Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
2 Kings (2 Samuel)
David's Resolution to Build a Temple. The Promised Perpetuity of His Throne - 2 Samuel 7
To the erection of a sanctuary for the ark upon Mount Zion there is appended an account of David's desire to build a temple for the Lord. We find this not only in the text before us, but also in the parallel history in 1 Chron 17. When David had acquired rest from his enemies round about, he formed the resolution to build a house for the Lord, and this resolution was sanctioned by the prophet Nathan (Sa2 7:1-3). But the Lord revealed to the prophet, and through him to David, that He had not required the building of a temple from any of the tribes of Israel, and that He would first of all build a house himself for His servant David, and confirm the throne to his seed for ever, and then he should build Him a temple (Sa2 7:4-17). David then gave utterance to his thanksgiving for this glorious promise in a prayer, in which he praised the unmeasurable grace of God, and prayed for the fulfilment of this renewed promised of divine grace (Sa2 7:18-29).
(Note: With regard to the historical authenticity of this promise, Tholuck observes, in his Prophets and their Prophecies (pp. 165-6), that "it can be proved, with all the evidence which is ever to be obtained in support of historical testimony, that David actually received a prophetic promise that his family should sit upon the throne for ever, and consequently an intimation of a royal descendant whose government should be eternal. Anything like a merely subjective promise arising from human combinations is precluded here by the fact that Nathan, acting according to the best of his knowledge, gave his consent to David's plan of building a temple; and that it was not till afterwards, when he had been instructed by a divine vision, that he did the very opposite, and assured him on the contrary that God would build him a house." Thenius also affirms that "there is no reason for assuming, as De Wette has done, that Nathan's prophecies were not composed till after the time of Solomon;" that "their historical credibility is attested by Ps 89 (Psa 89:4, Psa 89:5, 20-38, and especially Psa 89:20), Psa 132:11-12, and Isa 55:3; and that, properly interpreted, they are also Messianic." The principal evidence of this is to be found in the prophetic utterance of David in 2 Samuel 23, where, as is generally admitted, he takes a retrospective glance at the promise, and thereby attests the historical credibility of Nathan's prophecy (Thenius, p. 245). Nevertheless, Gust. Baur maintains that "a closer comparison of this more elaborate and simple description (2 Samuel 7) with the brief and altogether unexampled last words of David, more especially with Sa2 23:5, can hardly leave the slightest doubt, that the relation in which the chapter before us stands to these words, is that of a later expansion to an authentic prophetic utterance of the king himself." For example, the distinct allusion to the birth of Solomon, and the building of the temple, which was to be completed by him, is said to have evidently sprung from a later development of the original promise after the time of Solomon, on account of the incongruity apparent in Nathan's prediction between the ideal picture of the Israelitish monarchy and the definite allusion to Solomon's building of the temple. But there is no such "incongruity" in Nathan's prediction; it is only to be found in the naturalistic assumptions of Baur himself, that the utterances of the prophets contained nothing more than subjective and ideal hopes of the future, and not supernatural predictions. This also applies to Diestel's opinion, that the section Sa2 7:4-16 does not harmonize with the substance of David's glorious prayer in Sa2 7:18-29, nor the latter again with itself, because the advice given him to relinquish the idea of building the temple is not supported by any reasons that answer either to the character of David or to his peculiar circumstances, with which the allusion to his son would have been in perfect keeping; but the prophet's dissuasion merely alludes to the fact that Jehovah did not stand in need of a stately house at all, and had never given utterance to any such desire. On account of this "obvious" fact, Diestel regards it as credible that the original dissuasion came from God, because it was founded upon an earlier view, but that the promise of the son of David which followed proceeded from Nathan, who no doubt looked with more favourable eyes upon the building of the temple. This discrepancy is also arbitrarily foisted upon the text. There is not a syllable about any "original dissuasion" in all that Nathan says; for he simply tells the king that Jehovah had hitherto dwelt in a tent, and had not asked any of the tribes of Israel to build a stately temple, but not that Jehovah did not need a stately house at all.)
