Posts Tagged 'David'

David and Solomon, Part 1

Israel was never supposed to have a king. In God’s plan, Israel was supposed to be a completely different of nation from any nation on earth. According to Greg Boyd –

Functioning as a microcosm of humanity, and as part of their priestly-servant role to other nations, it seems God wanted to manifest his original plan for humanity by raising up a nation that had no need of a human king, for they had God as their king. According to the biblical narrative, this is how it was for the first several hundred years after their deliverance from Egypt. Moreover, throughout the OT we find the Lord commanding his people to place no trust in human rulers, weapons or armies, but to rather find all their security in him.

That Israel ended up with the likes of King David was a concession of God to His stubborn people. Read carefully what Moses said to the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert wilderness –

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us…” (Deuteronomy 17:14 | NIV84)

That’s a concession; that’s not what God ever wanted for His people, look at the wording carefully: “Let US set a king over us like all the nations around us.” But they weren’t supposed to be anything like the nations around them; Israel was created to be different, yet they wanted to be just like everybody else. That was their downfall. Back to Moses, here was how the king of Israel was to behave –

The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. (Deuteronomy 17:16-17 | NIV84)

Good luck with that! Israel wanted a king and God let them have one. Saul, their first king, was a real piece of work. Mentally disturbed doesn’t begin to describe King Saul. Things didn’t end very well for him –

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. (1 Samuel 31:4 | NIV84)

Even though Israel’s desire for a king wasn’t what God wanted for them, He could still work through a king, and God set in motion events that put His man on the throne.

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”(1 Samuel 16:1 | NIV84)

God chooses David, 1 Samuel 16:1 – 13

Samuel, Israel’s national and beloved prophet, was devastated that God had rejected Saul, but God wouldn’t let him sit around in his misery for long. He was given a new mission. Saul’s dynasty would not be allowed to continue. If Israel would have another king, Samuel would have to leave the past behind and move forward. Moving forward brought Samuel to Bethlehem. The Lord’s choice for Saul’s successor would be found among the eight sons of Jesse. Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. In an interesting twist of history, Ruth was a Moabitess and Boaz’s mother was also from outside of Israel. Her mother was Rahab of Jericho.

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,Obed the father of Jesse,6 and Jesse the father of King David. (Matthew 1:5-6a | NIV84)

It was tricky for Samuel to obey God’s directions in verse one. To go to Bethlehem from Ramah, Samuel would have to pass through Gibea, Saul’s capital. Given Saul’s mental and spiritual decay, he was taking his life in his hands. Samuel didn’t exactly lie to Jesse, but there was a little subterfuge going on –

But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.”The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”. (1 Samuel 16:2-3 | NIV84)

The sons of Jesse paraded in front of Samuel but the prophet was given some advice from the Lord:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”. (1 Samuel 16:7 | NIV84)

God’s standards are certainly not the same as ours! We are quick to judge by appearances, but appearances can be very misleading. And yet, oddly enough, when they finally got around to the son God wanted, we read this –

So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”. (1 Samuel 16:12 | NIV84)

God chose the handsome one after all. But it was what was inside David that counted. God doesn’t look for people that look good or are of a certain height and weight or age, rank or position. God chooses whom He will and He sets His Spirit in those whom He accepts.

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:13 | NIV84)

David’s confidence in God, 1 Samuel 17:32 – 54

Even though the events of chapter 17 seem to occur right after those of chapter 16, some years have passed between David’s anointing and his encounter with the giant, Goliath. By this time, Saul’s mental state had deteriorated greatly. His mood swings were wild, from depression to rage at a moment. This was God’s judgment on him for his willful, sinful disobedience. Far from a child, David was a young man in chapter 17 and we catch a glimpse of his ability to lead, rule, and inspire people. It also demonstrated that David was not only a man of unwavering faith in God, but also keen military strategist.

Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. (1 Samuel 17:36 | NIV84)

David was anointed but was still waiting in the wings; Saul was still the king and David was still tending his father’s sheep back at Bethlehem. In verse 36, David was trying to convince King Saul that he could defeat the “uncircumcised Philistine.” Goliath was his name and he’s a bit of a mystery. He was a “giant,” probably clocking in at almost 10 feet tall. He was tall and powerful, arrogant and proud. He was probably a descendant of the sons of Anak, who had struck fear in the hearts of the Israelites before the conquered the Promised Land.

