The King’s King – or – The Prayer’s Prayer
What does the bible say about prayer?
David, God’s chosen King of Israel, has established his palace in Jerusalem and all of the enemies of Israel have been suppressed – Israel is at peace. This gave David a moment to contemplate what was left to do. The Ark of God had been returned to the people but, while David is housed in an impressive palace, the Ark of God is sitting in a tent.
Before David laid out a draft for a Temple, Nathan the prophet received word from the LORD that it is not for David to build a house for God but for God to build David’s house/dynasty. God reminded Nathan that everything to this day has been established by God and David was placed on the throne in the strength of the LORD. David is a part of God’s entire plans for this world. In Verse 17, Nathan brought all of these words to David and told him everything. We read now what David’s response is. What is left for him to do or say? He prays.
Read 2 Samuel 7:18-29
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:
“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human!
20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.
22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.
25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.
27 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
What did you see? (Observation)
- David prays: Who am I? (18-19)
- And what more can I say? (20-21)
- Who is like you? (22-24)
- Now do as you say (25-29)
David prays: Who am I? (18-19)
“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said…” The beginning of this section is quite significant. David sits before the LORD and he speaks – he is a praying king. And his prayer is in direct response to him hearing the word of God from the mouth of Nathan. This context is very useful and teaches us the beginning of good prayer. Mature and growing prayer is on the basis of a true knowledge of God and His plans. Rather than prayer being a list of concerns and worries to bring before God, it is a response to God having already revealed Himself to us. Even when our prayers are about the worries of this world, we come to God because we know Him to be Sovereign and bigger than our worries. David went in perhaps means that he went into the Tabernacle as he it means to be before the LORD. The story had begun in Verse 1 with David settled in his palace (NIV) or lived in his house (ESV). The word for settled or lived also means sat. So, David was seated in his house but now he goes and sits in the house of God. The former conveys peace and being settled while the latter conveys humility and submission. When he was seated in his palace he spoke his plans to Nathan. Now he enters the house of God and speaks in response to God’s plans for him.
“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” His words contain humility. It may remind us of the words of Psalm 8 (what is man that you are mindful of them, or human beings that you care for them?) Or of Exodus 3:11 when Moses asks, who am I? God has brought David, a 7th in line shepherd boy, to be the King of Israel and of personal attention from the LORD Almighty. He was a nobody from a nobody family. But God has given him a kingdom. Not a bad question for all of us to ask of God when we pray! Who are we that we should be so blessed by God to receive eternal life!
“And as if this were not enough…” It’s not just that David has been so blessed but God has his sights on the future generations after David. God has promised to bless David’s family for generations (and forever!)
“…and this decree, Sovereign LORD, is for a mere human!” We are not heavenly creatures in the realms of heaven but short lived, mortal men – vapour! But God has given his word that this kingdom will stand forever.
Who am I? As we sit down to pray, we say, “Our Father in heaven Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom Come…”
And what more can I say? (20-21)
“What more can David say to you?” Sometimes prayer can be like this too! What is there to say? God is God and He will do as He pleases. If He has said this, then He will do it!
“For you know your servant, Sovereign LORD.” The fourth time of seven that David refers to God as Sovereign LORD. He is using the Name (Yahweh) when he says LORD and underscoring the attribute of His ultimate control over all things. The Sovereign is the King who rules. He is David’s King – and King of all kings and gods and people everywhere and all time. The Almighty LORD brings out God’s strength but The Sovereign LORD brings out the power and trustworthiness of His word. Not only is God the Sovereign but David labels himself as the servant.
“For the sake of your word and according to your will…” When God makes promises, it is His own reputation at stake to keep it. He has desired to make David king and for his kingdom to reign forever. It is purely at the pleasure of God that this has happened.
“…you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.” It’s just as significant that God includes us in His plans as it is that He activates His plans. That is, how great is God that He saves. How amazing of God to tell us how He did it and what He plans to do next which is for our benefit! It’s incredible even that God has spoken to us let alone that He has saved us.
