March 21, 2021
David’s prayers were fueled by the Lord’s promises. Confident that God would do all that He said He would, David courageously prayed for God’s people, word, and blessing. Alistair Begg explains how God’s purpose to redeem a people for Himself and establish an everlasting kingdom would ultimately be fulfilled through David’s descendant, Jesus, and the missionary work of His church. Like David, we can hold tight to God’s promises even when they don’t seem to align with our experiences.
And I invite you to turn with me to 2 Samuel and to chapter 7, where we will continue reading from verse 23. Two Samuel 7:23:
“And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God. And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”
Father, we thank you that your Word is fixed in heaven. We realize that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from your mouth, from the mouth of the living God. We thank you that you continue to speak through what you have already spoken, that has been left to us in your Word, to which we now turn, seeking the help of the Holy Spirit. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Well, we left David last time, as it were, sitting in God’s presence and singing God’s praise. As we were just singing this song just now, I was thinking to myself how very happy I think he would have been to join in with this particular song, for surely the Psalms are replete with the emphasis of God’s faithfulness to generation after generation. And it is that which fuels his praise. He has been humbled by all that God has done. Back in verse 18, he “sat before the Lord and [he] said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God … what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?’” And so he praises God for all the goodness that God has brought upon him.
And so may we in Christ, as we think about a morning like this, as we think, some of us, down through the years of our lives or through the life of our congregation and all the benefits and blessings that we’ve enjoyed—and that that not only is something of significance to us, but as we saw last time, somewhat amazingly, this promise of God and the nature of God himself is of significance for the entire world; that what we considered last time as the “instruction for mankind,” you remember, is a charter for all of humanity. Verse 19, it is there: “You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind.”
In other words, when we understand what God is saying here in his Word, we realize that the word that God spoke through Nathan to David is the same word that enables not only David but all of us who accept it to see God’s world and God’s purposes in an entirely different light. This is one of the distinguishing features of what it means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ—namely, that our view of everything is radically changed and that our understanding of the world in which we live and the unfolding drama of history in the immediacy of the last week and in the prospect of the one to come, all of that we view through the prism, as it were, of the word of God. And that is what David is doing: sitting in God’s presence, pondering the nature of God himself, and offering to him praise.
If you are a believer—and many of you profess to be—then it is time, I suggest to you, that we recover our confidence in this perspective: that we recognize that we are different, that God has redeemed us for himself, that he has put us in the framework of these days, and it is to him that we look and in him we trust.
So, from the nature of God fueling David’s praise we now go on to see that the very same thing fuels his petitions or his prayers—that the way in which he prays is on the basis of the promises of God. He is, if you like, standing on God’s promises. And the word that he has spoken to him in verse 25, you will see it there: “And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant … concerning his house, and do as you have spoken.”
So, let’s consider this from three perspectives: first of all, as it unfolds in terms of God’s people, and then God’s word, and then God’s blessing.
Verses 23 and 24: “Who is like your people Israel …?” He’s already extolled God for the unique nature of God: “There is none like [God].” And now he goes on to say, “And your people Israel are peerless.” Are peerless. And then he explains why this is the case, you will see: “Who is like your people …, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people…?” Here, he says, is the distinguishing feature.
Now, I don’t want to do a trail through the whole Old Testament, but let’s just reinforce this in our thinking with a couple of cross-references. If you turn for a moment to Exodus chapter 6, where the promise of God’s deliverance is rehearsed for us, and right in the beginning of that chapter you have this very same emphasis. Moses is to say, verse 6,
to the people of Israel, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will [deliver] you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the [burden] of the Egyptians.”
When you come to Deuteronomy—and, as I say, I won’t trail you through this, but let me just give you something for homework in Deuteronomy chapter 4, again, around verse 7, I think it is. Yes, it’s the same thing. Deuteronomy 4:7: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I [have] set before you today?”
And if you want, you can go on into verse 32 and following. God is speaking through Moses, and he says,
Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, … by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.
Now, this is absolutely unequivocal and very straightforward and foundational to all that David is now about to pray. The people of Israel had been freed from bondage in order to belong exclusively to God. And as you know, when Paul picks this up in the New Testament and he’s driving home the responsibilities and privileges of being members of the body of Christ, he is using the very same language. First Corinthians 6, he says to them, “Remember, you were bought with a price. You have been redeemed in order that you might belong. You belong now to God, exclusively. You belong to one another. He has brought you into a family. He is making you a people.”
And this, of course, is the great wonder of the church. This is the great mystery of the church. There is no other people… We are a strange people on the face of the earth—in Christ, for we have been redeemed. We have been purchased at a great price. We live in the world without being of the world, and we are distinguishable from that world in this particular way: that we are a people belonging to God.