Of the different exegetical treatises upon this passage, see Christ. Aug. Crusii Hypomnemata, ii. 190-219, and Hengstenberg's Christol. i. 123ff.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 7:1
When David was dwelling in his house, i.e., the palace of cedar (Sa2 5:11), and Jehovah had given him rest from all his enemies round about, he said to Nathan the prophet: "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, and the ark of God dwelleth within the curtains." היריעה in the singular is used, In Exo 26:2., to denote the inner covering, composed of a number of lengths of tapestry sewn together, which was spread over the planks of the tabernacle, and made it into a dwelling, whereas the separate pieces of tapestry are called יריעת in the plural; and hence, in the later writers, יריעות alternates sometimes with אהל (Isa 54:2), and at other times with אהלים (Sol 1:5; Jer 4:20; Jer 49:29). Consequently היריעה refers here to the tent-cloth or tent formed of pieces of tapestry. "Within (i.e., surrounded by) the tent-cloth:" in the Chronicles we find "under curtains." From the words "when the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about," it is evident that David did not form the resolution to build the temple in the first years of his reign upon Zion, nor immediately after the completion of his palace, but at a later period (see the remarks on Sa2 5:11, note). It is true that the giving of rest from all his enemies round about does not definitely presuppose the termination of all the greater wars of David, since it is not affirmed that this rest was a definitive one; but the words cannot possibly be restricted to the two victories over the Philistines (Sa2 5:17-25), as Hengstenberg supposes, inasmuch as, however important the second may have been, their foes were not even permanently quieted by them, to say nothing of their being entirely subdued. Moreover, in the promise mentioned in Sa2 7:9, God distinctly says, "I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies before thee." These words also show that at that time David had already fought against all the enemies round about, and humbled them. Now, as all David's principal wars are grouped together for the first time in 2 Samuel 8 and 10, there can be no doubt that the history is not arranged in a strictly chronological order. And the expression "after this" in Sa2 8:1 is by no means at variance with this, since this formula does not at all express a strictly chronological sequence. From the words of the prophet, "Go, do all that is in thy heart, for the Lord is with thee," it is very evident that David had expressed the intention to build a splendid palatial temple. The word לך, go (equivalent to "quite right"), is omitted in the Chronicles as superfluous. Nathan sanctioned the king's resolution "from his own feelings, and not by divine revelation" (J. H. Michaelis); but he did not "afterwards perceive that the time for carrying out this intention had not yet come," as Thenius and Bertheau maintain; on the contrary, the Lord God revealed to the prophet that David was not to carry out his intention at all.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 7:4
The revelation and promise of God. - Sa2 7:4. "That night," i.e., the night succeeding the day on which Nathan had talked with the king concerning the building of the temple, the Lord made known His decree to the prophet, with instructions to communicate it to the king. וגו האתּה, "Shouldest thou build me a house for me to dwell in?" The question involves a negative reply, and consequently in the Chronicles we find "thou shalt not."
