David’s Thanksgiving: Claiming the Promise
2 Samuel 7:18–29; 1Chronicles 17:16–27
Samuel Lesson #169
April 30, 2019
“Father, we are indeed grateful that we can come before Your throne of grace this evening, that we can come to bring some petitions before You as we did in prayer meeting. Father, we pray for those in this congregation who are facing various illness. Some are just ongoing debilitating health problems. Others are perhaps life-threatening. We have a number of people whose circumstances have become serious within the last week; we pray for them, for their caregivers, for their families that they might be a testimony of Your grace, Your goodness, the way You sustain us in times of difficulty.
“Father, we do pray, as we are told in Scripture, for our nation, for our government, for our leaders that we may be able to live our lives in peace and that we may be able to carry out the mission that You’ve given us without fear or dread of government interference. And Father, we know that all too often there is government interference and involvement in carrying out Your Word. And Father, we do pray for the situation that has arisen with Chafer Seminary in relation to the Department of Education in New Mexico, and we pray that You would give the board and the leaders at Chafer wisdom and skill in how they handle that particular situation, as serious as it is.
“And Father, we continue to pray for each of us in this congregation that we might keep our focus upon You that we might be reminded that we are to walk closely with You. That means that we are to live out our spiritual life conscientiously and intentionally throughout each day, that we need to internalize Your Word day in and day out because there is a time coming, perhaps in each of our lives in this nation, when we will face serious and significant opposition for our stand for biblical truth, and the only thing that will sustain us is that relationship that we have developed in times of peace, in times of prosperity, with You knowing that You are our bulwark, our fortress, our shield, our high tower. You are the One who sustains us and strengthens us. And Father, we look forward to Your work in our lives and encouraging us with what we learn tonight. In Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to 2 Samuel 7. We’re back in 2 Samuel 7 and looking at David’s thanksgiving prayer to God as he has come to face the reality of what God has done for him. This is a significant thing that God has done for David. It’s one of the most significant things that takes place in the Old Testament, I think, second only to the Abrahamic Covenant of what God has promised an individual, and the way he will bless that individual. It has nothing to do with who David was or what David did. David committed many egregious sins.
As I pointed out when we got into this study, we were looking at the verse-by-verse options in 2 Samuel 7, is that the way the writer of Samuel organizes the material is not chronological; within the sections, there’s chronology, but he organizes the first part to show how God blessed David throughout his life. Then he talks about David’s failures— that will begin when we get into 2 Samuel 11. And as I pointed out at the beginning of 2 Samuel 7:1, it has the statement, “Now it came to pass, when the king was dwelling in his house—so, by that time he had built his palace—and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around.”
If we look at the beginning of 2 Samuel 8, we see that he is attacked by the Philistines, and he subdues them. There’s a long list, which we will basically summarize when we get there next week, of the fights, the wars that he has with the Philistines and with the Ammonites—that’s the Jordanians today, with the Aramaeans—that’s the Syrians today, with those in Moab, and those in Edom. Those will be all of these wars.
So, either the Bible is contradicting itself by saying that the Lord had given him rest from all of his enemies, in 2 Samuel 7:1, and then in chapters 8 and 9 we see wars going on and even into 2 Samuel 10. The reality is that that these are taken out of order.
It is near the end of his life that God has given him this covenant, and this is why he is so amazed. This covenant doesn’t come before the sin with Bathsheba, the conspiracy to murder Uriah the Hittite, who is her husband, his friend, and one of his mighty men, or before all the sins involved in his family, all the things that they do like the rebellion of his son Absalom and all of these things that take place.
It is after that, and in spite of the fact that he has been this violent warrior carrying out what God commanded him to do. It wasn’t sinful in and of itself. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that was not his mission. His mission wasn’t to build the temple. His mission was to secure the nation and to expand its borders.
Often people get confused on that when they read God saying that that He was not going to allow him to build the temple because he was a man of war. The impact there is that that was God’s purpose for David. His purpose for David was, not to build the temple; his purpose for David was to be the warrior.
His purpose for Solomon was to build the temple. That’s how God’s plan worked, and so what we see is how David is struck by the magnanimous grace and generosity of God beyond any other family in the earth, that it is his family, his descendants who will secure the salvation of the world. One descendant, and that will be the Messiah, and he clearly understands that, and he is just almost speechless at how this could take place.
