The Perpetual Throne

Text: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

There used to be a show on ABC called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Loving neighbors nominate a friend or family member who has fallen on hard times and needs work done on their house to receive a free home makeover. The producers of the show treat the chosen family to a vacation while local contractors go to work remaking the house in a week while the occupants are busy. If the house is deemed beyond repair, they just demolish it and build a new one. This, of course, is all filmed for our enjoyment.

In the text from 2 Samuel 7 we heard, “Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.’”[1] King David basically wants to do an extreme makeover for the Lord’s house. He sees that he lives in this nice strong house made of cedar. Him being king, it’s probably extravagant. David lives in a house, but he sees that the ark of God remains in a tent. He decides he’s going to do something for God, then. God responds through the prophet Nathan that He has something else in mind: God is going to build a David a house, one which will last forever. In this house of David, the throne will be established forever. This is no mere mortal house, rather, it is the house that Christ established, and it is His throne that lasts into eternity.

I.

Certainly David’s desire is pious. It is well-intentioned and comes from the heart. It maybe is a desire that many of us can identify with. A number of us here can remember the old sanctuary and the building of the one we are currently in now. We call the church the “house of God,” so that’s something else we have in common with David. Even Nathan the prophet said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”[2] Now that the Ark of the Covenant had been brought to Jerusalem, a feat in itself since David had to defeat the people who already lived there, Israel’s enemies have been defeated and David received rest from the Lord.

The Biblical witness of David is that he is a man of war, a man with blood on his hands. But, the Lord is with him. God Himself testifies that it was He who went before David cutting off all his enemies, just as God led the people in their wandering and their conquests. But now, that time has passed. At least for a little while, there will be rest in the land as God has granted it. In this rest David happens upon the fact that he is living comfortably in a palace, while God sits in a tent. So, he figures, if he can build a house for himself, he might as well have a go at making one for God, too. That sounds pretty good, at least initially. Nathan speaks for himself that it’s a good idea and encourages David to go ahead.

That night the Word of the Lord came to Nathan with a message for David. This message was not exactly what David wanted to hear, but it was both bad and good as we shall see. The message begins, “Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.”[3] The Lord asks a powerful rhetorical question of David: would you build me a house to dwell in? David, the aforementioned man of blood, later testified shortly before his death, “I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord and for the footstool of our God, and I made preparations for building. But God said to me, ‘You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.’”[4]

God continues His Word: “In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’”[5] He says that from the day He brought up the people of Israel from Egypt up until now, He has not lived in a house. Neither did He speak a single word with any of the judges about building a house for Him. Even if He did ask for a house, how could man build a house for God – He whose throne is the heavens and footstool, the earth?

II.

No, God did not need David to build a house for Him. Instead, He’s going to do something for David. “Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name…And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more…I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.”[6]

The Lord says, thanks but no thanks. Instead of David making Him a house, God will make David a house, just as He took him from the pastures, made him prince, and cut off all his enemies before him. All these were for the benefit of the children of Israel. Now, God is going to build a house for David, for the faithful children of Israel, and for us as well. Only, this isn’t a house that decays and eventually falls; this isn’t a house made by human hands. Instead, it is a house that lasts forever with a throne that lasts into eternity. As God says in verse 16, “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”[7]

In the Gospel text Gabriel testified to Mary what Scripture had long promised, “[Jesus] will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[8] This is the truth that David understood as well, as we can read in his response later in 2 Samuel 7. The house that God was referring to is not one built by human hands, though the kingdom and temple of Solomon would serve to foreshadow the coming of Christ. The house that God means is one that lasts forever, where people have a place to find security and peace. The house that God means is His house, the Church.

We do not mean a house that God Almighty physically rests in, but it is the place where He dwells and makes Himself available to His people. We are human and so God has provided a place where we can go to receive His gifts and be in His presence. The throne that lasts forever is as the Gospel text says – Jesus’. This throne He reigned on from the beginning, and yet He stepped down from it to be born of the Virgin Mary, the event we will shortly be celebrating. He set aside His throne and glory to take our flesh upon Himself. He became Immanuel, God with us. In His body He carried our sin and reconciled us to God by destroying the powers of sin and death through His death on the cross.

After His death He no longer restrained His glory, instead He proclaimed to the souls in prison that death had no power over Him. He appeared to hundreds of people, healing their diseases, and then He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. The right of the Father is not some location separated from us in time and space, but rather, it extends everywhere and lasts forever. Where can we see it? Here. Here in the Church is where Christ dwells and is among us. Here He comes to us with His Word and Sacraments to forgive us, to strengthen us, to renew us, and to reassure us that He is coming again. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 2 Sam. 7:1–2.

[2] 2 Sam. 7:3.

[3] 2 Sam. 7:5-6.

[4] 1 Chron. 28:2-3.

[5] 2 Sam. 7:6–7.

[6] 2 Sam. 7:8–11.

[7] 2 Sam. 7:16.

[8] Lk. 1:32–33.

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