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 7:6
The reason assigned for this answer: "I have not dwelt in a house from the day of the bringing up of Israel out of Egypt even to this day, but I was wandering about in a tent and in a dwelling." "And in a dwelling" (mishcan) is to be taken as explanatory, viz., in a tent which was my dwelling. As a tent is a traveller's dwelling, so, as long as God's dwelling was a tent, He himself appeared as if travelling or going from place to place. "In the whole of the time that I walked among all the children of Israel, ... have I spoken a word to one of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people, saying, Wherefore have ye not built me a cedar house?" A "cedar house" is equivalent to a palace built of costly materials. The expression ישׂראל שׁבטי אחד ("one of the tribes of Israel") is a striking one, as the feeding of the nation does not appear to be a duty belonging to the "tribes," and in the Chronicles we have שׁפטי (judges) instead of שׁבטי (tribes). But if שׁפטי had been the original expression used in the text, it would be impossible to explain the origin and general acceptance of the word שׁבטי. For this very reason, therefore, we must regard שׁבטי as the original word, and understand it as referring to the tribes, which had supplied the nation with judges and leaders before the tie of David, since the feeding, i.e., the government of Israel, which was in the hands of the judges, was transferred to the tribes to which the judges belonged. This view is confirmed by Psa 78:67-68, where the election of David as prince, and of Zion as the site of the sanctuary, is described as the election of the tribe of Judah and the rejection of the tribe of Ephraim. On the other hand, the assumption of Thenius, that שׁבטי, "shepherd-staffs," is used poetically for shepherds, cannot be established on the ground of Lev 27:32 and Mic 7:14. Jehovah gave two reasons why David's proposal to build Him a temple should not be carried out: (1) He had hitherto lived in a tent in the midst of His people; (2) He had not commanded any former prince or tribe to build a temple. This did not involve any blame, as though there had been something presumptuous in David's proposal, or in the fact that he had thought of undertaking such a work without an express command from God, but simply showed that it was not because of any negligence on the part of the former leaders of the people that they had not thought of erecting a temple, and that even now the time for carrying out such a work as that had not yet come.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 7:8
After thus declining his proposal, the Lord made known His gracious purpose to David: "Thus saith Jehovah of hosts" (not only Jehovah, as in Sa2 7:5, but Jehovah Sebaoth, because He manifests himself in the following revelation as the God of the universe): "I have taken thee from the pasturage (grass-plat), behind the flock, to be prince over my people Israel; and was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and exterminated all thine enemies before thee, and so made thee, ועשׂיתי (perfect with vav consec.), a great name, ... and created a place for my people Israel, and planted them, so that they dwell in their place, and do not tremble any more (before their oppressors); and the sons of wickedness do not oppress them any further, as at the beginning, and from the day when I appointed judges over my people Israel: and I create thee rest from all thine enemies. And Jehovah proclaims to thee, that Jehovah will make thee a house." The words ישׂ עמּי ... היּום למן are to be joined to בּראשׁונה, "as in the beginning," i.e., in Egypt, and from the time of the judges; that is to say, during the rule of the judges, when the surrounding nations constantly oppressed and subjugated Israel. The plan usually adopted, of connecting the words with והניחתי, does not yield any suitable thought at all, as God had not given David rest from the very beginning of the times of the judges; but the period of the judges was long antecedent to the time of David, and was not a period of rest for the Israelites. Again, והניחתי does not resume what is stated in Sa2 7:9, and is not to be rendered as a preterite in the sense of "I have procured thee rest," but as a perfect with vav consec., "and I procure thee rest" from what is now about to come to pass. And והגּיד is to be taken in the same way: the Lord shows thee, first of all through His promise (which follows), and then through the fact itself, the realization of His word. והניחתי refers to the future, as well as the building of David's house, and therefore not to the rest from all his enemies, which God had already secured for David, but to that which He would still further secure for him, that is to say, to the maintenance and establishment of that rest. The commentary upon this is to be found in Psa 89:22-24. In the Chronicles (Ch1 17:10) there is a somewhat different turn given to the last clauses: "and I bend down all thine enemies, and make it (the bending-down) known to thee (by the fact), and a house will Jehovah build for thee." The thought is not essentially changed by this; consequently there is no ground for any emendation of the text, which is not even apparently necessary, unless, like Bertheau, we misinterpret the words, and connect והכנעתּי erroneously with the previous clause.
