Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. – 2 Samuel 7:21-22 ESV
2 Samuel 7:18-29
God had transformed David from an obscure shepherd boy into a mighty king over the nation of Israel – God’s chosen people. Not only that, God had promised to give David an everlasting dynasty, with one of his descendants occupying the throne in Jerusalem. David could look back over his life and see the hand of God, and now he could contemplate the future with confidence, knowing that God had it all under control. Yes, David was going to have to die to his dream of building a temple for God, but his disappointment was replaced with joy as soon as he understood that God had an even great plan in store. The interesting thing to note is the David, the king of Israel, willingly submitted himself to God, the King of the universe. In fact, David repeatedly refers to himself as God’s servant throughout this prayer. Yes, he was king and held the most powerful position in the land. But he humbly submitted himself to God because he recognized that any power, authority, success or significance he enjoyed was due to the sovereign hand of God. He confessed to God, “you have brought about all this greatness”. David could look back over his life and see God intimately involved every step along the way. From his unlikely selection by Samuel to be the next king of Israel to his defeat of the Philistine warrior, Goliath, David saw God’s divine fingerprints. He knew that it had been God who had protected him all those years he lived in exile in the wilderness with a bounty on his head issued by King Saul. He knew that it had been God who had arranged his ascent to the throne. God had given him his victories over the enemies of Israel. God had been the one to forgive his sin with Bathsheba and allowed him to continue his reign. Everywhere David looked, he could see the hand of God.
They say hindsight is 20/20. It sometimes takes the passing of time and the opportunity to contemplate where we have been to give us a true perspective on just what has happened. Looking back allows us to view the events of our life more realistically. We are able to see the lessons learned even in the darkest moments. From our present vantage point, we are more apt to understand now what was going on then. In fact, our reflection on the past often leads us to say, “If I had only known then what I know now”. But as believers in Christ, there is far more benefit to reflection on the past than potential life lessons to be learned. Like David, we should be able to look and see God’s fingerprints all over every aspect of our lives. We should be able to see how He was leading us and eventually calling us to Himself. We should recognize the moments in which He had protected us or possibly disciplined us. Looking back allows us to better see our own sin and God’s gracious acts of salvation all along the way. And the result of our reflection should be the same as that of David. “Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you.”
But not only does looking back allow us to see the handiwork of God in our lives, so does looking forward. David could “see” into the future and rest easy, knowing that God had promised that He would “raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom” (2 Samuel 7:12 ESV). God had told David that He would “establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:13 ESV). And one of the reasons David could trust God’s word regarding the future was because he had experienced God’s faithfulness in the past. He had learned to trust God. He had no reason to doubt that God would fulfill His promises for the future because God had already proven Himself trustworthy and good for His word.
The greatness of God. Sometimes I think that reality escapes many of us who call ourselves Christians. We have somehow lost our awe for God. Rather than see Him as great, we simply take Him for granted. We fail to look back and see His hand in our lives. Any success we have achieved, we tend to take credit for. Any difficulties we have endured, we fail to see any value in. Some of us simply regret the past. Others of us inordinately revel in it. And either way, we can fail to see God in it. Recognizing God’s involvement in our past is essential if we are going to trust His promises for the future. If we don’t believe He has been there for us all along the way, we are going to have a hard time believing He will be there for us in the days ahead. One of the greatest lessons we can learn in this life is to recognize and appreciate the greatness of God. He is always great, whether we see it or are willing to acknowledge it. Sometimes, the best way to comprehend His greatness is to come to grips with our own weakness and insignificance. For David, the very thought that God had chosen him, an insignificant shepherd boy, and made him a king, was mind blowing. That God had chosen to protect him all those years he was running from a psycho king with a one-track mind focused on David’s annihilation, was almost too much for him to believe. But he did believe and he was grateful. He was awed at God’s greatness. And so should we be. Like David, we should be able and willing to exclaim, “Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness” (Psalm 145:3 NLT).