We’re looking at David’s thanksgiving, and I want us to think also about this as a way in which David is claiming the promise of the covenant. He is mixing his faith with the Word of God. God has specifically promised him certain things which were going to talk about, and in the midst of that, when we get down to 2 Samuel 7:27 [see Slide 28], where David says, “For You, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this—that’s the Covenant that has revealed this—to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’— and then David says—Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You.” The prayer to him is that God would do what He promised to do. That’s the faith-rest drill, that we take the promise of God, and we pray to God that He will do what this promise says that He will do so.
We looked in the previous part of this chapter at what the Bible teaches about the Davidic Covenant, and we saw its significance here. We saw how it was related to the Abrahamic Covenant. It’s related to the Abrahamic Covenant both in terms of land because there are references within the Davidic Covenant that, for example, in 2 Samuel 10, where God says, “Moreover, I will appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them”—that’s related to the land promise in the Abrahamic Covenant as well as the land covenant itself. So, there’s a connection there to two prior covenants.
Then he is going to talk about the seed, his descendant that God is going to bless, and that too is to remind us that it is through the seed of Abraham, as we concluded last time, that God is going to bless all mankind through the one individual, the Messiah.
The Abrahamic Covenant, I hope you can say this in your sleep. When we finished Genesis some years ago, I think everybody could lip-sync with me “land, seed, and blessing.” The goal of teaching is to teach you, so you won’t ever forget it, not just make it memorable. We’re not about entertainment, but learning. Land, seed, and blessing: each one of those expanded by three other covenants.
These are not the theological covenants that you find in Covenant Theology, which was a rationalistic system imposed on Scripture. The covenants in that system are the covenants of works, the covenants of grace, and in some cases, it’s called the third covenant of redemption. None of those are explained or talked about anywhere in the Bible. They are just rationales that were generated totally apart from scriptural revelation and then imposed on the text. These rationales have a lot of negative implications in Bible study, and they gave birth to the whole Covenant Theology within Reform Theology.
The middle one, this seed promise, is expanded in the Davidic Covenant, which like the Abrahamic Covenant, has three dimensions to it. A promise of an eternal house, not an eternal building. It’s a play on words because in both Hebrew and probably in English because of the Bible, the establishing of a house means to establish a dynasty. It is an emphasis on family lineage and that God is going to keep that family going to fulfill certain promises.
So, there is a promise of an eternal dynasty. It had ups and had downs; it had people in it that were obedient to the Lord, and it had more that were disobedient to the Lord. It appeared eventually to have been wiped out with the exile, but that was alluded to in the imagery of the stump of Jesse that we saw in passages like Isaiah 11:1 and following last week—that that has the appearance of being ended, but then a Branch comes forth. That Branch is a picture of the Messiah, a descendent from the stump of Jesse, who is David’s father.
It’s an eternal kingdom that involves people, and it involves land. You can’t have a kingdom without three things: you have to have a king, you have to have people, and you have to have land with borders. You can’t have a kingdom if you don’t have borders. Borders are established by God, actually, according to Paul in Acts 14.
An eternal throne has to do with an eternal ruler. It’s metaphoric in the sense that it relates to the One who sits on the throne. So these three elements establish an eternal covenant with David.
At the end of 2 Samuel 7, at the end of that part of the Covenant, God gives a summary statement which is quite significant. He says, [2 Samuel 7:15] “But My mercy shall not depart from him”— the Him is the promised Seed of the Covenant, and He says, —“But My mercy shall not depart from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” So, there’s a hint there and a reminder that God had necessarily removed Saul from the kingship because of his disobedience.
But He told David He would not remove David or his family from the throne. There is, however, a warning in this that there will be discipline for in 2 Samuel 7:14, God said in reference to the seed which here refers to a fallen person who would sin, and that would be Solomon, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the blows of the sons of men.” In other words, God would use the instrumentality of human armies—the military of various nations, as He promised in the five stages of discipline to bring a judgment against Israel.
He says, “My mercy” and the word there for mercy is the word at the bottom of the slide, one that is not foreign to us. It is the Hebrew word hesed. Incidentally, that’s also the root that is behind the term Hasidic or Hasidim and that refers to them as the faithful ones. So, hesed is translated “mercy,” and it’s not the standard word for mercy; it’s translated “lovingkindness,” and it’s translated some other ways; it is a covenant love.
