That the revelation to David by Nathan forms a prophecy that reached its final fulfillment in Christ and the realities founded on His atonement is plain from the use that the New Testament Scriptures make of that prediction. “To which of the angels said he at any time, I will be to him a father and he shall be to me a son (). Here the writer quotes Nathan literally ( ), his purpose being to establish with the Old Testament Scriptures the pre-eminence of Christ as compared with the angels. The Modernists deny that the prophecy is Messianic. The Premillenialisis, to be sure, see in it a reference to Christ; but they exclude from His kingdom the church, and so they end with Nathan’s prophecy in the Jews.
As already has been stated, our revelation sheds a wonderful new light on the question of the identity of the “seed”. It is all significant that in the protevangel—the Gospel as first proclaimed—the “seed”, according to the language used, is a person—a personal seed—and only secondarily a seed in the collective sense. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; and he—not they—shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (). The Lord’s way of stating the matter did not escape the attention of Eve. For when she had brought forth her first-born child, she jubilantly exclaimed, “I have received a man with Jehovah”. It may be assumed that the insight into the revealed mind of God of the saints of subsequent ages was not less profound than that of the first mother of our race. They as well as she must have perceived that it was a personal seed of which the Lord had spoken in the first instance.
The Confusion of Tongues was calculated to raise new questions bearing on the “seed”,—questions that always must have been present to the minds of God’s believing people. Of what nation was the “seed”, the personal seed, to be born? Of what family and house? After so long a time, the Lord gave answer. Having first proclaimed him as the “seed” who should gain the ascendency over the malice of the devil, having thereupon enclosed him first in the generations of Shem (), thereupon in the family of Abraham ( etc.), third in the tribe of Judah ( ), the Lord ended in setting him forth as the prince of David’s house, who should build a house for God’s name. And that prince is Christ. That His kingdom and throne will be established forever must imply that He will atone the sins of His house—the church of the elect—and that thereupon with His house He will be raised from the dead to a blessed immortality. That is the sign that it is He.
That David had understanding of these things is not an idle conjecture; it is a fact attested by the apostle Peter in. “Men and brethren,” said the apostle to the multitude, “let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in sheol, neither his flesh did see corruption.”
Having received Nathan’s prophecy, and having understanding of and tasting the blessedness of the hope that it held forth, David went in—in the tent that he had stretched for the ark of God—and sat before the Lord, and said. Let us closely attend to the words of his lips. Then we will know how God’s believing people pray, when they sit before the Lord—actually sit before Him—in His holy temple.
“Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? ‘me a sinful man. Yet thou hast brought me on the wings of thy redeeming and pardoning love hitherto—me and my house!’ David is humble and contrite. His glorying is in Christ. It can be explained. He stands in God’s presence.
“And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house far away,” ‘hast said that his house and kingdom and throne will be established everlastingly before thee.’ Marvelous mercy!
“Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” is the next statement in David’s prayer. It is a difficult utterance. I silently pass by the many ways in which it has been interpreted to concentrate on what I believe to be the right explanation. The Hebrew text reveals that it is a positive statement and not a question; and further that the Hebrew word rendered “manner” in our versions is torah from the verb jarah, to teach. Torah, then, is properly instruction, doctrine. Therefore it is the Hebrew word also for law, e.g. the law of the sacrifices. “This is the law, instruction, doctrine, of or for man, O Lord God.” So the statement must be translated. The pronoun “this” looks back to the Lord’s promises to David and his house, that had just been communicated to him by the prophet Nathan, and by which the Lord had also instructed His servant. For the Lord’s promises, being revelatory, are instruction. And by this promissory instruction the Lord in His boundless love had constituted man—David and his house, lost and undone apart from Christ’s grace—a legal heir of salvation, and had obligated Himself to save man. And the Lord cannot lie. And to His power to save there are no limits. All will come to pass. This is the instruction for man, God’s believing people. And by this instruction, God’s promise to them, which is the only ray of light that pierces the darkness of their night, they live.
So interpreted the utterance with little effort can be harmonized with what David is reported to have said at, “and hast regarded me according to the order of a man of high degree”. According to what David and his house are in Christ,—a house of men blameless and holy in love before God. The man of low degree is fallen man; he is man apart from Christ. He is the reprobated.
“And what can David say more unto thee? For thou Lord God knowest thy servant,” knowest him with a knowledge that is determinative and creative. He is thus a sheep of thy pasture, thy workmanship. His seekings and askings, his praise and thanksgiving are thy work in him. Thou knowest them all even before they rise in his heart and are upon his lips. Yet thy servant shall say more unto thee, not to inform thee as to the state of his heart. He cannot, for thou knowest him. Nor does he prolong his prayer in thy ears in the vain imagining that by his words he must induce thee to be gracious unto him and his house. That, too, would be unutterable foolishness. Because (so David continues) “For thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things. . . .” according to thine own heart and not according to the heart of fallen and depraved man, who can only will to hate thee. Truly, according to thine own heart, and word and counsel. Thy love is self-motivated. Thy counsel stands. Thy Word is living and life-giving; it is faithful and true.
