The 19th Sunday After Trinity October 26, 2003
2 Samuel 7:18-29
2 Samuel 7:1-17
227, 425(1-4), 373, 118(1-3)
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord God? Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know Your servant. For Your word’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name—and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land—before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods? For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, Lord, have become their God. Now, O Lord God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said. So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel.’ And let the house of Your servant David be established before You. For You, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You. And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant. Now therefore, let it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You; for You, O Lord God, have spoken it, and with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever.”
In the name of the Lord our God—a name we seek to glorify in everything—dear fellow-redeemed:
The label on a package of medicine may list several ingredients, but there’s always at least one that is most important. The most important ingredient is the “active ingredient.” The other ingredients serve a purpose too, but the active ingredient is the real reason for taking the medicine. Therefore, if you’re comparing a generic medicine with a name-brand medicine you won’t notice the inert ingredients very much, but you will pay attention to the dosages of the active ingredient to make sure they are the same.
Consider the “active ingredient” in God’s dealings with His people. Out at the Red Sea, God told Moses to take his rod and stretch it out over the sea. When Moses did this, the waters parted and the people passed over on dry land (Exodus 14). God accomplished this miracle through His servant Moses. The people saw Moses performing this miracle with his rod, but the active ingredient was God’s power and not Moses.
The prophet, Elisha, told Naaman to go to the Jordan River and wash in order to be cleansed from his leprosy (2 Kings 5). After protesting, Naaman went and washed in the Jordan. Naaman’s bath in the Jordan cleansed him from his leprosy, but it was not the water that accomplished this. The active ingredient was God’s power.
Jesus made mud and put it on the blind man’s eyes. Next, He told the man to wash off the mud in the pool of Siloam. The man did this and “came back seeing.” (John 9:1ff). It was neither the mud nor the water that healed the man’s blindness. The active ingredient in the miracle was Jesus’ powerful word.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper have earthly elements. The water of baptism and the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper are important parts of the sacraments. However, if we were to remove the Word of God out of either Sacrament, we would be removing the active ingredient and be left with nothing other than plain water, wine, and bread.
Whether it is what we have, or the things we accomplish, or our spiritual health, or anything else in our lives, everything depends upon LORD—Jehovah, the true God as revealed in Scripture. This is the essence of David’s prayer which we’ve just read. We wish to use David’s prayer as we consider that JEHOVAH IS THE “ACTIVE INGREDIENT” IN YOUR LIVES. I. His grace gives great gifts II. His promise prompts purposeful prayer. We ask for the Spirit of God working through the Word to be the “active ingredient” in our meditation.
We could say that David had everything going for him. He was king over all of Israel after having only ruled a portion of the country in his early reign. The Ark of the Covenant was now safely in Jerusalem, David’s newly established capital city. As we heard in the Old Testament reading, Israel was at peace and prosperous. All of this came to a king who had his start in very humble beginnings. God told David, “…I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone…” (2 Samuel 7:8b-9a).
God also gave David the promise, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-16).
In this promise, God wove two promises together. The first of the promises concerned David’s immediate heir. David’s son, Solomon, would be established upon the throne of Israel and would prosper. God also gave the caution, “if he commits iniquity I will chasten him.”
We know from Old Testament history that Solomon did commit iniquity by marrying many heathen wives and turning away from the true God. True to His Word, God did chasten Solomon by taking away the kingdom from him. But, also true to His promise, God did not take the kingdom completely away as he had done with king Saul. After Solomon had forsaken God, “The Lord said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this…I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.’” (1 Kings 11:11-13)
God’s promise and caution concerning David’s son, Solomon, came to pass just as God said. In His mercy and grace God allowed David’s descendants to continue ruling over Judah during all the days of its existence down to its captivity in Babylon.
Together with God’s promise concerning Solomon and future descendants there was an even greater promise. There was no descendant of David who would rule over a physical nation of Israel forever. Solomon died. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam died, and so did every other king of Judah thereafter. Yet, God promised an everlasting Kingdom—a throne established forever! God would establish His kingdom through a descendant of David and that kingdom would stand forever! That throne would endure for all time and into eternity and the king on that throne would be Jesus, the Savior.
So when the angel, Gabriel, announced to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus, he said: “[Your Son] will be great…the Lord God will give Him the throne of His Father, David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
These are the things that prompted David’s prayer of thanks. He had this wonderful kingdom over which he was king. He had the wonderful promise that his son would inherit this kingdom, and even more so he had the promise that from his descendants the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior first promised in Eden, the Everlasting King would come.
David recognized that all of these great gifts were completely undeserved, for he said, “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” [vv.18-19]
What David had received and what he had been promised were not what would normally be expected. This is beyond any possible dream. “God, You have brought me this far and You are promising me so much more! Who am I that could inherit such great gifts.” These gifts were David’s by God’s grace, His undeserved love. David continues, “Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know Your servant. For Your word’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them.” [v.21]
After this, David proceeds to briefly recount Israel’s history and again notes that all of this came about because of who God is and not because of who Israel was or who David was. Out of this grace, God made them His people.
At Mt. Sinai the people had promised that they would do everything that God had commanded. On His part, God promised that if they did everything He had said, they would be His people and He would be their God. (Exodus 19:5). The people, on their part, failed miserably in keeping God’s law perfectly, but God remained faithful. He called them His own. They were His people.
