Man after God’s Own Heart
Part VI: The House Builder”
A sermon by Dr. Jim Somerville, Pastor
Richmond’s First Baptist
July 22, 2012
2 Samuel 7
We are in the middle of a summer sermon series called “David, Man After
God’s Own Heart,” based on the stories about David from 1 and 2 Samuel in
I thought it might be helpful to begin with some review. If you’ve been here
for the whole series you can let me know that you’ve been paying attention
by nodding whenever you hear something that sounds familiar to you. And if
you’ve been here since the very beginning then you probably remember that
this whole thing, this whole idea of having a king in Israel got started
because the people were terrified.
Nahash, king of the Ammonites, was gouging out the right eye of every
Israelite who came to his side of the river, do you remember, and the people
didn’t know what to do. They came to Samuel, the judge over Israel, and
said, “give us a king to rule over us.” And Samuel said, “you already have a
king, God is your king.”
And they said, “no, give us a king like the other nations have, someone who
will go out before us and fight our battles and protect us from our
And Samuel said, “no, you don’t want a king like that. A king like that will
not be a giver, a king like that will be a taker, he will take your sons and
your daughters, your land and your livestock, and finally he will take you
yourselves to be his slaves. Don’t you remember how it was in Egypt?”
But the people insisted. “We want a king!”
And so God gave them one, King Saul, who was tall and handsome and rich. If
you saw him today you would say he looked almost presidential. But his heart
wasn’t in the job, and after his second flagrant act of disobedience against
the Lord, the Lord said to Samuel, “fill your horn with oil and go down to
Bethlehem to anoint the next king of Israel.”
Do you remember this? One of the sons of Jesse, the Bethlehemite. All of
them paraded in front of Samuel but it wasn’t until the brought the youngest
one in from watching over the sheep that the Lord said, “That’s the one,
anoint him, David.”
Now the Bible says that he was ruddy, handsome, and that he had beautiful
eyes. But it wasn’t because of that the Lord picked him. The lesson of this
story is that Lord doesn’t look on the outward appearance, as people do, the
Lord looks on the heart.
David’s heart was right for the job.
It was just a few weeks later, that the Philistine army came up against
Israel at the valley of Soku, and they had this champion named Goliath of
Gath, a giant of a man who stood ten feet tall and was armor plated. You
remember this? Yes? Goliath, who defied the armies of Israel, stepped out on
the battlefield day after day, and said, “Give me a man to fight with me!”
Now David was just a boy, but he came bringing provisions for his brothers
and came to the front line of the battle, and when he saw this giant out
there defying the army of Israel, he said, “Who is this uncircumcised
Philistine that he dare defy the army of the living God?” It is the first
time in that story that the name of God is mentioned. It is as if everyone
else has forgotten about God’s power.
But not David.
David depends on God’s power. He said, “Somebody should go out there and lop
off the head of this giant.”
Talk like that will get you noticed. It got David noticed. They brought him
in before King Saul and Saul said, “I understand you want to kill the
“Not only do I want to,” David said, “I will. The Lord will deliver him into
And so the next day, in the power of the Lord, David went out onto the
battlefield carrying nothing but a stick and a sling and a pouch full of
smooth round rocks he had picked up out of the dry river bed. When Goliath
saw him he laughed out loud. “Hah! Am I a dog that you send a boy with a
stick to fight me?”
But David said, “You come to me with sword, and spear, and javelin, but I
come to you in the name of the God of Israel, the God of the army of angels,
and this very day he will deliver you into my hand and I will strike you
down and I will cut off your head and I will give the flesh of the
Philistine army to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth
so that all the earth may know there is a God in Israel.”
And that’s just what happened. And when David killed Goliath, all of Israel
fell in love with him. The young women of Israel would line the roads when
David passed through, shaking their tambourines and singing songs of praise.
Michal, the daughter of Saul, fell in love with David,.Why not? He was
handsome after all, he had beautiful eyes.
Jonathan, Saul’s son, his soul was knit to the soul of David. Those two were
two of a kind, fierce warriors on the battlefield, they became best friends.
But Saul became insane with jealousy. Three times he tried to pin David to
the wall with his spear, so that David fled from there and went down to the
wilderness of Judah. Saul followed with three thousand handpicked men trying
to hunt David down like a dog and kill him.
Twice David was so close to Saul that he could have easily killed him, but
he dared not lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed. Eventually, however,
Saul and his son Jonathan died on the same day in a fierce battle on Mount
Gilboa. And when David heard about it he tore his clothes and he wept. He
wrote a song of lament and taught it to all the people of Judah.
“How the mighty have fallen, and how the weapons of warfare have perished.
