Have you ever day-dreamed about what it would be like to be king, to have total, unlimited control? Sounds like a playground game I guess but it's not just children who pretend to be king , well maybe it is. More seriously isn't it the same desire for power, for control that's often behind our dreams of promotion to higher-paying job or winning the lottery. If I had access to those resources then I could do x or y. In fact isn't that what government often aims for increased choice for individuals and the resources to be able to make those choices –it's the not just American dream, it's ours too.
This morning we're looking not at us becoming King but God. We'll see how he drives a battering ram through our desire for control and replaces it with something infinitely more impressive and lasting than even our most idealistic day-dreams: 'The Kingdom of God'.
But before we jump into 2 Samuel 7 let's remind ourselves of where we've got to in the bible overview series:
God creates the world from nothing, creates man and women in his own image placing them in the garden he has created for them in relationship with each other and God. Man rejects God's kingship leading to the curse.
The result of man's rejection is chaos, breakdown and evil resulting in judgement. But even in this grace is shown to Noah.
Grace continues as God makes a covenant with Abraham promising a reversal of the curse. God will restore his people, provide them with a land and rule over them and through this he will bless all nations.
In Egypt God is true to his covenant and rescues his people from the Egyptians leading them across the red sea, through the dessert towards the Promised Land.
LAW – CONTINUED REBELLION – CONTINUED RESCUE (God provides judges) – CONTINUED JUDGEMENT (God allows Israel to be conquered) – ISRAEL WANTS A KING – SAUL – DAVID.
David is a man after God's own heart; although not perfect his reign paints a picture of what it is like for God's people to live in God's place under God's rule. There is great blessing which extends into every corner of society. That takes is right up to 2 Samuel 7 which we'll deal with in three parts:
1. What it means to be King
2. What it means to be King forever
3. What it means to live in the Kingdom
1. What it means to be King (v1-11a)
It won't have escaped your notice that we have a royal wedding coming up. I'm sure you have an interest whether that's what one broadcaster called "an insatiable appetite for every glamorous detail" or simply in an extra day's holiday. However, I don't expect that any of us will be observing that wedding thinking this is what the next absolute ruler of Britain looks like, the one who has total control and will determine the fate of the country for years to come. We have a constitutional monarchy one whose power is heavily restricted by parliament.
That's important because kingship looks very different in David's day, kingship means total and absolute power and control; government rests on the King's shoulders alone. The nation's future is intimately caught up with the personhood of the king who has absolute and rightful power.
As we join 2 Samuel 7 that's David, Israel is prosperous and peaceful and so in verse 2 David remarks to Nathan the prophet;
…"Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent."
3 Nathan replied to the king, "Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you."
David reasons that since Israel is at peace and he is wealthy he ought to build God a proper dwelling-place to replace the tabernacle (the moveable tent in which God dwelt in). Seems like a good idea to Nathan so David is given the go-ahead. But v4;
4 … that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying:
5 "Go and tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"'
Back up a minute David, slow down. Now I don't know about you but David's idea seems very reasonable doesn't it? Surely it would be a noble thing to do to build God a fine temple to replace the tent he has been dwelling in? Why does God have a problem with David building him a temple? Well, the issue isn't the temple; the issue is who is King, notice what God said in v7;
7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"'
God is King, it is God who intervenes who raises up rulers and kings to; 'shepherd his people Israel'. David has exceeded his rank. To us David looks incredibly powerful he is an absolute monarch but he is still under God's rule and God reminds him of that here, read on to verses 8 – 11;
8 "Now then, tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.
God is the one who plucked David from the pasture who choose the youngest of seven sons, humanely the weakest and least impressive and appointed him ruler over God's people Israel. Verse 9;
9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 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 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders[a] over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
David's military success, his reputation and glory are not his own making but God's. God's promises his covenant with Israel, his love for them and his infinite power are the dynamo driving history and in particular David's reign. God must be related to as king; this is a gentle reminder to David of that fact. God's promises still remain; to protect God's people and to provide a place for them provided; that they are God's people, in God's place and under God's rule.
None of us here this morning are literal Kings or Queens, I think. However, isn't it true that we all attempt to create and control our own little kingdoms; our careers, our homes, our families and relationships; to be our own little kings? That gentle reminder to David is one to us also; God is king and we must relate to him as such. That is true this morning whether you willingly accept God as king or not. God is creator and therefore everything in one sense is within his kingdom, under his authority. As Abraham Kuyper famously said;
"Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'"
Perhaps you have never recognised God as your king in which case you must bow before him as Lord. If God is king of your life then examine the little kingdoms you operate in and ask yourself so you need to remember that like David was appointed as an under-shepherd to rule God's people so we are to be stewards of what God has given us. Are you shepherding well?
Money – giving generously vs withholding/omitting.
Family/Relationship – leading to Jesus vs winning battles, controlling behaviour.
Small group – serving, giving, growing vs taking what you can when it suits.
Are any of these areas 'hermetically sealed off from the rest'? God is kind, God is generous, faithful and loving but above all God is king. He has absolute and rightful power and so it is he, not David or us, who gets to be King. We prayed earlier: 'hallowed be your name…your kingdom come…your will be done'. Did you mean it? What does it mean to be King? To be recognised as having absolute and rightful power.