And what more can I say? “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” David has begun his prayer and it is all a statement of faith that God blessed him and promises to continue and who is David that he can say any more, change God’s mind, repay God or credit himself for any part of the blessings. Prayer is an act of submission to the God who is Sovereign over all things. If David is a mere servant before the Sovereign LORD then how much more of a servant are we?
Who is like you? (22-24)
“How great you are, Sovereign LORD!” David has moved from Who am I? to How great are you!!!
“There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” This is a truly Christian theology – not that monotheism is unique to Christianity but the truth that there is only One true God is certainly a Christian theology. We do not believe in many gods. Neither do we believe that the One true God has revealed Himself in many ways to different people. There is only One God and He has revealed Himself to the human race through the nation of Israel and then through His own Son, Jesus Christ. Our belief in God does not come down to personal opinion but it lies upon the witnesses of the past. David’s belief that the one true God has been kind to David and Israel does not come down to myths and legends but on the history of the nation of Israel itself. Deuteronomy 10:21 – the generation of Moses saw the salvation of God with their own eyes – David’s generation have heard it with their own ears.
“And who is like your people Israel…you have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God.” Verses 23-24 outline the redemption story of Israel. Exodus is the gospel of the Old Testament. David is able to glorify in the Name of the LORD because He has shown a special kindness in making a people who were nothing to be the very people of God! (Deut 7:6; 10:15; 1 Sam 12:22). What a tremendously wonderful privilege to be called the people of God. Hosea and Romans teach us that it is not the physical children of Abraham that are the true Israel but everyone who is part of the promise of God are the true Israel. The nation of Israel were all blessed to be redeemed from slavery in Egypt to be in their own land and blessed under a king who served the living God. Christians have been redeemed from the penalty of sin and death to be able to call the God of all creation their Father.
How great you are! We must remember this at all times. How often do we get blindsided to want to create our own greatness when all along we have been made great because we belong to the living God! Remember all that God has done.
Now do as you say (25-29)
“And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made…” This is the essence of prayer! Father, you have said, now make it so. We don’t boss God around but we submit to the knowledge of all that he has promised. Has He said that He will never leave you or forsake you? (Deut 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5). We can remember that in our prayers. Has God told us that we have been justified and sanctified? (1 Corinthians 6:11) Or that we are now His holy people (1 Peter 2:9-10) We can thank God in our prayers that we are qualified to speak with Him because of Jesus. We are his humble servants but He has blessed us with everything in Christ. Genesis 4:26 recalls the moment when faithful men and women began to pray to God and they prayed that He would deal with sin as He had promised in Genesis 3:15. When we pray, we call on the LORD to fulfill His promises. The Psalmist often asks, ‘How long O LORD’ because he knows that God will deliver, he just wants to know when! “Do as you promised.”
“…so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, “The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!”” Of course we want to be saved and blessed because it is good for us! But we have come to learn that what is great for God is great for those who put their trust in Him. If God says He will save His people but then does not do it…or says that David’s throne will stand forever and yet does not do it…what does that say about God and His promises.
We may now ask, but where is David’s throne now! Has God abandoned His promise? Good question. The rest of the Old Testament is concerned with what God will do with His promised blessing when the people of God continue to turn their backs on Him. The nation is taken into exile and return from exile to find a kingdom that is a shadow of what used to be there in David’s day. The Old Testament is concerned with finding the kingdom that was promised to David. The answer is revealed in the New Testament as Jesus is a descendant of David and of Abraham. That the people in Jesus’ day were expecting a king like David is understandable. We find someone far more outstanding as we see Jesus, the King of the whole world.
Notice that David refers to God as The LORD Almighty now as he speaks of what God will do. He returns to Sovereign LORD in Verse 28 when he returns to focus on what God has promised. The LORD who promises is the LORD who does.