Only God has true hesed. He is loyal to His covenant, and that’s what He states here, “My mercy—faithful, loyal love—shall not depart from him.” God will be true to His covenant. Even if Solomon or the other human descendants of David are not true to the covenant. It will be true that there will come One who is both human and divine, the Messiah, and He, of course, will not be disobedient to the Father, and the Father’s love will always abide on Him as we learn from the Gospel of John.
Here, the focus is on the fact that God’s loyal love is going to stick with the house of David and that’s what we see as we go through the various kings of Judah, we discover various satanic attempts to destroy the line of David. We can think of Athaliah, who is the daughter of Jezebel, and she sought to slaughter, and indeed slaughtered, all but one of the sons of the king. He was hidden away by the high priest and brought forth when he was of age, and then she was killed. She was executed for her idolatry and for her murder of the Davidic household.
Then there was the attempt by the Northern Kingdom and the king of Damascus, of Aramea, to destroy Ahaz. We read about that when we did the study on Isaiah 7, and God gave a special sign to Ahaz and to the house of David that they would not be destroyed. So, God was faithful to His covenant.
Then He says in 2 Samuel 7:16, “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. —‘you’ referring to David. The house and the kingdom; that’s where we get those first two terms I have laid out in the chart, and—Your throne shall be established forever.” Twice, it is stated that these three will be established forever. So there is an eternal covenant that is established here on the order of the eternal covenant that God made with Abraham.
That brings us to this next section of the chapter where David responds to God in 2 Samuel 7:18. In verse 18, we come to his prayer; he is going to come to God in a special prayer and it is set up in a unique way.
Note that there is the episode that we have just finished where Nathan comes to inform David of what God revealed to him, that he is giving the special covenant to him, and David does not immediately respond to God. A little time goes by before David responds to God. We read at the beginning of 2 Samuel 7:18, “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord;”
There are a couple of interesting things that are going on here. First of all, there would have been preparation; the text doesn’t make an issue out of it, but there would have been preparation for this worship, because he’s going into the temporary tent that he has built for the housing of the ark until the temple is built. In order to go into that presence, we know from all of the ritual that we see in the Mosaic Law that he would’ve had to have brought sacrifices, he would’ve had to have been spiritually cleansed and prepared to go before the Lord. He is not just going to walk straight in there and sit down before the ark of the covenant.
A second thing that we see is that he is sitting. This is the only time in Scripture that someone has a posture of sitting in prayer—not that there’s anything wrong with that. We will talk about that a little bit when we get there, but that just sets the stage for what we see when we teach about prayer is that there are four different elements to prayer that are important for us to remember. Prayer has these four aspects each of them alone can be a prayer, and all of them together can be a prayer. You can have two aspects present for a prayer; you can have three aspects present for prayer. You can have all four of them present for prayer.
I use the acronym of CATS to teach about these four parts of prayer. The C is for confession; the A is for adoration or praise; the T is for thanksgiving, which this prayer is a combination of thanksgiving, but it is also a prayer of supplication to God to do what He’s promised to do. And that’s the fourth part, that is the S is for supplication.
I want to say a little bit about this. The foundation of all prayer is spiritual cleansing. Without spiritual cleansing, we cannot go into the presence of the Lord. As David says in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard—and what that word means in the Hebrew is ‘if I look at’—sin in my life.”
Paul talks about “examine yourselves;” that’s the same idea. It’s that we stop, we do a little self-evaluation, and we determine if we have sinned. For some of us, that may be a quicker project than for others, but we take a little self-evaluation.
Now we can’t do this all the time, but too often I think that we probably stick it into high gear and speed through this, so we can get to a prayer that is really what we want to talk to God about. And yet, if you examine the rituals related to cleansing in the Old Testament, they were not something you hurried through. What happens when we hurry through reflecting upon whether there is sin in our life or not is that we have this sense of minimizing the significance of sin.
I’m not talking about spending a lot of time wallowing in guilt that’s just self-absorption and focusing on our failures. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s an exercise in reminding ourselves that we are sinners, and the impact is to humble ourselves under the authority of God.
