment beyond all that David could
ask or think.
I. THE GREAT KING.
1. Is David’s son. He is much more than this; but he is this. A man is at the
head of God’s kingdom!
2. Is God’s Son. (Ver. 14; comp. <580105>Hebrews 1:5 and <450103>Romans 1:3, 4.)
Both as to his human and his Divine natures, Jesus Christ is the Son of God
as none other — “the only begotten Son of God.” This shows his
greatness, and accounts for his triumphs. The Eternal and Almighty Father
recognizes and proclaims him as his Son; declares by the miracles
accompanying the personal mission of Jesus, by his Word, Spirit,
providence, through the ages, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased: hear ye him.”
3. And this illustrious person is King. King over God’s people, his true
over all things in heaven and earth. The
it extends over the universe.
II. THE PERPETUITY OF HIS REIGN. It shall be literally eternal. “He
shall reign forever and ever” (<661115>Revelation 11:15). It is surely more than
a coincidence that a system of dominion over men, originating in a Man
who had sprung from the reduced family of David, and was accepted by
many of his fellow Jews as the Son of David, the Messiah foretold by the
prophets — a system proclaimed at the first as the
should have taken root in the world, have spread so widely and lasted so
long; that it should have proved to be the system in and through which
especially the best influences of Heaven operate, and the divinest principles
rule the hearts and lives of those who receive it; and that it should today be
more extensively prevalent than ever, and that amongst the most
enlightened and powerful nations (to whose enlightenment and power it
has largely contributed), and giving promise of becoming the ruling power
everywhere. It is a veritable kingdom, uniting all who belong to it as one
“holy nation” which acknowledges Jesus of Nazareth as its King, and
submits to his rule. It has continued nearly nineteen centuries, and gives no
sign of decay. In all this the Christian recognizes the fulfilment of the
promise made to David and repeated so frequently afterwards by the
prophets; and through his faith in that promise he anticipates the
everlasting duration of the reign of Christ, the eternity of the King, and the
eternity of his reign. We are sure that he must reign forever; and our
assurance rests on:
1. The promises of God. The “God who cannot lie,” and who has power to
fulfil all his Word, and subdue all that opposes.
2. The nature of the kingdom. “A kingdom which cannot be moved”
(<581228>Hebrews 12:28). It is spiritual, and cannot be put down by the material
forces which destroy other reigns. It is the reign of Divine truth,
righteousness, and love; and we cannot doubt but that these will triumph
and be perpetuated.
3. The nature of the King. “The First, and the Last, and the Living One,”
who, though he “was dead,” is “alive forevermore” (<660117>Revelation 1:17,
18, Revised Version). This King literally “lives forever.” He is Divine as
well as human. His reign is the reign of the Almighty God, which cannot be
4. Past experience.
opposition. All possible hostile powers have done their utmost, and have
failed. Christianity has outlived many kingdoms, which to human
appearance promised to survive it. It has been assailed by brute force in a
variety of forms, and by the forces of intellectual subtlety, of Political
power, and of spiritual error, and it has conquered. It has seemed to be
seriously endangered by the folly and wickedness of its professed friends,
but still it survives and flourishes. In a word, the prince of this world has
used all arts and energies at his command to crush the power of Christ, but
in vain. “He that sitteth in the heavens laughs” at all that opposes his Son,
saying, “Yet have I set my King on my holy hill of Zion” (<190204>Psalm 2:4,
6). And in the everlasting future this kingdom will continue. A great
change is, indeed, predicted in <461524>1 Corinthians 15:24. But as the kingdom
of the Son is the kingdom of the Father, so the kingdom of the Father will
still be that of the Son. Let, then, all the loyal subjects of Christ cast away
fear for his kingdom, whatever forms opposition to it may take, and
however formidable they may appear. And let all be concerned to be his
III. THE GREAT WORK HE WOULD EFFECT. “He shall build a house
for my Name” (ver. 13). The words may be taken as applicable not only to
the temple which Solomon built, but to the nobler structure which our
Lord is rearing, of which he is the chief Cornerstone (<600204>1 Peter 2:4-6) —
“the temple of the living God” (<470616>2 Corinthians 6:16), built of “living
stones” quickened and consecrated by the Holy Spirit — “the habitation of
God through the Spirit” (<490220>Ephesians 2:20-22). From age to age the
work of erecting this spiritual temple goes on in the conversion of men to
Christ, and their addition to his Church; and, when completed, the building
will be for the everlasting honour of the Builder. May we all have a place in
it! — G.W.
Ver. 18. —
Meditation before the Lord.
David, with a heart filled with wonder and gratitude by the message from
heaven communicated to him by Nathan, “went in and sat before the
Lord,” and poured forth his thoughts and feelings in the words which
follow. He probably went into the tent in which he had placed the ark, and
there meditated and prayed. But the phrase, “before the Lord,” is very
frequently employed with out any reference to the ark, the tabernacle, or
the temple. God is everywhere, and every where we may place ourselves as
in his special presence, and with acceptance and profit offer him our
thoughts and worship; and we do well often to imitate David in this
I. THE CONDITIONS FAVOURABLE, AND INDEED ESSENTIAL,
TO RIGHT THOUGHT AND WORSHIP WHICH ARE FOUND IN
THE FELT PRESENCE OF GOD.
1. The exclusion of the world and its influences. “Before the Lord,” the
world, with its gains, pleasures, opinions, applause, or disapproval,
vanishes from view, or appears as nothing; and thus we are delivered from
its blinding and perverting influence.
2. Intense consciousness of God. He is for the time our All. His character,
works, relation to us, dealings with us, claims upon us, judgment
respecting us, stand forth glorious and impressive.
3. Intense consciousness of ourselves, our real nature, relationships,
responsibilities to God and man. In the light of the Divine presence these
things appear quite otherwise than when we regard only the material and
4. Greater susceptibility to Divine influences, and receptivity of Divine
gifts. Our hearts are prepared to receive more of the Holy Spirit; and we
do receive more.
