Bible Commentary: 2 Samuel 7 and Related

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2 Samuel 7 and Related

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The Davidic Covenant

These chapters tell of David's desire to build a house for God—a temple, a more permanent structure than the tabernacle. God's answer, through the prophet Nathan, is No. David later sheds additional light on this pronouncement. Notice that the material in these chapters is "according to all" that Nathan told David (1 Chronicles 17:15; 2 Samuel 7:17)—i.e., they don't contain everything Nathan said. We can find more elsewhere. David explains in 1 Chronicles 22:8 and 1 Chronicles 28:3 that God told him that he is not permitted to build Him a permanent dwelling because he has been a warrior who has shed blood. Indeed, his entire reign is virtually one battle after another. This would not be fitting symbolism. The transfer of the ark from a tabernacle to the more permanent temple is to represent the Lord moving to this earth as an enduring dwelling—which will commence with the coming reign of Jesus Christ over all nations. This future reign of Christ, the Prince of Peace, will be over a peaceful world (see Isaiah 9:6-7). So, instead of David, God will have the temple built by David's son Solomon, his name meaning "Peaceful," who will, appropriately, reign over a period of peace. This is not to say that Solomon would not fight under certain circumstances. Rather, it will not be necessary because, by the end of David's reign, God will at last give the Israelites rest from their enemies—which, again, is representative of God's coming Kingdom.

God then speaks through Nathan of His plan to establish David's house. David's "house," his royal dynasty, will be established forever. How will God go about this? In 2 Samuel 7, God tells David what will happen after his death: "I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom" (verse 12). This, of course, refers to Solomon. Notice verse 13: "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever." We must be careful here, however, as the Hebrew word translated "forever," olam, does not always carry the same meaning as "forever" does in the English language. Occasionally it means unending as long as certain conditions apply (compare Exodus 21:6; Jonah 2:6). Recorded elsewhere, there are definite conditions attached to the endurance of Solomon's throne. Looking at 1 Chronicles 28 again, David expresses the condition God gives: "Moreover, I will establish his kingdom forever, if he is steadfast to observe My commandments and My judgments, as it is this day" (verse 7). This condition is later reiterated by God to Solomon himself (2 Chronicles 7:17-18, compare verses 19-22). So if Solomon lives in disobedience to God, his dynasty will not go on without end. Sadly, this will come to pass, as Solomon will eventually have his heart turned to following other gods (see 1 Kings 11:4).

So what is meant by 2 Samuel 7:14-15, where God says he will not remove his mercy from Solomon as he did with Saul, who disobeyed? As we've seen, it cannot mean that Solomon's dynasty would never be cut off. Rather, it must mean that, in the event Solomon disobeys, he will not be killed by God as Saul was. Instead, he will be allowed to live out his life. Furthermore, though the kingdom will be torn from him and given to a neighbor as Saul's was—this will not happen to Solomon himself. As God later tells Solomon: "Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David" (1 Kings 11:12).

Though Solomon's dynasty is not prophesied to continue forever, that of David himself is. God says, "I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: 'Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations'" (Psalm 89:3-4). In 2 Chronicles 13:5, we are told that "the LORD God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt." Salt is a preservative against corruption and decay. It was required in offerings (Leviticus 2:13), which were often part of covenants. In using the phrase "covenant of salt," then, God is denoting a permanent alliance, an inviolable covenant, established for "all generations."

What this tells us is that this throne must be in existence in our generation. Some might suggest that Christ sits upon it now. After all, He is of the line of David—not through Solomon but through David's son Nathan. Furthermore, Jesus is actually prophesied to sit on David's throne. An angel tells Mary: "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give 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" (Luke 1:31-33; compare Isaiah 9:6-7). But Christ never took over a throne in his human life. And since His death and resurrection, He has been in heaven, sharing His Father's throne (compare Revelation 3:21). Yet He is coming back to rule Israel and all nations, as the book of Revelation goes on to show. It is at that time that He will fulfill the prophecy of at last assuming the throne of David.

So where is that throne, which must exist in "all generations," in our day? Fascinatingly, we can trace the line of David through Solomon beyond ancient Israel and Judah all the way to the British monarchy today (see "The Throne of Britain: Its Biblical Origin and Future" ). When Christ returns, the rule of the Solomonic line will finally cease, and Christ, of the line of Nathan (another of David's sons), will take over the throne.