1 Chronicles 17


Yahweh’s Covenant with David

        • On this section, verses 1-27, ESV Study Bible writes, “David’s wish to build a house or temple for Yahweh meets with refusal, but God promises that he will build a perpetual house or dynasty for David and that one of David’s sons will build a temple for Yahweh. The promise to David has the nature of a covenant and is central to the message of Chronicles. The twofold manifestation of this covenant will be the Davidic dynasty and Solomon’s temple, and henceforth the Chronicler will show that Israel’s identity as God’s people will be expressed through these two institutions. The promise to David is similarly the seedbed of the OT’s messianic hope, which the NT will show is fulfilled in Jesus as the descendant of David (Rom 1:3). The Chronicler’s immediate interest, however, is more focused on Solomon as the chosen heir and temple builder (1 Chron 17:11-14).”

      • After David had settled into his house, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I’m living in a cedar house while the ark of Yahweh’s covenant is under a tent!” Nathan replied, “Do whatever you have in mind because God is with you.”

      • But that same night the word of God came to Nathan saying, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what Yahweh says: “You are not the one to build Me a house to live in. I haven’t lived in a house from the day I brought Israel out of Egypt up until this day. Instead, I have lived in a tent, moving from place to place in a Tabernacle. In all the places I have moved with Israel, did I ever say to even one of Israel’s judges, whom I commanded to shepherd My people, ‘Why haven’t you built Me a cedar house?’”’

        • Guzik notes, “Nathan’s response to David was presumptuous. He answered according to human judgment and common sense, but before the word of God came to him.”

      • Now then, tell my servant David this, ‘This is what Yahweh of hosts says: “I took you from the pasture and from your work as a shepherd to be ruler over My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name famous like the names of the greatest men on earth! I will establish a place for My people Israel and plant them so that they may live in their own place and no longer be disturbed. Violent men won’t oppress them anymore, as they did in the beginning and when I appointed judges over My people Israel, and I will subdue all of your enemies. Furthermore, I declare to you that Yahweh will build a house for you. And when the the day comes for you to go be with your ancestors, I will raise up your descendant to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be My son. I will not take My steadfast love away from him, as I took it away from the one who ruled before you. I will confirm him over My house and My kingdom forever, and his throne will be established forever.”’” Nathan told all these words and this entire vision to David.

          • ESV Study Bible says, “Rather than David building Yahweh a house, God will build…a house for David, in the form of a sure and perpetual dynasty. Your offspring after you refers to Solomon. As for the ‘son’ who succeeds to the throne, God will establish his kingdom. The declaration he shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever suggests that building a temple is the act of obedience that will confirm or ratify the promise. God’s steadfast love (Hb hesed) will never be withdrawn from him as it was from Saul, not because David’s successor will be without sin (2 Sam 7:14b, omitted by the Chronicler, reads: ‘When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men’), but because God’s love for David’s house and his commitment to it will surpass its failings. In fact God says of the Davidic house and kingdom that it is my house and…my kingdom: in other words, God’s eternal, heavenly kingdom (see Ps 103:19; 145:11-13) will be actually present in and expressed through the Davidic kingdom (see 1 Chron 28:5; 2 Chron 13:8). Hebrews 1:5 applies the words I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son to Christ, because as Messiah he inherits the role of David as representative of God’s people (his ‘son,’ Ex 4:22-23; cf Ps 89:26-27).”

        • Guzik points out, “God promised David that the reign of his dynasty will last forever. Each of these great promises was partially fulfilled in Solomon, David’s son and successor to his throne. Solomon ruled on David’s throne; God’s mercies never departed from Solomon, though he sinned; Solomon built God a magnificent house. Yet God’s promise to David was all the more important because of when the Chronicler wrote about it – after the exile, when there was no independent kingdom of Israel and the throne of David seemed vacant. The Chronicler had the faith to see that this promise was not broken even when it plainly seemed to be. He knew that Messiah would indeed come from the seemingly dead line of David and reign forever. He had faith in what the prophets foretold as a greater fulfillment of these promises: Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute righteousness in the earth… Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jeremiah 23:5-6); For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder… Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it… from that time forward, even forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7); And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give 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. (Luke 1:31-33). God did not want the earthly house built until the spiritual house was promised and established. The more important house had to be in place first, and that house was the dynasty that would result in the throne of God’s Messiah.”

