2 Sam 7:1-16
David’s life had been quite a ride. He was the eighth born son of Jesse – the youngest – and so he really couldn’t expect all that much in life. But after Yahweh had rejected Saul as king, he had sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David as Israel’s next king. Of course, Saul was still living, and in the end Saul tried to kill David. David had to live on the run, staying one step ahead of Saul’s forces who sought his death.
Eventually Saul was killed in battle. The men of Judah made David their king. There was a war between David and one of Saul’s sons. But in the end, after he had ruled Judah for seven years, the rest of Israel came and asked David to be their king as well. David went up and captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites who were still living in the land. He took this stronghold and made it his city.
king of Tyre which was located on the Mediterranean Sea wanted to foster good
relations with Israel – after all, there was trade to be done and money to be
made. And so he sent cedar trees and
workmen who built a palace for King David.
After one aborted attempt, David had the ark of the covenant and the
tabernacle brought into Jerusalem.
Surely, as a boy David could not have imagined in his wildest dreams that he would be in this position. Yahweh had chosen David, and David had trusted in God. David wanted to be faithful, and we see this in the first verse of our text which says: “Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.’”
This didn’t seem right, and David wanted to build a temple for the ark. It was a pious desire, and so naturally Nathan replied, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” However, David’s plan was not Yahweh’s plan. That same night the word of Yahweh came to Nathan as God told him that he had never asked for a house – a temple during all this time.
It was Yahweh who had given everything to David and made him king of Israel. God told Nathan, “Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘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. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.’”
Then, God declared the most important thing. David had wanted to build a house – a temple for God. But now Nathan announced, “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.” God was going to build a house for David – a royal line of descent.
David’s son, the next king, would build the temple. God promised, “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.” God would establish his throne forever, and just as the nation, Israel, was a son to God, so also this king and his descendants would be a son to God – they would be “Israel reduced to one.”
This special status did not mean that the kings descended from David could do whatever they wanted. Yahweh announced: “When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”
In our text God promises that the royal lineage of David would be established forever. He says that the Davidic king will be a son to him, just as the nation of Israel was a son. In so doing, he identifies the Davidic king as the representative of Israel before him.
God was not kidding as he said, “When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men.” And on the whole, the descendants of David were not faithful. They worshipped false gods. They did not walk in the ways of the Lord. And Yahweh did punish them.
But along the way, something else happened. Evey king who descended from David was anointed with olive oil to designate him as king – as the messiah – the anointed one. But God’s prophets began to speak of a descendant of David who would bring his end time salvation. Isaiah spoke in the eighth century about the shoot from the stump of Jesse upon whom God would place his Spirit. He said of him, “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.” The prophet told of how this Messiah would bring the time when the wolf would dwell with lamb.
The kings descended from David sinned so greatly that finally God used the Babylonians to capture Jerusalem, destroy the temple, and take the king away to Babylon. The descendants of David ceased to rule over anything as the land became the domain of a series of empires. God had disciplined them severely with the rod of men. But God’s promise that David’s throne and kingdom would be established forever still stood. And the promises of God’s prophets that the Messiah – the descendant of David who would bring God’s end time salvation – awaited fulfillment.
In the first century A.D., in the fullness of time, God acted to establish David’s kingdom forever by sending the Messiah foretold by the prophets. He sent the angel Gabriel to a girl named Mary as he announced: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Now we should note that this is basically the language of our text tonight. Mary’s son, Jesus, would be the Christ – the Messiah – the One in whom David’s kingdom would be established forever. He would be the Messiah who would bring God’s end time salvation promised by the prophets.
But there is a surprise waiting in this fulfillment – a very unexpected surprise. The language we have heard thus far is all about might and power. Yet remember, just as the nation of Israel was called God’s “son”, so Yahweh says in our text, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.” The Messiah – the descendant of David – is God’s son. He is the nation reduced to One.
At his baptism the Spirit descended upon Jesus. Jesus was anointed as the Christ – anointed with the Holy Spirit. God put his Spirit upon him just as Isaiah had prophesied. And then God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” These words identified Jesus as the Servant of the Lord. In Isaiah the servant is identified as Israel. But the servant is also an individual who will suffer for the sins of others – he is the suffering Servant.
We learn that Jesus is the Messiah who will bring the final salvation of God. But he will do it by suffering and dying. He will suffer and die because it’s not just the descendants of David who commit iniquity – we do too. We sin in thought, in word, and in deed. And so, to win salvation for us, Jesus was the Servant of whom Isaiah said: “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
This Messiah dies on a cross and is buried in a tomb. But if that were it, he could not be the fulfillment of Nathan’s words in our text. He could not be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words about the shoot from the stump of Jesse. He could not be the fulfillment of the angel Gabriel’s words to Mary.
And so on the third day God raised Jesus from the dead. He raised him as the fulfillment of David’s own word written in Psalm 16: “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades or let your Holy One see corruption.” By his resurrection Jesus the Messiah has defeated death. Ascended and exalted to the right hand of God, he is the one in whom God’s words in our text are fulfilled: “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
During Advent we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ. He is the One who brings God’s end time salvation for us. He is the One who reigns forever. But he is the Messiah who does this in a way no expected. He is the Messiah who loved us and humbled himself to the point of death – even death on a cross. Now, risen and ascended he will return in glory on the Last Day to demonstrate to all that he reigns – that his kingdom is forever. As St. Paul wrote: Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”