“So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you.” I want to underscore again the nature of prayer, that we speak to God on the terms that He has spoken to us about. Prayer is faith speaking. God speaks, we listen, and we are then confident to come before God in prayer. This is the nature of grace because it is God who has first approached us. David began the prayer with ‘Who am I?’ He is now confident to pray to the LORD Almighty because God has shown grace in building a house for David. We are nobody. Yet in Christ we are children of God (John 1:12). We are unworthy and yet in Christ we are called saints! (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:2, 12). Who are we to ask God anything? We are his people, called holy and qualified for the kingdom that he has prepared for us in Christ.
The prayer that David prays, on top of his affirmation so far, is found in Verse 29.
“Sovereign LORD, you are God!” True statement. Let’s never forget it. Not only in our theology but in our practice and prayers also.
“Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.” While God has made a covenant with Israel through Moses, he is establishing a new covenant in David. It does not overtake the previous covenant but enhances it. 2 Samuel 7 contains a Davidic covenant. A promise made to David that his kingdom will not fail. It has the backing of the Sovereign LORD Almighty.
“Now be pleased to bless…and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” Remember that this is not how David begins his relationship with God, it is in response to God’s forward approach to David. Blessing is prayed for because blessing was promised. Your will be done!
What did we learn? (Meaning)
David is a servant of the great LORD Almighty. The LORD is king forever and yet He has chosen to bless the household of a shepherd boy. David demonstrates a good response to the promises of God. He acknowledges his humble submission and zero input to this agreement. And yet the promise from God gives David the courage to speak to God about it. As we’ve seen in the observations, the LORD’s prayer has a similar lesson for us. Our prayers are made because God has spoken to us first and given us the courage to sit at his feet and ask.
Now what? (Application)
Topic A: The privilege of prayer. One thing that helps us overcome the ‘hassle’ of praying is the lesson that it is a privilege that only those in Christ can know. We know God because He first knew us and revealed Himself to us through His Son. If we do not know Jesus then we do not know God in truth. A person can speak to the sky but without the relationship that has been established by God first, it is wishful thinking. Real prayer comes from the people of God who call on the name of the LORD to save and to deliver.
Topic B: Can we pray for a parking space? With the lesson that prayer is about calling on God to do as he has promised, has he ever promised us a parking space? I think not. But he has promised that if we ask for wisdom, we shall get it (James 1:5; 3:13-18). Said wisdom is about how we respond in every situation with the grace that only God can give: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. How many of those are necessary when we feel the urgent need for a parking spot! If we pray, then ask God to grow you through this need for a space. If a space comes up, thank the LORD but consider which is of greater worth, a parking space, or greater patience. The same principle applies for healing, cramming for an exam and safe travel. Our God is not a genie who takes all our requests and hands them out like a town council. He is our Redeemer who promises to finish the work that he began. Best practice is to run through the LORD’s prayer with out needs and come to God in submission and thankfulness.
Topic C: Can I be a Christian if I don’t pray? This passage doesn’t answer this question directly but builds on the principle that God has reached out His hand in salvation to us and we respond with praise and thanksgiving. We don’t respond by earning or repaying anything to God. David demonstrated that he was nobody and stands as a servant waiting on God to do what he has said. So, we must respond to God with praise and thanksgiving. Yes, we do good and love, these are acts that we do. But a life of no-prayer is not a life that has turned to God – responding to His grace. What a gift it is then, when our LORD gave us the Lord’s Prayer! When we do not know what to say to our God we can say that! As our courage grows, we can say more. As our knowledge of God grows, we can speak more.
“Show me a man who does not pray very much and I will tell you the real problem of that man. It is that he does not know God, he does not know God as his Father. That is the trouble. The problem is not that he is not a moral man, or that he is not a good man. He can be highly moral, he may be very faithful in Christian church work, there may be nothing he is not prepared to do, but if he does not pray, I tell you that the essence of that man’s trouble is that he does not know God as his Father. For those who know God best are the ones who speak to him most of all.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
Likewise, a person who believes God to be Sovereign ought to treat Him as Sovereign.