Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 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. 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.” – 2 Samuel 7:18-29 ESV
One of the keys to understanding David’s lasting legacy as Israel’s greatest king is found in this marvelous prayer he offers up to God. As we have established and as the Scriptures make painfully clear, David was far from perfect. He was a man after God’s own heart, but he also had a heart that was strongly attracted to women. He also had an impulsive streak that would continually get him in trouble and an equal predisposition toward inaction that would also cause him great difficulty. But when all is said and done, and the evaluation of David’s life is complete, it is difficult not to conclude that he was a man who loved God and understood the unique nature of his relationship with God. In this prayer, David repeatedly refers to himself as the servant of God. And another eight times he calls God his master. This speaks volumes regarding David’s comprehension of his role and God’s rule. David may have been the king of Israel, but God was the King over the universe. David answered to him. In fact, he owed his entire life and his reign to God. David’s humility shines through as he expresses his amazement that God had chosen to use him.
“Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” – 2 Samuel 7:18 ESV
David understood that his crowning as king had been God’s doing.
“Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness…” – 2 Samuel 7:21 ESV
David didn’t see his recent elevation to the throne as something he deserved or had earned. It had been the result of God’s promise and the natural overflow of God’s heart. He is a faithful, covenant-keeping God.
And while David was the king and enjoyed all the perks and benefits that come with the job, he was far more impressed with the greatness of God.
“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 7:22 ESV
Even the existence of the nation of Israel had been the result of God’s sovereign will. The fact that David had a nation over which to rule and reign was God’s doing. There would have been no nation of Israel, had God not chosen Abraham and promised to make of him a great nation. There would have been no exodus unless God had chosen to step in and rescue and redeem His people from their slavery in Egypt. And there would have been no land over which David would reign if God had not given them the promised land.
“What other nation on earth is like your people Israel? What other nation, O God, have you redeemed from slavery to be your own people? You made a great name for yourself when you redeemed your people from Egypt.” – 2 Samuel 7:23 NLT
David was legitimately blown away that God had promised to “build a house” for him. This wasn’t a promise for a grand palace made with great stones, massive wooden beams, precious metals and rare jewels. No, God had promised to make David into a great nation, complete with heirs to sit on his throne after him. Unlike Saul, whose dynasty died with him, David would see his kingdom thrive and flourish under the leadership of his own son, Solomon. But even great than that was the promise of God that “the house of your servant David will be established before you” (2 Samuel 7:26 ESV). And not only that, God had told David:
“Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.” – 2 Samuel 7:16 NLT
What an amazing promise. And the staggering significance of its words did not escape David. He knew just how fleeting a king’s reign could be. He had personally watched as Saul’s kingdom had come to an abrupt and ignominious end. Kingdoms would end just as easily as they started. And David knew that the key to his kingdom’s longevity would be tied directly to God’s sovereignty. So David asked God to graciously extend his kingdom forever.
“Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you…” – 2 Samuel 7:29 ESV
David knew that the length of his legacy was directly died to the depth of his dependency upon God. As long as he recognized God as the ultimate King of Israel, his kingdom would flourish and his legacy would last. David knew that the blessings of God were tied to the obedience of the king. David understood that he stood as the representative for the people of God. He was their proxy, their stand-in, so to speak. His faithfulness would reflect the hearts of the people. As the king went, so would the people go.
In fact, there is an old proverb that says, “As the king, so are the subjects.” We see the truth of this statement lived out in the lives of Israel’s kings. Over and over again in the books of First and Second Kings we see the kings of Israel and Judah wrestle with their obedience and faithfulness to God. And time and time again, they lead their subjects away from God, to pursue false gods. They gave up their dependence upon God in exchange for dependence on false gods and foreign nations. They turned their backs on God. And eventually, God was forced to turn His back on them, sending the northern kingdom of Judah into captivity in Assyrian. Then hundreds of years later, sending the southern kingdom of Judah into captivity in Babylon.
And yet, God would remain faithful. He would keep His promise. And while the throne of David remains empty to this very day, and the nation of Israel has no king at this moment in time, God is not done yet. There is a King coming. One day, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and descendant of David, will return to claim His rightful place as the King of kings and Lord of lords. He will establish His throne in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David. And His reign will be everlasting. Not only that, His rule will be marked by righteousness, justice and holiness. There will be no king beside Him. There will be no other kingdoms to stand against His. Because there is no God beside Him. And the greatest news is that David’s kingdom did not end with his death or with that of his son Solomon. It didn’t end with the captivity of Judah or Israel. It didn’t end with the fall of Jerusalem or the destruction of the temple. There is a day coming when God will fulfill His covenant with David and it is to that day we should longingly look and hope for.
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.” – Revelation 21:5-7 NLT
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.