Pastor Gary Wong, December 20, 2020
2 Samuel 7:8-16
8 "Now then, tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. 9 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 great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. 10 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 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. "'The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.'"
When you were growing up, did you ever wonder what your life would be like? It’s pretty normal to think about the future. For instance, I wondered what kind of job I would have. Would I get married? If I were to be blessed with a son, would he follow in my footsteps? Now, I don’t want you to get the idea that that was all I thought about. I was a regular guy growing up. I loved playing with my friends and siblings, and I was thrilled whenever I was crowned “King of the hill.” Little did I know that as I was tending my father’s flocks that the Lord would one day make me the King of Israel.
Some of you are looking confused. Perhaps I should introduce myself. My name is David. My father’s name is Jesse. I was born and raised in a little town called Bethlehem. Since I was the youngest of eight boys, it was my job to tend my father’s flocks. Anyway, the Lord started me on my journey to become the King when he directed the prophet, Samuel, to go to my father’s house. The Lord had told Samuel that he had chosen one of my dad’s sons to be the king. The first one Samuel saw was my oldest brother, Eliab. Samuel thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands before the LORD.” But the Lord told Samuel that Eliab was not the one, and then described what he was looking for: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). So, my father brought each of my older brothers before Samuel; but each time Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one.” When the last of my brothers had been dismissed, Samuel asked my dad if he had any other sons. He answered, “There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said,” Send for him.” The moment I arrived, the Lord commanded Samuel, “Anoint him; he is the one.” Immediately, Samuel took out his flask of oil, and in the presence of my brothers, anointed me the next king of Israel.
From that moment, the Holy Spirit came upon me and empowered me to accomplish what the Lord had in store for me. I was eager to serve the Lord with all of my gifts and all of my heart. So, what did I do after Samuel had anointed me king? I went back to tending my father’s sheep! Remember, Saul was still the king. Yet, the Lord used my gifts in a way that helped prepare me for the day I would be king. While the Lord blessed me with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit left Saul because he had broken faith with the Lord. The Lord then sent an evil spirit to torment Saul. The king’s servants found out that music would make the king feel better; they also found out that I could play the harp. So, whenever Saul was tormented, his servants would send for me, I would soothe Saul with my music and then go back home to take care of the sheep.
Saul had other problems in addition to the evil spirit. The Lord had sent the Philistines to chastise and humble the Israelites in the hope that they would turn back to the Lord. Now, the Philistines had a super sized soldier by the name of Goliath. This not so gentle giant constantly taunted the Israelites, challenging them to fight him one on one. One day, as I visited my older brothers who were in the army, I heard Goliath mock my God and defy my Lord. Since no one was willing to remove this disgrace from Israel, I told the king that I would go and fight Goliath. Saul expressed grave reservations about a shepherd boy fighting a battle tested warrior. My response was, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and … bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
So, trusting in the Lord’s protection, I went into battle armed only with my shepherd’s sling. My stone hit Goliath right smack dab in the middle of his forehead, and he fell to the ground dead. The Lord had given me a tremendous victory! The Philistines’ jaws dropped with dismay while the spirits of the Israelites soared like eagles. Saul, however, was not overjoyed. Even though I continued to faithfully serve him and gave him no reason to doubt my loyalty, Saul became insanely jealous and tried to kill me. Saul pursued me for ten years, but the Lord kept me safe. God used those ten years to humble me and strengthen my faith. Even when the Lord had given me two separate opportunities to kill Saul, I spared the king’s life. I told Saul, “The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I [will] not lay my hand on the LORD’s anointed” (1 Sam. 26:24). I trusted that the time would come when the Lord would make me king.