II. THE SPIRITUAL PROFIT THUS SECURED.
1. Fuller and truer knowledge. “In thy light shall we see light” (<193609>Psalm
36:9), which includes knowledge and much besides. “Until I went into the
sanctuary of God; then understood I their end” (<197317>Psalm 73:17). In the
presence of God we obtain deeper insight into his nature and character,
understand better his plans and methods. Our thoughts of him are enlarged
and quickened. And in knowing him we come to know ourselves; his
greatness reveals our littleness; his holiness, our sinfulness; and his fatherly
love and redeeming grace, the true worth and dignity of our souls. Coming
to him, as the disciples to Christ, to tell him what we have been doing and
teaching, the poverty and imperfections of our lives become manifest to us.
In his presence, too, we learn the relative values of holiness and sin, time
and eternity, this world and the next.
2. Richer and deeper emotions and affections. Penitence and humility,
gratitude and love, confidence and hope, peace and joy, are all nourished
best in the presence of God. Coming to him to confess our sins and
failures, we shall, as we look into his face, be inspired with new and more
hopeful resolve. Bringing our cares and fears to him, as Hezekiah the letter
of Sennacherib (<233714>Isaiah 37:14), we shall be relieved of them, and gain
new courage and patience.
3. Ever better worship. Which will naturally spring from an enriched and
spiritual life. Worship which is not offered “before the Lord” is not worship
at all; and the more his presence is felt the worthier will our worship be.
4. Ever growing power to live according to our convictions and
resolutions. “Before the Lord,” his children grow brave and strong to do
and endure. His eye felt to be upon them, they act nobly; his love realized
by them, their hearts are filled with a love mighty to serve him and their
brethren, and to conquer the evil powers. Finally: The measure of our
disposition to go before God for converse with him, instruction, stimulus,
consolation, etc., is the measure of our actual piety. We lose much of the
highest happiness and profit through negligence in this respect. All that
occupies our minds and moves our hearts becomes sanctified and elevated
as we go aside and bring it “before the Lord.” On the other hand, the
greatest attention to religious observances which are not, through faith and
love, done in the presence of God, is worthless, dishonouring to God, and
useless, yea, worse than useless, to the worshipper. — G.W.
Vers. 18, 19. —
Effects of God’s goodness on the heart.
(Suitable for a birthday or the new year.) David, having retired into the
presence of God, pours out before him the feelings of his heart, in view of
what God had done for him, and what he had just promised to do.
I. THE MERCIES CONTEMPLATED.
1. Past leading. “Thou hast brought me hitherto.” How much this included
in David’s case! How much in the case of every one of us! Each should
recall in God’s presence the particulars of his own life. Life itself, reason,
health, preservation, supply of wants, home surroundings and comforts, the
love of parents, etc., education, advancement in life, deliverances from
perils and sicknesses, honours, the advantages of living in a country
civilized, free, Christian; the Word and ordinances of God, connection with
his Church and ministers, and all that has flowed therefrom — the life of
God in the soul, pardon, peace, hope, the Spirit of adoption, love to God
and men, access to God, the communion of saints, growth in grace, victory
over temptations, opportunity and will to do good, success in Christian
labours, support in troubles and benefit from them. Also the blessings of
one’s “house” — wife, children, good children especially, and their
happiness. It is an endless task to remember and recount all the mercies of
God; but the attempt is always salutary.
2. Promises as to the future. “This was yet a small thing in thy sight, but
thou hast spoken also of thy servants house for a great while to come.”
Astonished and grateful as David was in view of his past experience of
God’s goodness, the promises he had now received respecting the
perpetuation of his kingdom into the distant future still more affected him
We also have “given unto us exceeding great and precious promises,”
stretching onward into the eternal future. The kindness of God in the past
is but “a small thing.” Even his spiritual gifts, great as they are, and the
necessary preparation for the eternal, are but a slight foretaste and pledge
of the exaltation, perfection, glory, and bliss which be will bestow upon his
children in increasing abundance forever and ever.
II. THEIR GIVER. The contemplation of our history and prospects will
bare a beneficial or injurious effect as we do or do not recognize God as
the Giver of all. Some men regard themselves as the architects of their own
fortunes, and are correspondingly filled with self-satisfaction. David
ascribed all to God; and we ought to be like him in this. For if we have
done much for ourselves, the power, opportunity, and will to do so came
from him; if friends have greatly aided us, these also were God’s gifts. In
spiritual things it is especially obvious that “by the grace of God” we are
what we are.
III. THEIR RECEIVER. “Who am I,” etc.? The thought of David’s
insignificance and that of his family rendered the Divine goodness to him
more conspicuous and impressive. So we shall more duly estimate the
goodness of God to us, if we think rightly of ourselves; and a due
impression of the greatness of his goodness will lead us to a just estimate
of ourselves. At every step of our review of the past and anticipation of the
future shall we be reminded of the many exhibitions of our own
unworthiness. “Who am I?” — a frail and insignificant creature, a sinner, a
great and persistent sinner; at best, a very imperfect Christian; proved to be
such by innumerable instances — that I should be so favoured now, and
should have such hopes of everlasting blessing set before me?
IV. THE EMOTIONS AWAKENED BY THEM.
1. Astonishment. At the Divine goodness, sovereign, free, unbounded,
condescending. At the return made, which would appear incredible were it
not for the sure testimony of memory and consciousness.
2. Gratitude and love. Expressed in praise and self-consecration
3. Humility. The mercies of God revealing the more our unworthiness. The
perception of his hand in our lives making our own part in the good they
have contained seem insignificant. “Not unto us,” etc. (<19B501>Psalm 115:1).
“Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou
didst not receive?” (<460407>1 Corinthians 4:7).
4. Benevolence. His loving kindness producing loving kindness in our
hearts, as we contemplate it; and prompting to a return of benefits, which,
as they cannot be conferred on God himself, we bestow on his
representatives. “Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in
love” (<490501>Ephesians 5:1, 2, Revised Version). “Beloved, if God so loved
us, we ought also to love one another” (<620411>1 John 4:11). — G.W.
Ver. 20. —
Unutterable thoughts and feelings known to God.
God’s knowledge of the heart, which is a terror to evil men who think
upon it, is often a joy to his servants. “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou
knowest that I love thee” (<432117>John 21:17). So David, with his heart too
full for adequate utterance, finds satisfaction in the thought that God knew
what his thoughts and feelings were.
I. THE FELT INADEQUACY OF LANGUAGE TO EXPRESS THE
DEEPEST THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS OF THE GODLY SOUL. In
our ordinary condition we feel not this difficulty. Our expressions are more
likely to go beyond our thoughts and feelings, especially when we use
forms of devotion prepared by others. But when the soul is deeply stirred,
as David’s at this time, we struggle in vain to express fully what is within.