“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely, swifter than eagles, stronger than
“the glory of the Lord lies slain on the mountains of Gilboa.”
Well, after the old king was dead, David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go
up to any of the cities of Hebron, of Judah?”
“Yes,” said the Lord, “go to Hebron, the capital city.”
And David went up, along with all his fierce fighting men. When the elders
of Judah saw him coming, they made their covenant with him. They crowned him
king over that whole southern region, but in the north, Abner, Saul’s old
general and bodyguard, put Ishmael, Saul’s sniveling son, on the throne in
Israel. Made him kind of a puppet king over that whole part of the land. And
now, with a king in the north, and a king in the south, conditions were
favorable for a good old fashioned civil war. And that’s just what happened.
The south went to war against the north, the north against the south. They
fought back and forth for years until finally, Abner defected. He went south
to Hebron to pledge his loyalty to David. But David’s general Joab pulled
Abner aside into a dark alley and killed him because of an old grudge he
held against him.
And Ishmael, that puppet king on the throne of Israel, it wasn’t long before
everybody figured out Abner was the real power behind the throne. And two
men slipped into the palace one afternoon while Ishmael was taking a nap on
his couch and assassinated him.
So with Saul gone, with Abner gone, with Ishmael gone, David made it clear
that he had nothing to do with any of those deaths, but the elders of Israel
came south to Hebron to make their covenant with David. They said, “for a
while, when Saul was king, it was you, really, who led us out into battle,
and the Lord took you from keeping your father’s sheep, and made you
shepherd over his people Israel.”
They crowned David king over the whole land. Do you remember?
David took his fierce fighting men and went up to Jerusalem, which at that
time was occupied by the Jebusites. It was such a natural mountain
stronghold that the Jebusites it could be defended by a blind man and a
cripple. But under the cover of darkness David and his men climbed up the
water shaft, they took the Jebusites by surprise, and in the morning they
all surrendered so that the city belonged to David.
Hiram, the king of Tyre, built a beautiful palace for David in Jerusalem,
and David began to fill it up with wives and concubines, sons and daughters.
He remembered the ark of the covenant, and went down to Keriath-Jeram to
bring it home in a grand procession with thirty thousand people and David
leading the whole parade, leaping and whirling and dancing before the Lord
with all his might. Do you remember?
He brought the ark to Jerusalem and he put it in a tent there in the city.
And at this point in the story it would be easy to imagine that every item
on David’s to do list had been checked off.
Let’s see, become the king of Israel, unite the northern and southern parts
of the kingdom, make Jerusalem your capital, build a palace for yourself,
bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, fill the palace with wives and
concubines - yes, I think David had done it all.
And one evening, as I picture it, after supper he stepped out on the flat
roof of his palace so that he could walk around and look out over his
capital city, and when he did he saw that tent down there, that little tent
in which the ark of the covenant was kept, and an idea came to him.
“I know what I can do next, I can build a house for the Lord. Bigger and
better than my own house, grander and more glorious than anything that has
ever been seen in Israel. That’s what I’ll do!”
And he went to Nathan the prophet and told him his plan, and Nathan clapped
his hands together and said, “whatever you have it in your mind to do David,
you do that. That’s sounds perfect.”
But no one thought to ask the Lord what the Lord wanted.
Now there was a time when the Lord had made it perfectly clear what he
wanted. You may remember, back in the book of Exodus, beginning around
chapter 25. The Lord was up on the mountain with Moses and he said to him,
“Do this: Take up an offering from among the people. Let them give
generously out of their hearts. Don’t force them, but, ask them to give
silver and gold, and red and blue and purple yarn, and fine twisted linen
and goats’ hair and acacia wood. Take all of this and build for me a
sanctuary, where I can meet with my people. But before that, instruct the
craftsmen of Israel to build a sacred box, about forty-five inches long,
about twenty-seven inches wide and twenty-seven inches deep, covered on the
inside and outside with pure gold and make the lid for the box with pure
gold with two cherubim on the top facing each other with their wings
outspread. This is where I will meet you, above the lid of this ark of the
covenant, and between the wings of the cherubim, I will come to you and
command all that I want the people to do.”
Do you hear what God is saying? This box, this ark of the covenant would be
none other than the throne of God, the place where he would come to meet
with his people. And God said, “I want you to put the ark in this
tabernacle,” which was really nothing more than a very fancy tent made of
fine twisted linen and tapestries made of red and blue and purple yarn, all
of it set up on poles of acacia wood covered in silver and gold fit into
their sockets resting on silver pedestals. All around the tabernacle was
this curtain of twisted linen that enclosed a courtyard seventy-five feet by
one hundred and fifty feet.
