2 Samuel 7:1–8:18, 1 Peter 4:12–19, Psalm 137:1–9
In trying to look at the big picture of the life of Israel’s King David, I see ups and downs, but mostly a rise in God’s blessing on him, up to a point. The promises and covenant made to him was a far cry from God’s relationship with Saul, the king who went before him.
Part of this covenant was eternal, pointing to Jesus Christ as the greater king and as the ultimate descendent of David who would rule forever. However, God also spoke through a prophet to David, telling him what would happen to his son and the king who came after him . . .
“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. ” (2 Samuel 7:14–16)
David’s attitude could have been pride. After all, the Creator of the Universe had given him a prominent place in His kingdom, but David was not proud. He 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!” (2 Samuel 7:18–19)
It excites and thrills me to read that David knew that the Word of God was not just for him and his descendents; it was for mankind. This small nation began with Abraham and the promise that through him the whole world would be blessed. Now the promise was narrowed to the descendents of David, yet David remembered the covenant with Abraham. His attitude was never “us four, nor more, shut the door” but a great desire that God would be glorified and all people would be blessed.
David was not perfect. Most of us know about Bathsheba, and how his rule and kingdom deteriorated after that grave sin. David failed. Today’s warning from the NT applies to this ancient king as well as to me: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:15–19)
God kept His promise to David. Even though David failed, his end was not like that of Saul because he did not have God’s steadfast love taken from him. Why is that? David, in faith, believed the promises of God. Saul continually took matters into his own hands. These men both demonstrated by their lives who they were really trusting. David’s faith included obedience to the gospel of God. He knew he was a sinner (read Psalm 51), yet he also knew that God was a Savior. Saul continually came up with ideas on how to save himself, revealing where his faith was placed.
It would be a horrible thing to have God’s love depart. It would be nearly as bad to be taken into captivity and removed from safety. Whoever wrote Psalm 137 knew the horror of being displaced, not out of the family of God, or away from His love, but out of the homeland God had given His people. Not only was he in emotional distress, his captors mocked him to sing songs about Zion. Yet the psalmist responded in faith:
“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” (Psalm 137:4–6)
If he was there and could get his hands on a spear, Saul may have thrown it at the mockers. David was not like that, but more like this psalm. He trusted the Lord to rescue him and he set the city of God as his highest joy. Had he been in that place of distress and mocking, I can see him smiling in total trust and hear him humming a psalm.