“According to thine own heart. . . . And to make thy servant know”, ‘that he may praise thee. And he shall praise thee evermore, prolong his prayer everlastingly. For Thy love constraineth him’.
“According to thine own heart. . . . Wherefore thou art. great, O Lord God. . . .” ‘Thou doest all thy good-pleasure. Thou workest all things according to the counsel of thy will. And thou hast mercy on whom thou wilt have mercy. For thou art great’.
‘Verily, thou art great. “For there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee.” ‘Thou art God and none else’.
‘Great thou art. . . . “according to all that we have heard with our ears,” ‘regarding thy people and all thy marvelous works which thou hast wrought in behalf of thy people.’ “For what nation in the earth is like thy people Israel.” ‘No nation in the earth is like thy people, they being a people “Whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name and to do for thee great things and terrible, for thy land before thy people, which thou redeemest to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods.” And this people is the church of the elect, the family of redeemed in Christ; it is the true Israel,—a people that will abide everlastingly as a witness of God’s greatness; of his great love, which is fathomless; of his great wisdom, which is unsearchable; and of His great might, which is infinite. For He went to redeem Israel for a people to Himself. He went to redeem Israel to make Him a name. He went to redeem Israel to do great things and terrible for Himself. Not that He was in need of redemption. But He wanted to make Him a name, which should be above every name. Wherefore He did great things for His land, before His people, which He redeemed to Himself from Egypt, from the nations and their gods, that His people as saved unto God might praise Him, and say, “Great is the Lord”.
And His people shall praise Him evermore without end. “For” so David continues, “Thou hast established to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee forever: and thou Lord art become their God,”—established thy people immovably through the atonement of Christ on the new earth, where the Lord will be their God everlastingly. Yes, David’s sanctified and enlightened mind had penetrated to the heart and core of the idea that God is God.
In the remainder of his prayer David appears as petitioner before God’s face. If previously in humbleness of spirit and joyous amazement he had acknowledged the goodness that had been promised him, and had extolled Gods greatness, he now as pleading on those promises beseeches the Lord to establish the word that He has spoken. “And now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, establish it forever, and do as thou hast said.” If God cannot lie, if His promises unto His elect are firm in Him, must David tell the Lord to do as he has said? He is not telling God, ordering Him. He is a penitent, who seeks and asks and knocks, doing so in the firm assurance that seeking he finds, asking he receives, and that knocking entrance will be given him, and this just because, having promised, God cannot lie. His very seeking, being as it is, God’s work in him, is the promise already gone into initial fulfillment. And why should he ask? Because asking is praise; it is the chief work of praise, of gratitude.
And let us take notice, “do as thou hast said”, ‘promised to me and my house.’ He seeks only what has been promised him. Should he seek anything else, anything in addition, anything besides, his seeking would be vanity and an abomination; should be seek in prayer the heavenly and the earthy besides; or the earthy in place of the heavenly. It is a mistake to say that in their prayers the Old Testament saints sought more or less the things on earth, and this in contradistinction to the saints of the New Dispensation, who seek the things heavenly. Besides, what is there to seek in addition to or beyond the things that are promised, if God has promised to His own all things.
“Do as thou hast said. And let thy name be magnified forever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel. . . .” Israel is a people of wonder. For, ideally viewed, it is a people redeemed of all its sins and clothed with heavenly perfection and beauty. And all credit belongs to Israel’s Redeemer-God. To say, therefore, that the Lord of hosts is that God is to magnify the Lord’s name.
“And let the house of thy servant be established forever.” David does not say to the Lord that so far as he is concerned it is well that his house perish, if only the name of the Lord be magnified. He knows better than to give utterance to such a sentiment, considering, as he does, that, if the Lord’s name is to be magnified—and magnified in love by his house—this house must be saved, established forever. So he prays for both.
But David is a sinful man. He and his house deserve to be driven by God’s curse into everlasting desolation. He should be asking favors of God, even petitioning Him to establish his house forever? He couldn’t ask for anything more. For what his petition really amounts to is that God give him all things—absolutely all things—including God Himself. How could he find it within himself—he, a sinful man—to direct to the Lord such a request? David has the solution of the difficulty. It is this, “For thou, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will built thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.” The solution is this: The Lord has promised unreservedly and unconditionally and according to His own heart. And upon that promise he pleads.
But will the Lord hold Him to His promise? David again gives answer, “And now, O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant.” That settles the matter as far as David is concerned; and as far as every believer is concerned. The Lord God is that God—the very God before whose face David was seated and to whom he directs his prayer. And the words of that God are true. And He has promised this goodness unto “thy servant”.
Mark you well, not unto all but unto “thy servant” and his house. And the servant is Christ and His house—David’s house—the church of the elect. And His promise—unto this house—is true. For God cannot lie. “Therefore”, ‘this being true, Thou being God whose words are true,’ be thou pleased to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue forever before thee: for thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed forever.”
So a man prays, who is seated before the very face of God in His sanctuary.