1 Chronicles 17


Coffman, in his commentary, gives us a useful summary of this chapter.

‘God rejects David’s purpose to build a temple but promises the Messiah whose throne would last forever.’

God’s Promise To David

‘After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent.” Nathan replied to David, “Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.” 1 Chronicles 17:1-3

When we read 2 Samuel 7:1-17, we read the parallel account, there are small variations in the two accounts, but nothing significant. God’s prohibition against David’s intention of building God a house was stated in the form of a question in 2 Samuel but appears here as a positive commandment forbidding it, the meaning is the same either way.

After settling into his palace and having peace from his enemies David goes to Nathan the prophet and tells him he’s living in a house of cedar, while the Ark of God is in a tent, that is a tabernacle, 2 Samuel 7:1-3.

David wanted to make a permanent home for the tabernacle but God’s original plan was for the tabernacle to be mobile and God would dwell within it. It was never intended to stay in one place but to be moved around among Israel’s territories.

We must remember that God knew that Israel would reject Him as King and demand a physical king, that’s why he gave laws concerning a new king, Deuteronomy 17:14-20.

But when it comes to the tabernacle there were no alternative plans, especially concerning the building of a temple, that’s because the tabernacle, and the continual refurbishing of it, was to continue throughout their history, 1 Chronicles 17:4-6.

The reason why there were no alternative plans for the tabernacle is simply because God isn’t found in any physical structure and God isn’t just the God of Israel, John 4:21-24. Although God never commanded the building of a temple, He allowed them to build one, so that we learn from their mistakes, 1 Corinthians 10:11 / Romans 15:4.

‘But that night the word of God came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day. I have moved from one tent site to another, from one dwelling place to another. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their leaders whom I commanded to shepherd my people, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name like the names of the greatest men on earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also subdue all your enemies. “‘I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you.’ 1 Chronicles 17:4-10

Nathan receives word from God concerning David’s idea about building a temple and tells him to go and rebuke David for having such an idea. God says that He had moved in a tent for over 400 years with Israel, 1 Chronicles 17:4-6 / 2 Samuel 7:4-11.

He asked, ‘should a house of cedar be built for Him?’ in other words if God could move in a tent for 400 years then, why couldn’t He continue to do so?

The way God speaks here clearly tells us that even the temple that Solomon was eventually going to build was never a part of His plan for His people. The Israelites were to use the tabernacle and tabernacle only, throughout their entire history and when they wore it, they were to make another one to replace it. this was God’s plan.

Nathan was to tell David that God raised him up as a shepherd and then anointed him as ruler over His people. God was the One who protected him and will give him a great name and God says that He will give David a house.

In the context of God is saying, ‘now that we’re on the subject of ‘houses’, let Me tell you about the real spiritual house that I am building’.

The reason why God was against having a temple built was because it would give the impression that God was limited to a certain location. David was a man of war and guilty of much bloodshed and David didn’t have the time to build the temple, 1 Kings 5:3-4. Of course, the main reason why God didn’t want a temple built is simply because it was never a part of His plans to do so.

Coffman in his commentary asks the following, did the Jewish temple have God’s approval? He responds by saying the following.

The answer to this question is an unqualified negative. If it had been God’s will, He would never have destroyed it twice! Jesus Christ referred to the temple as ‘a den of thieves and robbers’, Matthew 21:13. It was the temple crowd who engineered the crucifixion of Christ and opposed the preaching of the Gospel.

They were not merely thieves and robbers but liars and murderers as well. Significantly, the Book of Hebrews bypasses and ignores the Jewish Temple altogether, identifying all of the typical functions mentioned in Exodus, NOT with the temple, but with the tabernacle.

Christ himself is the True House, or Temple of God, John 2:10. And that means that the Jewish edifice was the False Temple. The true temple of God today is the ‘spiritual body’ of Christ, namely, his holy church, 1 Corinthians 6:19. It is no contradiction of this truth that God’s Spirit did indeed, for a time dwell within the temple of Solomon, but Ezekiel gives a dramatic account of how that Spirit left it with the sound of a mighty rushing wind, Ezekiel 11:22-23.

Also, God’s command through the prophets for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah cannot be interpreted as God’s approval of the temple.

That command to rebuild the temple is in the same category as Christ’s command to Judas Iscariot to ‘get on with the betrayal’, John 13:27, or the holy angel’s command for Baalam to, ‘go with the men’, Numbers 22:35. It was far too late in Israel’s history to change their infatuation with an earthly temple, Amos 9:11 / Acts 7:47 / Acts 15:16-18.