Being “God’s people” is a gift of grace that we also enjoy. The true nature of being the people of God did not depend on the nation in which one lived, not even in the Old Testament days of the nation of Israel. Rather, the true people of God were those who were putting their faith in the Messiah. God gives you the exact same promise. He has given each of you the same remarkable gift. Through the prophet Isaiah God says to you: “Fear not, I have redeemed you are Mine….” (Isaiah 43:1). You belong to God! You are His! God Himself claims you to be His very own special treasure because Jesus, His Son, redeemed you from sin and death. You are His!
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice…”(John 10:27). Jesus claims you as His very own! The apostle John writes, “Behold! what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). You are called the very children of God and heirs of His Kingdom by grace. Peter writes, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…who once were not a people, but now are the people of God.” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
As David sat and contemplated all the blessings God had given, his conclusion was this: “Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” [v.22]
Israel’s history, David’s present, David’s future as promised by God, Israel’s future, and all sinners’ future were all tied up in these words of God. God’s Word impacted things that were physical and things that were spiritual, but every single one of them was a blessing undeserved from God.
Whatever we have and whatever we are is of the Lord’s gracious gifts. The active ingredient in our lives is Jehovah—the Lord of Promise, our Savior—and His Word. If He were to withdraw from us we would cease to exist. If He were to remove His gifts of grace we would be damned eternally in hell. Jeremiah the prophet said, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
The fact that we can accomplish things both of an earthly sort and for the work of Christ’s kingdom is further evidence. Paul says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Again Paul writes, “It is God who works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). All is a gift of God’s grace. All comes from the active ingredient in our lives.
These gifts and God’s promise to continue giving these gifts prompts purposeful prayer. It did so for King David and it does so for us.
The name that David uses in His prayer is “Jehovah.” It is the name that designates God as a God of Covenant, a God of promise. He is the God who looks out for His people and shepherds them out of His love. It was God’s covenant and His gracious promises that moved David to pray and give thanks. David looked to the past and thanked God for bringing him “thus far” but was that promise for the future that really ignited David’s thanksgiving. It was the promise of the Savior and all that God would yet do that filled David with such emotion that he spoke such words of praise.
David never saw Solomon’s glory. David never saw the Messiah in the flesh because it was many many years later before Jesus was born. All of this thanksgiving, all of this praise was based upon the PROMISE of God.
This is a good reminder for us when our lives are more “down” than they are “up.” If life is not necessarily looking cheerful, the promise of God still remains. That promise prompts thanksgiving. That promise is itself the power and the assurance that God will accomplish these things and do all things well.
The chief petition of David’s prayer was, “God, glorify Your name!” God’s “name” is everything that He has revealed about Himself. God has given us His name for our blessing and the salvation of souls. This is why God so emphatically declares in the 2nd commandment, “Do not misuse the name of the Lord Your God!” Cursing, swearing, and every other manner of sin against God’s name does not give blessing nor further the salvation of souls. David’s prayer, “magnify Your name” was a prayer that God’s name be declared among the people and save many people from their sins. It was a prayer for the conversion of sinners and the overall plan of salvation that God had in mind. David’s “prayer priority” was “glorify Your name!”
Then David adds, “Now therefore, let it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You; for You, O Lord God, have spoken it, and with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever.” [v.29] David’s prayer was, “Lord, glorify Your name and in the process, bless, also me.”
It is the desire of every child of God to be richly blessed by His heavenly Father. Consider David’s approach: “God, glorify Your name and in the process help me too.” Compare this with: “God give me these things if it is your will, do this for me, help me to do this and in the process glorify Your name.” Do you see the difference? I do and my heart does and it repents. The priority, the purpose of our prayer is “God glorify Your name. Do that, and then however else you’re going to order my life, please do so and bless me through it.” Rather than, “God, order my life and then somehow glorify Your name through that.” We have this active ingredient in our lives, blessing us, doing all sorts of things for us and prompting a God-pleasing prayer life. However, a medicine that has the most powerful active ingredient known to man and is still sitting on the shelf will do no good. A pill not taken does not heal.
We have the active ingredient of God’s Word and activity in our lives with us, but we need to be on guard lest we become “lethargic Lutherans.” That active ingredient needs to be seen. That active ingredient needs to be used! God hasn’t put this activity in our hearts and in our lives to squash it, to smother it, or to say “yes, I’m excited, I’m thrilled with the Gospel, so thankful that I have it,” but never use it or act in response to it.
It is possible to glorify God in everything we do, but it is also possible to become distracted. I can glorify God in my recreation and it’s a good thing. God wants us to have that time for recreation, but is that recreation taking so much time that I find no time for serving my Lord? Is it consuming so many resources that I find less to offer for the work of God’s kingdom?
Work is good. It is God-pleasing and we need to fulfill our responsibilities, but if that work is coming first and overtaking every opportunity to hear God’s Word then the active ingredient is there, but not being used. There are times to set aside responsibilities for a short while so that we can pursue the greater need of hearing the Word of God and doing the work of His kingdom.
God promises so much! There is so much active ingredient that He puts into our lives. He gives us so much purpose for which to work and for which to pray.
If we take the “active ingredient” out of our lives and out of our prayers we end up with a rather selfish approach. But if we focus on the promises of God and His sure Word, then our prayers are purposeful. Then as God fulfills His promises to you in your lives, you will abound in blessing. Perhaps these blessings will not always be tangible, or in physical prosperity, but He will bless you. Even when you face tribulations, His promise is there. Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.… Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 1:21; 2:10). In all situations of life God’s resounding promise comes through the apostle Paul: “Whether we live or we die, we are the Lord’s!” (Romans 14:8).
Jehovah is the active ingredient in our lives. He gives us great blessing physically and spiritually and He makes our prayers purposeful. May that activity grow all the more in each of our hearts and in all that we do. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.