The people are strong and tall–Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” (Deuteronomy 9:2 | NIV84)

Apparently David thought he could stand up against one Anakite: Goliath! But David’s “self-confidence” wasn’t based in his abilities. He was riled up against Goliath because Goliath was defying “the armies of God,” or, in effect, God Himself. David’s confidence was in God, not in himself even though he had already demonstrated his skills in defeating adversaries, such as lions and bears.

When David faced Goliath with no armor on, and no weapons in his hands save a slingshot and some smooth stones, the giant’s pride was offended. He cursed David, but David stood his ground and warned Goliath that the giant’s time on earth was quickly running out. And then he announced the theological purpose of is mission.

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands. (1 Samuel 17:47 | NIV84)

David’s guaranteed victory over Goliath was going to be so much more than that. It was to demonstrate to the Philistines – and others – that God exists and that He will deliver His people no matter what. The size of an enemy’s army or the strength of their weapons is of no consequence. This victory did just that, and it also showed David’s true character. The victory was the Lord’s, not his, and everybody knew it. He made his faith known and he inspired others.

You may wonder if David was afraid facing this giant. He wouldn’t be a human being if wasn’t! But David knew the secret of winning a battle. Sinclair Ferguson, Scottish Reformed theologian, remarked,

The fear of the Lord tends to take away all other fears. This is the secret of Christian courage and boldness.

Not only that, there’s also this:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools a despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7 | NIV84)

And onlookers, including crazy King Saul, could see that David feared God more than he feared man and they sensed that there was something very special about this young man.

David increases in knowledge and influence, 1 Samuel 18, various verses

The sun was setting fast on Saul’s dynasty while David’s star was rising.

When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns. (1 Samuel 18:15, 16 | NIV84)

David’s fear of the Lord was bringing him victory upon victory over Israel’s enemies, and he was being noticed and respected. Saul, on the other hand, feared David, and his sanity slowly slipped away. To Saul, David became THE enemy, and he tried to kill David repeatedly.

And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. The next day an evil c spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. (1 Samuel 18:9 – 11 | NIV84)

Reading the accounts of Saul’s attempts on David’s life, it’s tempting to chuckle. Saul had become a pathetic character. Saul even put David on the front lines of battle, apparently hoping he’d be killed. The exact opposite happened. Saul just couldn’t kill David. Saul imagined that David was his enemy, but in reality Saul had no better friend than David. He was loyal to the king and made sure the king wasn’t killed by the enemy. He treated crazy, dangerous King Saul with courtesy and respect even though he certainly didn’t deserve it. The Lord, who had abandoned Saul, was with David and He blessed David continuously.

 

 

God Chooses the King

091908-Ballot-Box

Life never just happens. It may seem like random events occurring randomly, but there is nothing random about life. The Bible tells us that God is intimately involved in the lives of His people.

The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with his hand. (Psalm 37:23, 24 TLB)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:14 TLB)

God’s ways of leading are as numerous as the number of people He leads. Sometimes His guidance is obvious, other times He speaks in a “still, small voice.” But lead His people God always does.

This is even true in our civic and spiritual leaders. We hold elections, of course, but the Bible decrees we get the leaders we deserve. That’s not to say our vote isn’t important, but God has a plan and He knows what, or who, is best for us. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why a certain person has been called by God to pastor a church or why another has been called to be a mechanic. For reasons and purposes known only to God, He puts the right people in the right place for the good of His people and the advancement of His plan on earth.

During Samuel’s time as Israel’s judge and prophet, the people clamored for a king. God Himself was to be Israel’s king, but He relented, gave them one, and the people chose Saul. Saul looked like he walked right out Central Casting. He looked like a king. His heart, though, was the heart of coward and a scoundrel. Saul was a disaster. Israel’s next king was chosen specifically by God Himself. David, apparently, didn’t look like a king at all. But David had one quality Saul never possessed: He met God’s spiritual standard.