One of the ways in which we see this happened in this passage is the language that David uses throughout this prayer is language that focuses on God as the Lord God, which he says over and over again. “O Lord God,” in verse 18, and in fact, I’ll get down to this a little later on, but there are eight times in this prayer of 12 verses that he addresses God as Yahweh Adonai, which emphasizes the authority of God. And then, on top of that, David is going to refer to himself 11 times as “Your servant.” So he puts himself into a position where he recognizes and emphasizes his role as serving God.
I think sometimes we’re all guilty of this, that we sort of slip into a mode where prayer is a way in which God becomes our servant to do what we like for Him to do. We need God to get involved in this and clean things up a little bit. We may not think that overtly, but we sort of slip into that inadvertently. Within the “name it/claim it” heresy in the “crazy-matic” movement, is that they actually teach this: that you tell God what you want to do, and you dictate terms to Him, and that is its own problem.
In confession, what we’re doing is we’re taking time to reflect upon the fact that we have sinned. We have violated God’s will; we have violated God’s character. We have been disobedient to His Word. All sin is sin that is against God. We cannot sin against another person. Now sin may involve something egregious secondarily against a person, but if we define sin as doing something that violates God’s character, then by definition, you can only sin against God. You can’t sin against somebody else because it’s not their rule that is being violated. It’s not their character that’s being violated. It is God’s character.
When we see an example of confession in the Old Testament, David’s confession—we’ll look at the text in detail after we get through the sin with Bathsheba—David confesses and he says, [Psalm 51:3], “For I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is always before me.” He is conscious of it. We all know that there are some sins that we do that are pretty egregious, and they may shock us when we do them, and they may shock other people when we commit them, so we are more cognizant of them.
Then there are those sins that if we’re honest, we’re just really comfortable with. They’ve been with us ever since we were kids, and they’re part of our personality. I often wonder that when we get to Heaven and the sin nature’s not there anymore, “What is our personality really going to be like?” because a lot of our personalities are shaped by our area of weakness in terms of our sin nature and our arrogance and our self-absorption. Some sins, though, we are very cognizant of.
Then David says in Psalm 51:4, “Against You, You only, have I sinned,”— Now think about that. When he commits adultery with Bathsheba, he sins against her in one sense, he’s violating her, he’s violating Uriah, he’s trying to cover it up. He gets Joab involved in the whole thing. I mean it’s just a mess; all kinds of people are involved in in his sin and his cover-up, but he says, “it’s only against You God that I’ve sinned” because it’s God’s law, God’s character that has been violated, and so we have to think and pause.
No breast-beating, no self-flagellation, but a conscientiousness about our sin, not to the extent that we’re dwelling on it overtly—that has its own problems and we may start enjoying that a little bit—but in the sense that we don’t just run through a rapid grocery list as if the destination is on the other end, if that makes sense to you. So, it is part of the process.
I think also that sometimes people get the idea that that they just name or identify their sins. They just run through this list, and it isn’t personal. But when we look at examples of confession in the Scriptures, it’s personal. It is an admission of disobedience, an admission of guilt, an admission that I have done something that has violated God’s righteousness. I have been arrogant. I’ve been angry. I have been bitter. I have lusted for the details of life as if they would satisfy me and make me happy instead of You. That’s a form of idolatry.
That’s the kind of language we find in the Scripture. And when we address this, it reinforces in our mental attitude that we are not worthy to come into the presence of God, and it reinforces, or should reinforce, our grace orientation.
What a wonderful thing it is that when I confess sin that I am reminded that I’m not worthy of a single thing that I have. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for that sin, and because of that, I am cleansed. That should humble us—not humiliate us, but humble us.
We have seen in our word studies on humility that Moses was the greatest man in the Old Testament, the humblest man in the Old Testament, and that has to do with submission to authority. So, that sets the stage.
It’s not emphasized in our text, but for David to go in and sit before the Lord before the ark of the covenant. There would have had to have been sin offerings, there would have been burnt offerings, there would have been thanksgiving offerings, and now he is going to sit before the ark of the covenant, and he is going to bring this prayer to God.
He begins by focusing in this prayer on his own insignificance in relation to who God is. In 2 Samuel 7:18–19, we read, “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?’ ” How many times does he say, “O Lord God”? Three times. That’s not mindless repetition.
I’ve heard people sometimes, some young people, and they’re trying to learn how to pray, and they’ll repeat certain phrases over and over again.