The connection between Sa2 7:5-7 and Sa2 7:8-16 has been correctly indicated by Thenius as follows: Thou shalt not build a house for Me; but I, who have from the very beginning glorified myself in thee and my people (Sa2 7:8-11), will build a house for thee; and thy son shall erect a house for me (Sa2 7:13). This thought is not merely "a play upon words entirely in the spirit of prophecy," but contains the deep general truth that God must first of all build a man's house, before the man can build God's house, and applies it especially to the kingdom of God in Israel. As long as the quiet and full possession of the land of Canaan, which had been promised by the Lord to the people of God for their inheritance, was disputed by their enemies round about, even the dwelling-place of their God could not assume any other form than that of a wanderer's tent. The kingdom of God in Israel first acquired its rest and consolation through the efforts of David, when God had made all his foes subject to him and established his throne firmly, i.e., had assured to his descendants the possession of the kingdom for all future time. And it was this which ushered in the time for the building of a stationary house as a dwelling for the name of the Lord, i.e., for the visible manifestation of the presence of God in the midst of His people. The conquest of the citadel of Zion and the elevation of this fortress into the palace of the king, whom the Lord had given to His people, formed the commencement of the establishment of the kingdom of God. But this commencement received its first pledge of perpetuity from the divine assurance that the throne of David should be established for all future time. And this the Lord was about to accomplish: He would build David a house, and then his seed should build the house of the Lord. No definite reason is assigned why David himself was not to build the temple. We learn this first of all from David's last words (Ch1 28:3), in which he says to the assembled heads of the nation, "God said to me, Thou shalt not build a house for my name, because thou art a man of wars, and hast shed blood." Compare with this the similar words of David to Solomon in Ch1 22:8, and Solomon's statement in his message to Hiram, that David had been prevented from building the temple in consequence of his many wars. It was probably not till afterwards that David was informed by Nathan what the true reason was. As Hengstenberg has correctly observed, the fact that David was not permitted to build the temple on account of his own personal unworthiness, did not involve any blame for what he had done; for David stood in a closer relation to the Lord than Solomon did, and the wars which he waged were wars of the Lord (Sa1 25:28) for the maintenance and defence of the kingdom of God. But inasmuch as these wars were necessary and inevitable, they were practical proofs that David's kingdom and government were not yet established, and therefore that the time for the building of the temple had not yet come, and the rest of peace was not yet secured. The temple, as the symbolical representation of the kingdom of God, as also to correspond to the nature of that kingdom, and shadow forth the peace of the kingdom of God. For this reason, David, the man of war, was not to build the temple; but that was to be reserved for Solomon, the man of peace, the type of the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:5).
In Sa2 7:12-16 there follows a more precise definition of the way in which the Lord would build a house for His servant David: "When thy days shall become full, and thou shalt lie with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, who shall come from thy body, and establish his kingdom. He will build a house for my name, and I shall establish the throne of his kingdom for ever." הקים, to set up i.e., to promote to royal dignity. יצא אשׁר is not to be altered into יצא אשׁר, as Thenius and others maintain. The assumption that Solomon had already been born, is an unfounded one (see the note to Sa2 5:11); and it by no means follows from the statement in Sa2 7:1, to the effect that God had given David rest from all his enemies, that his resolution to build a temple was not formed till the closing years of his reign.
