How God Treats Our 'King Deficiency' (2 Samuel 7:11b-16)
I. The Most Common Condition
Of the many different kinds of health deficiencies from which people can suffer (things like too little magnesium in your body, or calcium, Vitamin A... of these), researchers tell us that the most common ailment is... an iron deficiency. An iron deficiency can, of course, lead to anemia, but it more commonly results in things like fatigue, dizziness, and a weakened immune system. In terms of prevalence, the World Health Organization estimates that iron deficiency and anemia affect, for example, 42% of children under five and 40% of pregnant women worldwide.
But this morning I would suggest there is far, far more common deficiency from which humanity suffers, one that affect 100% of children, 100% of pregnant women, 100% of all women.. and all men! We could call that deficiency a 'king deficiency”. Listen to how the final verse of the book of Judges describes this condition...
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (21:25)
Notice what we learn about the writer of that statement: he isn't living in “those days”, is he? He was living at a time when there was a “king in Israel”, and the kind of king that changed the moral relativism that once characterized the period of Israel's history described in Judges 21. Maybe that king was Saul. Or better still, maybe it was David. Let's hold on to that idea of a 'king deficiency' and consider one of the Bible's most important accounts about David, in fact, one of the most important of any accounts in the entire Bible. Turn over to 2 Samuel 7.
II. The Passage: “The LORD Will Make You a House” (7:11b-16)
If you look at the very first verse of the chapter, you'll see how the writer establishes the context here: “Now when the king [that's David] lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies...”. The fact that David was living in his house (or palace) is mentioned here because the subsequent verses focus on David's desire to build a 'house' (i.e., a temple) for Yahweh. But through the prophet Nathan, God says “no” to Israel's king. David will not build a house for God. But Nathan's message to David doesn't end there. Let's pick up that prophetic word in the second half of verse 11. Listen to the words of the prophet...
Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.  When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  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.’”
So if we think back to the universal condition I described at the beginning, when I used the language of Judges 21:25, I think we could say that to whatever degree we seek to do what is right in our own eyes, we are confirming that diagnosis: all of us have a 'king deficiency'. But what this passage, 2 Samuel 7, describes is how the Divine Physician treats that condition.
So let me be clear about what I'm saying. Every spiritual struggle you have, and so many of the material or situational struggles you have, these are a direct result of your 'king deficiency'. That's how serious and pervasive the condition is.
But God's treatment is equally serious. More than that, it's astounding. Let's make sure we understand what we just learned from 2 Samuel 7:11-16. Though the passage itself doesn't use the word, in 2 Chronicles 13:5 and 21:7, Psalm 89, and Jeremiah 33:21 this promise to David is called a covenant. And like the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant from earlier in Scripture, this Davidic covenant is one the most important pillars in terms of God's glorious work of redemption. We'll talk more about that in just a moment.
But again, let's make sure we understand what our main text is saying. Consider three things emphasized in this passage. For example, consider what we learn here about...
1. David's Offspring
This covenant is with David, but it isn't focused on what will happen to David himself or what will happen during his reign. Notice the related terms emphasized here: (v. 11) “the LORD will make you a house”, (v. 12) “I will raise up your offspring”; this offspring is clearly David's son, but he will also be (v. 14) “a son” to God. And in verse 16, we find the term “house” is repeated. So what God has promised David here is focused on David's descendants, rather than David himself. That's important to point out. But we also read here about...
2. David's Kingdom
The passage makes it clear that God's promise to David is not simply the promise of many descendants. The “offspring” or “house” God has in view here has to do with descendants who will reign as king. That's why we see repeated terms in this passage like “kingdom” and “throne”. We know not all of David's sons reigned as king. Only Solomon truly did. And he was, in fact, the one who built God's temple, just as God indicates here in v. 13. So the covenant is a focused on promises related to the kingdom of David. Finally, look at what we read about..
3. David's Reign
Verse 12 makes it clear that David will in fact “lie down with [his] fathers”, that is, he will die. So the duration of David's reign would be limited (specifically, he reigned for 40 years, until his death at 70). But notice what the final statement in verse 6 says about the duration of David's throne... “Your throne shall be established... forever.” At that same promise applies to David's son as well in verse 13, “and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” And both of these are present in the first half of verse 16: “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.”
So let's be clear about why this covenant is so important. Think about how all these covenants work together. If God's covenant with Abraham was the promise of blessing, and God's covenant with Israel through Moses was an agreement that they would follow God's law in order to experience that promised blessing, then this covenant with David was the promise of a Davidic king to lead them in that obedience, and thus, lead them into and under that blessing.