Sadness leads to an opportunity

Samuel never saw Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him; and the Lord was sorry that he had ever made Saul king of Israel. (1 Samuel 15:35 TLB)

Saul was an unmitigated disaster as a king, but his sad state broke both the hearts of Samuel and the Lord. It no doubt sickened the Lord to see the damage one, rebellious man could inflict upon His people. Because of Saul’s stubborn refusal to do what he was told, Israel’s very future as a nation would be put in jeopardy. The unintended consequences of our disobedience to God can be equally as devastating. No wonder God and Samuel were so mournful.

Saul’s failure became an opportunity for God to act; for God to do something great for His people. He was fair. God gave the people a chance to choose their own king. Now He would choose one for them. God’s king would have a big job to do. He would not only have to lead a spiritually dull people, but he would have to clean up Saul’s mess.

Finally the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul, for I have rejected him as king of Israel. Now take a vial of olive oil and go to Bethlehem and find a man named Jesse, for I have selected one of his sons to be the new king.”

But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

“Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Then call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint.” (1 Samuel 16:1 – 3 TLB)

The Bible doesn’t tell us how long Samuel mourned for Saul; how long his bitter disappointment and depression lasted, but it had to come to an end. It ended with a new plan. This time, God Himself would choose Israel’s new king. The Lord didn’t intend to give Saul yet another chance to get it right. In fact, God had given Saul many chances, yet each time Saul acted in a rebellious manner. God was finished with Saul and it was time for Saul’s tenure on the throne to wind down. In chapter 16, we see God finding a way to slip His man into the royal house. God will brilliantly contrast David and Saul so that even the people will see the difference. The people needed to see how they failed in choosing a man based on something as slim as appearance, and Saul needed to see what God’s man really looked like.

It would be an awkward time, and Samuel was concerned for his life. Saul was, at best, highly unstable. He couldn’t be trusted. But Samuel had to trust God. His anointing of one of Jesse’s sons would take place in public, so the Lord concocted a stealth plan. B.B. Warfield observed,

Nothing, however small, however strange, occurs without God’s ordering, or without its particular fitness for it place in the working out of His purpose; and the end of all shall be the manifestation of His glory, and the accumulation of His praise.

God’s clever plan

Like it or not, Samuel was a sort of celebrity in his time, and his arrival in the little town caused quite a ruckus.

So Samuel did as the Lord had told him to. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the city came trembling to meet him.

“What is wrong?” they asked. “Why have you come?”

But he replied, “All is well. I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.”

And he performed the purification rite on Jesse and his sons, and invited them too. (1 Samuel 16:4, 5 TLB)

Jesse and his family lived in Bethlehem. Jesse, as it turned out, was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth, the Moabitess. In an ironic twist, the mother of Boaz was also not an Israelite. She was a prostitute from Jericho named Rahab, a point not missed by Matthew, who mentions it in his genealogy of Jesus.

Samuel knew that the next king would be one of Jesse’s boys, and he was pretty sure he knew which one it would be. He was wrong. As spiritual as he was, he was still not living by faith. He was undoubtedly obedient to God, but slightly carnal in his thinking. God set him straight, though.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by a man’s face or height, for this is not the one. I don’t make decisions the way you do! Men judge by outward appearance, but I look at a man’s thoughts and intentions.” (1 Samuel 16:7 TLB)

This is a classic verse that explains the inner workings of God’s reasoning mind. In this chapter we are given some powerful spiritual principles. In the previous chapter, we were given another classic verse:

“Has the Lord as much pleasure in your burnt offerings and sacrifices as in your obedience? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. He is much more interested in your listening to him than in your offering the fat of rams to him.” (1 Samuel 15:22 TLB)

Our love for Jesus Christ is measurable. We demonstrate our love for Him by being obedient to Him. There are lots of people, even Christians, who don’t understand this simple, yet profound principle. Telling Jesus that you love Him doesn’t count for a lot. You can say anything, but that proves nothing. What Jesus wants is precisely what Samuel told Saul. It not what we say about Jesus, it’s what we do. We manifest our love for Him by being obedient. The Christian life is reality, nothing else.

We learn something about God, too. He looks at us from the inside. He sees us as we really are, not as we appear to be. Character is vitally important to God. Samuel thought he knew whom God would choose, but Samuel couldn’t see inside Eliab, David’s older brother. Perhaps Eliab looked kingly, but he obviously didn’t have the heart for the job. It’s not that Eliab was a bad person, he just wasn’t God’s person.