When it was all set up, when everything was finished, those were the days
for God’s people. Those days when they were camping out with God in the
wilderness, his big tent set up right in the middle and their tents all the
way around. When God was with them and they were with God, and they were all
together in one place. That pillar of fire and cloud hovered above the
tabernacle. Moses would go in and out day after day and talk with the Lord
as a man might talk with his friend. When he came out his face was shining.
Those were the days for God’s people.
And in those days they carried the ark of covenant into the Promised Land,
the priests went first, carrying it, and as soon as the soles of their feet
touched the raging waters of the river Jordan, the water stopped flowing and
the people were able to cross over on dry ground.
They took the ark of the covenant with them into battle against the
Canaanites as they conquered and settled that land. Everywhere they went,
God went. Everywhere God went, they went. Until finally they had conquered
all their enemies, there was peace in the land and every man sat under his
own vine and under his own fig tree.
And it was about that time that the people seemed to forget about the Lord.
Isn’t it funny how that happens? That the more prosperous we become, the
more we are able to meet our own needs, the less we seem to depend on God to
meet them for us? It isn’t long before we think we don’t need God at all, we
can handle those emergencies that come up in our lives all by ourselves.
It happened like that for the people of Israel, they forgot about God until
they were attacked by their enemies, and then they remembered, you bet they
You may remember last week, I talked about how the Philistines came up
against the people at Ebenezer, and the people went down and they fought
against the Philistines, and at the end of the day four thousand Israelites
had fallen. That’s when someone remembered the Ark of the Covenant.
They said, “You know if we did that, if we brought the ark with us like we
used to in the old days then God would be with us and God would fight our
battles for us and we would beat those Philistines.”
That’s what they did. Tthe next day they carried the ark of God into the
battle, and at the end of the day thirty thousand Israelites had fallen.
Thirty thousand! This is what happens when you try to use God for your own
The ark was captured. For seven months it was kept by the Philistines until
they decided they had had enough of that box. You remember from last week?
They sent it back to Israel and even the Israelites weren’t sure they wanted
it. This sacred box was not exactly safe.
It ended up at the home of Abinidab, probably in a storage building out
behind his house. The Ark of the Covenant tucked away with all those other
yard sale items in a storage building. Imagine that!
It was there for twenty years. For all that time that Saul was chasing David
around the wilderness of Judah. For all the time that it took for David to
become king over Israel and when he did he remembered the ark and he went
down there to Keriath-Jeram and brought it to Jerusalem with that grand
parade, leaping and dancing before the Lord.
He put the ark in a tent. And looking down on that tent from the roof of his
palace, he began to imagine the presence of God brooding there in that
place, shimmering and pulsing just above the lid of that ark, between the
wings of those cherubim. The presence of God in a tent? David said, “I know
what I’ll do. I will do God a favor. I’ll build him a house! A big beautiful
house! Bigger and better than my own, grander, more glorious than anything
that has been built.”
And he went to Nathan and told him the whole plan, and Nathan thought it was
good one. But that night, while Nathan was sleeping, the voice of the Lord
came to him and whispered in his ear: “Go, and tell my servant David, ‘thus
sayeth the Lord: Did I ask you to build a house for me? Since I brought my
people up out of Egypt I have been living in a tent. Have I ever asked
anyone to build a house for me? Do I need a house? No, David. You won’t
build a house for me. I will build a house for you. A house, a dynasty, that
will go on forever and ever. One of your offspring will build me a house
sure enough, but your kingdom will become an everlasting kingdom. No matter
what happens from here on, I will not take the kingdom away from you as I
took it away from Saul. Your kingdom, David, will last forever.’”
In the years that followed that prophecy, people began to think that the
offspring God was talking about who would build a house for David was
Solomon, David’s son. And sure enough, Solomon built for David a big,
beautiful temple, grander and more glorious than anything than anything that
had ever been seen in Israel.
But after Solomon went the way of all flesh, the people began to think that
maybe God had someone else in mind, that when he talked about this
everlasting kingdom, when he talked about one who would be called not only
son of David, but son of God, that he had someone else in mind.
In the first chapter of John we are told that the Word that was with God in
the beginning, the Word that was God, that Word became flesh and lived among
us. The word in Greek means literally “he pitched his tent with us,” and
things were again like they were in the good old days. When God was with his
people and his people were with God. He pitched his tent among us. He lived
with us. He loved us. He taught us. And one of the things this Word made
flesh taught us is that the dwelling place of God is not in some glorious
temple, but in the heart of every human being who will receive him.
God doesn’t want some big fancy house. God simply wants a place to call
home, a place with us.
The word of the Lord, thanks be to God.
—Jim Somerville © 2012