"I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to me; so that if he go astray, I shall chastise him with rods of men, and with strokes of the children of men (i.e., not 'with moderate punishment, such as parents are accustomed to inflict,' as Clericus explains it, but with such punishments as are inflicted upon all men who go astray, and from which even the seed of David is not to be excepted). But my mercy shall not depart from him, as I caused it to depart from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thy house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee; thy throne shall be established for ever." It is very obvious, from all the separate details of this promise, that it related primarily to Solomon, and had a certain fulfilment in him and his reign. On the death of David, his son Solomon ascended the throne, and God defended his kingdom against the machinations of Adonijah (Kg1 2:12); so that Solomon was able to say, "The Lord hath fulfilled His word that He spoke; for I have risen up in the stead of my father David," etc. (Kg1 8:20). Solomon built the temple, as the Lord said to David (Kg1 6:1; Kg1 8:15.). But in his old age Solomon sinned against the Lord by falling into idolatry; and as a punishment for this, after his death his kingdom was rent from his son, not indeed entirely, as one portion was still preserved to the family for David's sake (Kg1 11:9.). Thus the Lord punished him with rods of men, but did not withdraw from him His grace. At the same time, however unmistakeable the allusions to Solomon are, the substance of the promise is not fully exhausted in him. The threefold repetition of the expression "for ever," the establishment of the kingdom and throne of David for ever, points incontrovertibly beyond the time of Solomon, and to the eternal continuance of the seed of David. The word seed denotes the posterity of a person, which may consist either in one son or in several children, or in a long line of successive generations. The idea of a number of persons living at the same time, is here precluded by the context of the promise, as only one of David's successors could sit upon the throne at a time. On the other hand, the idea of a number of descendants following one another, is evidently contained in the promise, that God would not withdraw His favour from the seed, even if it went astray, as He had done from Saul, since this implies that even in that case the throne should be transmitted from father to son. There is still more, however, involved in the expression "for ever." When the promise was given that the throne of the kingdom of David should continue "to eternity," an eternal duration was also promised to the seed that should occupy this throne, just as in Sa2 7:16 the house and kingdom of David are spoken of as existing for ever, side by side. We must not reduce the idea of eternity to the popular notion of a long incalculable period, but must take it in an absolute sense, as the promise is evidently understood in Psa 89:30 : "I set his seed for ever, and this throne as the days of heaven." No earthly kingdom, and no posterity of any single man, has eternal duration like the heaven and the earth; but the different families of men become extinct, as the different earthly kingdoms perish, and other families and kingdoms take their place. The posterity of David, therefore, could only last for ever by running out in a person who lives for ever, i.e., by culminating in the Messiah, who lives for ever, and of whose kingdom there is no end. The promise consequently refers to the posterity of David, commencing with Solomon and closing with Christ: so that by the "seed" we are not to understand Solomon alone, with the kings who succeeded him, nor Christ alone, to the exclusion of Solomon and the earthly kings of the family of David; nor is the allusion to Solomon and Christ to be regarded as a double allusion to two different objects.
But if this is established, - namely, that the promise given to the seed of David that his kingdom should endure for ever only attained its ultimate fulfilment in Christ, - we must not restrict the building of the house of God to the erection of Solomon's temple. "The building of the house of the Lord goes hand in hand with the eternity of the kingdom" (Hengstenberg). As the kingdom endures for ever, so the house built for the dwelling-place of the Lord must also endure for ever, as Solomon said at the dedication of the temple (Kg1 8:13): "I have surely built Thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for Thee to abide in for ever." The everlasting continuance of Solomon's temple must not be reduced, however, to the simple fact, that even if the temple of Solomon should be destroyed, a new building would be erected in its place by the earthly descendants of Solomon, although this is also implied in the words, and the temple of Zerubbabel is included as the restoration of that of Solomon. For it is not merely in its earthly form, as a building of wood and stone, that the temple is referred to, but also and chiefly in its essential characteristic, as the place of the manifestation and presence of God in the midst of His people. The earthly form is perishable, the essence eternal. This essence was the dwelling of God in the midst of His people, which did not cease with the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, but culminated in the appearance of Jesus Christ, in whom Jehovah came to His people, and, as God the Word, made human nature His dwelling-place (ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, Joh 1:14) in the glory of the only-begotten Son of the Father; so that Christ could say to the Jews, "Destroy this temple (i.e., the temple of His body), and in three days I will build it up again" (Joh 2:19). It is with this building up of the temple destroyed by the Jews, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that the complete and essential fulfilment of our promise begins. It is perpetuated with the Christian church in the indwelling of the Father and Son through the Holy Ghost in the hearts of believers (Joh 14:23; Co1 6:19), by which the church of Jesus Christ is built up a spiritual house of God, composed of living stones (Ti1 3:15; Pe1 2:5; compare Co2 6:16; Heb 3:6); and it will be perfected in the completion of the kingdom of God at the end of time in the new Jerusalem, which shall come down upon the new earth out of heaven from God, as the true tabernacle of God with men (Rev 21:1-3).