Incidentally, that is why none of us really have the option to walk away from our church whenever something happens that we don’t like. It’s been one of the strange features of this past year: letters from people saying, well, they don’t like that you had the mask. “We don’t like that you didn’t have the mask. We don’t like you did this, you did that, you didn’t say… Have a great day, we’ll see you sometime in the Millennium,” or something like that. And I want to say, I say, “You know, you don’t have that option. No, you’ve been put together in a family. This is a covenant commitment. This is about like getting married. There’s no divorce! There’s no no-fault divorce, at least. You can’t just walk!” Oh, you see, what a low view we have of what it means, the idea that our belonging is a sort of utilitarian feature; it provides us with relaxation and enjoyment and a few people to hang around with, as opposed to the wonder of it: “O God, there is no God like you. What god in the world ever speaks to you?” See? That’s what’s happening.
Now, in doing this, he tells us that in the redeeming of his people, God was making himself a name. Making himself a name. You remember back up in verse 13: “He shall build a house for my name.” That was the reference to the servant of God, in order that his name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth. And you can see that, again, if your text is open before you: “the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name.” “Making himself a name.”
When, in somewhat difficult chapters of Romans, Paul picks up on this in Romans chapter 9, he emphasizes the very same thing. And he says, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this … purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’” “Pharaoh, this is your significance in the scheme of history.” And, of course, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow. Not only making for himself a name but, you will notice, still in verse 23, “and doing for them,” or “doing for you,” “great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods.”
So, he has been reminded of the wonder of this, and he is being told about how long this will last. It’s quite striking, isn’t it? “You [have] established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever.” “Forever.” Now, forever seems to me to be a long time. In Psalm 89, the psalmist speaks of “[the] offspring [of David] shall endure forever, his throne” shall last “as long as the sun [shines]. Like the moon it [will] be established forever.” Like the moon in the sky is “a faithful witness” to the fact of God’s creative and sustaining power, so this throne will last forever.
Now, here’s an inevitable question, and I hope it is already in your mind. I hope I don’t have to pose it for you. And the question is this: How, then, are we to understand the unlimited duration of the throne of David? How are we to understand what is being said here as people living all these years later, as dwellers in the twenty-first century, reflecting on events that go so far back into the past and speak so clearly about the “forever” aspect of it?
Well, in short order, the answer to that question is that the path from, if you like, 2 Samuel 7 to the New Testament church, that path is via the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that as we’ve said in the past in these studies, it is vital that we understand the Bible Christologically—that we understand that when we’re reading sections like this, they finally find their focus in Jesus himself. And if we doubt that, then we only need to make sure that we’re paying attention to the way in which the New Testament speaks of these things.
So, for example, when Paul writes to the Galatians, he says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’” Here’s Galatians 3:14: “So that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the [promise of the] Spirit through faith.” Now, we’re not gonna delay on this, but we need to recognize this. It is important. How does God’s promise to Abraham find fulfillment in the picture to which we often refer in Revelation chapter 7, where there is assembled a great company that no one can number from every tribe and nation and language and people and tongue? Okay, so how do you tie Revelation chapter 7 to 2 Samuel chapter 7? And the answer, again, in one short phrase, is “in Jesus.” In Jesus!
You see, the purpose of God from all of eternity was not Adam and Eve in the garden but was Christ on the cross. The purpose of God was to redeem a people for himself. When we studied in Ephesians—I hope some of us remember that we even studied Ephesians, let alone remember what we studied in Ephesians—but in Ephesians 2, I think we were wonderfully helped; at least I was. Remember, Paul says that “at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands”——here we go—“remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel … strangers to the covenants of promise,” all of which enjoyed by Israel, “having no hope and without God in the world.” That’s the human predicament. And here’s the glory of the gospel: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace” and “has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility,” and so on. Here is the answer, you see, to the question. Where are we to understand this? Only, then, in Jesus. Only in Jesus.
During the past week, I had a wonderful opportunity to talk to a man that I met from another state entirely. And when he asked what I did, I told him that I was a rabbi, because I detected that he was from the tribe of Abraham, that he was a Jewish man. And he said, “Oh, so you can see that I’m Jewish?” I said, “Yeah, I can.” And as our conversation unfolded, I realized again the absolute, abject poverty of a man like that still waiting for the redemption of Israel, and what Paul—you remember as he agonizes in Romans 9 and 10 and 11: “Oh, if I could be accursed in order that my own people might be saved!” And then as he writes to the Corinthians: “There is a veil that is over their eyes, and only through Christ is it taken away.”
And, you see, the church consists, then, of the restored and spiritual Israel—that is, Jewish believers, Jewish men and women that were converted, that became the followers of Jesus. And then gentiles. Ephesians chapter 2, Paul says, “You folks, you never had any of this stuff. You were outside the commonwealth of Israel. But what has happened to you is that he, in Jesus, has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, and he has made one new man out of the two.” One new man. What is this new man? Well, the new man is actually ultimately Christ and the church; the true Israel, the second Adam. Paul masterfully puts it all together for us.