I had a friend of mine who was a camper and I was a counselor at Camp Peniel, and every fifth word was, “oh Lord.” It got tiresome after a while, but that was just the way he talked. Eventually he grew up and got out of that. It was sort of like somebody saying “y’all” or “you know,” every fourth or fifth word. You get tired of “you know,” somebody always saying “you know.” Every time I would say “you know” when I was a teenager, my mother would immediately jump on me and say, “No, I don’t,” “No, I don’t,” “No, I don’t” until you were just so embarrassed that you had to clean up your act because you couldn’t ever talk about anything if you said it wrong; that’s called good parental training.
Anyhow, what we have here is David recognizing his total unworthiness, His total submission to God. He’s just stunned that God has given him this incredible, awesome gift. As I pointed out a minute ago, He uses this phrase Adonai Yahweh. Adonai is simply the word for “Lord,” recognizing a senior person. In its more informal sense, you might say it’s equivalent to English speakers who use the word “sir” to address somebody in authority. But at another level, it goes much beyond that, recognizing the One who is an ultimate authority in the universe.
There are some translations that translate this “O sovereign Lord”; that’s not a translation because there’s no word for sovereignty here. That is an interpretation; that is their interpretation and that goes beyond a strict translation. So, he uses this phrase, and if you look at the text, you can see it when you have the [initial capital L] Lord that is added.
Then, when you have uppercase GOD or LORD, that reflects the sacred tetragrammaton, the four letters YHWH, the personal name of God. So, we have four times here where he uses the personal name of God, Yahweh, and three of those times, it is connected with Adonai, indicating his submission to God’s authority. This is used some eight times in in this section,
Then also he uses a second phrase in the middle of this section. Twice he uses the phrase “Lord of hosts,” and there it is Yahweh Sabaoth. Sabaoth is a plural. The ot at the end is a feminine plural, and this is the “Lord of armies.” The “Lord of hosts” is just an ancient, antiquated English word for armies. So, He is Yahweh, the commander of the armies of Heaven and He oversees, actually the armies of men. No kingdom can win a war without the permission of God. Two times in 2 Samuel 7:26 and 27 he uses the phrase Yahweh Sabaoth.
David refers to himself throughout this section 11 times. He refers to himself as “Your servant.” That isn’t just a polite form of address; he’s emphasizing this especially in light of the fact that God has given him this royal grant type of covenant where He is rewarding a faithful servant. So, David recognizes that.
That’s why the text says that David is a man after God’s own heart. That is, in spite all of his sin and failure—which is no different from all of your sin and failure and all of my sin and failure—with all of his sin and failure, the passion of his soul was to serve God even though he failed. That can be true of all of us.
Every now and then, you hear people on the national stage who understand nothing about grace and understand nothing about Christianity, and they want to make some issue out of some Christian’s sin. I don’t care about some Christian’s sin. We all have sinned. Some of our sins are more obvious than other people’s sins. But what matters is in our heart of hearts, do we have a passion to do what God wants us to do? Do we ultimately want to serve the Lord? That’s what God meant when he was talking about David as “a man after God’s own heart”. He desired to serve God. So we see that coming out in this prayer, as he again and again refers to himself as “Your servant.”
As we see this also in the text, there is an interesting little thing in the Hebrew; the Masoretic Text puts a vowel point under the N. See, the consonants are aleph, which is sort of a soft, guttural that’s almost unpronounceable. It’s like the beginning of saying the letter “o”; when you say “o,” you feel it in your throat as you start to say that; that’s like what the letter aleph is. It’s not an “a”; it’s that that little glottal stop just before you say the word “o.”
So you have aleph, and dalet, which is a “d”, and nun, which is an “n”, and then yod, which is a “y”. But when the Masoretes put vowel points in there, they put a kamatz under the nun which looks like a cross where the cross bars at the top looks like a little capital T. That means one thing: that would indicate a plural of majesty, and so it would be translated more as some have “sovereign God.” But if it’s as it’s put in some manuscripts, as apparently the Septuagint translates from, just a dot instead of that little T, then it would make it a personal: “my God,” “my Lord God,” which is how I think it should be translated.
David is making this personal. He is talking about, “Who am I, my Lord God?” and “What is my house that you have brought me this far.” He’s very personal and intimate in the way that he is addressing God. Those vowel points were not in the original, and they were put in by the Masoretes. Sometimes, when there are differences between other ancient texts like the Septuagint and some others, you compare those. And, if you have two or more that are contrary to the Masoretic Text, then you probably have a problem with the Masoretic Text.