God sees the heart. We human beings aren’t terribly good at doing that. Even Samuel, as close to God as he was, made the same mistake the people Israel did.

John Newton’s words are worth remembering:

God often takes a course for accomplishing His purposes directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe.

God makes His choice – the right choice

So Jesse sent for him. He was a fine looking boy, ruddy-faced, and with pleasant eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.” (1 Samuel 16:12 TLB)

Given the fact that God looks at the heart and isn’t concerned with appearance, this is a very curious verse. After what we were told, it seems as though God would choose a homely, unattractive man to be king. But we are told David was a “fine looking boy.” God doesn’t despise beauty. He can use anybody, and obviously there was a quality or qualities in David that nobody else saw, save the Lord. David may have been handsome, but that is not why God chose him. David is an interesting character. Of course we know that he failed God a number of times. Yet David possessed a faith that never failed.

So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the olive oil he had brought and poured it upon David’s head; and the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him and gave him great power from that day onward. Then Samuel returned to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:13 TLB)

At the moment God’s Spirit came upon David, He left Saul. It seems as though David’s brothers were unaware of what this anointing ceremony was all about. Why would they even suspect that their younger brother had just been anointed king? He’s not the type they would have chosen.

But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking like that, he was angry. “What are you doing around here, anyway?” he demanded. “What about the sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know what a cocky brat you are; you just want to see the battle!” (1 Samuel 17:28 TLB)

God more than qualified David for the job to which he had been called.

Saul’s decline

Even though David had been anointed king, Saul was still on the throne. It wasn’t yet time for David to succeed him. Saul’s days were numbered, and he was in decline.

David continued to succeed in everything he undertook, for the Lord was with him. When King Saul saw this, he became even more afraid of him; but all Israel and Judah loved him, for he was as one of them. (1 Samuel 18:14 – 16 TLB)

As was noted earlier, it was important in God’s scheme of things for the people to see a clear difference between Saul and David; between their choice and His, between a man overcome by his passions and one full of the Spirit of God. After the Lord’s presence left Saul, his decline seemed to speed up. Saul was now completely forsaken of God, a choice Saul made and God honored. David was brought in the palace to play his harp. The people don’t know it yet, but they were listening to their new king.

ABRAHAM: JUSTIFIED BY FAITH

Romans 4

Paul had just taught a doctrine known as “justification by faith.” To the first century Christians he was writing to, this must have sounded too good to be true, especially among the Jews, where works were so important. What if there were some readers of this letter who thought this “justification by faith” was a brand-new doctrine? Back in 1:7, Paul made the declaration that in the Gospel a righteousness from God was “revealed.” This might well suggest to some that this “justification” was a new thing, invented during this new Christian era, maybe even by Paul himself. So, now, Paul takes his readers back to the Old Testament to point out to them that this was no new doctrine at all. In fact, it is as old as Abraham! Justification by faith is just another part of the continuing plan of God for the redemption of mankind through His eternal purposes in the work of His Son.

What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (4:3)

Abraham, a man held in the highest esteem by Israel, had a right standing before God. This was achieved, teaches Paul, not through Abraham’s good works, but through faith. Abraham’s sin was placed on Christ’s account, and Christ paid the full price. What was true for Abraham is true for believers today. If we view our life of sin as a kind of debt we owe God, then Jesus assumed our debt and our account has been completely settled by Him.

Paul’s choice of Abraham as an illustration of a person being justified by faith is a stroke of sheer brilliance. The Jews respected Abraham—he was the father of their nation, after all! But he was also a Gentile—a pagan Chaldean—who was credited with righteousness as a result of his faith. The truth about Abraham, though, is that he, like any believer, is received by God, not on his own merit, in his own name, but in the rights and in the Name of Jesus Christ. Abraham did nothing to earn his declaration of righteousness.

1. Contradiction?

Is that message at odds with the teaching of James 2:21—24?

Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

There really is no contradiction between the teachings of Paul and those of James; they are in reality two sides of the same coin. Romans 4:2 declares simply:

If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.

