We hear a lot about “God’s promises.” Countless songs describe God as a promise-keeper, who keeps His word and can be trusted. God is a good and loving God, and when He says something, we can believe it.
God promised He’d never again flood the world after Noah and the ark (Genesis 9:11). He promised to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land and deliver it to them (Joshua 1-5). He promised He’d send us a savior (Isaiah 53).
He did all of this and so much more. Indeed, Psalm 145:13 tells us God is “trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does” (NIV).
Among His many promises, some are given to His beloved David, the poet-king whose passion and adoration for the Lord are infamous.
So, what are God’s promises to David? We can find them in 2 Samuel 7.
“And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever” (2 Samuel 7:25-26).
Who Was David in the Bible?
David was a lowly shepherd who was selected by God, was anointed, and rose to become king of the Israelites. After a period of judges, Israel wanted a king, but the first king, Saul, went astray. So, God identified a new king, David, who reigned for 40 years.
In many ways, a model king and an example of picture-perfect theocracy, David was nonetheless a flawed human being. Yet God showed His great love and faithfulness to David repeatedly —just as He does to us today.
Time and again, David repented and turned back to God. (Many of David’s expressions of lament and praise comprise the psalms).
Scripture describes David as a man of faith (Hebrews 11), a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), and part of the ancestral lineage of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:32).
What Does God Promise David?
The promises of God to David are detailed in 2 Samuel 7:8-16. David expresses apparent remorse to the prophet Nathan over the fact that he lives in a house of cedar while God’s ark remains in a tent (v. 2), and the prophet encourages David to do whatever it is the king has in mind — presumably, build God a “proper” home in the form of a grand temple.
But that night, God speaks to Nathan about David, requesting that Nathan convey several things to David. First, God says, He never asked for a “house of cedar” (v. 7).
Then, God reminds us about the good things He’s done for David so far, including appointing him as ruler and cutting off his enemies (v. 8-9).
And finally, instead of allowing David to do nice things for God, God tells David what He is going to do for him:
- Make his name great (v. 9); Establish a home for Israel (v.10).
- Keep the people from oppression (v. 10); Give David rest from his enemies (v. 11).
- Establish a house for David through his offspring (v. 11-14).
- Allow David’s son to build God’s temple (v. 13).
- Never take His love from him or his offspring (v. 15).
God concludes, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).
This last line is a reference to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who Scripture tells us does indeed stem from the lineage of King David and whose kingdom we know truly has no end.
What Is the Significance of These Promises?
These promises are known as the “Davidic covenant,” and what is especially interesting and grace-filled about it is that it doesn’t place any sort of conditions upon it. God doesn’t say, “I’ll do this if you keep my Law” or “if you love Me.”
He simply explains to David, through the prophet Nathan, His plans for David and David’s line. These plans rest entirely on God’s grace, mercy, love, and faithfulness — not on anything David does for Him, or even whether the people cooperate.
The fact that God’s promises are offered directly after David’s own offer is just as striking as if God is saying “no, thank you” to David. While a kind idea, a temple is a paltry offering to the One who made the sun, moon, stars, and everything else in the universe.
Scriptures abound about the wildly generous gift God makes to us in offering us eternal salvation through His son, Jesus. There’s nothing we can possibly do to earn this salvation. As Titus 3:4-7 tells us,
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
And as Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”
We can never do anything good enough to earn our way into heaven. We are saved solely because God loves us, because of God’s goodness.
That’s the magnificent gift we receive in Jesus, and in a way, this is foreshadowed in God’s magnificent promise to someone just as undeserving: King David.
Did David Deserve Such a Promise from God?
David certainly would not deserve such a gift in the eyes of the world. While David was indeed beloved by God, he fell away from the Lord. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, then murdered her husband, Uriah, to cover up the fact that she was pregnant with David’s child. He sinned against God in doing this.
David was not a perfect man — not even close. Yet God offered him such extravagance.
Consider the story in Luke 23 of Jesus upon the cross flanked by two other criminals, men sentenced to death beside him. While the one scoffed and taunted Jesus, the other acknowledged they deserved this death, but Jesus did not.
“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:42-43).
David and this criminal are just like us today when we repent of our sins and look to the Lord for salvation. None of us are worthy, and this glorifies God’s gift even more.
Why Does This Matter?
God’s promises to David are a tremendous blessing, and they came true. God’s promises to us today — that we too will “endure forever” through the salvation we receive in Jesus — are even more tremendous.
And best of all, they are true.
For further reading:
How Did a Man after God’s Own Heart Fall So Far into Sin?
Why Did Israel Want an Earthly King When They Had God?
What Are the Promises of God in the Bible?
Why Was David Allowed to Take so Many Wives (and Who Were They)?
What Does it Mean That Jesus Is the Son of David?
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Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.