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God’s promise to David concerning his heir

1 October, 2023

Our reading this week comes after the arrival of the Ark in Jerusalem and David is settled in his house. That David has a house, and the Ark of God has a tent becomes a concern for David and so begins the conversation between David and God and we hear the promises that God gives David regardless of what David feels he needs to give God. This is known as the Davidic Covenant, the covenant that places God’s continued love for and presence with the line of David.

I have heard this chapter in 2 Samuel could be likened to a railway station or an airport. There are a number of different places that we can explore or get to from this place. It gives us the reason as to why the united kingdom of Israel is divided into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah in 1 Kings 11-12; because God promised David in 2 Samuel 7 that a Davidic king would always rule, one tribe is given to David’s descendants. You can also get to the Exile and Return from here, as in Psalm 89:38-51, when the people protest because it appears that God’s promises — in 2 Samuel 7 — have been made void. And of course, this text is the starting point for the understanding that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David, the King of the Jews whose kingdom will be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).

At the beginning of our reading David is concerned that whilst he has a house of cedar God only has a tent. In other words, David’s dwelling place is stable, permanent and secure, while the ark, which is the symbol of God’s presence, is housed in an impermanent and relatively flimsy construction. It is not until David is visited by the prophet Nathan that he hears what it is that God wants and expects. God does not need David to build a house in order for God to build David’s house. God does not need a house out of gratitude or to encourage more blessings for David. Whatever David’s motivation might be to suggest this building, it seems that he does not fully understand the nature of God’s grace.

God makes this covenant with David and his heirs. God’s presence and favour will always be with them. When they faulter, and note it is when and not if, God promises to punish them, but God will never take God’s steadfast love from David’s line as God did from Saul’s. This covenant that God makes is an unconditional covenant. It is also an eternal one; God uses for word ‘forever’ three times to describe David’s kingdom (2 Sam 7:13, 16).

These promises, this covenant, is continued with the presence of Christ in our lives. As we become children of God through Christ, we also become members of the line of David and therefore part of the Davidic Covenant. God promises us much, God promises us forever. This covenant and the model that David can be for us can especially remind us that God’s promises, gifts and grace cannot be understood as a formula for success or even as a reward. Grace is given freely, undeservedly and with love.

Jay Robinson

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