The justification that Paul is talking about is “justification by faith”; it is being justified before God, not before man. James, on the other hand, is talking about the evidence of Paul’s justification. The person who claims to have saving (justifying) faith in Christ is obliged to prove it to the people around him. How does he do this? Unlike God, man cannot see this “justification by faith.” But man can see how we live our lives! So the proof of our new position in Christ and before God must be manifested in our good works.

Paul, in writing about Abraham’s being justified by faith, quotes from Genesis 15. James, in writing about Abraham’s works took his illustration from Genesis 22. This incident in Abraham’s life is further explained by the writer to the Hebrews:

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. (Hebrews 11:17—19)

What does teach us about justification by faith? Simply this: when we are justified by God, we are given a new position in Christ. It is up to us to live up that new position.

2. Wages and gifts

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. (verses 4, 5)

The the thing that distinguishes wages from gifts is work. Paul has established that justification by faith is a gift from God; it is undeserved and unearned by the one justified. This is the difference between wages and gifts: work. When a person works, he gets what he deserves—he exchanges his time and efforts for his employers money. In other words, the worker’s wages are an obligation to him from his employer. When a person does not work, there is no obligation for anybody to give that person anything. Anything that non-working person receives must be viewed as a gift; such is righteousness from God.

All of man’s work, his good work, is not good enough. No human being can live long enough to perform enough good deeds to tilt the scales anywhere near his favor, therefore, there is no obligation for that man to be paid a wage—he cannot be credited with the wage of righteousness. If a man is credited with righteousness, it is strictly because he has believed God; he has claimed God’s gift of salvation and God’s promises in faith.

3. David

David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” (verses 6—8)

Abraham, a pagan Gentile who lived long before the Law, was justified by God. Now, Paul gives his readers another example of one justified by faith, but this time he uses a man born under the Law: David.

Verse 5 teaches that it is God who justifies the ungodly. Immediately after that, Paul begins a short discussion about David, a man we would never consider to be “ungodly!” What is Paul trying to get across to his readers? The key is the quote, taken from Psalm 32, verses 1 and 2. This psalm is David’s great “penitential psalm.” It is the confession of his great sin with Bathsheba and his acceptance of its consequences. Paul’s point in quoting this psalm is to illustrate that David’s works were evil; they were the acts of an ungodly man. What he did to Uriah and the sin of adultery were absolute evil in the sight of God. And yet David, because he experienced God’s forgiveness and justification, was able to write:

Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them… (Psalm 32:2)

Though David didn’t use the words, he is essentially describing what Paul is teaching: justification by faith! God treated David better than he deserved to be treated! God credited righteousness to David because his sins were forgiven. We know that David did nothing to merit this forgiveness except to exercise faith: he agreed with God about what he had done and how he needed to be forgiven. We all know the story: Nathan the prophet confronted David with the awful truth of David’s sin and deceitfulness, and David owned up to what he had done:

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. (2 Samuel 12:13)

From the mouth of two witnesses, three if you count Paul, then, comes the undeniable fact that under both the Old and New Covenants, man is justified before God by faith; there is no other way.

4. A sign and a seal

Some sharp-eyed readers of this letter during Paul’s day might have argued that since both Abraham and Paul were circumcised—that is, they acted in obedience to the Law—then obedience to the Law must be part of justification. In essence, works, in the form of obedience, precede justification. To this, Paul notes:

It was not after, but before! (verse 10b)

Paul exclaims that Abraham was justified by faith years before he was circumcised! What was the point of circumcision, then, as far as Abraham was concerned? It was merely a sign, an evidence that he had been justified by faith. One Bible scholar aptly observed:

We cannot doubt that circumcision was delayed in order to teach the believing Gentiles of future ages that they may claim Abraham as their father, and the righteousness of faith as their inheritance.

Another way to look at this is to conclude that Abraham was justified by faith as a human being, not as a Gentile or a Jew. Faith, not religion, is the standard for all human beings.

We now know from extra-Biblical writings that Paul’s message of justification by faith was understood by at least one member of the Roman church. Clement, the bishop of Rome from 90—100 AD wrote this:

It is through faith that Almighty God has justified all that have been from the beginning of time.

It wasn’t just to the Romans that Paul taught this landmark doctrine. In Galatians 3:7, he put it like this:

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.

Jew or Gentile; it’s immaterial to God who it is that comes to Him in simple faith. He freely justifies both.

