How to Respond to a Covenant Promise (II Samuel 7:18-29)
Topic: II Samuel Passage: 2 Samuel 7:18–7:29
Crying for a King
How to Respond to a Covenant Promise
II Samuel 7:18-29
September 15th, 2013
(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)
I. Familiar Responses
Let's start with a little game this morning. I will say a familiar phrase and you tell me the familiar, the expected, the common response. Sound good? Okay, here we go...
“Thank you.” (“You're welcome.”)
“Knock-Knock.” (“Who's there?”)
“Achoo!” (“God bless you.”)
"Do you want some German chocolate cake?" ("Yes!")
[Here's one from Easter...] “He is risen!” (“He is risen indeed!”)
Alright, good job. But do you...do you know how to respond when someone makes you a covenant promise? That's exactly what God wants to teach us this morning as we look together at II Samuel 7, verses 18-29.
II. The Passage: “Because of Your Promise” (7:18-29)
So as we think about this issue of responding to a covenant promise, before we talk about the right response, we need to define what we mean by “covenant promise”. My wife made me a covenant promise 17 and a half years ago, and it is important how I respond to that promise. But this morning the covenant promise we want to think about is one made by God himself.
A. What Covenant Promise?
We can talk about that kind of response because that's exactly what we find in verses 18-29. We find David, the king of Israel, responding to the covenant promise that God has just given to him in verses 8-16 of this chapter.
If you were here last time you may remember that not only did God promise to make David's name great, and to establish the people of Israel, and to give them rest from all their enemies, but amazingly, God also promised to give David a dynasty; to establish the throne of his descendants, not for a hundred, or five-hundred, or even a thousand years...but forever...for all time.
So put yourself in David's sandals for a minute. How would you respond to God? How would you respond to that kind of covenant promise? But you're not David. I'm not David. If God didn't make this promise to us, why are we talking about how to respond to a covenant promise? Well, this promise might not be ours, but that doesn't mean God has not made a covenant promise to us.
Just listen to what the author of the book of Hebrews tells us about the new covenant that has given to us in Jesus Christ:
...how much more [than “the blood of goats and bulls “] will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.  Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called [that's us!] may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant [that's the Covenant given through Moses]...[Christ] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself... For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 9:13, 15, 26; 10:14)
Do you see what the writer is telling us? God has called us to a “new covenant” and He has given us promises through that covenant, promise even more amazing than those given to David. Because of Jesus God has promised 1) to purify your conscience, 2) to give you an eternal inheritance with Him, 3) to redeem or buy you out of your slavery to sin, 4) to put away your sin forever, 5) to clothe you with His own moral perfection as 6) He sanctifies you, as He actually makes you more and more like Himself.
Staggering! Those promises are absolutely staggering! Forgiveness. Healing. Freedom. Transformation. Eternity with God through Jesus Christ. And those are not simply possibilities. Those are promises. Sworn promises sealed in the blood of the Son of God.
B. Responding How?
And so how does one respond to covenant promises like these? Well, let's look at how David responded to God's covenant promises and see what we can learn.
1. By Bowing Completely (7:18-20)
Look with me first at verses 18 through 20 of II Samuel 7. This is what we read...
Then King David went in and 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!  And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord GOD!
Notice the nature of David's initial words. These are words of genuine humility inspired by the unexpected grace of God. How has David responded? He has responded by bowing completely. No, the writer doesn't tell us about David's posture, but it's abundantly clear that David's heart has been laid low before God.
“Who am I...who am I, Lord GOD?” He was not born into a family of power and prestige. And even though he is the king, even though David is the greatest warrior in Israel, his accomplishments, his fame, could never merit the promise that God has made to him.
Not only does he not deserve the blessings God has given him up to that point, the reality that God has brought him “thus far” (v. 18), but how could he possibly deserve a promise concerning eternity, concerning “a great while to come” (v. 19)? In some sense, in verse 20, David is left speechless. What can he say to God? He will go on to say plenty, but in terms of informing God about his own nothingness, he knows his words are unnecessary. God knows. And yet, in spite of that, God has blessed him in this way.
This is “instruction for mankind”, isn't it? Who am I? Who are you...that God should make a new covenant with us? That God should give such promises to us? Are you bowing completely in light of the sheer wonder of what God has done for you in Jesus? Do you recognize, as David has recognized, that God's promises come from grace and grace alone? There is nothing you or I could do to deserve such promises. Like God knew David, God knows us. And yet, He has still blessed us in this way. Are you astonished?
2. By Praising Confidently (7:21, 22)
But there's more to David's response here. Look with me at verses 21 and 22...
Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.  Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
As we see here, David is not only bowing completely in humility, he is also praising confidently in light of God's promise. There is no hesitation on David's part here. He is not unsure in any way. The grace of God that flows from the heart of God, the grace of God that has both poured out and promised greatness to David, has set God apart in such a way that David must honor God has incomparable.
David not only confess, “Who am I?”, but also “Who is like you, O God?”. That a great Creator would give greatness to one of his creatures drives David to worship. And it should do the same in our hearts.