And so, as we are added to that number; as we are privileged to share, as it were, in Israel’s blessings; as we’re privileged to enjoy the covenant promises to Abraham, we recognize that God’s promise to Abraham was always to be fulfilled through David’s house. And we already sang, “There David’s greater Son has fixed his royal throne.” This is the only forever, and it is the forever to which 2 Samuel 7 speaks.
First, concerning his people.
Secondly, concerning his word. Look at verse 25: “[O] now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken.” This is David’s specific request. If we boil this prayer down, this is what he’s asking. “The word that you have spoken to me,” he says, “concerning my family, guarantee it. Guarantee it perfectly. Guarantee it permanently.” In other words, “O God, do what you have promised.” Or, in the word of the text that is before us there, “Do as you have spoken.” You’ll see the final phrase of verse 25. We take that as a title for our study today: “Do as you have spoken.”
And again, you will notice the “forever” aspect of it: “Confirm forever the word that you have spoken.” Go forward to verse 27: “For you, O Lord [God] of hosts … of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant.” “You made this revelation. When you do this, when you fulfill this, then your name will be magnified,” notice, “before all the nations” of the world.
Well, what a picture that is! Before all the nations of the world. In conversation with my Jewish friend this week, he said to me, “You know, we don’t do what you’re doing.” He said, “We’re not trying to make more Jewish people. Why are you trying to make more Christian people?” Well, you understand it. Of course! Because he left the play at the intermission.
At Pentecost, the Spirit of God is poured out. The people, even the closest followers of Jesus at that time, have still not got it right: “Lord, at this time will you restore the kingdom to Israel?” Remember what he says: “This is not a time for a conversation about times and seasons and things. This is what this is about: you’re supposed to go out into all the world and proclaim this gospel to the ends the earth—and so, from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth—so that God’s name might be glorified.”
Essentially, what David is praying here is akin to the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, which we’ve just prayed—namely, “Your kingdom come and your will be done in the earth.” If you look at it, that’s really what he’s saying: “You fulfill your will in the world, and your name will be magnified forever.”
Well, when you think about this, it is again for Paul to help us. When he opens his letter to the church at Rome, you have it wonderfully revealed for us: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son.” The Old Testament pointed to Jesus, “who was descended from David according to the flesh … was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name”—here we go again—among all the nations.” “Among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”
Now, there you see it. Back in verse 27: “For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, [you] made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore,” he says, “[I have] found courage to pray this prayer.” So his prayer is on the basis of God’s promise. His prayer is asking God to do what he has promised to do.
Now, if you think about this: the kingdom promise fulfilled in Jesus is then the kingdom for which David was praying. When David prayed in this way here in 2 Samuel 7, he could never have had any real concept of what this would mean. And even today, we do not know ultimately how the Spirit continues to move, “convincing men of sin, revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in him,” daily adding to the number those who are being saved, adding to his forever family.
“Oh,” you say, “that seems rather strange, asking God for things he’s promised.” Well, it may seem strange to you, but fathers can make promises to their children, and they don’t mind when their children come back and remind them of the promise. In fact, I think it’s a refrain you hear often from a child’s voice, even as you’re passing in the street: “But Daddy, you promised! But you promised!” That’s what David is saying: “Father, I have found courage to pray this prayer because you promised—not because I think it’s a bright idea, not because it’s an outlandish concept, but because you made this promise.” You see, courageous praying on our part is not on the basis of the extent of our faith but is on the foundation of God’s promises.
Yeah, but what do you do when the promises of God don’t seem to jive with the experiences of life? You say, “Well, I’m not sure.” Well, we have a wonderful illustration of that. I already quoted from Psalm 89, where, “till moons shall wax and wane no more,” the promises of God to his servant David. You’ll find this for yourself, actually: “His offspring shall endure forever,” 36, “his throne [will last] as long as the sun … the moon it [will] be established”; it will be super, and it will be “in the skies,” and so on. But then you have to read verse 38:
But now you have cast off and rejected;
you are full of wrath against your anointed.
You have renounced the covenant with your servant;
you have defiled his crown in the dust.
You have breached … his walls;
you have laid his strongholds in ruins.
[And] all who pass by plunder him;
he[’s] become the scorn of his neighbors.”
And so on it goes. In other words, when the promises of God are denied by the facts of experience, what are we to do? We are to turn the promises of God into our prayers, and we are to plead his promises before him. To plead his promises before him.