        • Some have pointed out discrepancies between the Chronicler’s story and its parallel in 2 Samuel 7. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers has a very helpful response that should be kept in mind throughout the Bible where various persons give citations of the words of another, “The matter of this prophecy (1Chronicles 17:3-15) undoubtedly rests upon authentic tradition. Neither the compiler of Samuel, however, nor the chronicler professes to give an exact report of the words of Nathan, as if they had been taken down on the spot, as they were uttered, by some shorthand reporter. The modern demand for literal accuracy was unknown to Oriental antiquity. Where the two narratives vary, sometimes Samuel, sometimes the Chronicle, contains the more original form of the tradition. 1Chronicles 17:15 (2Samuel 7:17), in fact, seems to imply that the essence rather than the actual words of the oracle is given.”

David’s Prayer of Thanks

        • ESV Study Bible says, “David’s prayer of wondering praise (vv. 16-22)…leads into a petition that God will confirm his covenantal promise so that David’s house will be established forever. The enduring character of the Davidic covenant in the Chronicler’s own (kingless) day should inspire confidence and hope in the promises to which it testifies.”

      • Then King David went in, sat before Yahweh, and said, “Who am I, O Yahweh God, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far? And as if this weren’t enough in Your eyes, O God, now You have spoken about the future of Your servant’s family. O Yahweh God, You have revealed to me what men long to know. What more can David say to You? You have honored Your servant; You have given Your servant special recognition.”

        • I’ve opted for the NET Bible’s rendering for the latter portion of verse 17. Their textual notes point out that the text there is highly uncertain, “The translation ‘You have revealed to me what men long to know’ is very tentative; the meaning of the Hebrew text is unclear. The text appears to read literally, ‘and you see me like the searching of man, that which is upward,’ which is nonsensical. The translation above assumes the following: (1) The Qal verb translated ‘you see me’ is repointed as a Hiphil, ‘you showed me,’ (2)…(tor) is understood in the sense of ‘searching, exploring,’ and (3)…(hammaʿalah) is taken in a temporal sense of ‘that which lies beyond.’ Thus one could translate, ‘you have shown me what men search for, what lies beyond.’”

      • O Yahweh, for Your servant’s sake and according to Your will, You have done this great thing in order to reveal Your greatness. O Yahweh, there is none like You; there is no God besides You, as all we have heard confirms. And who is like Your people Israel? God, You came to one nation on earth to redeem a people for Yourself, to make a name for Yourself through great and awesome deeds by driving out nations before Your people You redeemed from Egypt. You made Your people Israel Your own people forever, and You, O Yahweh, have become their God. So now, O Yahweh, make the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and his family be established forever. Do as You have promised so that Your name will be established and magnified forever, as people say, ‘Yahweh of hosts is the God of Israel.’ May the family of Your servant David be established before You since You, my God, have revealed to Your servant that You will build him a house. So Your servant has found courage to pray before You. Now O Yahweh, You are the true God, and You have made this good promise to Your servant. Now You have been pleased to bless Your servant’s family, so that it may continue before Your forever, because You, O Yahweh, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever.”

          • Guzik notes, “When David received this spectacular gift, he didn’t think it made him any greater. In David’s eyes it made God greater…David’s humble reception of this gift is shown by the repetition of the phrase Your servant – ten times in this prayer…David’s prayer boldly asked God to do what He promised. This wasn’t passive prayer that said, ‘Well God, do whatever You want to do – I don’t really care one way or another.’ This wasn’t arrogant prayer that said, ‘Well God, let me tell You what to do.’ This was bold prayer that said, ‘God, here is Your promise – now I trust You to fulfill it grandly and to be faithful to Your word.’”

          • Guzik continues, “ This kind of prayer appropriates God’s promise. Just because God promises does not mean that we possess. Through believing prayer like this, God promises and we appropriate. If we don’t appropriate in faith, God’s promise is left unclaimed. We may appropriate His promise for forgiveness: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We may appropriate His promise for peace: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27). We may appropriate His promise for guidance: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye (Psalm 32:8). We may appropriate His promise for growth: He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). We may appropriate His promise for help: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)…This was David’s foundation of faith. He knew that God was God, and that His promise was true. God can be trusted.”

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