How Does "I Will Be to Him a Father" in 2 Samuel 7 Point to Jesus?
- Rylie Fine Contributing Writer
- 2021 22 Feb
God has made many promises to his people over the course of history. As believers today, we have been given the most incredible promises of all: forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. But sometimes, we may wonder if and when the promises God has made will be kept. One way to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness is to look back at promises he made to his people in the past that he later fulfilled. Some incredible promises to consider are found in 2 Samuel 7, where God makes a covenant with his servant King David. And if we look to the rest of Scripture, we will see some even more incredible fulfillments to those promises.
What Is the Context of 2 Samuel 7?
God’s promises to David found in 2 Samuel 7 come during a time of peace. After years of turmoil, David is king over a united Israel and Judah. Shortly after David was anointed, the Lord gave him victory over the Philistines in battle (2 Sam. 5:17-25). David then brought the ark of God from the hill country of Baale-judah to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6). From the beginning of chapter 7, we see that all is right in David’s world. His kingdom is at peace. The ark of God is back in the Tabernacle. This is when David decides to build a permanent house for the Lord.
What Is the Covenant in 2 Samuel 7?
David brought his desire to build the Lord a house to the prophet Nathan, who told David to do it. However, the voice of God came to Nathan that night to tell him that David would not be the one to build him a house (1 Chronicles 17:4). Rather, the Lord makes three promises about what he will do for and through David.
He will make David’s name great.
God first recounts how he took David from the fields as a shepherd and established him as king over Israel. He reminds David of his faithfulness, how he has protected him and given him victory over his enemies. God is basically saying to David, “See how I have been faithful to you and kept my promises to you. You can trust what I am about to say to you.”
Then he makes his first promise: that he will make David’s name “like the name of the great ones of the earth” (v. 9). God had already given David a great reputation, both in Israel and in the surrounding nations. Now, this reputation would extend far beyond his lifetime. David’s name would belong among the greats of history.
We can see the fulfillment of this promise simply in the fact that we know who David is. How many ancient kings can the average person name? David is remembered as the greatest king Israel ever had. He is known as a man after God’s own heart. Even David’s worst sins stand as a testament to the grace, forgiveness, and overwhelming kindness of God. There can be no doubt that God kept this promise.
God will provide a land of rest for his people.
God promises to appoint a land for his people, where they will have rest from all their enemies. This may seem like an odd thing for God to promise during a time of peace, but let’s think about it for a moment. The history of Israel is not a peaceful one. The Lord points back to how Israel has been afflicted by enemies since the time of the judges (vs. 10b-11a). This promised peace would not be for a short time, but a lasting one.
Now, some of us who are familiar with the history of Israel may be wondering, “But, what about the constant invasions and occupations of other empires? Or when God exiled his people from the land completely? How does all of that fit with this promise?” These are fair questions. The short answer would be: this promise has not ultimately been fulfilled. There are several schools of thought as to how this promise will ultimately be fulfilled, which are far too broad and varied to be discussed here. Suffice it to say that the Lord is faithful and will fulfill his promise in his own good time.
An everlasting throne for David’s offspring.
This final promise is the one most people focus on when discussing the Davidic covenant. After David dies, God will raise up his offspring to rule on the throne forever. This king will have a special relationship with God that will not be broken. He will build a house for the Lord and his kingdom will be sure forever. Following the land promise, we see that God has a very specific kind of king in mind to rule that land.
We see a partial fulfillment of this promise in Solomon, who took the throne after David’s death. 2 Chronicles 1, shows us the special relationship between Solomon and God. Verse 1 tells us that God was with Solomon and made him “exceedingly great.” Solomon understood where this prosperity came from and, when the Lord told him to ask for anything he wanted, he asked for wisdom and knowledge to lead the people God had given him (2 Chron. 1:8-10). God granted his request and blessed him with wealth and power. Solomon then built the Temple for the Lord. However, Solomon ultimately failed to follow David’s example. He married foreign women, which violated God’s command. He engaged in idolatry. He leaned on his own judgment and desires, rather than seeking the will of God. Finally, Solomon died just like every other king, and his kingdom was split.
Though Solomon does fit with the promise God made to David, to say that he was the ultimate fulfillment of that promise leaves parts of it unfulfilled. Solomon was merely a shadow of the king to come. There would be a more glorious fulfillment to this promise. Jeremiah foretold of a Branch of David that the Lord would raise up to reign over his people (Jer. 23:5-6). Isaiah also spoke of a “shoot from the stump of Jesse” upon whom the Spirit of the Lord would rest (Isa. 11:1-2). Through these prophecies, the Lord assured his people that a better king was coming.