Remember, Saul was the king the people wanted, but not the king they needed. They accepted to some degree the reality of their 'king deficiency', but they sought to rectify their condition through worldly wisdom (specifically, that big and strong kings are the best kings). But David was the king they needed, a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). And as David sought to honor God, he led the people to honor God. And the people were experiencing the blessings promised in the Law (2 Samuel 7:1 gives us a sense of this—also verses 10-11). So the Davidic kings the nation of Israel needed were not simply those who possessed David's DNA, but those who possessed David's heart.
But in the short term, there was a weakness to this covenant. In fact, there were two, both of which are hinted at in our main text. First, just as David's death was mentioned here, it was clear that every Davidic king must one day die. Now combine this with an oft repeated phrase in the Old Testament (OT), a phrase that spoke to this same promise. 1 Kings 2:4, 8:25, and 9:5; 2 Chronicles 6:16 and 7:18, Jeremiah 33, verses 17 and 18, and Jeremiah 35:19, all put it this way: “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel...” In light of all this, what the Davidic covenant seems to promise is a never ending succession of kings from David's lineage. Now, this first weakness really comes into focus in light of the second.
The second weakness touched on in our main text is clear from 2 Samuel 7:14 and 15. Look back at what God says there:
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.
As is clear from the OT story, neither David nor his descendants were free from sin, from the “iniquity” mentioned here. But God reassures David in this covenant: the reality of their sins, the reality of these kings' failures, would not lead them to Saul's fate; that is, the kingdom will not be taken from David's line. God's “steadfast love” will remain. Even when the Davidic king and the people he ruled over were at their most corrupt, this promise stood firm. 2 Chronicles 21:7...
Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.
The covenant promise declared in 2 Samuel 7 was an amazing answer to the nation's 'king deficiency', an answer based on the king they needed, not the king they wanted. But inasmuch as this covenant depended on kings who were sinners, it must have seemed problematic; even precarious. But critically, when the OT prophets spoke to God's people of God's future work of restoration and transformation, they often painted with the colors of the Davidic covenant. For example, Jeremiah 23:5... “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch...” Or Ezekiel 34:23... “And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.” That wasn't a promise that David would be raised from the grave. It was the promise of a Davidic king who would truly be like his ancestor: a king the people needed.
III. The King's Sufficiency
Of course when we arrive in the New Testament (NT), the very first chapter and the earliest stories all reflect the light of that covenant lamp, and they reflect it in a way far bigger and far better than most expected. Listen to Matthew 1:20–21 and Luke 1:30–33...
But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He 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.”
Brothers and sisters, the two weaknesses of the Davidic covenant (again, since that promise seemed to depend on kings who were sinners... these two weaknesses) were answered powerfully and perfectly in Jesus Christ, the son of David. He was and is both a never-sinning king and a never-dying-again king. Moral and immortal. Spotless and resurrected. There is no forever succession of Davidic kings. Instead, there is, gloriously, one, forever King from David's line. Therefore we can say this about God's gracious treatment for every one of us...
God has treated your 'king deficiency' with the perfect King's sufficiency.
Every day you and I are tempted to do what is right in our own eyes. In fact, the culture around is routinely encouraging us to do that very thing. But that is not a mark of or pathway to freedom. Whether in your present condition, or as a mark of your old self, that “in your own eyes” mindset is a symptom of our rebellion and lostness. But make no mistake: that condition does not always look like moral relativism or anarchy. It can also look like those pre-David Israelites, who allowed worldly wisdom to inform their desire for a king. We can do the same, looking to thought leaders or political leaders, or even ministry leaders, but through our own eyes, not God's.
In fact, we can even see Jesus 'in our own eyes'; that is, living as if he existed for us, rather than us for him; as if he serves our ambitions, rather than we under his reign. The Good News of the Bible is not simply that a perfect King came to lead us. It's first that a perfect King allowed himself to be led up to a cross, where he was humiliated for our corruption. David's son, who should have been honored, was horribly dishonored... for us; because of our 'king deficiency'.
To have 'king deficiency' means our greatest need is for not just any king, but the King we need most; the King we were created to serve. And that is exactly who God has given us. We're told that Israel was rejecting God as King when they clamored for a human king. But God used that very request to bring us back to himself. How? Because the perfect human king is also the perfect divine king. They are one in the same... Jesus Christ. And because that perfect King's sufficiency perfectly meets our deficiency, we can pray the words of this Puritan prayer, “Occupy the throne of my heart, take full possession and reign supreme, lay low every rebel lust, let no vile passion resist thy holy war.” Will you admit this morning to your 'king deficiency'? Or at least to struggling with that mindset? And as a result will you cry out daily, “Lord Jesus, you are my King. I don't need 'my own eyes'. I need you to lead me. Let me follow in faith and love.” Hope for today in light of an ancient promise. Staggering, isn't it? Let's give thanks to this same God.
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