It is thus with
1. Our sense of the value of God’s gifts. Christ, God’s “unspeakable Gift”
(<470915>2 Corinthians 9:15). Salvation. Everlasting life. Gifts of God
associated with these which are from time to time bestowed — special help
in temptation, comfort in trouble, guidance in perplexities as to truth or
2. Our sense of the love which bestows them. We can only say, “How great
is thy goodness!” “How excellent is thy loving kindness!” “God so loved
the world;” “The love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (<193119>Psalm
31:19; 36:7; <430316>John 3:16; <490319>Ephesians 3:19). Or, as David (ver. 22),
“Thou art great, O Lord God; for there is none like unto thee.”
3. The emotions excited by them. Our gratitude, affection, penitence,
humility, confidence, joy (“unspeakable,” <600108>1 Peter 1:8), longing for
fuller experience of them (“groanings which cannot be uttered,”
<450826>Romans 8:26), anticipations of their perfect enjoyment (<470502>2
Corinthians 5:2-4). In our times of intense devotion we feel how utterly
impossible it is fully to express what is in our hearts.
II. THE SATISFACTION WHICH ARISES FROM GOD’S PERFECT
KNOWLEDGE OF US. “What can David say more unto thee?” I cannot
express what I feel; and I need not labour to do so, “For thou, Lord God,
knowest thy servant.” It is the same thought which
when, speaking of the unutterable groanings with which the Holy Spirit
intercedes in the Christian soul, he says, “He that searcheth the heart
knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit” (<450827>Romans 8:27). God knows
much more about us than our words express; is not dependent for his
knowledge of us on our own account of ourselves. As we cannot by any
words conceal from him the evil which is in us, so our deficiencies of
expression will not hinder his discernment of the good. Even earthly
parents see the meaning which their children try to express in stammering
words and broken sentences; how much more does the heavenly Father,
who is not at all dependent for his knowledge of us on our words, see
beyond the poor utterances of his children, into their hearts! This is
(1) a comfort under the consciousness of imperfect and unworthy utterance
in our addresses to God; and
(2) a reason for not labouring too much to express ourselves fully and
But it is not a reason for either
(1) declining to speak to God at all, — David did not actually sink into
silence because he felt that he could not adequately express himself, and
that God knew him (see what follows); or
(2) accustoming ourselves to careless expression before him.
(1) the endeavour to speak aright aids right thought and feeling, these
grow in the endeavour to utter them;
(2) in family and social worship our language aids or hinders others; and
(3) we should ever offer to God our best, poor as we may feel it to be. And
we may indefinitely improve both in thought and expression by the careful
employment of the helps presented in Holy Scripture and uninspired
devotional books. Christian poets, too, may much assist us to find suitable,
though it may be still inadequate, utterance for our deepest thoughts and
1. David’s emotions on this occasion are at once an example and a
reproach to us. For the gifts and promises of God to us, if not greater than
those to him, are greater than his understanding of them could be. They
stand out to us in the light which streams from Jesus Christ, unfolding into
all the precious revelations and assurances of the gospel, and all the happy
experiences which the Holy Spirit produces. Yet how seldom are we so
affected as to feel language too poor for the expression of the wonder,
love, and gratitude which we feel!
2. How sad to be utterly insensible to the goodness of God and the
greatness of his gifts to us! — G.W.
Ver. 21. —
God’s works and God’s heart and words.
David looks on those great things which God had promised him as if
already accomplished, so great confidence had he in the power and
faithfulness of the Promiser; and, conscious that they were due to no
worthiness or power of his own, he acknowledges that all originated in the
heart of God and were simply in fulfilment of his word, by which they had
become known to himself. For the will and the work and the word he
I. GOD DOES GREAT THINGS ON BEHALF OF HIS PEOPLE. The
works of creation are great and according to his own heart, originating in
himself, and on a scale proportionate to his own greatness. So with the
works of his providence. But we will apply the words to redemption. The
works included in this are indeed great. They are on a scale of grandeur
worthy of God.
1. The methods employed are great. The Incarnation — the union of God
and man in one Person. The display of the glory of God in the earthly life
of Christ, and at his death, resurrection, and ascension. His exaltation to be
“Lord of all.” The descent and operations of the Holy Spirit.
2. The work effected on behalf of man is great. The atonement especially,
and all involved in it. The conquest over sin and Satan and death. The
opening of the way to God and heaven.
3. The work wrought in and towards men is great.
(1) In respect to each believer. Illumination, regeneration, pardon, peace,
holiness, perfection, glory everlasting, together with the special guidance
and government of God’s providence tending to and issuing in these great
(2) In respect to the multitude redeemed and saved.
(3) In respect to the final deliverance and exaltation with the Church of the
whole creation (<450819>Romans 8:19-22; <490110>Ephesians 1:10).
II. GOD DOES THESE GREAT THINGS “ACCORDING TO HIS
1. They spring from his heart. They are done spontaneously, of his own
free grace and will “his own good pleasure.” Not at the prompting of
others, for none other could have conceived them. Not under a sense of
obligation, for we had no claim upon him, except that our sin and misery
appealed to his compassion. They originated in the Divine mind, sprang
from the Divine love.
2. They befit his heart. They bear the stamp of the Divine nature; are
worthy of his infinite wisdom, righteousness, benevolence, and power; are
the grandest display of them. “It became him,” etc. (<580210>Hebrews 2:10).
“All thy ways
Are worthy of thyself — Divine;
But the bright glories of thy grace
Beyond thine other wonders shine.”
III. GOD DOES THESE GREAT THINGS IN FULFILMENT OF HIS
OWN WORD. “For thy Word’s sake.”
1. He announces them by his Word. “To make thy servant know them.”
The things which God has done and will do he makes known. It is thus
they become available to each and all to whom the Word is communicated.
For the knowledge is the chief part of the means by which salvation is
wrought. “The gospel... is the power of God unto salvation to every one
that believeth” (<450116>Romans 1:16; see also <451013>Romans 10:13, 14; <460117>1
Corinthians 1:17, 18, 23; <590118>James 1:18; <600122>1 Peter 1:22, 23). Thus also
we are assured of the completion of the work of redemption. For by the
promises our God lays himself under obligation to perfect the salvation of
all believers. It is, therefore, a great privilege to know these great things
which God works.
