Sunday School Lesson on God’s Promise



A. Keeping Promises

The word promise is capable of many shades of meaning. A coach might evaluate a young player by saying, “He shows lots of promise.”This implies that the player has potential, in the opinion of the coach. Yet sports fans are well aware that many players who show promise never deliver.



Another form of this word may be seen when a person takes out a loan and signs a promissory note. This indicates an agreement to pay off the loan. If the person defaults on the loan, he or she will still be held accountable and may be forced to pay the money back. This type of promise speaks of obligation, and such obligation may be involuntarily enforced.

Many parents have encountered a third variation on this word when they fail to meet the anticipation of a demanding child. The parent maybe confronted with the guilt-inducing complaint,” But you promised!” In this case the word promise takes on the idea of “expectation.” A hazard of parenting is the failure to live up to the expectations of one’s children!



Potential, obligation, and expectation are three components in the range of meaning for the word promise. But none of these is adequate to describe the biblical concept of promise when applied to God. God always keeps His promises. God’s promises are more than potential; they are assurances. God’s promises are not simply obligations; they are vows of commitment. God’s promises are far beyond expectations; they are declarations of intention. This week’s lesson teaches us that God’s promise to one man, David, not only blessed David and his descendants but all who find salvation in Jesus Christ. That includes you and me.

B. Lesson Background



During the time of Samuel, a major shift occurred in the history of Israel. Since the death of Joshua in about 1365 BC, judges had “run the show” in Israel. These were God-ordained leaders who often acted as military leaders or coordinators in times of national crisis. But there was no central government for the people of Israel. The nation of Israel was actually a confederation of the 12 tribes. Participation in national events was dependent upon the cooperation of tribal leaders.

The people of Israel finally rejected this style of government and asked Samuel to give them a king. This turning point was a sad day. for God saw this as a rebuff of Him and His rule over the nation (1 Samuel 8:7). Tragically, the people of Israel demanded this so that they could be “like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). The heartbreak was that Israel became like the nations in more than just its choice of rule by a king; Israel also followed its neighbors in sin. Thus the history of the kingdom of Israel was an ongoing battle against idolatry and failure to be the holy people of God.



This was further compounded by the performance of Israel’s first king, Saul. Although chosen by God and anointed by Samuel, Saul did not live up to the heavy responsibilities of making Israel into a godly kingdom. God saw Saul’s disobedience as a rejection of His Word, which resulted in God’s rejection of Saul as king (1 Samuel15:26; 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14). Even while Saul was still reigning, God directed Samuel to anoint Saul’s successor, a new king who was not Saul’s son (1 Samuel 16:1). The dynasty of Saul’s house lasted only one generation, approximately 40years (see Acts 13:21).

David had no royal qualifications to be king. Yet he had personal qualities that added up tote extraordinary credentials that God desired. His bravery was a hallmark (1 Samuel 17). David became a victorious military leader in the service of Saul, so successful that Saul became jealous(18:6-9). David was also a talented musician (see16:23), the author of many psalms.



Most importantly, though, was the fact that God saw in David “a man after his own heart”(1 Samuel 13:14). Paul explained this phrase to mean that God was confident that David would fulfill all my will” (Acts 13:22). Although David, like King Saul, failed and committed sin, his response was unlike Saul’s response. Saul responded to sin with arrogance, stubbornness, and rationalizing. David, however, came to God in humility and repentance.

After the hideous episode of adultery and murder caused by David’s lust for Bathsheba, David wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm51:10). David was spiritually submissive to God. In fact, David’s career was characterized by the strong presence of God’s Holy Spirit in his life(1 Samuel 16:13). This week’s lesson will help us understand why God’s love for David has implications for us today.

I. David Is Chosen(2 Samuel 7:8-11a)

A. God’s Preparation of David (vv. 8, 9a)

8, 9a. Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: and I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight.
The message of David’s covenant with God is being delivered by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 7:4). Nathan plays several important roles in the reign of David. He is the one who risks David’s wrath by confronting the king and revealing David’s sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 12). He also anoints Solomon as David’s successor (1 Kings 1:34).



Nathan reminds David that God has been looking out for him since his days in the sheepcote. God raised David from the humblest of occupations, shepherd, to the pinnacle of success, king of God’s chosen nation. In all situations the Lord protects David from danger and treachery. (See question #2, page 72.]

B. God’s Plans for David (vv. 9b-11a)

9b. And have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.
God promises that David will have a great name. This is a promise of legitimate fame and respect that will be widespread in Israel and in other nations.

This kind of fame is nothing like the modern “cult of celebrity,” where men and women become famous for outrageous behavior or their ability to garner publicity. In the ancient world, fame and respect are built on accomplishment. David is a great man because he is powerful, talented, successful, and just. Yet he is also humble, for he always rules in the fear of the Lord (see 2 Samuel 23:3). (See question #3. page 72.)
10, 11a. Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them anymore, as beforetime, and as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies.



