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 Israel was unsettled (v. 7).

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 Israel, were both parts of one

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 Israel.


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 Moab, and his throne was

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 Zion has a higher unity than that of

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 Gibeon unmolested. As regards the word “rest,” we

have to distinguish between the first series of wars, which established

David firmly  on his throne, and the second series, which gave him

widespread dominion.


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

by God.



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)




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 spirit, that Providence grants men secular

prosperity. Then comes the testing time of the religious life. Many fall

under the spell, and undue absorption in temporal personal comfort robs

the kingdom of Christ of much thought and energy it otherwise would have

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.




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 kingdom of Christ and

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 distrust unless Providence, by some means

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 Israel’s unquiet

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



  • GOD RECOGNIZES US AS HIS OWN. There was balm in the words,

“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.




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 course of Providence in reference to the

tabernacle and settlement of Israel were unfolded, and probably reference

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

perfection of the kingdom of God on earth. The Apostle Paul could not

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 Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have

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 at Gilgal, Shiloh, Nob, and

Gibeon. Instead of a “tabernacle,” the Hebrew has a “dwelling.” This may refer

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 Israel, saying, Why build ye not me

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 Israel:”  I took thee from the

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 Judah’s

supremacy until Shiloh came (Genesis 49:10); but it was not even there

expressly declared that Shiloh should be of Judah’s race. But now David is

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 Israel to study their

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 Bethlehem, to feed his father’s sheep. And now,

“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, Israel is called

Jehovah’s servant, because it was Israel’s office to be the witness for the

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 people Israel, and will plant

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

people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies.

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 Israel in a place of their own, but had just

done so completely. For David’s kingdom had given them security, and with it

the power of doing for God that duty which was Israel’s special office in the world.

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

monarchy the possession especially of the prophets, who were Israel’s

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

appointed a place for Israel and had planted them there. There is, perhaps,

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

Israel obtained secure possession of the place appointed for it; and now,

having no longer to waste its energies in perpetual fighting, the national life

grows upwards, and attains to culture, to thought, and civilization. Canaan

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 Israel.” And here a colon should

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

(vs. 4-11)


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.


  • GOD HAS A PURPOSE CONCERNING MAN. This is the basis of the

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..



WITH HUMAN AFFAIRS. It is pointed out to David that the history of

his ancestors in Egypt and under the judges, and also his own personal

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

domestic life, Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and the desert, the struggle for

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

redemptive purpose revealed itself which later on in Judaea, in Pilate’s hall

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

Israel’s existence. David was right in viewing the tabernacle as essentially

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:


Ø      “I brought up the children of Israel;”

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 captivity in Egypt yielded to a settled home,

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

higher point.




his ambition and faith. To have God permanently among Israel was the

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 periods of Israel’s history,

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

working, Providence will throw light upon it, and by some explicit “I have

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

  1. that he shall have a seed who shall build a house for the Lord;
  2. that this successor shall be regarded as a son, and, while the subject of

discipline, if needed, shall not be cast off as was Saul; and

  1. that the house and kingdom thus established shall endure forever.

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 blessedness of Israel in being under the care and

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

Israel may come to pass, and so bring out into public view and forever the

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

which to:

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;

Matthew 8:11).


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:


  1. to moderate earthly attachments,
  2. to sanctify earthly relationships,
  3. to be humble in prosperity,
  4. to be patient in trial, and
  5. diligent in duty.


“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

development of Israel, and naturally these words suggest a meaning not

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 Samaria) had but a brief

existence, Solomon’s descendants should hold for many centuries

undisputed possession of the kingdom of Jerusalem. But in Psalm

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

both Greece and Rome to listen to tidings so wonderful and mysterious as


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):


  • of virtue and sin,
  • of folly and wisdom,
  • of terrible fall and penitent recovery.


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 Israel’s king. Saul’s was a royalty for one


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:


  • IN THE MATERIAL ORDER. The results of research into the

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)


  • IN THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN. The changeful form, the visible

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.


  • IN THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST. Our Saviour was frail,

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

of thought.


  • IN THE PROGRESS OF REVELATION. The revelation which God

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




The Promise of an Everlasting Kingdom

   (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 kingdom of God; and on him rested the hope of

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



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 of the kingdom of God, its revelations of grace

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:


  1. in “the word of the Lord by Samuel,”
  2. in David’s exaltation to the throne after long suffering and trial (v. 8),
  3.  in his subsequent prosperity (v. 9); and, it was further manifested
  4. in this great promise of continued grace to his house, “for a great

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

kingdom of God from its commencement to its consummation.


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”

(‘Christology’). The kingdom of God is a kingdom of righteousness.


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).


  1. This revelation was an epoch making one for his inner life. It brought an

entirely new element into his consciousness, which, as his psalms show,

moved him powerfully.


  1. This promise, like that made to Abraham, has a twofold

aspect. One points to David’s natural posterity and temporal kingdom;

the other to the Messiah and the kingdom of Jehovah, which respected 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



“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


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:


  • The Anointed of Jehovah. His Servant, chosen and beloved (v. 8; ch.

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.”

(Psalm 89:19-20


  • The Son of David “according to the flesh” (v. 12; Acts 2:29-31;



“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.”

(Psalm 132:11)


  • The Son of God. (v. 14; Psalm 16:10; Luke 1:35; Acts 4:25-27;

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.”

(Psalm 2:7)


“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.”

(Psalm 89:26-27)


“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).


  • The King of righteousness and peace; Prophet and Priest; the

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.”

(Psalm 110:1)


“Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”

 (Psalm 45:6.)