And he did come. But he was not born in a palace. He was born in a stable. Jesus of Nazareth is the offspring God promised to David. Hebrews 1:5 attributes 2 Samuel 7:14 to Jesus. The Apostle Peter also testified that Jesus was the Son of David in Acts 2:29-36. Jesus is everything that Solomon was not. Jesus is the Son of God.
What Does "I Will Be to Him a Father" Mean?
Verse 14 of 2 Samuel 7 details the relationship that will have with this coming son of David. God says that he will be a father to this man. It is important that we remember when this promise is being made. We in the new covenant church are used to the idea of God being our Father. However, that idea was not as common in the Old Testament, especially on an individual level. This son being foretold would enjoy a special relationship with God.
As part of the father/son relationship, the son would be punished by the Father when he committed wrongs. Just like any good father disciplines his child, God would discipline this son. He would do this through earthly means. The second half of verse 14 says, “I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men….” Correction from God would come upon this Davidic king through men. But, importantly, the Father’s love would never be taken from him. This king would never be rejected by God.
What Can We Learn about Jesus from 2 Samuel 7?
If we follow the example of the New Testament authors in believing that Jesus is the promised Son of David, we will see five key elements in 2 Samuel 7 of who Jesus is and what he has done:
Jesus is a king.
In today’s culture, we don’t often think about Jesus as a king. Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that God has exalted Christ and placed him above all things so that everything in creation should bow before him. Jesus himself said in Matthew 25:31 that the Son of Man (the way he most often referred to himself) would return to the earth in glory to sit on his throne and judge the righteous and the wicked. Jesus is not just a teacher or healer. He is these things, but he is also a king. Kings have authority. His words are not suggestions, but commands. We are in no position to pick and choose what teachings of Jesus we like and which ones we can choose to ignore. If Jesus is our king, then he has full authority and control over our lives. We must be willing to submit to his kingship as willingly as we accept his grace.
Jesus is the Son of God.
The promise that “he shall be to me a son” finds its fulfillment in the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. Certainly, as a man, Jesus had a special relationship with God. And now, through His atoning work, we also receive the gift of sonship. But his relationship with God is different from any human in that he is divine. He is God. The revelation of Christ adds so much meaning to this promise. Not only did the promised Davidic king have a special relationship with God, but he is God.
Jesus did not just carry our sin for us. He made our sin his own.
2 Samuel 7:14 tells us that God would discipline the son for his iniquities. Some would say that this could not possibly refer to Jesus because Jesus never sinned. However, to say that would be to ignore the testimony of the rest of Scripture. Isaiah foretold of a Suffering Servant who would take the punishment for his people (Isa. 53:5). 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus became sin for us, even though he had never sinned. Hebrews 9 and 10 detail how Jesus secured forgiveness for us by pouring out his own blood to pay for our sins. When God poured out his wrath on Jesus on the cross, he poured it on him as though he was the one who committed it. Jesus didn’t just pay for our sins; he made them his own.
Jesus is building a house for God.
Whereas Solomon built God a physical house, Jesus is building God a spiritual house. 1 Peter 2:5 tells us that we believers are living stones being built into a spiritual house to serve as a holy priesthood before the Lord. Paul echoes the idea that we are being built into a dwelling place for God in Ephesians 2:22. At one time, God’s presence dwelled in a house of stone. Now, through the work of Jesus, God’s presence dwells in us.
Jesus shall reign forever.
The problem with even the greatest of human kings is that they die. But Jesus Christ, our Davidic king, will never die, and nothing can bring him down from his throne. God promised in 2 Samuel 7:13, 16 that he would secure his throne forever. The author of Hebrews confirms this, calling his readers to worship God for giving them an unshakeable kingdom (Heb. 12:28). We do not yet see the fullness of this unshakeable kingdom. But we have the assurance that it is coming. Just as God fulfilled his promise to David, he will fulfill all his promises to us. And like David, we should respond with joy, worship, and eagerness to see the Lord’s word fulfilled.
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Rylie Fine is a freelance writer and editor. She is passionate about the Bible and seeks to equip other believers to study it for themselves. Rylie lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, Evan.
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