That’s not what I was taught at Dallas. I’ve learned that since; I learned that from Michael Rydelnik. I learned that from a Jewish scholar named Emanuel Tov and some others. Dallas [Seminary], in the typical standard approach to textual criticism in the Old Testament, is that if the Masoretic Text says it, that that’s the way it should be. But often they changed the vowels to take out messianic implications in some of the verses, and we studied that in other studies. So, David says [2 Samuel 7:18], “Who am I my Lord God? And what is my house—that is what is my family or dynasty—that You have brought me this far?”
In 2 Samuel 7:8–9, as God introduces the covenant that He is going to make with David, He says, “Now therefore— speaking to the prophet, He says—now therefore,—Nathan—thus shall you say to my servant David,—notice how God addresses David as His servant; that’s a high honor—‘Thus says—Yahweh Sabaoth—thus says the Lord of hosts—armies. “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone—God is omniscient, but this is more than that, He has watched over and protected David. He says—I have cut off all your enemies from before you—He’s given him victory over all of his enemies—and have made you a great name, you are famous among all the peoples of the earth.” ’ ”
That’s what David means when he says, who am I that You have brought me this far. You have brought me from the sheepfold up to the palace. You have brought me from being a shepherd to being a king; You’ve taken me from being a shepherd boy whose only weapons were a sling and a shepherd’s staff to being the commander of a mighty, victorious army that has expanded the borders of the kingdom. Then as David reflects on this, he says, [2 Samuel 7:19] “And yet this was a small thing in Your sight.”
What he recognizes here is that the big problems that you and I face are really minuscule in the sight of God compared to His omnipotence; compared to His abilities to deal with us. He is bigger than any problem you face, and He’s bigger than any challenge that you’re going to face in life. God has given us the skills to depend upon Him, so that He can level out those mountains, and He can open the doors that seem shut to us.
So, David says this was just “a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God.” 2 Samuel 7:19, “[A]nd You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come.” That’s the second thing he points out: You’ve not only made this promise for me and my immediate son, but You have made this promise for generations to come, in fact, for eternity. You have spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. And then we get into something really gnarly; it’s translated in the New King James as “Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?”
Before we get into that phrase, I want to go back to one thing, and that is to talk a little bit about our posture in prayer. David is sitting before the Lord as I said he is. This is the only place in Scripture where someone takes a sitting posture in prayer. That is not the only posture that is stated in Scripture. Another thing about this prayer: This is the third longest prayer in the Old Testament, so this is a significant prayer, and David is a sitting before the Lord, and I really can’t explain why he is taking this posture.
Prayer posture is a funny thing because I think people get all caught up in their posture and how people might see them in their posture, rather than the mental attitude of submission. So, in Scripture, when we look at Scripture, we see that there are people who have all sorts of different postures. Some are standing. Some have their eyes directed toward Heaven. Sometimes they extend their hands and their arms toward Heaven, and sometimes they lie down, prostrate before the Lord. Sometimes they are kneeling. There is no prescribed posture.
It became popular in the charismatic movement to pray with your arms extended, and I used to joke around a lot about while you have the people who are really serious about God and their arms are all the way out, palms out. But they will say, “Well that’s what they did in the Bible.” No, it isn’t. What they did in the Bible is they held their arms up and the palms were faced toward them. “Oh, I’m going to be more holy, and I’m going to do that.” Then there are others who are not quite as devoted, and they just hold one hand, sometimes it’s a little lower sometimes it’s like this. I don’t understand any of that because they’re putting an emphasis on posture, as if somehow that relates to the significance of the prayer or how God will answer the prayer. It was cultural in the Middle East, not just among Jews, but among others, to take a position where they would in some cases extend their arms and their hands in beseeching a god or an idol or anyone. It was cultural, it wasn’t ever mandated or prescribed in Scripture.
A lot of times, what you have is passages where the person simply bows their head in worship. In Genesis 24 you have Abraham’s servant Eliezer going to look for a wife for Isaac, and as he leaves and goes on his mission in Genesis 24:26, the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord; it’s just simple. It didn’t even say he closed his eyes. He just bowed his head. Genesis 24:48, “And I bowed my head—this is Eliezer speaking—and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham.”