As the building of the house of God receives its fulfilment first of all through Christ, so the promise, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son," is first fully realized in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the heavenly Father (vid., Heb 1:5). In the Old Testament the relation between father and son denotes the deepest intimacy of love; and love is perfected in unity of nature, in the communication to the son of all that the father hath. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand (Joh 3:35). Sonship therefore includes the government of the world. This not only applied to Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, but also to the seed of David generally, so far as they truly attained to the relation of children of God. So long as Solomon walked in the ways of the Lord, he ruled over all the kingdoms from the river (Euphrates) to the border of Egypt (Kg1 5:1); but when his heart turned away from the Lord in his old age, adversaries rose up against him (Kg1 11:14., Kg1 11:23.), and after his death the greater part of the kingdom was rent from his son. The seed of David was chastised for its sins; and as its apostasy continued, it was humbled yet more and more, until the earthly throne of David became extinct. Nevertheless the Lord did not cause His mercy to depart from him. When the house of David had fallen into decay, Jesus Christ was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, to raise up the throne of His father David again, and to reign for ever as King over the house of Jacob (Luk 1:32-33), and to establish the house and kingdom of David for ever. - In Sa2 7:16, where the promise returns to David again with the words, "thy house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever," the expression לפניך (before thee), which the lxx and Syriac have arbitrarily changed into לפני (before me), should be particularly observed. David, as the tribe-father and founder of the line of kings, is regarded either "as seeing all his descendants pass before him in a vision," as O. v. Gerlach supposes, or as continuing to exist in his descendants.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 7:17
"According to all these words ... did Nathan speak unto David," i.e., he related the whole to David, just as God had addressed it to him in the night. The clause in apposition, "according to all this vision," merely introduces a more minute definition of the peculiar form of the revelation. God spoke to Nathan in a vision which he had in the night, i.e., not in a dream, but in a waking condition, and during the night; for חזּיון = חזון is constantly distinguished from חלום, a revelation in a dream.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 7:18
David's prayer and thanksgiving. - Sa2 7:18. King David came, i.e., went into the sanctuary erected upon Zion, and remained before Jehovah. ישׁב, remained, tarried (as in Gen 24:55; Gen 29:19, etc.), not "sat;" for the custom of sitting before the Lord in the sanctuary, as the posture assumed in prayer, cannot be deduced from Exo 17:12, where Moses is compelled to sit from simple exhaustion. David's prayer consists of two parts - thanksgiving for the promise (Sa2 7:18-24), and supplication for its fulfilment (Sa2 7:25-29). The thanksgiving consists of a confession of unworthiness of all the great things that the Lord had hitherto done for him, and which He had still further increased by this glorious promise (Sa2 7:18-21), and praise to the Lord that all this had been done in proof of His true Deity, and to glorify His name upon His chosen people Israel.
Sa2 7:18. "Who am I, O Lord Jehovah? and who my house (i.e., my family), that Thou hast brought me hitherto?" These words recall Jacob's prayer in Gen 32:10, "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies," etc. David acknowledged himself to be unworthy of the great mercy which the Lord had displayed towards him, that he might give the glory to God alone (vid., Psa 8:5 and Psa 144:3).
"And this is still too little in Thine eyes, O Lord Jehovah, and Thou still speakest with regard to the house of Thy servant for a great while to come." למרחוק, lit. that which points to a remote period, i.e., that of the eternal establishment of my house and throne. "And this is the law of man, O Lord Jehovah." "The law of man" is the law which determines ore regulates the conduct of man. Hence the meaning of these words, which have been very differently interpreted, cannot, with the context immediately preceding it, be any other than the following: This - namely, the love and condescension manifested in Thy treatment of Thy servant - is the law which applies to man, or is conformed to the law which men are to observe towards men, i.e., to the law, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Lev 19:18, compare Mic 6:8). With this interpretation, which is confirmed by the parallel text of the Chronicles (in Sa2 7:17), "Thou sawest (i.e., visitedst me, or didst deal with me) according to the manner of man," that words are expressive of praise of the condescending grace of the Lord. "When God the Lord, in His treatment of poor mortals, follows the rule which He has laid down for the conduct of men one towards another, when He shows himself kind and affectionate, this must fill with adoring amazement those who know themselves and God" (Hengstenberg). Luther is wrong in the rendering which he has adopted: "This is the manner of a man, who is God the Lord;" for "Lord Jehovah" is not an explanatory apposition to "man," but an address to God, as in the preceding and following clause.
