I wonder what things you associate with a King? I wonder what things mark out a Monarch in your mind? Perhaps someone with:
- A crown
- A throne
- Jewels and treasure
- Palaces and castles
- A kingdom to rule
- Subjects to protect
- An army to win wars; and
- A capital city to rule from.
Our Queen Elizabeth has many if not all of those things, and so did King David 3,000 years ago. David ruled the kingdom of Israel, he had a throne, a crown, an army and a new capital city – a city called Jerusalem. Verse 2 of our passage today also tells us that David had recently constructed a splendid palace, made out of cedar wood. In many ways he was the king who had it all!
- David’s plans (v.1-3)
In fact, David had something else extra special. Something that even our own Queen doesn’t have. David had the ‘Ark of the Covenant’. If you were here last week or have ever watched the Indiana Jones films, you will know what the ark looked like. It was a wooden box covered in gold with angels on its top and poles on its sides. Inside it contained two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments.
But the best thing about the ark is that it was a sign that God was close by. Whenever David and the Israelites looked at the ark, they knew God wasn’t far away. Whenever we have a phone in our hand, we know we can talk to our friends and family. When Israel had the ark, they knew they enjoyed access to God. It was a precious symbol that God was with his people.
Throughout its history, God’s Ark had been kept in a tent. It had been kept in the Tabernacle tent as the Israelites travelled through the wilderness and then conquered the Promised Land. Now this tabernacle tent was within the walls of Jerusalem.
But a tent is never as nice as a house, is it? Everyone enjoys coming back home to things like a warm shower, a comfy sofa and carpet after a few nights under canvas. And a tent certainly can’t compete with a palace!
So David thought he should give God’s ark a proper house, a proper home, just like he had himself. David wanted to put God’s golden box in a magnificent Temple made from stone, and in verse 2 he told a prophet called Nathan all about his plans: “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
It seems Nathan agreed with David’s ambition. Because his first reaction was to tell David to go ahead. In verse 3 he says to David: “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it”.
- God’s promises (v.4-17)
But God’s plans were different to David’s plans. And that night God gave Nathan a message. Whether it was a dream a vision or a voice we don’t know, but it was a message in which God replied to David’s plans. A message which contained some amazing promises for David. Promises so amazing that I expect Nathan got up first thing the following morning to tell David all about them!
The first thing God said is that he was happy to have his ark in a tent. God’s ark had been in a tent with the Israelites for years already, and God was happy for it to stay there for the time being – even if David was in a palace. Listen to what God said in verse 6 and 7: “I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’
God was happy for his ark to remain in a tent for now. He didn’t want David to build him a house. In fact, God was going to give David a house. Not a house made of bricks and mortar, but a house of people. A great family, a great nation, a great dynasty.
In fact, God gave David four wonderful promises. Four promises that have all been fulfilled!
- The first thing God promised David is that he would make him famous. He said he would “make David’s name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth”. He would make King David more famous, you might say, than David Beckham and David Cameron are today. And that promise came true didn’t it? Even three thousand years later we are still reading about King David in our Bibles, and vicars like me are still preaching sermon series on his life and work. And the star of David still dominates the flag of the state of Israel.
- The second promise God gave to David is that he would give his kingdom peace and prosperity. He would give them “rest from all their enemies”. And that promises was realised as well. Because, under King David, Israel defeated all its opponents, even the Philistines, and became a strong and secure country for the rest of his reign.
- Thirdly, God promised David a son. Listen to these words from verse 12: “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name.”
Do you remember how happy people were when Prince George was born to Will and Kate a couple of years ago? The British royal family would continue, because a future king had been born. King David’s dreams also came true when his wife gave him a baby boy called Solomon. Solomon would grow up to replace David as king of Israel when David died. And under Solomon Israel would grow even stronger and richer. Rich enough to build eventually build a great Temple for God’s Ark to go in.
- Jesus – A son of David and God’s promised king
But the fourth and final promise that God gave David was the biggest and the best. It was a promise that David’s kingdom would never end. It was a promise that one of David’s descendants would be king forever. One of David’s great, great, great, great grandsons would sit on a throne and reign forever. David would die one day, and so would Solomon, but David’s greatest son would rule forever.
But who is he? When would God’s promised King come? And how on earth could he rule forever?
Easter is just under a month away. And Easter is when we remember how God’s greatest promise to David became a reality. Because the first Easter, 2000 years ago, a descendant of David called Jesus, showed the world he was the great king God had promised – a king who would reign forever.
Because when Jesus died and rose again on the first Easter, he showed that he had defeated death and would never die. And when he ascended up to Heaven forty days later, the Bible says Jesus sat down on a throne to reign at God’s right hand side.
Christians today are people who make Jesus the king of their lives. People who realise Jesus is the king God promised to David. Christians are people who want to live their lives Jesus’s way. Christians are men and women who trust King Jesus – the son of David and Son of God – to make them God’s forgiven friends forever.
But the best news of all is that King Jesus is coming back! The New Testament is clear he will return one day to rule the whole world. One day everyone will recognise that Jesus is King, and everything evil and unpleasant will be banished forever. One day, subjects of king Jesus will enjoy a wonderful world forever. Christ’s kingdom will be without limit and without end. What a great day that will be!