Current Challenge from Doug Knox.
The Life of David, Part 9
2 Samuel 7:8-17
Fulfillment At Last
Why so Long?
When I was in the fourth grade, our Sunday school teacher taught the life of David. All of the life of David. Sunday after Sunday, we plowed through episodes about David’s fight to stay ahead of Saul’s pursuit. Eventually we managed to finish the material on David’s fugitive period. In the last chapter of 1 Samuel, Saul dies in battle, and David becomes a free man. Shortly after that, the people recognize David’s integrity and welcome him as their leader. Still, I wondered why the story of David had to be so long. Part of the answer lies in the fact that Saul hounded David for about twenty years. The biblical account reflects David’s history. There is a deeper reason, however. Once we see the end of the matter, we will be able to close the loop and understand why the Lord took so much time to fulfill his word.
God’s Protection over David
For that, we must jump to 2 Samuel. David occupies the throne. A kingdom torn by dual loyalties has welcomed him, and he reigns in peace. In 2 Samuel 7, he wants to fulfill his longstanding dream to build a permanent temple for God, but he hears a different word from Nathan the prophet. The beginning of God’s word to David recounts David’s history:
“Thus says the LORD of hosts. I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you.”
--2 Samuel 7:8-9a
In two sentences, God distills twenty years of David’s life down to three points. One, God has taken him from his job as a shepherd and elevated him to the place of a prince over God’s people. Two, God has been with David wherever he went. And three, God has cut off his enemies. The summary reminds David (and us) the other side of the issue. Yes, twenty years is a long time, but God has accomplished great things during that time.
God’s Oath Fulfilled
Nathan’s prophecy goes on. God has even greater plans for David. Here is part of what he tells him:
“And I will make you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth….Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever….And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”
--2 Samuel 7:9b, 11b-13, 16
God speaks in both an immediate sense and an eternal one. In the immediate sense, one of David’s sons would build a temple for Israel’s worship. We know this was Solomon.
Closing the Loop
However, the part of the message that closes the loop speaks of an eternal sense. In order to close the loop, we need to look back to an earlier time in Israel’s history. At the beginning of this series, I talked about God’s instruction to Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 17. The people were welcome to call for a king. If their king took care to follow the LORD’s commands, God said, “He will continue long in his kingdom, he and his children in Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:20b). Look at the difference in wording between Deuteronomy and 1 Samuel. God told Moses that the future king who took care to follow God’s commands would “continue long.” Now he tells David that his kingdom will last “forever.” The dynasty that will emerge from David’s line will never end. From our New Testament perspective, we now know that God fulfilled this word in Jesus, who was born as a descendant of David and who now reigns from heaven over all creation.
I want to move beyond the obvious applications, though, to a more practical application. If we read the accounts regarding Jesus’ work carefully, we begin to realize that he did not just walk into his position as Lord. He had to be proven every step of the way. Writing about Jesus, the author of Hebrews states the case this way:
In the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him…
--Hebrews 5:7-9, emphasis added
When Hebrews says that Jesus was “made perfect,” it does not mean that he was defective to begin with. After all, he is God. The word perfect in this context means complete. His mission, while he was on earth, involved nothing less than becoming the substitute for his people. He had to prove his character, and the only way he could do that was to endure hardship. If we move back to the Old Testament, we see the same dynamic guiding David. Can we expect less from the one whose dynasty Jesus inherits? The bar that David had to clear was a high one because it pointed to an even greater King. In the same way that Jesus had to prove his character, David had to prove his. From a practical standpoint, David learned to be a compassionate king through the difficulties he had to endure. No other way existed for him to stand as Jesus’ forerunner. Likewise, we men sometimes endure dark times that appear to be endless. We become tempted to compare our failures to those who know only victory, and we wonder what we are doing wrong.
Not necessarily as much as we might assume. By themselves, challenges are not a sign of wrongdoing. Sometimes, God takes us through difficult times in order to produce character that can only be forged through suffering.
For additional studies click on the links below:
May 2017 - Exodus 6:1-13 - Defeat, Not Failure
June 2017 - John 9:1-7 - True Discipleship
October 2017 - Ephesians 1:9-10 - God and the Work Ethic
October 2017 - Psalm 11 - Righteousness and Evil in the Las Vegas Shooting
November 2017 - Ephesians 6:5-9 - Practicing Value in Undervalued Labor
December 2017 - Psalm 77:19 and Psalm 131- Waiting on the Lord
February 2018 - Nehemiah 8:5-8 - Thinking Man's Warfare
March 2018 - Isaiah 1:18-20 -Authority and Reason
April 2018 - Deuteronomy 17:14-20 -The Life of David, Part 1