2. He accomplishes them according to his Word. He cannot do otherwise.
He “cannot lie” (<560102>Titus 1:2). “He abideth faithful; he cannot deny
himself” (<550213>2 Timothy 2:13). Moreover, “what he hath promised, he is
able also to perform” (<450421>Romans 4:21). Now that he has given his Word,
“for his Word’s sake” if there were no other reason, he will do “all these
1. Let us, like David, adore and praise our God for his wondrous works,
and for making them known to us. How glorious he appears in these
works! Let us ascribe glory to him.
2. Let believers rest assured of the complete accomplishment of the work
of their own redemption. They have the Word and the heart of God, and
his actual works for them and in them, to give them assurance.
3. Let us fear, lest we should fail, through negligence and unbelief, to
appropriate the redemption so wondrously wrought for us,
notwithstanding our knowledge of it. (See <580201>Hebrews 2:1-4.) — G.W.
Ver. 22. —
God surpassingly great and ever the same.
“Wherefore,” because thou doest these great things, extending on through
the ages, and because thou canst and dost foresee and predict them, “thou
art” manifestly “great” thyself, surpassing all others; the very God our
fathers worshipped and have told us of. David’s knowledge of God
becomes to a greater degree personal insight and conviction through the
new revelation with which he is favoured. It is well when living conviction
as to God is wrought through experience of his kindness rather than his
I. THE SURPASSING GREATNESS OF GOD.
1. God is great.
(1) In his nature. Infinite in all his perfections. Great, not only in power and
knowledge, but in righteousness and love. “His greatness is unsearchable”
(2) In his operations. In these his greatness is exercised and displayed. In
his works of creation, preservation, redemption, and government, we see
how great he is. David saw it in his dealings towards himself and his
posterity. In the nature of his plans and purposes; in his ability to rule a free
world through successive ages, so as to effect their accomplishment; and in
the power to predict and promise the result with certainty, God appears
unspeakably great. Thus prophecy as well as creative energy manifests the
greatness of God, both in the Divine plan itself — a grand scheme of
justice and love stretching from the beginning to the end of time, and on
throughout eternity — and in the revelation of it to man.
2. God is great beyond all others. “There is none like unto thee, neither is
there any God beside thee.” He has no equal, none that approaches him in
(1) No creature. All are at an infinite distance beneath him. He has made
some creatures to resemble him in a measure in their intelligence,
goodness, and position over other creatures; but their resemblance is like
that of the image of the sun in a dewdrop to the sun itself. Whatever his
creatures may be, they and their capacities are derived and dependent; he is
underived and independent (“from everlasting”); their powers are very
limited, his unbounded; none of them can create or give life; he is the
“Fountain of life” (<193609>Psalm 36:9); they are mutable, he immutable; they
mortal, he “only hath immortality” (<540616>1 Timothy 6:16).
(2) No god. David would think of the divinities worshipped by the peoples
around; we may think of all the objects of worship in idolatrous nations,
ancient and modern. Regarding them as they exist in the minds of men,
producing certain effects upon them, how utterly unlike our God! We feel
it almost profane to compare them with him. But in reality they are
nonentities, “vanities,” as they are so frequently called in Holy Scripture.
There is no God beside our God.
II. HIS IDENTITY WITH THE GOD MADE KNOWN TO US FROM
FORMER TIMES. “According to all that we have heard with our ears”
(comp. <197803>Psalm 78:3, 4). David recognizes that the God who was so
wondrously and graciously revealing himself to him was the same God
whom he had been taught to revere and trust on account of the great things
he had done for
different; the things done were different; but there were the same Divine
perfections apparent, the same care for the people whom he had chosen. It
was a joy to the king to discern that Jehovah, the God of the fathers, was
communicating with him; and that what he was doing and promising
corresponded with what he had heard of him. The revelation which God
has given of himself in Christ differs in many respects from the old
revelations; the operations of God under the new covenant differ from
those under the old. But as we come into living communion with God in
Christ, and become ourselves the subjects of his grace; as also we learn the
great things which God has done and is doing under the gospel, and the
promises he makes to those who receive it; — we too shall rejoice to
discern that our God is the same as was worshipped by the faithful of old,
and all through the ages — Jehovah, the living God, still righteous and
merciful and almighty; still doing wonders of power and grace; and doing
them on a vastly wider scale, no longer chiefly in
nations. One God unites all generations, is to unite all peoples. The God of
our fathers is our God, and our experience of him corresponds with theirs.
Thus the records of his revelations and proceedings in all the past become
available for instruction, and the encouragement of faith and hope, in the
present and the future.
From the whole subject let us learn:
1. To rejoice in and praise God. It is matter for just thankfulness that we
have a God so great and glorious to worship and confide in, One who lives
and works evermore, and is throughout all ages the same God.
2. To expect great things from One so great, for ourselves and the whole
Church. He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or
think, according to the power which worketh in us” (<490320>Ephesians 3:20);
and which has ever wrought among and on behalf of his people “according
to all that we have heard with our ears.”
3. To realize conscious communion with the saints of all ages. And so
with all saints in earth and heaven.
4. To abjure tile folly, sin, and peril of declining the friendship of this
great Being, and living in enmity with him. — G.W.
Vers. 23, 24. —
The blessedness of God’s people.