"And what more shall David speak to Thee? Thou knowest Thy servant, Lord Jehovah." Instead of expressing his gratitude still further in many words, David appeals to the omniscience of God, before whom his thankful heart lies open, just as in Psa 40:10 (compare also Psa 17:3).
"For Thy word's sake, and according to Thy heart (and therefore not because I am worthy of such grace), has Thou done all this greatness, to make it known to Thy servant." The word, for the sake of which God had done such great things for David, must be some former promise on the part of God. Hengstenberg supposes it to refer to the word of the Lord to Samuel, "Rise up and anoint him" (Sa1 16:12), which is apparently favoured indeed by the parallel in the corresponding text of Ch1 17:19, "for Thy servant's sake," i.e., because Thou hast chosen Thy servant. But even this variation must contain some special allusion which does not exclude a general interpretation of the expression "for Thy word's sake," viz., an allusion to the earlier promises of God, or the Messianic prophecies generally, particularly the one concerning Judah in Jacob's blessing (Gen 49:10), and the one relating to the ruler out of Jacob in Balaam's sayings (Num 24:17.), which contain the germs of the promise of the everlasting continuance of David's government. For the fact that David recognised the connection between the promise of God communicated to him by Nathan and Jacob's prophecy in Gen 49:10, is evident from Ch1 28:4, where he refers to his election as king as being the consequence of the election of Judah as ruler. "According to Thine own heart" is equivalent to "according to Thy love and grace; for God is gracious, merciful, and of great kindness and truth" (Exo 34:6, compare Psa 103:8). גּדוּלה does not mean great things, but greatness.
The praise of God commences in Sa2 7:22 : "wherefore Thou art great, Jehovah God; and there is not (one) like Thee, and no God beside Thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears." By the word "wherefore," i.e., because Thou hast done this, the praise of the singleness of God is set forth as the result of David's own experience. God is great when He manifests the greatness of His grace to men, and brings them to acknowledge it. And in these great deeds He proves the incomparable nature of His Deity, or that He alone is the true God. (For the fact itself, compare Exo 15:11; Deu 3:24; Deu 4:35.)
"And where is (any) like Thy people, like Israel, a nation upon earth, which God went to redeem as a people for himself, that He might make Him a name, and do great things for you, and terrible things for Thy land before Thy people, which Thou hast redeemed for Thee out of Egypt, (out of the) nations and their gods?" מי does not really mean where, but who, and is to be connected with the words immediately following, viz., אחד גּוי (one nation); but the only way in which the words can be rendered into good English (German in the original: Tr.) is, "where is there any people," etc. The relative אשׁר does not belong to הלכוּ, "which Elohim went to redeem." The construing of Elohim with a plural arises from the fact, that in this clause it not only refers to the true God, but also includes the idea of the gods of other nations. The idea, therefore, is not, "Is there any nation upon earth to which the only true God went?" but, "Is there any nation to which the deity worshipped by it went, as the true God went to Israel to redeem it for His own people?" The rendering given in the Septuagint to הלכוּ, viz., ὠδήγησεν, merely arose from a misapprehension of the true sense of the words; and the emendation הוליך, which some propose in consequence, would only distort the sense. The stress laid upon the incomparable character of the things which God had done for Israel, is merely introduced to praise and celebrate the God who did this as the only true God. (For the thought itself, compare the original passage in Deu 4:7, Deu 4:34.) In the clause לכם ולעשׂות, "and to do for you," David addresses the people of Israel with oratorical vivacity. Instead of saying "to do great things to (for) Israel," he says "to do great things to (for you." For you forms an antithesis to him, "to make Him a name, and to do great things for you (Israel)." The suggestion made