5. Primacy of faith

It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. (verses 13—15)

The Roman believers have just learned that faith came before circumcision. In these two verses, Paul goes even further by stating that faith also takes priority over the Law. If circumcision, which was instituted only 14 years after Abraham was declared righteous proved that circumcision had nothing to do with anything, then the Law, which was instituted 430 years after Abraham was declared righteous, proves that that it had even less to do with anything!

The promise given to Abraham did not depend on his or his descendants keeping any kind of Law, because Abraham had been justified by faith! What exactly is this “promise?” It, naturally, has to do with Abraham becoming the father of many nations, but it specifies something in particular:

...all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:3)

God gave that promise, which also has a messianic implication, to Abraham long before either circumcision or the Law had been introduced. The great blessing of the promise came to Abraham from God on the basis of faith, not works.

6. What faith depends on

The remainder of this chapter speaks of the strength of Abraham’s faith. In the face of old age, Abraham’s faith in God remained young. How was this possible? Why did Abraham have such strong faith in God? The secret to strong, unwavering faith lies in verse 21:

being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Faith is as strong or as weak depending on how we perceive the Object of our faith. If God is the Object of our faith, it will be rock solid and immovable. But if our faith is in our talents or our resources or the circumstances of our lives, it will be weak. We, like Abraham, must be “persuaded” that God is able!

(c)  2011 WitzEnd

MAKING DISAPPOINTMENTS GOD’S APPOINTMENTS

2 Samuel 7

In this, we learn something about King David’s amazing faith in God and something of how God works in the lives of people like David; people who have an earnest desire to do something to the glory God.

1. A heartfelt desire to glorify God, verses 1—3

After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”

The chapter opens with King David settled into his royal palace. He has, with God’s help, triumphed over all his enemies, both domestic and abroad, and David’s status and king over the united kingdom of Israel is beyond dispute. As if to stress this fact, this one-time shepherd boy is referred to as “the king” three times in these opening verses in the original Hebrew.

We may well imagine this warrior king standing in the middle of his regal house, looking at what his years of fighting had achieved—a secure kingdom, peace and prosperity for all, and a palace beyond compare—and remembering that God had no proper home in which to dwell. More than anything else, David loved Yahweh and he ardently desired giving God a proper dwelling place. As far as David was concerned, respect for God meant building a temple for Him worthy of His majestic Presence.

The contrast between his own house and that of the Lord at this time was stark: the earthly king had settled into a sumptuous palace; the ark of God’s presence remained in a mere tent. While it is true that this “tent” was originally constructed of the best materials available and it’s workmanship superlative, the royal palace dwarfed, in size and splendor, the resting place of God. To the king, this situation was intolerable and greatly troubled him.

Being a godly man, David consulted another godly man, his prophet Nathan. Nathan and David went back a long way and had a sturdy relationship. Probably nobody on earth knew the heart of the king like Nathan did, and the prophet’s response to David’s ambition indicated that David’s heart was right; that his desire to build a temple for God was purely motivated. There was nothing in this project for David; he would do it all for the glory of God. In fact, we might go so far as to think that in this matter, King David had “the mind of Christ.” Would that believers today would be so motivated! Think about what great exploits could be achieved if only they were done for God’s sake and for His glory alone. Rarely are our motives that unadulterated.

2. God’s refusal, verses 4—11

When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. (verse 12)

David was a spiritually sensitive man. His spiritual instinct told him that it was wrong for God to dwell in a tent while he was living in luxurious splendor. There was an incongruity between the transitory and impermanent nature of a man living in a permanent house while the eternal and everlasting God was relegated to being “put up” in a temporary shelter. What could possibly be wrong David’s desire to build God a permanent home?

To the prophet’s Nathan’s understanding, his friend’s desire was a good and noble one; right and sound, motivated only by love and devotion to God. But something was wrong, and it took a visit from God to point it out.

The work of building God’s house belonged to another. It was not God’s will for David to undertake that task. Throughout Nathan’s message from God to David, the king is now referred to as “my servant David” as opposed to “the King.” While God made David king over the people of Israel, in relationship to God, David remained His servant, a description he humbly accepts.