The thought of the greatness of God, in contrast with other objects of
worship, naturally leads to that of the happiness of the people to whom he
has revealed himself, and on whose behalf he has shown his greatness by
the same blessedness with large increase. The people of God are
distinguished above all others by —
I. THEIR REDEMPTION. (Ver. 23.)
1. The nature of
afterwards from the Canaanite “nations and their gods.” A wonderful and
happy deliverance. Christians are the subjects of a higher redemption. They
are delivered from sin, from a bondage more cruel and degrading than that
this present evil world” (<480104>Galatians 1:4); “from their vain manner of life
handed down from their fathers” (<600118>1 Peter 1:18, Revised Version). They
are redeemed from the consequences of sin. They have “redemption, even
the forgiveness of sins” (<510114>Colossians 1:14); they are redeemed “from the
curse of the Law” (<480313>Galatians 3:13); from the power of the devil, and so
from the power and the dread of death (<580214>Hebrews 2:14, 15); they await
“the redemption of their body” (<450823>Romans 8:23); they are delivered
“from the wrath to come” (<520110>1 Thessalonians 1:10). Such are some of the
statements of Scripture respecting the “redemption that is in Christ Jesus”
2. The manner of
it. The deliverance from
of Divine power. God “went” forth to their rescue, doing “great things and
terrible,” in which the people themselves had and could have no part. In the
destruction of the Canaanitish peoples they did take part, but their
deliverances were by the power of God as really as their redemption from
yet more marvellous. By wonders of love and righteousness and power
combined, he delivers men from sin and death and hell. “He sent his Son to
be the Propitiation for our sins” (<620410>1 John 4:10). “We have redemption
through his blood” (<490107>Ephesians 1:7); and so the saints on earth and
those in heaven unite in praise of him who, by his blood, washed them from
their sins, and redeemed them to God (<660105>Revelation 1:5; 5:9). Mere
power could not effect this redemption.
(1) God must, in redeeming men, “declare his righteousness.., that he might
be just,” as well as “the Justifier” (<450326>Romans 3:26); and this is effected by
the death of Jesus, “the Just for the unjust” (<600318>1 Peter 3:18).
(2) Men are to be delivered from sin by moral suasion; and this also is
effected by the manifestation at once of the evil of sin, and the greatness of
the Divine love, in the sacrifice of Christ. Thus the great redemptive act is
the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus. But this is rendered effectual in the
experience of men by
(3) the power of the Holy Spirit, revealing to the heart the gospel of
redemption, which then becomes “the power of God unto salvation”
(<450116>Romans 1:16). To have thus realized redemption is the greatest
blessedness and honour, and those who have this experience are the true
3. The glory which this Redemption brings to the Redeemer. “God went to
redeem,.., and to make him a Name.” This aspect of the deliverance of
<236312>Isaiah 63:12, 14). Similarly, the Christian redemption is said to be “to
the praise of the glory of his grace” (<490106>Ephesians 1:6, 12; 2:7; <470415>2
Corinthians 4:15). It is not that, like some ambitious human hero, he cares
for a great name for his own sake; but by his Name he is known, and men
are drawn to him and saved (see <431726>John 17:26). In like manner, our Lord
is said to have acquired through his humiliation and obedience unto death
“a Name which is above every name,” even “the Name of Jesus,” and this
also” to the glory of God the Father” (<502609>Philippians 2:9-11).
II. THE RELATION ESTABLISHED BETWEEN THEM AND GOD.
(Ver. 24.) This also distinguishes them above all others. They are
constituted the people of God; he becomes their God. It is for this purpose
they are redeemed. This representation of the relation between God and his
people appears first in a promise made to Abraham (<011707>Genesis 17:7, 8), is
repeated in promises given through Moses (<020607>Exodus 6:7, etc.), is
adopted by David here, reappears in the prophets (e.g. <243133>Jeremiah
31:33), is applied in the New Testament to Christians (<470616>2 Corinthians
6:16, etc.), and is finally used in a description of the perfect blessedness of
the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem (<662103>Revelation 21:3). It
comprehends all that the most enlightened and holy can desire.
1. They are
constituted the people of God. Thus to
Moses, “Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath
chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that
are upon the earth” (<051402>Deuteronomy 14:2; see also 26:18). St. Peter
employs similar language to describe the position of Christians (<600209>1 Peter
that he might… purify unto himself a peculiar people [‘a people for his
own possession,’ Revised Version].” The representation includes:
(1) Ownership. They are his by right of creation and of purchase. “I gave
bought with a price” (<460619>1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
(2) Appropriation. God takes possession of the people who are his; in the
case of Christians, by his Spirit.
(4) Homage, including trust, love, worship (while other peoples worship
other gods, the people of God worship him), and obedience.
(5) Glorification. They “show forth his praise” (<234321>Isaiah 43:21; <600209>1
Peter 2:9). They promote his kingdom.
2. He is their God. All that men expect from their God he is to his people,
and far more. He is theirs by covenant and promise. He gives himself to
them. He exercises authority over them. They enjoy his love, his presence,
the employment of his power to teach and guide, to purify, to comfort, to
chastise, to protect, to employ, to perfect, to honour, to save.
3. The relation is eternal. “Forever.” This is true in a sense of the relation
witness for him as no other people; and by their inspired men, and
especially by him who is of them “according to the flesh,” they have
become the chief religious teachers and benefactors of mankind. And the
day is coming when they will accept their Messiah, and, “with the fulness
of the Gentiles,” form one people of God. The real,
ages and lands are God’s, and he is theirs forever and ever.
1. Happy are the people thus favoured by the Most High! He confers on
them greater honour and blessing
than on any others. This is true of
of any nation who have the Word and ordinances of God amongst them; of
the visible Church of Christ; and emphatically of the true spiritual Church.
The distinction and glory become more marked as the reality of what is
included in the title, “people of God” increases. To have a Divine
revelation is a great privilege; but greater to receive and be renewed by it,
and thus be heirs of all its promises.
2. Be concerned to be one of the true people of God, who have Jehovah
for their God forever.
3. Take heed to live in a manner becoming your relation to him whom you
acknowledge as your God. (See Leviticus 19., passim.) The people of a
God of holiness and love should be distinguished by these qualities. Only
thus can they prove themselves to be his. Only such people are his in any
lastingly happy sense. Would that it were possible to point to every
Christian Church, and challenge the world to produce any communities
equal to them in all that is pure, righteous, and benevolent! — G.W.
Ver. 25. —
God’s promises and our prayers.
“Do as thou hast said.” The words are used by David of the promises given
to him respecting himself and his house. They are applicable to all the
I. THEY FURNISH A GUIDE TO OUR PRAYERS. What God has said
shows us what we should ask. His promises indicate:
1. The kind of blessings which we should most earnestly seek. The
promises of God — those given us in Christ especially — assure us of
temporal good so far as is needful; but relate chiefly to spiritual and eternal
blessings. The “good things” of <400711>Matthew 7:11 are interpreted for us by
<421113>Luke 11:13 to be mainly “the Holy Spirit,” which comprehends all
good for our spirits, all the best things for time and eternity. While,
therefore, we may pray for things temporal with moderated and submissive
desire, we should most earnestly and constantly pray for things spiritual. In
praying according to what God “has said,” we are guided by infinite
wisdom and love; we are asking “according to his will” (<620514>1 John 5:14).
