Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. After God rejected Saul as king over Israel, he sought a man after his own heart, a king whose character would reflect the very nature of God (1 Sam. 13:14). King Saul started out so well, but he fell into jealousy, obsession, and disobedience. So God rejected him. Matters only got worse after David killed the Philistine giant, Goliath. “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). From that point on, Saul sought to assassinate David, even though they were kin by marriage (David married Saul’s daughter Michal). Yet when Saul killed himself after being mortally wounded in battle with the Philistines, David did not rejoice. Instead, he lamented for his fallen king and father-in-law. His enemy was dead, but David durst not take up his hand against God’s anointed, trusting instead that all would be accomplished in God’s time.
Now David was king, living in the lap of luxury in a beautiful palace built of cedar wood. But the ark of the covenant with the tablets of testimony, signifying Yahweh’s presence among his people, sat in a tent (the tabernacle). For nearly 600 years the ark of the covenant had been carried from place to place with the tabernacle. Truly, the tabernacle was a tent of magnificent construction, but it was still a tent. And this bothered David, as well it might bother us. Imagine if you were living in a million-dollar mansion while your church had to rent a school cafeteria or storefront at a strip mall in order to worship. Wouldn’t that bother your conscience at least a little bit? If you can’t picture that scenario, consider this one: what if you were living in a nice, newly built home in Castle Rock while your parents scraped by in an old, musty apartment in a run-down section of Denver. Wouldn’t you want to do whatever it took to put mom and dad in a better place?
So David concocted a plan to build a “house,” or temple, for Yahweh, so that the art of the covenant In the ancient world, a god’s temple was known as its “house,” because that’s where the idol was erected and setup and cultic practices, such as prayers and sacrifices were carried out. Obviously, David worshiped the living God, not an idol, yet he still had in mind to build a “house” or temple to replace the tabernacle.
David shared his plan with the prophet Nathan, who was delighted. After all, what pastor do you know who would turn down a multi-million dollar donation to construct a bigger, beautiful worship space than their current sanctuary—no matter how nice it might be? I know that I’d have a hard time turning down a donation like that to Epiphany. So did Nathan.
But Yahweh had other plans in mind, and he sent Nathan back to David with a voided check. The Lord didn’t want David to build a temple for his name. We are not told why in this story, but elsewhere in Scripture, we learn that it is because David was a man of war with too much blood on his hands (1 Chron. 28:3). Even though David’s wars up to this point had all been defensive wars against King Saul or holy wars against the Philistines, he was still unfit for building the temple. God wanted a man of peace—not a man of war—to build his house, and so the privilege and responsibility would fall to David’s son, King Solomon, whose Hebrew name, Shelomoh, sounds like shalom, the Hebrew word for “peace.”
So God promised that, after David died, he would put one of his sons on his throne after him and establish his kingdom (2 Sam. 7:12). This son would build a house, or temple, for Yahweh (v. 13a), and this prophecy was carried out by Solomon early into his reign.
But all of a sudden, halfway through verse 13, the son in question changes. Yahweh’s focus shifts from Solomon to the Messiah, a “son” of David whose kingdom and throne would last forever (v. 13b). Solomon’s kingdom did not last forever. While he himself enjoyed a long, prosperous reign, he eventually died, and his kingdom was torn in two by civil war (the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah). What’s more, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon put an end to Judah’s monarchy when he besieged the city of Jerusalem and carted off King Zedekiah to Babylon in 605 B.C. And that is why the rest of the prophecy in 2 Samuel 7 cannot refer to Solomon.
For when Babylon captured Zedekiah, the line of kings failed, but the bloodline did not. David’s great-great-great-great-grandsons continued to raise families and bear sons… all the way down to the time of Jesus.
By human descent, Jesus is the son of David. For, in the Hebrew language and way of thinking, the term “son” is not restricted solely to the next generation of male heirs in your family. Rather, it can refer to any of your male descendants, even after many generations (28 to be precise!). Thus, Jesus Christ, or Jesus the Messiah, is called “the son of David” and “son of Abraham” in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt. 1:1). Jesus died on the cross with a placard that read “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Pilate posted the sign in jest. Nevertheless, Jesus was (and is) the true King of Israel. He is at once both David’s son and David’s Lord (cf. Mark 12:37). How can this be? By miracle of the Incarnation.
Jesus Christ is the eternal, begotten Son of God. As the Lord declares in Psalm 2, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Ps. 2:7). The New Testament repeatedly applies this declaration to Jesus. He is God’s Son and David’s son. He is David’s son and David’s Lord. He is 100% God and 100% human at the same time. To call this a mystery is an understatement. C.S. Lewis called the Incarnation the “Grand Miracle,” to which and from which all others derive their source.
Like his “father” (ancestor), King David, Jesus was a man after God’s own heart. In fact, he was God’s heart, his “beloved Son” with whom he was “well pleased” (Mark 1:11). David was an imperfect, flawed human being. He was a warrior king who failed as a husband and father (if you want to learn more about that, come to Bible class on Sunday!). Yet David remained humble and penitent all his days. Even when he sinned, he repented and begged for God’s forgiveness.
Jesus was humble too, but he never sinned. Rather, he was the perfect, obedient Son. He was “obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). God loved Jesus deeply. But he loves you too. And because he could not bear the thought of spending eternity without you, he sent his Son, Jesus the Messiah, the King of Israel, to be born in a manger so he could die as a criminal on a cross. Christ was 100% obedient to God’s will and command. Yet our sin demanded a punishment, so God punished Jesus “with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men” (2 Sam. 7:14). He became “a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). God punished Jesus instead of us; and Jesus just took it. So because of his obedience, God raised him from the dead and hears his prayer when he asks the Father to forgive us.
Now Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father on his throne in heaven. His throne is established forever. His kingdom will have no end. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom…” (Isa. 9:7a). We have not yet seen Christ the King in all his glory. But that Day will come. That is what we long for and pray for through all the Advents of our life: the return of the King. In the meantime, Jesus calls us to repent and ready ourselves for his return. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2; Matt. 4:17). That was true in the days of John the Baptist. It was true when Jesus walked the earth. And it remains true in these Last Days. God’s kingdom comes in Christ—a king like David, and a king for us. Therefore, we pray, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on [us]” (Luke 18:38). For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.