God ties the fortunes of David’s house to the fate of the nation of Israel. The strength provided by the Davidic monarchy will allow Israel to achieve a much higher degree of stability in the promised land. This land will become a permanent home and a place of safety, for the nation will finally gain relief from its pagan enemies.

FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE Top

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) is among the most famous of American philanthropists. His father lost his job when steam-powered looms changed Scotland’s textile industry. The family moved to America in 1848, where Andrew got his first job, working in a textile mill for $1.20per week.

From that point his life became the proverbial “rags to riches” story. His diligence and ability to solve problems creatively soon put him on the road to success. He took a job with the Pennsylvania Railroad, where his innovative style led to further advancement. By the time he was 24, he had become the western superintendent of the railroad. His investments and involvement in the oil, steel, and telegraph industries soon made him rich.

In 1889 Carnegie published his essay “Gospel of Wealth,” which argued the moral obligation of the wealthy to serve as society’s stewards (seewww.pbs.org). He lived up to his credo: by the time of his death in 1919, he had given away 90percent of his fortune after having become the wealthiest man in the world.



David’s humble beginning as a shepherd would not have made anyone predict his rise to the height of power. But godly character and willingness to serve others were traits that served him well, both at the bottom and the top of the social hierarchy. Every society needs people who see their gifts as a trust from God to be used for others.

II. David’s House Is Chosen(2 Samuel 7:11b-17)

A. Covenant Will Continue (vv. 1113, 12)11b. Also the Loup telleth thee that he will make thee a house.
To be made a house does not indicate David is becoming a three-bedroom ranch with attached garage! It indicates God’s plan to establish a royal dynasty beginning with David.

12. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.

The kings of Israel reigning in Jerusalem will have David’s royal blood flowing in their veins. Future kings will be David’s son, grandson, great-grandson, and so on.

After the death of King Solomon, David’s son, the nation unfortunately will split in two. The northern kingdom (usually called Israel) ends up being ruled by Jeroboam. The southern kingdom (usually called Judah) comes to be ruled by David’s grandson Rehoboam. The history of Judah’s kings shows bolls good and bad rulers, but all were heirs of David. This stands in contrast to the northern kingdom, where dynasties were short-lived, and coups by military strong-men were common.



B. Temple Will Be Built (v. 13)

13. He shall build a house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever. The Lord lays out a twofold promise: the privilege of building the temple in Jerusalem and the permanence of the Davidic dynasty.

These promises are not made to David directly—as if David would never die—but to his son. At this point in David’s life, it is unclear which one of his many sons will be his heir. At one point it seemed that David’s third son, Absalom, would succeed David by overthrowing his father(2 Samuel 15). When David became old, his fourth son, Adonijah, tried to become king(1 Kings 1:5). Despite his advanced age, David orchestrated the events to make Solomon the next king (1 Kings 1:28-37).

David was prohibited from building the temple because he was “a man of war” and had blood on his hands (1 Chronicles 28:3). There is no haste in God’s plans. He is infinitely patient, willing to wait until the right king is in place to build the temple.

TO THE GLORY OF GOD

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is one of the great church buildings of the world. Its architect was Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). Wren was trained in anatomy and astronomy and was teaching at Oxford when his architectural career began.



At age 31 he was requested to draw the plans for a chapel in Cambridge. So impressive was his work that more soon followed. After the Great London Fire of 1666, Wren proposed a visionary master plan for rebuilding the city. The plan included the dome of St. Paul’s cathedral, which ended up being Wren’s most famous work. Over the next half-century he designed more than 50church buildings in London. He has come to be regarded as Great Britain’s greatest architect. God promised David that his son (whom we know to be Solomon) would build a house for God. And what a house it was! It is said to have been the most magnificent building of ancient times. It reflected the glory of God and the greatness of the kingdom over which Solomon reigned. But that now-gone structure of stone and wood does not compare with God’s greatest building project: the church. What part are you playing in its construction? —C. R. B.

C. Relationship Will Stay Firm (vv. 14, 15)

14, 15. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.

Here we see that the relationship between the king of Israel and God has a unique element: the king is considered to be a son. This type of situation has parallels and differences with other ancient cultures. The kings of Egypt (the pharaohs) are considered to be gods, direct descendants of the Egyptian deities. Yet there is no hint of that here. For David or Solomon to be God’s son does not mean that these men are some type of demigods themselves.

These verses explain the relationship in some detail. God is the king’s father in that God intends to take a special, personal interest in such men. As their father He will discipline them and show mercy to them, the qualities all fathers should show to their children.

The most sobering expression of this relationship will come with the reign of King Manasseh, one of David’s descendants. That king will stray far from God’s will into the evils of bloodshed and idolatry—so much so that he comes to be named as the cause for the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC and the deportation of the nation for exile in Babylon (2 Kings 24:2-4). God’s discipline will be harsh indeed.
Love includes discipline. It is popular today to refer to this as “tough love.” Good parents are sometimes hard on their children, not allowing them to fall into sinful patterns and sloth. But this hardness must be tempered with mercy. Discipline should never be a matter of revenge. This is the painful task of a parent who seeks to keep his or her child on the right path.