To permit ourselves to be prompted in prayer by our own worldly, carnal
inclinations, is to turn our worship into sin, and to ask for evil instead of
2. The degree of these blessings which we should seek. The promises of
God encourage us to open our mouths wide for him to fill (<198110>Psalm
81:10). They are without limit in extent and duration of blessing. Let us not
limit ourselves in our desires, nor limit in our thoughts the bounty or power
of God (<197841>Psalm 78:41). What he “has said” includes all we can need, but
no more than we need for our highest blessedness; let us not be content
with less. Let us study the promises, stretch our minds to grasp them, and
then turn them into prayer; and, certain that our thoughts have not attained
to the full extent of their meaning, let us yield ourselves to the influences of
the Holy Spirit, that he may intercede within and “for us with groanings
which cannot be uttered,” but which “he that searcheth the hearts” can
interpret and respond to (<450826>Romans 8:26, 27).
II. THEY FURNISH AN ALL-POWERFUL PLEA IN OUR PRAYERS.
“Do as thou hast said” is an appeal to the faithfulness and kindness of him
to whom we pray. “Thou canst not break thy word (‘Thy words be true,’
ver. 28); thou art too kind to trifle with those who confide in it. For thy
Name’s sake, therefore, fulfil thy promises.”
III. THEY ASSURE US OF A FAVOURABLE ANSWER TO OUR
PRAYERS. When our prayers are according to the Divine promises, we
should be absolutely certain of their success. For:
1. God is able to do as he has said.
2. He is most willing. His promises spring from his love to us, and express
what he is most desirous of conferring upon us, and which only our
indifference, unwillingness, unbelief, and consequent unfitness prevent our
3. His word binds him. “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the
son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or
bath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (<042319>Numbers 23:19).
4. He has given confirmations of his promises and pledges for their
fulfilment, especially in the gift of his Son (<470120>2 Corinthians 1:20;
<450832>Romans 8:32). Therefore “let us ask in faith, nothing doubting”
(<590106>James 1:6, Revised Version). Were it not for what he has said, we
might reasonably hesitate to ask for such great things as we are taught to
pray for; but, having his word, there is no room for hesitation (ver. 27).
However conscious of sinfulness and unworthiness, we may and should
“come boldly unto the throne of grace” (<580416>Hebrews 4:16; also 10:19,
Let us, then:
1. Familiarize ourselves with the promises of God, that we may pray with
understanding and largeness of heart, and with confidence, importunity,
2. Use the promises when we pray, whether for ourselves, our families,
our country, the Church, or the world.
3. Abandon whatever would turn the words, “Do as thou hast said,” into a
fearful imprecation. For think of what God has said as to what he will do
with the impenitent, the unbelieving, the disobedient, the unforgiving, etc.,
even if they offer prayers to him (see e.g. <400612>Matthew 6:12, 14, 15). —
Ver. 26. —
God’s Name magnified in his people.
Any name of God is magnified when it is made to appear great in the eyes
of his intelligent creatures, and they esteem and declare it great. This is
done when he himself adds to the significance of the name by yet more
glorious works or revelations; and when they come to larger conceptions
of its significance, and consequently use the name with greater fulness of
meaning. Thus as “the sons of God” watched the various stages of
creation, the name of “Creator” would acquire greater significance and
glory. The name “Jehovah of hosts” would become more glorious as the
hosts themselves in the heavens and on earth grew more numerous. But
David here assumes that additional glory to this great name of God might
and would arise from his relation to
the God over
his Name has been magnified by what he did amongst and for that people,
by the revelations of himself which he gave them, and by the results in their
national history, in the character and deeds of many of them, and in the
history of the world. He made through them such manifestations of his
greatness and goodness, righteousness and mercy, as befitted himself; and
for which vast multitudes have magnified and do magnify him in their
thoughts and thanksgivings. Until the Christ came, no name of God was
more illustrious than this, “Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel.” In fact, the
coming of Christ and all that has grown out of it was included in that name.
Hence another name of God greater still, “the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ,” and “the God and Father of Christ’s people.” Yea, the whole
Name of God, his whole character, all the terms and declarations by which
he is made known, is magnified by what he has said and done in Christ.
The great threefold name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is as never before
declared and glorified in the work of salvation.
I. HOW GOD’S NAME IS MAGNIFIED IN AND BY HIS PEOPLE.
This is effected by:
1. The work wrought for them.
“‘Twas great to speak a world from nought;
‘Twas greater to redeem.”
2. The revelations made to them. In the Person, teaching, miracles, death,
resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus; and by the teaching of the
Holy Spirit through the . evangelists and apostles. In these God is
manifested more fully and clearly than by all his works besides. Never
before did his Name appear so great and glorious.
3. The work wrought in them. The regeneration and sanctification of souls
is a more interesting and illustrious display of Divine power than the
creation of suns and stars, and reveals more of the Divine nature. The
spiritual beauty and glory thus produced surpass all the beauty and glory of
the natural world, and in them more of God appears. In “the fruit of the
Spirit” (<480522>Galatians 5:22) God is magnified more than in all other
products of his power.
4. The works done by them. The witness they bear for God by their
worship and teaching, and sometimes their sufferings as confessors and
martyrs; their godly and loving endeavours for the good of others; the
courage and self-sacrifice, faith and patience, with which many of them
labour for the spread of the gospel; and the good thus effected; — all
magnify, the Name of God, from whom all proceed, and to the fulfilment
of whose gracious purposes all conduce. The changes wrought by the
labours of Christians — the whole influence and results of Christianity,
notwithstanding all drawbacks (serious as these are), are of such a nature
and magnitude as to exalt the Name of God more than anything else in the
5. The condition they at length attain. Their ultimate moral and spiritual
perfection, their perfect happiness, their vast number. “He shall come to be
glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe” (<530110>2
6. The praises which are given to him on their account. From themselves,
from the angelic hosts; on earth, in heaven; forever. In these ways God
appears great and ever greater because of his relation to Christ and the
II. THE PRAYER OF GOOD MEN RESPECTING IT. “Let thy Name be
magnified;” let it become greater and greater in the sight of the intelligent
universe, and become more and more admired and praised, through what is
done in and for and by thy people.