2. What it means to be King forever (v11b – 16)
God has reminded David of his Kingship and also of the commitment he has made to Israel. God is still committed to the covenant he has made with them. Now however, we get an astonishing extension to those promises. God is going to establish his king forever on David's throne. Take a look at what God says in the second half of v11 ff;
"'The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[b]; your throne will be established forever.'"
David has offered to build God a house, God responds by declaring that he will build David a household one which will last forever. So what does this mean is David going to live forever? Verse 12 puts that to bed; 'When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you' will David simply keep on having descendants that are kings into eternity? Hopefully our New Testament reading can give us some answers, flick back to Luke 1.30 (p 722);
30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."
28 generations about 1000 years later Jesus will come in the line of David and fulfil this promise, establishing David's throne forever. How will this happen? We're given some clues in the promise to David itself, v14;
14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul
This king will also be God's beloved Son. However, his reign on earth at least will look very different to David's. God will punish him with a rod wielded by men and floggings inflicted by human hands. However, that is not the end of the story. Peter in the first Christian sermon in Acts 2 describes the fulfilment of the promise to David like this;
29 "Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. … 36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah."
Jesus not David is God's king forever. Jesus having defeated death is raised to life and kingship. He will sit at God's right hand Lord of all.
-God's people are established now subjects of King Jesus who has bought them with the price of his precious, innocent blood.
-A place for God's people is being prepared; not just with the temporary rest David enjoyed from his enemies but eternal rest that comes from restored relationship with the king.
-God's rule is established forever, not through a human king who will one day die but through God's son Jesus who has defeated death and lives forever.
God's promise to David is gloriously fulfilled in Jesus. He is the eternal king on David's throne. What then does this idea of God's Kingdom mean to us in the 21st Century? That's our third and final point; 'What it means to be in the Kingdom'.
3. What it means to be in the Kingdom (v27-29)
Being in God's kingdom means both recognising God as king and revelling in his promise to bless his people.
Let me be slightly cheeky and read a few more verses from 2 Samuel 7 which weren't in our text, this is David responding to God's promise to establish a house for him in v27;
27 "LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, 'I will build a house for you.' So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you.
28 Sovereign LORD, you are God!
- David acknowledges that God is the King, he is sovereign over all.
Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.
- God's promises are true, they are trustworthy, worth hoping in David says.
29 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."
God please continue to bless us then we will be truly blessed. In short David says God you are in control of everything, please do exactly what you have promised and bless us. Those principles still apply to us;
1. Recognise that God is in control - Jesus is king.
2. Trust in God's promises to those who recognise Jesus as king.
Let's think about how those principles work out for us here, now after Jesus has been named as King (inaugurated) but before he has returned and his kingdom has been fully realised (consummated).
1. We've already said that being in God's Kingdom means recognising God as King, specifically Jesus as Lord over all, every square inch of this earth. But as that quote hinted at there is to be no hermetically sealed sphere of our lives, our minds are God's possessions too. We are to be literally Kingdom-minded, our hopes, dreams, our whole lives are owned by King Jesus.
We're not to be hypocrites, but consistent saying Jesus is Lord in every sphere of our lives. So our public recognition of King Jesus here on a Sunday doesn't disappear when we step into work tomorrow morning or when we switch on the tv tonight. Jesus is Lord over all, the way we invest our hopes, our passions, our money. The media we choose to consume, the way we conduct relationships or raise our children. Our involvement in politics or education – each falls within the boundaries of God's Kingdom.
Simply acknowledging this will change the way we live, it changed the way Israel functioned in David's time the way they treated the poor, the way they gave with great celebration to God's work. If you want some pointers re-visit our Gospel-in-Life series from last term all the sermons are available at www.holytrinitygateshead.org.uk.
2. But, in order to live like this we need to trust in God's promises. Let me take you back to that first question I asked you; 'Have you ever day-dreamed about what it would be like to be king?' we mentioned the possibility of a lottery win giving you the resources to be able to live very differently – all very hypothetical. Now imagine that you had come into some money, let's say you inherit a six, seven, eight figure sum the cheque had been written and it would be in your bank account in a couple of weeks. What would that fortnight look like?
Filled with planning surely, a new house, holiday, car, sensible investment maybe. You're probably not going to be too worried if someone breaks a plate in your house that week, might be a new kitchen there soon. Why do I say this? Hopeful not to get you thinking about your kitchen but to illustrate the difference between a daydream and hope built on a realistic promise. The idea of spending a lottery win looks very different if you're holding the winning ticket. In the same way the lifestyle of a person trusting and hoping in God's firm promises will look different to a person who either doesn't know God's promises at all, or who at least isn't hoping in them.
God has placed his king upon his throne; Jesus. God is still building a house for David – a people who recognise Jesus as King – the church. God's Kingdom has come partially, the cheque has been written as it were. Living in the Kingdom now means knowing and enjoying the King, tasting the firstfruits of the coming Kingdom; justice, joy, mercy and working for those things.
We spend ourselves and our resources gladly finance, energy, career, marriage, home, intellect, politics etc because we know that the promises of God are trustworthy and his blessing is amazing.
We may even suffer differently, living in joyful expectation of the time what the King will return and make everything new.
Jesus is risen, Jesus is King – his kingdom is coming and continues to come. Let's live in and for the Kingdom of our God. Amen.