That time came when Saul took his own life after being mortally wounded in a battle against the Amalekites. The Lord then gave me victory over all of Israel’s enemies. God made me king and established my throne in Jerusalem. One day, I said to Nathan, who served the Lord as a prophet and my pastor, “Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent” (2 Sam. 7:2). Basically, I was asking Nathan what he thought about my idea of building a temple for the Lord. Nathan said, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.” But in the middle of the night, the Lord came to Nathan with a message for me. In so many words, the Lord said, “Since the day I brought my people out of Egypt, I haven’t asked you or anyone else to build me a temple. David, I brought you out of the pasture where you were shepherd over your father’s flocks to be ruler over my people Israel. You have been my faithful servant and have done what I’ve asked. But as for building a temple for my Name, the answer is ‘No.”
I have to admit that I was disappointed when I heard the Lord’s answer; but I wasn’t crushed. I just had to remind myself that I am the Lord’s servant. It’s not about what I want; it’s all about what the Lord wants. Anyway, the Lord didn’t give me much time to be sad because he made an astounding promise. The Lord said, “I will make your name great” (v. 9). How was he going to accomplish that? The Lord promised that he would establish my kingdom. Beginning with my reign, my fellow Israelites would not have to wander. God would plant them in this land he had promised to Abraham and his descendants. God’s people would enjoy rest from their enemies in the land flowing with milk and honey. The promises didn’t stop there. The Lord promised that when my days on earth would be over, he would raise up one of my offspring to succeed me as king. God himself would establish my son’s kingdom. The Lord promised, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (v.16).
I could hardly believe what I was hearing! I was amazed, stunned and humbled by Nathan’s message. After I collected my thoughts, I went to the Lord in prayer. “Who am I, LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” (v.18). I knew that I didn’t deserve a single one of God’s blessings. Rather, I deserved his wrath and punishment. Yet, in his love he chose me, a lowly shepherd, to be ruler over his people. He gave me the privilege of serving him as king over Israel for forty years. Many of the details of my reign and life are recorded in this book you call the Bible. Yet, this book isn’t really about me; it’s all about God’s love for me and for you.
We truly have an awesome God whose Name deserves to be praised. I have been personally blessed in more ways than I can count. God’s grace means that much more as I remember that he did all of these great things despite the fact that I have sinned against him in countless ways. The Bible records some of those sins. In particular, it chronicles my adulterous affair with Bathsheba that led to the murder of her husband. For that sin alone, not only did I deserve to have my kingdom taken away, I deserved to die and suffer in hell for all eternity. But God, in his love, sent Nathan to call me to repentance. When he confronted me, I confessed, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan immediately absolved me saying, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die” (2 Sam. 12:13).
What relief I felt as soon as I heard those words of forgiveness. God had removed the guilt of my sin. God continued to bless me. He blessed Bathsheba and me with another son, Solomon, who would eventually succeed me. God kept his promise to establish my throne. He said my kingdom would last forever. Yet, no one lives forever. Eventually I would die and so would Solomon. This book tells us that Solomon’s kingdom would be divided and eventually destroyed. So, what did God mean when he said my kingdom would endure forever? The Lord wasn’t lying when he made those promises because he wasn’t just talking about an earthly kingdom; he was also talking about a spiritual kingdom. God wasn’t just talking about a son, namely Solomon, who would sit on my throne; God was talking about another one of my sons, who would come in the distant future. The Lord was talking about Jesus, my greater son and the Son of God, who rules from his heavenly throne.
Long ago, the Lord promised that he would send a Savior who would redeem all people from sin, death, and the power of the devil. I am humbled that God chose me to be an ancestor of the King of kings. God kept his promise when he sent his Son, Jesus, to be our Savior. Just as the Holy Spirit came upon me in power, the Spirit created faith in your hearts by the power of God’s Word. We are all God’s sons and daughters and members of his kingdom. Jesus rules in our hearts, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We trust his promises and look forward to the day that he will bring us to the eternal kingdom of heaven. Until that glorious day, let us praise his holy Name. All glory, honor and praise be to Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, whose Name is above all names. Amen.
“Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel” (CW 23)
Text: Latin hymn, c. 12th century, abr., tr., John M. Neale, 1818-66, alt.
Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, O Root of Jess free
Your own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell your people save,
And bring them vict’ry o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home.
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!