D. Throne Will Be Eternal (vv. 16, 17)

16, 17. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.

This final section of the words of Nathan lays out the three primary elements of God’s covenant with David. David is to have an eternal house, an eternal kingdom, and an eternal throne. The eternal house means that the line of David will never die out. There will always be a king with David’s royal blood. The eternal kingdom indicates that this king will have subjects and a territory. The eternal throne means that the sons of David will inherit extraordinary authority to carry out the will of God.

All three concepts are reinforced in Psalm 89, the parallel text. There David is promised to have a “throne to all generations” (v. 4). There is a pledge to preserve the kingdom by crushing all “his foes” (v. 23). And the exceptional authority of the Davidic king is strengthened by the mighty “hand” and “arm” of God (v. 21).

The records show that none of David’s descendants (except Christ) really lived up to the implications of these promises. God always kept His side of the covenant, but even wise Solomon fell into the sin of false worship due to foreign wives (see 1 Kings 11:4). The three-fold promise of an eternal house, kingdom, and throne is completely fulfilled only in David’s descendant Jesus. He is the eternal one who conquered death to ascend to Heaven and take His throne at the right hand of God (see Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3). [See question #4, page 721

Conclusion

A. Jesus and David

God’s covenant with David is a major theme in the Old Testament. Not only did the Davidic line of kings continue to reign in Jerusalem without interruption for almost 400 years, but the prophets of Israel began to reveal that a future king would come from David’s line to be the redeemer of Israel (compare Luke 24:21).

This future redeemer was referred to in several ways including “my servant David” (Ezekiel34:23, 24), and the “Branch” of David (Isaiah11:1; Jeremiah 23:5). This branch image represents the idea of a reborn line of David—new growth from the stump of the tree.

The prophets wrote of future blessings on the “house of David” (Zechariah 12:10). But the most significant of these predictions are the ones that see a coming Messiah (Psalm 132:17; Daniel9:25). This person has been specially chosen or appointed by God.



The New Testament shows many connections between Jesus and David. Jesus is called the “Son of David” (Matthew 1:1; Mark 10:47, 48),the “King of Israel” (John 1:49; 12:13; compare Matthew 27:42; Zechariah 9:9). The most common link is the reference to Jesus as the Messiah or Christ. We have heard the two-word designation Jesus Christ so often that we forget that this includes a title: “Jesus the Christ.” To claim that Jesus is the Christ is to claim that He is the Davidic king, the promised heir to David’s throne. A central conviction of the New Testament authors is that Jesus meets all the qualifications to be the heir of David. Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, is from the house of David (Luke 2:4). Paul is often found arguing with his fellow Jews that Jesus is the Messiah (see Acts 9:22; 28:23). Pete decisively concludes his Pentecost sermon by declaring that Jesus’ resurrection confirms that God had made Him Christ (Acts 2:36).

The significance of this is enormous. Our salvation is not an accident of history. Jesus is more than an ordinary man who accomplished extraordinary things. The church is much more than the work of creative geniuses like Paul. God’s covenant with David teaches us that God planned the church, that He sent His Son, Jesus, and that our salvation was His intentional design. As believers we should find assurance in God’s loving provision for us.

B. The Eternal Kingdom

The old spiritual sang, “Ride on, king Jesus!”The New Testament frequently speaks of Jesus as a king. The first book tells of the wise mess who came looking for the newborn “King of the Jews”(Matthew 2:2). The last book reveals Jesus as the “King of Kings” (Revelation 19:16).

What kind of king was Jesus, though? Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world”(John 18:36). If not of this world, what kind of kingdom does Jesus rule?



God promised David that He would establish “the throne of his kingdom for ever” (2 Samuel7:13). Yet Jesus had no interest in being the reigning king of Jerusalem. When His followers tried to make Him king, He refused (see John 6:15). His disciples continually failed to understand that He was not going to claim a throne in Jerusalem (see Acts 1:6). :See question #5, page 72.)

The author of Hebrews shows a strong appreciation for the eternal throne of Jesus (Hebrews1:8). Jesus reigns in righteousness and truth. His kingdom is far more than a time-bound, earthly kingdom. Jesus is king of the universe in a time-less, cosmic way. For us the eternal nature of Jesus’ throne means that a man who walked the earth 2,000 years ago is still alive, still in power, still reigning from Heaven.

His reign is not fully realized on earth, where sinful rebels still operate outside His will. But Christians take comfort in the promise that a day will come in which every creature will acknowledge and submit to King Jesus by bowing before Him (Philippians 2:9-11). On that day we will see that “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation11:15). This is the ultimate vision of the covenant with David (see Revelation 22:16).

C. Prayer

Great God, the Father of David and the Father of Jesus Christ, we bow before You and thank You for not forgetting us despite the many sins of humanity. As You remembered David, You have remembered each one of us as Your sons and daughters. To You alone we look for salvation. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray, amen.



D. Thought to Remember

God’s covenant with David is fulfilled in Jesus.