1. Such a prayer is natural to good men. Because they love God, because
they have received so much from him, and because they desire the welfare
of others, which is involved in the magnifying of the Name of God,
2. There is much to intensify such a prayer.
(1) The condition of the Church. In which there is so much that does not
glorify the Name of God, so little comparatively that does. To say that the
Lord of hosts is God of such a people does not tend to honour him so
greatly as his zealous servants desire. The prayer from their hearts and lips
will mean, “Let Christ’s people become so Christ-like as to make it
manifest that their religion is from God, that they themselves are specially
his, and that be is indeed a Being glorious in holiness and loving kindness.”
(2) The condition of the world. In which God is so little thought of, his
Name so little esteemed; in which idols and all manner of vain and even
wicked things are magnified more than God; in which men give to
themselves and their fellow men the honour which should be his; and
whose salvation and whole well being would be ensured by those changes
which would magnify the Name of God.
(3) The slow
progress of the
the Church in reference to her great work, and her real insufficiency for it,
should lead all Christians to pray that God would so “arise” and “let his
work appear” in the spread and establishment of his kingdom that his
Name may be magnified in the earth as it has never yet been.
3. Let the prayer be accompanied by practice. Let each of us who pray,
“Hallowed be thy Name,” so live as to aid in fulfilling our prayer; first, in
our general character and conduct, and then by faithful endeavours to
promote the honour of God amongst professing Christians and throughout
the world. Also by hearty praise to God for all he has done in connection
with Christ and Christianity to make his Name great and glorious.
Observe, finally, that the Name of God is magnified in the punishment of
his enemies. Let us beware lest we be made in this manner to glorify him.
Let us rather honour his Name as it appears in Jesus Christ by our faith and
obedience; then he will honour it in our salvation. — G.W.
Ver. 27. —
Prayer induced and encouraged by promise.
David gives the promise of God to him as a reason for praying that his
house might be established forever. He intimates that otherwise he would
not have found it in his heart to do so. In like manner, the promises of God
to Christians incite and encourage them to pray for bestowments that they
would not have otherwise ventured to ask for.
I. THE GREATNESS OF GOD’S PROMISES. They set before us
blessings so precious, vast, and enduring, that, apart from the declarations
of God, we should never have dared to think of them as possible for us, or
to pray for them. From the goodness and power of God in general we
might have ventured to hope and pray for some blessings, hut not such as
are now the common subjects of Christian prayer. Look in this view at
some of the Divine promises, or declarations which are equivalent to
1. As to the believer himself. Promises as to:
(1) Pardon of great and numerous sins, long practised. Repeated pardons.
(2) Renewal of nature and character. Deliverance from slavery to sins the
most natural, the most habitual. “A new heart,” etc.
(3) Adoption into the family of God. The Spirit of adoption. Participation
of the Divine nature. Free access to God. Fellowship with him.
(4) Victory over the mightiest enemies.
(5) “Grace sufficient” for all circumstances, and highest good from them.
(6) Fulness of spiritual life, of knowledge, holiness, strength, joy. “Filled
unto the fulness of God;” “Filled with the Spirit” The indwelling in the
heart of Christ, of God, by the Holy Spirit. Truly there are heights of
godliness, goodness, and blessedness attainable in this life, to which most
of us are strangers.
(7) Heaven. Seeing God face to face; being with Christ, being like him in
body, soul, condition; reigning with him as kings; experiencing “fulness of
joy, pleasures forevermore.” Let any one examine the statements of Holy
Scripture on these subjects, and consider what they mean; and he must
perceive that they set forth blessings which, apart from the assurances thus
given, men could not have conceived of, much less imagined that they
could ever be their own.
2. As to the future
men to Christ; the universal spread of the knowledge, worship, and service
of God; and consequently of peace, union, and brotherhood; obedience on
earth to God’s will as it is obeyed in heaven. In opposition to such a
prospect is the whole history and experience of the world, with the
exception of a small fraction; the depravity of mankind, the power of error,
superstition, idolatry, priestcraft, old habits of wickedness, etc. Such a
vision could never have appeared to men; or, if it had occurred to an active
imagination, could never have been regarded as a matter for serious prayer
and endeavour, if God had not given it by his prophets and by his Son.
II. THE EFFECT WHICH THESE PROMISES SHOULD HAVE ON
OUR PRAYERS. They should:
1. Impel us to pray. Not lead us to neglect prayer, as if the Divine purpose
and promise superseded all need for prayer. “Thus saith the Lord God: I
will yet for this be inquired of by the house of
(<263637>Ezekiel 36:37). The blessings promised are for these who seek them.
2. Enrich and enlarge our prayers. The measure in which we receive is
according to the measure in which we desire and ask (<421105>Luke 11:5-13;
<121318>2 Kings 13:18, 19).
3. Greatly encourage them. Leading us to pray with confidence and
importunity. Petitions that would have been presumptuous without the
promises are now sober and reasonable. We need not and ought not to be
deterred either by:
(1) Our sinfulness and God’s holiness and threatenings.
(2) Our insignificance and God’s majesty.
(3) The greatness of the blessings promised, and our or incapacity to
receive them; the difficulties in the way of the fulfilment of the
(4) the difficulties in the way of the fulfilment of the promises.
Sufficient that they are the promises of God, and he
(1) “Jehovah of hosts,” having all things under his control, unchanging and
(2) “God of Israel,” our God, our covenant God, who has taken us to be
his, and given himself to be ours in Christ Jesus. All that he has promised
appears only to befit such a sublime relationship. (See further in homily on
ver. 25.) — G.W.
Ver. 28. —
Truth of God’s words.
“Thou art God, and thy words are truth” (Revised version). David may be
thinking only of the promises of God, and expressing his own confidence in
their fulfilment to himself and his family. But his assertion applies to all the
words of God, declarations and threatenings as well as promises; and, as
his language is general, his thought may be general also; and his faith in the
truth of all the words of God might then be regarded as the ground of his
faith in the promise made to himself. The words, “Thou art God,” give the
reason of his confidence in the Divine words. “Because thou art God, we
know that ‘thy words are truth,’ and only truth.”
I. THE GROUNDS OF OUR ASSURANCE OF THE TRUTH OF
GOD’S WORDS. “Thou art God.”