Then in Genesis 24:52, “And it came to pass, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, that he worshiped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth.” So, he went all the way down, prostrate on the ground as did Moses in Exodus 34:8: “So Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.” None of these are prescribed; they just express the internal desire of the person at the time.
This is not something that people should get wrapped up about, and yet you find different Christians who do, and I guess they always will: “I’m going to pray more significantly than you pray.”
As Jesus told the Pharisees it’s better for somebody to go into their private chamber and pray, rather than to be seen by men. I’m always amazed at how many people, certain Christians, ignore a lot of the things that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount about privacy.
You know: When you give, don’t let anybody pay attention to your giving; don’t do it in a way where people are going to know what you give or how much you give. It’s not something that you’re going to show off about. When you pray, don’t make a show about this as the Pharisees did. They made a big deal about wanting everybody to know that they were pious and that they were praying and that they were very devoted to the Lord rather than making it something that was only between them and the Lord because He was the only One ultimately that mattered.
Prayer can be done while you’re driving down the freeway with your eyes open, preferably. It can be done when you’re lying in bed going to sleep at night. I can’t imagine the innumerable Christians that fall asleep in the middle of prayer. The Lord must—sometimes I chuckle that, “Lord, You just have such a great sense of humor; how many people get halfway through their opening prayer, and they go right to sleep?” That’s happened to me many, many times. I’m sure it’s happened to you as well. There are other times when we pray, and we are in public and that means that public prayer should be targeted to the purpose and not about everything else under the sun, and that this is our opportunity to communicate with the Lord.
Now the last phrase in 2 Samuel 7:19 is difficult to translate. I haven’t read a commentary or translation that translates it the same way as another, and this is from men who are real scholars in Hebrew. It is just extremely difficult. The New King James translates it, “Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” In the NET it translates it, “Is this Your usual way of dealing with men, O Lord God?”
In fact, in their note, they say, “and this is the law of man”. The King James translates it, “is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” In the New American Bible it’s translated, “This too You have shown to man.” The New Revised Standard Version translates it, “May this be, instruction for the people, O Lord God,” and they comment that this part of this verse is very enigmatic. No completely satisfying solution has yet been suggested. The present translation tries to make sense of the Masoretic Text by understanding the phrase is a question that underscores the uniqueness of God’s dealings with David as described here.
The parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 7:13–17 reads differently and that’s really interesting because everything else in the parallel passage is the same except for this clause and that reads, [1 Chronicles 7:17] “You have revealed to me what men long to know, O Lord God.”
So, passing on because I don’t have a clue what that is saying, we’ll go to 2 Samuel 7:20, and David concludes this section by saying, “Now what more can David say to You, for You, Lord God, know Your servant.”—I can’t say anything else; I can’t expand on this. I’m just amazed at your generosity to me.
Then in 2 Samuel 7:21, and this is a significant passage here in verse 21, David says, “For Your word’s sake, and according to Your own heart”—He says two things there. “For Your word’s sake—in other words, on the basis of what You have communicated, on the basis of Your revelation, on the basis of Your promise as it were—and according to Your own heart—in other words, he’s appealing to the integrity of God’s character—You have done all these great things to make Your servant know them.” He’s not saying, “I can’t believe I earned this.” He can’t. But he’s not saying, “I can’t believe I did something to get such favor.” He is recognizing that it has absolutely nothing to do with him. It’s all about the plan of God, the promise of God, and the integrity and character of God.
So, he draws a conclusion in 2 Samuel 7:22, and says, “Therefore You are great, O Lord God.” What’s interesting is the word that is translated “great” here is a verb gadal, which means “You are magnified.” That’s how it’s usually translated, “You are magnified” with that sense. You find it often used in the Psalms. “Therefore, You are great, O Lord God.” And then he emphasizes the uniqueness, the distinctiveness. This is a great definition of what it means that God is holy. [2 Samuel 7:22] “For there is none like You,—there’s nothing like You—nor is there any God beside You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” Now this has been a steady emphasis throughout the Torah, throughout the Law and on into the Psalms.
For example, in Psalm 104:1 we read, “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great:—same language except the addition of “very”—You are clothed with honor and majesty,”—notice the extolling of the character of God. Psalm 48:1: “Great is the Lord,” or “Magnified is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain.”
