[Editor’s Note – Sabbath School Lessons writer the Rev. Dr. L. Robert LaMay joined the ranks of Christ’s good and faithful servants on 29 December 2013 when he passed from this world into the arms of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Please pray for the Christian Observer as we, D.V., strive to provide the same quality of Reformed Sabbath School lessons as Dr. LaMay did so well for so many years.]
The Ark of the Covenant and God’s presence therein had dwelt in a tent or tabernacle ever since God’s people had built the ark and the tent. That was in the early days of their forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert. Generations later, King David was established upon the throne of Israel, and there was peace in the land. The king was living in great splendor in his house while the ark remained in its tent, and David thought that it was time to build a temple to house the ark.
King David is described as residing in his house in a time of peace after his many successful conquests. (v.1) The king says to the prophet Nathan that it is not right that he should live in comparative opulence in his house of cedar, while the Ark of the Covenant, God’s dwelling place with Israel since their years in the wilderness, remains housed in a tent. (v.2) Nathan enthusiastically agrees with David’s plans to build a temple, and urges David to go forward with his plans. (v.3)
That same night, God comes to the prophet Nathan in a dream to reveal His Word to him. (v.4) God tells Nathan to take his message to King David, asking David: “Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?” (v.5) God reviews his history of dwelling with the Israelites in a tent, also called a tabernacle, from the wanderings in the desert with Moses up to the present day. (v.6) God reminds David that never once during that time has He ever asked to dwell in a house, but He has walked with His people in His tent and tabernacle. (v.7) God then asks whether during that time he ever asked the children of Israel or the tribes of Israel to live in a house of cedar. (v.8) God next recalls with David how he led David wherever he went, that he led David to victory after victory over his enemies, and that has made for David a great name among all the great men of the earth. (v.9) Matthew Henry’s comment here is instructive: “That worship only is acceptable which is instituted; why should David therefore design what God never ordained? Let him wait for a warrant, and then let him do it. Better a tent of God’s appointing than a temple of his own inventing.”
God then says to David: “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house.” (v.10,11), telling David of a promised land of peace and rest from his enemies, and a house that God will make for him.
God next tells David of His divine will for the building of His temple:
God then describes a covenantal promise that He will be a father to this son and that this earthly king will be a son to God, and that God will chasten his son if he falls into iniquity. (v. 14) God qualifies this promise by saying that his mercy will never depart from his son as it did with Saul. (v.15) God again reminds David that his house and his throne will be established forever. (v.16) He closes the passage with a “bookend” of verse four, saying that the prophet Nathan told David all that God had given him to tell to David. (v. 17)
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