‘When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.’” Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.’ 1 Chronicles 17:4-15

Nathan was to tell David after he had died, God would raise up David’s offspring to succeed him. These words are highly prophetic which concerned the throne of David, which represented the authority of God on earth. God promised David that He would set up his offspring after him and establish his kingdom, 2 Samuel 7:12-17.

God says He ‘will build a house for My Name’, here He is describing what He would do through this One whom He would eventually raise up after David, 1 Chronicles 17:1-15. A careful reading of this prophecy shows us there were two promises made.

God would set up David’s descendants upon his throne. The use of the words ‘his’ and ‘he’ tells us this is an individual, although there is a secondary fulfilment of the prophecy that referred to the Messiah.

Obviously, the first individual to sit on David’s throne would be his son, Solomon, but this reference to ‘I will be his father, and he will be my son’, also speaks about the Messiah who would come in the future, Psalm 2:7 / Psalm 89:26-27 / Acts 13:33 / Hebrews 1:5-7.

Notice that God says, ‘When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands’. Although the N.I.V uses the word, ‘when’ which implies that this person will do wrong, the K.J.V. correctly uses the word, ‘if’, which implies this person has the choice to do wrong. The point is that this verse isn’t speaking about Solomon, it’s speaking about the Christ, Isaiah 53:5.

Notice God also said, ‘your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ There’s no misunderstanding of what God means here, and Who He is referring to, this is all about the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who is the One who would sit upon David’s throne, not to Solomon, Psalms 16:10 / Acts 2:25-31.

God is speaking about the Messiah, who in the future would sit on his throne and rule, Psalm 110:1 / Acts 2:34 / 1 Corinthians 15:26-28 / Ephesians 1:20-22.

The immediate fulfilment of the prophecy refers to Solomon, but David knew that this was speaking about Someone way beyond his heirs, we know that David knew these words referred to Someone who was coming sometime in the future because he says so himself, 2 Samuel 7:19 / Psalm 89:34-37 / Acts 2:30.

David’s Prayer

‘Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: “Who am I, LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, LORD God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men. “What more can David say to you for honouring your servant? For you know your servant, LORD. For the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made known all these great promises. “There is no one like you, LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God. “And now, LORD, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you. “You, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. So your servant has found courage to pray to you. You, LORD, are God! You have promised these good things to your servant. Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, LORD, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever.” 1 Chronicles 17:16-27

When David goes to speak to the Lord, he uses the words, ‘Sovereign LORD’ on several occasions. He begins by asking, ‘who am I?’, this tells us that David fully understood the enormity of the prophecy concerning his house, 1 Chronicles 17:16-27 / 2 Samuel 7:18-29.

He obviously didn’t understand the prophetic references concerning the Messiah who was to come, 1 Peter 1:10-12, but he did understand that God was going to do great things through his descendants to accomplish something incredible.

It’s clear that David is incredibly thankful and humbled that God was going to use him and his family to create a wonderful future for Israel as a whole. He boldly prayed to God from his heart and tells God to just do what He promised, He would do.

He knew that God was God and that every word which comes from His mouth is true, Psalm 119:160 / Proverbs 30:5 / John 17:17, David knew that God can be trusted.

Coffman says the following concerning David’s prayer. There’s no doubt that David’s prayer was a plea on behalf of his physical posterity, but God’s answer to such a prayer uttered by a faithful and loving parent must always depend to a great extent upon the descendants of such a parent.

When the physical descendants of David became wicked and reprobate, they, along with all of the apostate nation, were displaced and punished by their exile in Babylon. However, there were two very significant ways in which God answered this prayer.

1. The descendants of David were indeed continued upon the earth ‘before the Lord’ until, in the fullness of time, the terminal heir to David’s throne, namely, Joseph the son of Jacob, was able to pass it on to Christ the Messiah, who was the legal heir of Joseph, but not his literal son, Matthew 1:16.

2. The other way consisted in the continuity of David’s personal descendants through his son Nathan until Jesus Christ was born miraculously of the Virgin Mary, whose husband Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli, Mary’s father, Luke 3:23, the daughter of Heli, directly descended from David through Nathan. Thus in this manner, David’s house was continued ‘forever’ before the Lord, especially in consequence of the fact that Christ himself and the total of that Israel, of all races and kindreds of men) which constitutes his ‘spiritual body’ are also reckoned in the ‘house of David’, Matthew 1:1.

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