Just think about how often we are tempted to exalt things in our lives, things that should not be exalted. Think about how often we make things like money and respect and sex and success and relationships and comfort and security and health and education and knowledge and even good works into ultimate things, into things we allow to rule us like gods. But have any of those things ever, ever made promises to us like this? Yes, those things always promise us some kind of payoff, but they can never deliver. They always leave us feeling empty.
But God delivered His son over to death on cross to assure us that His promises are sure. He can save, He has saved, and He will save fully and forever. As David says in verse 22, not one of us has ever heard anything like this. There is a who field of study called comparative religion, but at the end of the day, nothing can be compared to our God and the grace He has demonstrated in the new covenant of Jesus. Shouldn't this drive us to praise Him with even more passion and gratitude and awe?
3. By Marveling Communally (7:23, 24)
But there's even more to David's response. Look at verses 23 and 24:
And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods?  And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O LORD, became their God.
Now, in some sense, this part of David's response is less obvious to us. When we think about God's covenant promise, we are tempted to get stuck in the “what does this mean for ME” mentality. But as the king of Israel, David understands that God's promise to him, God's promise of an eternal throne, is also the promise of eternal leadership for the people of God. And like we talked about last time, WE can know the blessing of that promise because Jesus Christ, the son of David, the one who rose from the dead, Jesus Christ will reign over us forever and ever.
You see, David is not only bowing completely and praising confidently, he is also marveling communally. He thinks not simply as an individual, but as part of a family. He sees both personal blessing and the corporate or communal blessing. And David is in awe of what God has done and is doing to form a people for himself.
When you celebrate the blessings of God in your life, do you celebrate the church? Are you in awe of the fact that, in Jesus, by grace, God is forming a people from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages (Revelation 7:9)? When we think about God's promises to us, we need to cherish what we share. As fellow heirs, we need to be fellow worshipers. Remember, when Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6 and Luke 11, that prayer was to be prayed in the first plural, not the first person singular (“our”, not “my”... “us”, not “me”).
God has done “great and awesome things” for US, hasn't He? I love the way the Apostle Peter expresses this in I Peter 2:9, 10...
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
4. By Praying Courageously (7:25-29)
But there's one more part here to David's response to God's covenant promises. Look at the final verses in this chapter, verses 25 through 29...
And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken.  And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The LORD of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you.  For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you.  And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.  Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord GOD, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”
We don't have to speculate about the nature of David's response in these verses, do we? He tells us what he is doing in verse 27. David begins his response by bowing completely. He continues by praising confidently. He goes on to marvel communally. And here, as he tells us, in light of God's revelation, he is praying courageously.
Notice in verse 25 that David asks God to “confirm forever the word that you have spoken”, and again in verse 29, to “bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you.” Now at first glance, it almost sounds like David is doubting that God is actually going to do what He said He would do. But I think that conclusion would be incorrect. Praying that God's promises would come to pass is not an expression of wallowing in doubt, but an expression of walking by faith.
When we pray, “may your kingdom come”, we are not doubting. No, we are yearning. We are longing for God's future reign to fill our present, to change our right now. Do you pray courageously in light of God's covenant promises? Listen how the author of Hebrews expresses this in light of Jesus and the new covenant He has made...
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Because of Jesus, we don't have to be unsure about our standing before God, about our relationship with God. We are at peace with God. We are right with the Father because of the Son. And if we are now children of God, then we can pray courageously to our Father in light of the firm promises He's given us. “I'm struggling, Father. Use this hard time for my good, just as you've promised (Romans 8:28). I'm feeling lost and lonely, Father. Confirm to me your promise that you will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). I'm struggling with my past, Father. I'm struggling with regret. Remind me that in Jesus you have cast all of my sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19)”
III. An Every Day Thing
Think about this for a minute: what are some things you do every day? Brush your teeth? Breathe? Blink? Eat? Sleep? Use the facilities? What about this: what about declaring to yourself, every single say, the covenant promise that God has made to you in Jesus Christ? Wouldn’t that change things? Shouldn’t that change things?
The first readers of this book of Samuel would have been given in these verses an amazing window into the heart of David. They would have seen why he was called a man after God’s own heart. And hopefully they would have been inspired by his example of bowing, praising, marveling, and praying. Are you inspired this morning? What MUST we do in order to be right with God? Only one thing: we must, like David, receive God’s promises in faith. That’s it.
But when that happens, when faith blossoms in our hearts, our lives are continually changed in response to God’s covenant promises. Remember how Paul and Peter added to this list of right responses to God’s promises…
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. (II Peter 3:13-14)
God’s covenant promise of an eternal throne to David was fulfilled in Jesus, the eternal king. And because it was, we too can come under His loving reign. We too can receive God’s promises in the new covenant. What does your life communicate about the promises God has communicated to you? May God be honored as we, following David’s example, respond to God by bowing completely, praising confidently, marveling communally, and praying courageously.