by some, that לכם is to be taken as a dativ. comm., and referred to Elohim, no more needs a serious refutation than the alteration into להם. There have been different opinions, however, as to the object referred to in the suffix attached to לארצך, and it is difficult to decide between them; for whilst the fact that לארצך נראות (terrible things to Thy land) is governed by לעשׂות (to do) favours the allusion to Israel, and the sudden transition from the plural to the singular might be accounted for from the deep emotion of the person speaking, the words which follow ("before Thy people") rather favour the allusion to God, as it does not seem natural to take the suffix in two different senses in the two objects which follow so closely the one upon the other, viz., "for Thy land," and "before Thy people;" whilst the way is prepared for a transition from speaking of God to speaking to God by the word לכם (to you). The words of Deu 10:21 floated before the mind of David at the time, although he has given them a different turn. (On the "terrible things," see the commentary on Deu 10:21 and Exo 15:11.) The connection of נראות (terrible things) with לארצך (to Thy land) shows that David had in mind, when speaking of the acts of divine omnipotence which had inspired fear and dread of the majesty of God, not only the miracles of God in Egypt, but also the marvellous extermination of the Canaanites, whereby Israel had been established in the possession of the promised land, and the people of God placed in a condition to found a kingdom. These acts were performed before Israel, before the nation, whom the Lord redeemed to himself out of Egypt. This view is confirmed by the last words, "nations and their gods," which are in apposition to "from Egypt," so that the preposition מן should be repeated before גּוים (nations). The suffix to ואלהיו (literally "and its gods") is to be regarded as distributive: "the gods of each of these heathen nations." In the Chronicles (Ch1 17:21) the expression is simplified, and explained more clearly by the omission of "to Thy land," and the insertion of לגרשׁ, "to drive out nations from before Thy people." It has been erroneously inferred from this, that the text of our book is corrupt, and ought to be emended, or at any rate interpreted according to the Chronicles. But whilst לארצך is certainly not to be altered into לגרשׁ, it is just as wrong to do as Hengstenberg proposes, - namely, to take the thought expressed in לגרשׁ from the preceding לעשׂות by assuming a zeugma; for עשׂה, to do or make, has nothing in common with driving or clearing away.
"And Thou hast established to thyself Thy people Israel to be a people unto Thee for ever: and Thou, Jehovah, hast become a God to them." The first clause does not refer merely to the liberation of Israel out of Egypt, or to the conquest of Canaan alone, but to all that the Lord had done for the establishment of Israel as the people of His possession, from the time of Moses till His promise of the eternal continuance of the throne of David. Jehovah had thereby become God to the nation of Israel, i.e., had thereby attested and proved himself to be its God.
To this praise of the acts of the Lord there is attached in Sa2 7:25. the prayer for the fulfilment of His glorious promise. Would Jehovah set up (i.e., carry out) the word which He had spoken to His servant that His name might be great, i.e., be glorified, through its being said, "The Lord of Sabaoth is God over Israel," and "the house of Thy servant will be firm before Thee." The prayer is expressed in the form of confident assurance.
David felt himself encouraged to offer this prayer through the revelation which he had received. Because God had promised to build him a house, "therefore Thy servant hath found in his heart to pray this prayer," i.e., hath found joy in doing so.
David then briefly sums up the two parts of his prayer of thanksgiving in the two clauses commencing with ועתּה, "and now." - In Sa2 7:28 he sums up the contents of Sa2 7:18-24 by celebrating the greatness of the Lord and His promise; and in Sa2 7:29 the substance of the prayer in Sa2 7:25-27. וּברך הואל, may it please Thee to bless (הואיל; see at Deu 1:5). "And from (out of) Thy blessing may the house of Thy servant be blessed for ever."