God’s Covenant With David

Heritage Presbyterian Church https://heritagepresbyterian.org

7th Sunday after Pentecost
July 16, 2023

Scripture reading: 2nd Samuel 7:1-17


During these summer months, I have been preaching about God’s various covenants with his people, as described in the Bible.  Today’s covenant is with one of God’s favorites: David.

Let us pray…

If you have ever heard of Birth Order Theory or Family Theory, then you might have some understanding as to why you and your siblings are so different.  The theory is pretty straightforward: your order of birth in your family influences how you and your siblings act.

Some examples:

First born children: You have some time as the only child, the first child, the GOLDEN CHILD.  From this, you will become the de facto boss when other children arrive.  You can’t help it!  Someone needs to be in control…might as well be you.

Second born children: You tend to be very competitive, especially with your older siblings.  You can’t stand being bossed around.  You are also the one who is generally known as the “peacemaker” in the family.  You tend to be a favorite among several relatives because of your good cheer.

Last born children: Frankly, you get away with murder, according to your older siblings; “You never let me do that!” is a common statement coming from them.  In fact, by the time you came along, your parents were exhausted by the older siblings, so they let a lot of things go.  You tend to be the rebel, but you also seek to carve out your own niche in the family and in the world.

Now, remember…this is only a THEORY.  It is not a proven fact.  But as the saying goes, “If the shoe fits, wear it.”

That being said, let’s take a hard, very close look at David.  He is the youngest of seven brothers, all his brothers were tall and good-looking.  David may have turned out tall and good-looking eventually, but he was a kid compared to them.  Samuel, the prophet even said so when the Lord sent him to David’s father seeking the next leader of Israel.

With David being the youngest, if we follow Birth Order Theory, he was spoiled, favored, and sought to carve out a niche for himself in his world.

By a preponderance of evidence, David was certainly one of the Lord’s favorite children.

So, what did David do with that favor from the Lord?

  • He defeated the Philistine’s champion, Goliath, a story that we all know quite well.
  • He respected and deferred to King Saul, the rightful King of Israel even when Saul became unbalanced and was proved not to be the rightful King anymore.
  • He united Israel and lead its army to defeat all of Israel’s enemies completely.
  • He loved completely and worshiped the Lord often.

Still, David made some serious, SERIOUS errors in judgment along the way, especially after he became King of Israel:

  • He committed adultery with Bathsheba – and fathered a child with her.
  • He arranged for Bathsheba’s husband, one of David’s most loyal warriors, to be killed in battle.
  • He ordered a census of his people in order to gauge the size of a possible army should he ever need it; he did this despite the Lord telling him NOT to do this.
  • He failed to discipline his own sons, who caused no end of trouble for David later.

By committing these sins, David seems to be a far worse person than the other leaders with whom the Lord made a covenant.

  • Adam ate fruit from the forbidden tree…he did it ONCE.
  • Moses failed to give the Lord credit for the water flowing in the desert at Meribah.  Moses only did this one time.
  • Neither Noah nor Abraham EVER broke their covenants.

Can you see why it is tempting to assume David was the Lord’s favorite if he sinned this many times – and we’re not talking minor sins; we are talking MAJOR terrible sins that made the Lord angry?  What was going on here?

Was there something about the plan to build a Temple for the Lord that reflected well (or poorly!) on David?  Could that have something to do with our question?

When David planned build a magnificent Temple for the Lord, he was doing it only to honor the Lord.

  • He was not trying to control the Lord or hem in the Lord;
  • He was not trying to exalt himself in the eyes of the rest of the world by having the Lord in a Temple in Jerusalem;
  • He was not trying to pay the Lord back for all the good David had received.

Instead, look more closely at what the words say in today’s reading:

“…the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’

David was embarrassed that he lived in comfort, but the Ark of the Lord dwelt in a common tent.  His intent was to glorify the Lord with a magnificent Temple; and that’s all!

And what did the Lord tell Nathan in response?  The Lord promised David a son who would continue to build Israel into an even mightier nation…and he would build the Temple.

This may have been the first unfortunate step in a process that led the people of God to take the Temple more seriously than their worship of God who supposedly dwelled in it. 

Think about how devastating it was when the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians 500 years after David’s death.

Think about how Herod the Great rebuilt the Temple 1000 years after David’s death in order to win favor among the Jews of Judea – but not to honor God.

Still…in David’s plans, I wonder if there is something for us to discern.

Was the covenant between the Lord and David somehow fundamentally different than the previous ones?  Let’s see exactly what the Lord’s covenant with David actually said:

  1.  “I will make a great name for you.”  That’s a new one…the Lord never said that in any of the other covenants offered up to that point.
  2.  “I will appoint a place for my people.”  Again, never said in a covenant, even though the Lord led the people to the Promised Land under the leadership of Moses.
  3.  “I will give you rest.”   This was probably deserved by any who have ever served the Lord.
  4. “I will raise up your offspring.”   This is similar to what was promised to Abraham, but David was not the beginning of the people of God like Abraham was.
  5.  “I will build you a house.”   Exactly the OPPOSITE of what David was trying to do for the Lord!

So, this particular covenant had some different items in it, but one thing was consistent in this covenant and in all the others: The Lord would be their God, and they would be His people if they continued to love him and serve him alone.  That part never changed – and David certainly never broke that part of the covenant.

But again…we still have no answer to our question:

What is going on here?

Why did David sin so grievously and so often – and still remain in the Lord’s good graces?

  • Could it be that David was flawed and yet consistently followed the Lord’s will?
  • Could it be that David humbled himself properly each and every time he sinned – and even made sure whatever punishment was coming would only come to him alone?
  • Could it be…David loved the Lord more than the other patriarchs of the Bible?

David’s actions would be scorned and loudly rejected today if we saw them occurring – no matter how good David was in other things.

I don’t think that it comes down to one thing in the case of David.  I think this may be an excellent example of the complicated relationship the Lord has with his servants, which could even include us.

Think about our own relationship with the Lord.  If we love and serve the Lord and turn away from the worship of any other gods or things, the Lord will be our God.  Anyone worshiping anything or any god other than our Lord?

If we confess our sins and work to become a better person, we are also given forgiveness.  This also happened with David, who publicly confessed his sins, humbled himself every time, and was offered forgiveness.

If we maintain our relationship with the Lord every minute of every day in all that we think, say, and do – then the Lord will be at our side.

The covenant with David is still in effect, even 3000 years after David lived and reigned in Israel.  This is because God’s conditional requirements and God’s unconditional promises belong in biblical faith that is also our own faith today.

One final thought: note that King David also had challenges, even when he was doing the right things.  He had enemies, hardships, and those who hated him.  He endured the Lord’s punishments for his wrongdoing and faced them directly. 

Sound familiar?  Even when we love and serve the Lord, we have no guarantee that we won’t face our own challenges.

None of us is King David – but we are loved just as much by the Lord…each and every one of us.