  • The Builder of the temple. (v. 13; Zechariah 6:12-13; John 1:14; 2:19;

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.”

(Psalm 68:18.)


  • The Possessor of universal dominion. (I Samuel 2:10; ch. 22:44;

Psalm 22:27.)


“He shall have dominion from sea to sea,

And from the river to the ends of the earth.”

(Psalm 72:8.)


  • The King who should reign forever. (v. 16; Psalm 61:6-7; 89:36-37.)


“His Name shall endure forever;

His Name shall be continued as long as the sun.”

(Psalm 72:17.)


“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 Israel and at the same


(Psalm 72.).


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 Jerusalem; and so the promise

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

Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to Himself, and to

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

Egypt, from the nations and their gods?”   And what one nation, etc.?

The translation should be, And who is like thy people, like Israel, the one nation

upon earth which God went to redeem for Himself to be His people, and to make

for Him a name, etc.? Israel both was and remains to this day a nation unique in its

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

Syriac Church, God the Word and God the Holy Ghost were at first

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

Israel as you, because they seemed to him to be present. We must note,

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 Egypt;”

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

Egypt, but were the seven dominant tribes of Canaan; and the bestowal

upon Israel of their territories was as essential a part of Jehovah’s dealings

with His people as the Exodus itself. Thus the reading will be, To drive out

before thy people, whom thou purchasedst for thee from Egypt, nations

and their gods.


24 “For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto

thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God.”   For thou hast

confirmed. The word means “thou hast firmly and securely established Israel

to “be thy people.” This plainly refers to the settlement in Canaan, now at last

completed by David’s victories, and not to the deliverance from Egypt. In 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.

For Israel is now to be a people forever: and thou, Jehovah, art become

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. Israel is to

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 the spiritual Israel

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 Israel, that is, the Jewish and the Christian

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 Israel: and let the house of thy servant David

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 Israel.” The special relation of

Jehovah to Israel is throughout kept constantly in view; for Jehovah is the

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.


27 “For thou, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy

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

seen in:


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.


  • IT INDUCES DEEP HUMILITY. It was not because of any good in

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).


  • IT FEEDS THE SPIRIT OF ADORATION. The word “wherefore”

(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” (Cicero). It is:


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”

(O. Felltham).



 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’).


“The noise

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.”

                                    (Dante, ‘Purgatory)          


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”

(John 5:44).




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.


  • God’s purposes are unfolded and wrought out in human history with full

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.


  • There are fundamental errors and failures in the lives of some men which

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).


  • It is a great consolation to a Christian that God knows him (v. 20). He

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 review of the gradual revelation of God’s purposes will surely induce

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



  • It was ancient Israel’s being chosen and used as the people of God

(v. 23) which conferred on them the most enduring distinction. As a fact,

Israel has done more than either Egypt, Greece, or Rome for the true

elevation of mankind; for Israel was the means of bringing into universal

operation the mighty renovating principles of the kingdom of God, which

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)


  • The whole question of the final triumph of Christ rests on the word of

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

blind superstition.






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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

of Israel), “and sat” on the ground in a lowly posture, according to Eastern

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

(Matthew 5:3).

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?”

(<19B612>Psalm 116:12.)

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 Israel, “according to all that we have heard with our

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). — (ZION.)

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.”



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.”


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.


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).


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,”

teaching us:

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).


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).


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. — (ZION.)

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.


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 united kingdom of which he was now the ruler, it soon

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 on Zion in a tent

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

eager desire.

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.


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.


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.

In conclusion:

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 Israel should

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.


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

Israel; King of men; “King of kings, Lord of lords;” King of angels, King

over all things in heaven and earth. The kingdom of David has expanded till

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 kingdom of God

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. The kingdom of Jesus Christ has survived in spite of all

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

loyal subjects.

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





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

the human.

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.


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.


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?


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

(<451201>Romans 12:1).

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.



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

duty, etc.

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.


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 St. Paul expresses,

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

praises God.


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).



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.”


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

great things.”


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



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

(<19E503>Psalm 145:3).

(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.


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 Israel in former days. The form of manifestation was

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 Israel, but amongst all

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

his works. Israel was thus blessed above all other nations; Christians inherit

the same blessedness with large increase. The people of God are

distinguished above all others by —


1. The nature of it. Israel was redeemed from bondage in Egypt, and

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

of Egypt;, They are redeemed “from all iniquity” (<560214>Titus 2:14), “from

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”

(<450324>Romans 3:24).

2. The manner of it. The deliverance from Egypt was effected by marvels

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

Egypt. For the spiritual and eternal redemption God has interposed in ways

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

Israel of God” (<480616>Galatians 6:16).

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

Israel is not unfrequently presented in Holy Writ (see <020916>Exodus 9:16;

<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).


(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 Israel it is said by

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

2:9); and St. Paul says (<560214>Titus 2:14) that our Lord “gave himself for us,

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

Egypt for thy ransom” (<234303>Isaiah 43:3); “Ye are not your own; for ye are

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.

(3) Self-consecration.

(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

between Israel and God. Although no longer a nation, they still are used to

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, spiritual Israel of all

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 Israel;

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



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).


“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.”


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,

and perseverance.

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 Israel; that to say, “Jehovah of hosts is

the God over Israel,” would be to add lustre to the name. And rightly, for

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.


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

Thessalonians 1:10).

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



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 kingdom of God. The apparent weakness of

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.


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 of the kingdom of God on earth. The attraction of all

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.


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 Israel, to do it for them”

(<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

eternal 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.”


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

Israel, would assure David of the fulfilment of the promises to himself.

(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.


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

sure, truth.

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 Israel. We may take the prayer as

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.”


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.