Try it this way. When we were last together, I said to you, we need to get used to the fact that we are now the bad people in our culture—that we now are a hostile remnant, actually. We are marginalized. We are a minority. And so you say, “Well, what about the fact that Jesus said, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell [will] not prevail against it’? What are we supposed to do with that?” Let me tell you, in a phrase: we’re supposed to come together and pray the promises of God: “Gracious God…” In [eighteenth]-century England, it was absolute chaos. And small numbers of people prayed, “God in heaven, fulfill your promises to build your church.” And out from the remnants, as it were, come Whitefield and come the Wesley brothers and come so many different people, and the whole history of Great Britain is transformed within the space of a century.
Well, here we are at this point in history. “I have courage to pray this prayer,” says David, “because you promised. You have set us apart for yourself. All that we know of your grace is ours to enjoy by your kindness. And we have no doubt at all to doubt your word. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” One day the kingdoms of our world will become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.
So, from God’s people to God’s word and to God’s blessing. Verses 28 and 29: “And now, O Lord God, you[’re] God, … your words are true, … you[’ve] promised this good thing …. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant.”
Now, he’s not just asking here for “Dear God, may we have a nice week”—you know, which is fair enough. The Lord is concerned at every detail of our lives. But that’s not what he’s saying: “Therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you.” He’s no longer thinking about building a house for God. That’s where the chapter began. He lived in a house, and he said, “I dwell in a house of cedar, … the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan tells him, “That’s not going to be your job.”
But instead of being concerned to build a house for God, he’s asking God to fulfill the promise of his word: that he… Is that back in verse 11? I have to check. “… from the time that I appointed judges over my people …. I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.” He will “make you a house.” What is the house? It’s not 7100 Pettibone Road. This is just a room in which we gather. No, it is a dynasty—that there is a King, and in this King all the families of the earth will be blessed.
As we come up to this Eastertime—and we look forward to it immensely—we need to recognize that perhaps next Sunday, we’ll just stay with the “king” motif and pick up on the word—“See, your king comes to you riding on a donkey”—just so that we can keep that framework in our minds. Perhaps we will. Perhaps we won’t. But what we need to see is this: that the progress of the kingdom of God in our world is built on the promise of God to his people, and it is built on the missionary activity of the church. It does not happen in a vacuum. We do not have the gospel in America out of nowhere. We have it as a result of the moving of the Spirit of God in the lives of the people of God. And some of the awakenings that ran through our nation in the eastern states and down into the South have given to us the benefits that we enjoy today.
And so the picture that we’re given of a great company of nations all around the throne of God and before the Lamb, we need to realize that the implication is not that these things happen by themselves, but they happen as a result of the gospel going out into all the world—a gospel that goes to our Jewish friends first, and then to all who follow. And you and I, whatever else we’ve been charged with, are charged with the immense responsibility and peculiar privilege of taking this great news—all this history of a kingdom that is before us and built behind us and all around us—so that others might come to taste the Living Water.
Do we realize—do I realize—that that brief conversation with Jeremy this week is gone in an instant? It’s done. A seed is sown. “Please, God. You have promised. You have promised. Save Jeremy. Show him. Show him that Jesus is the Messiah. Help him to drink the Living Water. Help our children in the nursery to realize who Jesus is so that your kingdom may come, that your will might be done throughout all the earth.”
Well, it’s appropriate that we pause for a moment and pray:
Lord, we want to learn. Like the disciples, we say to you, “Lord, teach us [how] to pray.” Help us to pray kingdom prayers. Help us to do what David does here. Even when it seems as if things are going entirely in the wrong direction, help us then to turn your promises into our prayers. Thank you that above and beyond the affairs of time and the reign and rule of nations and legalities, that there is a higher throne. And help us, then, to look to this place. Lift up our eyes, we pray, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
 See Psalm 119:89.
 See Deuteronomy 8:3.
 2 Samuel 7:22 (ESV).
 Deuteronomy 4:33–35 (ESV).
 See 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23.
 Romans 9:17 (ESV).
 See Philippians 2:10.
 Psalm 89:36–37 (ESV).
 Galatians 3:13–14 (ESV).
 See Revelation 7:9.
 Ephesians 2:11–14 (ESV).
 Romans 9:3 (paraphrased).
 2 Corinthians 3:14 (paraphrased).
 Ephesians 2:12–15 (paraphrased).
 Isaac Watts, “How Pleased and Blest Was I” (1719).
 Isaiah 61:11 (ESV).
 Acts 1:6–8 (paraphrased).
 Matthew 6:10 (paraphrased).
 Romans 1:1–6 (ESV).
 Daniel Webster Whittle, “I Know Not Why God’s Wondrous Grace” (1883).
 Isaac Watts, “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun” (1719).
 Matthew 16:18 (ESV).
 See Revelation 11:15.
 2 Samuel 7:2 (ESV).
 Zechariah 9:9 (paraphrased).
 See Romans 1:16.
 Luke 11:1 (ESV).
Copyright © 2021, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.