The Lord Giveth…and Giveth
2 Samuel 7:1-14
This is a famous passage in the history of the Church because it is where we see the promise of the Messiah to David. God will establish David’s lineage, and one of his own shall sit on the throne of his kingdom forever. We even are treated to such words as “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me” (7:14). If you have wondered what is with all of the connections to David in the Gospel accounts and why it is so important that Jesus is referred to as God’s “Son,” then this is the answer to those questions. This passage is, perhaps, the crown jewel of christological prophecies.
That is why it is so easy for us to overlook other aspects of this passage which also bear significance for us. You see, this passage began with David being at peace because of all that God had done for him, so he wanted to do something great for God in return. What a wonderful impulse! Surely, we ought to give thanks to God (Luke 17:11-19), and such thanks might even take the form of doing something for God rather than just giving words of thanksgiving and praise. Service can be a form of thanksgiving. No doubt Nathan, the prophet of God, felt the same way as David, for without a second thought he echoed David’s impulse (7:3).
However, if we really take in God’s response to David and Nathan, in all of its bluntness, it should be quite baffling to us. God does not say, “What a great idea! I have been waiting for somebody to offer such thanksgiving for all that I have done!” Instead, God says, “Who are you to do something for me?” (7:5). Basically, God tells David that this is not the way things work. God did not give so that he might receive in return. God gave because that is what God does. God gave to the people of Israel, God has given to David in all that he does, and furthermore, God will give even more to David. God’s giving and God’s glory are not diminished because he dwells in a tent being dragged around the Israeli countryside; and God’s glory will not be increased because of anything that David does for God. In the end, God tells David that God will increase his own glory by establishing David’s descendant on the throne and letting that descendant build the true and lasting house for God. (Hint: He is not talking about Solomon.)
Now, this is not to say that we should not be thankful. In fact, we might understand that God’s promise to David that this will happen through David’s descendants is a reward for David’s thankfulness and impulse to bring praise and glory to God. In the end, though, we never can repay God for anything that he has done for us. Paul says, “…nor is [God] served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all humankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). One aspect of what we ought to take from this passage, then, is just how abundantly God gives to his people. God has given and given and given, and he will give still more. In the context of our study of Romans, this should be readily apparent. God has made it possible for us to receive salvation and live with God forever. That is a mighty thing for which we surely will give unceasing praise, and even then we will not have come close to matching the greatness of all that God has done for us. -TL