This goes back to passages in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 3:24, “O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness—Your magnificence—and Your mighty hand,—Your power—for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds?” There is none like You, God. That’s just a more expanded way of saying it. Deuteronomy 4:35, “To you it was shown—that’s Moses speaking to the people—that you might know that the Lord Himself is God; there is none other besides Him.” God is one-of-a-kind. He’s unique. He is holy. That’s what holy means.
Exodus 15:11, “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” And then Hannah, in her psalm of thanksgiving and praise to God, in 1 Samuel 2:2, after the birth of Samuel says, “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.”
We then come to 2 Samuel 7:23. This is the longest verse, but the focus of it is that God has a plan and purpose for Israel. That plan was most clearly seen at the Exodus event, and that is when God redeemed the nation. He bought them. He purchased them. He gave them freedom, liberated them from slavery in Egypt. So he now focuses on who is like Your people, because he’s been promised an eternal dynasty that’s going to rule over these people. [2 Samuel 7:23] “And who is like Your people, like Israel, like the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name—that’s a word we studied Sunday morning, padah, which emphasizes God’s work of purchasing a people through a substitutionary sacrifice. It’s done through the lamb at the 10th plague, the lamb that was without spot or blemish, a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ—and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land—before Your people whom You redeemed—that is You purchased—for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods?” Short form, “You redeemed them from slavery in Egypt to the Egyptians, to the government, and to the idols.”
Then David says [2 Samuel 7:24], “For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever;—this has never happened in history, You have a special relationship with Israel. You’ve made them special people. You are their Lord—and You, Lord, have become their God.” This is a great reminder of what God promised.
Jeremiah 11:4 reminds us of the same thing. God is speaking and says, “which I commanded your fathers in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and do according to all that I command you; so shall you be My people, and I will be Your God.’ ” So, David fits what has happened to him within the context of the redemption out of Egypt, the giving of the Mosaic Law, the making of Israel the special nation of God with their own special law, and that is fit within the broader context of the Abrahamic Covenant that promised a special people who are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Then in 2 Samuel 7:25 we read, “Now, O Lord God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said.” See this is the prayer request. This is where we’ve had the praise, the focus, the thanksgiving, and now it is claiming the promise. He says, “do has You have spoken”; You’ve made this promise to me now do it. Don’t cut us off like You did with the house of Saul. There’d never been a promise like this to the house of Saul, but he is saying, “now fulfill this promise, establish it forever and do as You said.”
2 Samuel 7:26, “So let Your name be magnified forever.” This will bring glory to You; it will show how great You are. It’s the same word there magnified gadal, which was translated as “great” earlier. [2 Samuel 7:26] “So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘[Yahweh] The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel.’ And let the house of Your servant David be established before You.” So that’s what he said. Notice how he is repeating to God what God has promised. God promised that the house of David would be established forever, so now David is just stating that back to God. Do what You said You would do. Why?
2 Samuel 7:27, “For You, [O Yahweh Sabaoth] O Lord of the armies, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant,—literally, ‘You have made this known’ or, ‘You have disclosed this to the ear of Your servant.’ It’s an idiom for revelation—saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ ” So, he’s repeating back to God what God has promised.
That’s how we claim a promise, and we talked about this: “This is what You promised, God. Now, I’m calling upon You, in these circumstances to apply that promise to my set of circumstances.” And so David concludes in 2 Samuel 7:27, “Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You.”
2 Samuel 7:28, “And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant.” See, in this section, what he is doing is he’s setting something up, and he’s saying: You are God, and second, Your words are true, and third, You have promised this goodness—literally, “You have spoken this goodness.” It is not a word for promise, but that’s the implication: You have spoken this goodness, this grace. So, he talks about the Lord’s words are truth. He says that the Lord has promised these good things to David, and so his conclusion then is to bless the house of His servant by fulfilling His promise; that is the conclusion. When we come to the end of this section, we see how David has humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, and God will exalt him.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study through this section: David’s prayer with lots of implications for how we pray, how we express our gratitude to You, how we claim promises that You have made to us.
“Father, we pray that You would help us to be better students of the Word reading it on a regular basis, being reminded of the promises, memorizing promises, claiming them on a moment-by-moment basis that You might be glorified and that we might see You work in our lives. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”