1. His nature and character.
(1) His universal knowledge. He cannot, like men, be mistaken, and
honestly assert that for truth which is untrue.
(2) His essential truthfulness. Because he is God we are intuitively sure of
this. As he cannot be mistaken, so he “cannot lie”
(3) His goodness. Which of itself would prevent him from misleading and
deceiving his dependent creatures.
(4) His unbounded power. Men who are not untrue to their promises may
be unable to fulfil them. Not so God.
(5) His unchangeableness. As well in faithfulness as in goodness and
power. He can never become either unable or unwilling to fulfil his Word.
2. His doings. The actual fulfilment of his words.
(1) In the history of the world; especially the promises respecting the
Christ, the blessings he would bestow, and the changes he would effect.
The faithfulness of God to his Word, as shown in the previous history of
(2) Within the range of our own observation and experience. The words of
God as to the results of faith and unbelief, of holiness and sin, of
prayerfulness and prayerlessness, are continually being accomplished. Our
personal experience testifies to their truth, and we can witness their
fulfilment in others.
II. THE WORDS RESPECTING WHICH WE HAVE THIS
ASSURANCE. All declarations that can be traced to God, whether
ascertained by unaided reason (as we say, though the living God through
the eternal Word is ever working in the human reason) or by the inspired
Book. God speaks in nature as well as in the Bible. Scientific truth, and
moral truth known by the conscience, are from him as well as religious.
But as Christians we have to do with the words of God in Holy Scripture,
and especially with the “truth which is in Jesus.” As he declared in
language almost identical with David’s, “Thy Word is truth” (<431717>John
17:17), so he said of himself, “I am the Truth” (<431406>John 14:6). And it is of
unspeakable importance to be assured that he is and gives the revelation of
God; that all that he is and says is the truth. And as he declares of the Old
Testament that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (<431035>John 10:35), we have
his warrant for full Confidence also in the more ancient revelation. God’s
words as thus ascertained relate to:
1. Existences. God himself, his Son, his Spirit. Inhabitants of the invisible
world — angels, Satan, demons. Mankind — the nature of man, purposes
of his creation, the relations he sustains, his fallen condition, etc. For our
knowledge of the invisible beings and things we depend on the Word of
God, mainly the Scriptures; and the knowledge thus acquired is, we may be
2. Moral laws. Known partly by reason, partly by Scripture. However
ascertained, we know them to be truth.
3. Spiritual truths and laws. The redeeming love and works of God and
our Saviour; the way in which they become effectual for ourselves; the
duties thence arising.
4. The results of our conduct in respect to these truths and laws. That is,
the promises and the threatenings of God, as to both the present life and
the eternal future.
Observe, that it is the words of God about these things which are the truth;
not necessarily the assertions of men — individuals or Churches —
respecting them. It is for human teachers, not to require of their brethren
unquestioning faith in their statements, but to lead them up to where they
may hear the utterances of God himself. And this is to be done, not merely
by proving their assertions by the letter of Scripture, but by cherishing
themselves, and fostering in others, the spirit which enables communion
with “the Father of spirits” (<581209>Hebrews 12:9). If God’s words be truth:
1. We should seek full knowledge of them.
2. We should exercise undoubting faith in them.
(1) The faith which realizes the invisible and eternal; apprehends and feels
them to be as God says.
(2) The faith which is full confidence in the Divine promises and
threatenings, assurance that our own future and that of others will be
according to them. We have such a faith only when our belief sways and
rules our hearts and lives.
3. We should imitate God as to our truthfulness and the actual truth of our
words. Being true and sincere in our character and utterances, and taking
care that what we truly say shall be truth. — G.W.
Ver. 29. —
A good man’s prayer for his family.
David’s prayer has especial reference to the promise given him that his
family should continue forever to rule
suitable to be used by any godly father for his children and children’s
I. THE PRAYER. That God would bless the family. A Christian father
offering this prayer would have regard to:
1. Temporal blessings. Prolonged life, good health of body and mind,
success in worldly pursuits, competence. Asking for these as a blessing
from God implies the desire that they should be granted only so far as they
will be blessings; that they should come as the result of God’s blessing on
upright means (not from fraud, injustice, or violence; see <201022>Proverbs
10:22); and that they should be accompanied with God’s blessing, so that
they may not ensnare and injure the soul, but promote its prosperity and
highest happiness. Thus regarded, such a prayer is not unbecoming the
heart and lips of any good man.
2. Spiritual blessings. That the family may be worthy the name of a
Christian household, all being truly the children of God, worshipping and
serving him faithfully and to the end. A Christian parent will be more
desirous that his house should be good than great — “rich in faith, and
heirs of the kingdom” (<590205>James 2:5) rather than possessed of material
wealth. For such blessings he need not restrain his desires, as they are good
in and for themselves, good always and forever. The poorest may seek
these for his children, who may enjoy them equally with the wealthiest:
they are open to all.
3. Eternal blessings. That he and his may “continue forever before God”
(comp. <011718>Genesis 17:18), and “be blessed forever” numbered with the
saints in the glory everlasting. The words translated, “let it please thee to
bless,” may be more literally rendered “begin and bless” (Revised Version,
margin). As if David’s thoughts reverted from the distant future to the
present; and he became acutely alive to the fact that, for the
accomplishment of the promise in the future, it was necessary that Cod
should be with him and his at once and all along. In the heart of a Christian
the meaning may well be, “Let thy blessing come at once, without any
delay, on my house, to correct what is wrong, to increase what is right, to
produce those conditions which are most favourable to all good, as they
most fully ensure thy constant favour.”
II. WHENCE IT ARISES.
1. Godliness. Sense of the value of God’s blessing; preference of it over all
else; confidence in God’s fatherly love and sympathy with the love of
earthly parents for their children; and faith in his promises.
2. Parental feeling. Love for his family; longing for their true and lasting
happiness and well being.
3. Regard for his own happiness. Which is necessarily bound up with the
goodness and happiness of his children.
1. Such prayer, when real, will be accompanied by Christian instruction
and training. (<490604>Ephesians 6:4.)
2. Let children thank God for praying parents. Let them keep before them
the image of their fathers and mothers daily kneeling before God, and
imploring his blessing on them. Let them, however, not trust to their
prayers as sufficient to ensure their salvation; but pray for themselves. (See
more on <100620>2 Samuel 6:20.) — G.W.