The essence of God’s response to David’s desire is three-fold:

  • God has never commanded any leader in Israel’s past to build Him a temple, nor has He commanded David to do this, verses 6, 7.
  • The choice of the person to head up such a project would be God’s, verse 5.
  • The denial of David results in something very positive: David’s son would be given the honor to build God’s house.

But God’s refusal to allow David to fulfill his righteous ambition is not without grounds. There are two main reasons why God refused David:

  • The king is far too busy waging war with his enemies: You know that because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the Name of the LORD his God until the LORD put his enemies under his feet. (1 Kings 5:3)
  • David was a warrior; he had shed much blood: But this word of the LORD came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. (1 Chronicles 22:8; see also 28:3).

It should be noted, however, that these reasons are not in any way given to denigrate King David. David fought his enemies at God’s behest; he could never be punished by God for caring out God’s wishes! In fact, far from being punished, God’s message to David contained a magnificent covenant for both king and kingdom:

Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. (verses 9b—11)

This “divine grant” was divided into two parts: promises that would be realized during David’s lifetime (verses 8—11a) and promises to be fulfilled after his death (verses 11b—16).

But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.

Who could ask for than that? No, David would not be allowed to build God’s house, but God’s blessings upon David, his family, and his kingdom were incomparable.

Yet, there is another reason why David was not allowed to build God’s house. David represents Christ as suffering and conquering, but not being able to establish an earthly kingdom to its fullest extent. This would be done by Solomon, an earthly “prince of peace.” Only he could be allowed to build God’s house. When Christ returns, He will be our heavenly Prince of Peace, and He will at last establish an earthly kingdom and temple; He will accomplish upon His return what He could not accomplish at His first advent.

3. God’s plan, verses 12—17

He is the one who will build a house for my Name… (verse 13a)

David’s dynasty would continue through his sons and grandsons, and would never be set aside as was the case with the house of Saul. What a superlative plan it was! Any disappointments David may have had at being refused the singular honor of building God’s temple must have been mitigated. This is always the way it is with God’s will; we always fare better when we obey it rather than follow our own, not matter how glorious our own appears to be.

A lot of people misinterpret verses 14 and 15 and cite them as proof that a child of God can never be lost and that those who wander from God will only be disciplined and not condemned. However, what hangs in the balance here is not Solomon’s personal salvation, but the status of David’s dynasty.

Also, a careful and right-minded reading of God’s promises to David reveals that these “kingdom promises” are fulfilled, not entirely in Solomon, but in David’s “greater son,” the Lord Jesus Christ. No mere man’s earthly kingdom could last “forever!”

There is a statement in the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 17:17) in which David’s heart is laid bare and we see why God loved this man so much—

And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, LORD God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men.

David knew he was not, yet God treated him as though he were.

4. David accepts God’s plan, verses 18—29

“What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign LORD. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.” (verses 20, 21)

This heartfelt prayer of David to God is surely one of the most moving prayers in all of Scripture. Throughout this prayer, the king humbly expresses his gratitude to God for graciously revealing His will to him through his friend Nathan and, significantly, declares his own desire that God keep all His promises to the greater glory of God.

The prayer can be divided into three parts:

  • Gratitude for God’s blessings in the present, verses 18—21;
  • Praise for what God has done in the past, verses 22—24;
  • Prayer that God will fulfill His promises in the future, verses 25—29.

David was at a loss for words as he expressed himself to God and acknowledged God’s sovereignty and purposes. Would that we could do the same! Too often we pray with chagrin when God’s will is at odds with ours; we expect the Almighty to bend to our wishes instead of it being the other way around! Not so with David, who found joy God’s will even though it was not what he had wanted.

The king never forgot the past; he never failed to praise God for personal and national blessings that fell long ago. But most of all, David wanted God to fulfill His revealed will so that God Himself may be glorified. David’s prayer stands alone as a shining example of humility and honesty before God. We are reminded of what John the Baptist said when Jesus appeared on the scene—

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30, KJV)

Despite the surpassing blessings David had experienced and would continue to experience, his concern was that God get all the glory, not him or his house. Any good that may befall the house of David or the kingdom of Israel must be seen as coming from God; that was David’s paramount concern.

David ended his marvelous prayer in great confidence that God’s Word was absolutely dependable and he ended with the petition—

“Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” (verses 28, 29)

(c) 2010 WitzEnd



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