Therefore Your Servant Found It In His Heart to Pray

Sermon preached on 2 Samuel 7:18-29 by Rev. W. Reid Hankins during the Morning Worship Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 2/14/2016 in Novato, CA.

Sermon manuscript

Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
2 Samuel 7:18-29

“Therefore Your Servant Found It In His Heart to Pray”

When someone gives you a nice gift, it’s normal to want to say thank you. Sometimes you might also try to do something in return to reciprocate, as a further way to say thank you. And yet sometimes, what the person gave you is so great, so amazing, so big, that maybe there is no real way you can reciprocate, and no way that can adequately thank them. Think of someone who stepped in front of a bullet to save your life, how could you repay that person, or what gratitude could you express? And so we come then to David’s prayer here today. David is a man whom God has given so much. David is struck by all that God has done and has promised to do. He’s struck by God’s amazing grace to him and to God’s people. And it drives him to prayer. Prayer that is full of humility and gratitude and praise for God. Prayer that becomes an example then for us as well. Let us study this prayer and learn something of how to pray in light of God’s saving grace in our lives.

Let’s first then look at David’s prayer concerning himself and his house. This is particularly the emphasis in the first part of David’s prayer. We pick up this up in verse 18. “Then King David went in and sat before the LORD.” This probably means that he went into the tent where the Ark was and sat down and then prayed this prayer to God. And so remember last week’s passage. David had wanted to build God a house of cedar, to replace the tent which housed the Ark. God said he didn’t need that, but instead God would build David a house. And that it would be David’s offspring who instead would build God a house. As we studied that passage, we were especially struck how unconditional the promise was. God said that if David’s descendants sinned, that he’d discipline them as a father, but that they couldn’t break or annul this covenant. That’s because God’s promise was a free gift to David, not conditioned on works. It was a thing of grace.

And so David sits down to pray to God about this. And let’s notice how he specifically addresses what God has done for him and what God will do for him through his offspring. And so in verse 18 he refers to himself and his house. He acknowledges how far God has already brought him. But then he says that this was evidently but a small thing in God’s eyes. In other words, as we said last week, David had already thought God had done so much for him. God had brought him from shepherding some sheep in Bethlehem, to shepherding the people of Israel as king. God had given him rest from all his enemies. God had established him in peace in Jerusalem, and even given him a nice palace. David thought God had already done enough for him, but now he realizes that God was just getting started with his grace for David and his family. And so in verse 19, he acknowledges how God has spoken of his house for a great while to come. And so this is how David begins in this prayer. He acknowledged the past grace God has already shown him, and acknowledges the promise God had just made through Nathan, about the future of David’s house and dynasty.

And as we look at David praying about him and his house, notice the qualities of humility and gratitude here. And notice that all this leads David to praise and glorify God. Notice the humility first. Verse 18. “Who am I, Oh Lord. And what is my house, that You have brought me this far.” This is a rhetorical question. The answer is that David and his house is “nobody.” And yet of course we are sitting here talking about David and his house because he’s not a nobody. This is King David. This is the house which brought forth Christ and his eternal kingdom. They are not nobodies. But of course that proves David’s point. David and his house started as a nobody, relatively speaking. The reason why we know about them today, is because of what God did. And so David is expressing humility, and he’s very accurate about it.

We see the gratitude come forth in his prayer for himself and for his house in verse 18. He says that God has brought him this far. He’s gratefully acknowledging all what God has already done for him. We see more gratitude especially in verse 20. He prays, “Now what more can David say to you?” In other words, he feels speechless in his gratitude. He doesn’t know the words to say to truly thank God for what he has done and has promised to do. Yet, interestingly, he nonetheless tries to verbalize his thanks in this prayer. As an analogy, I think of 1 Peter 1:8, where Peter talks about how the joy that we have as Christians is inexpressible, yet that whole section of Peter is nonetheless beginning to try to express and explain that joy that we have as Christians.

And so David in light of God’s promises for him and his household, praises God. Verse 22. “Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You.” David makes the connection here with that word “therefore.” David sees what God has already done in his life, and what he has promised to do for his descendants, and it leads him to glorify God. God’s grace, God’s gifts to us, should instill in us the greatest awe and wonder and glory for God. And it should express itself in praise like this.

And that’s the application in our first point. We see in David’s response to the grace God had personally shown David, these qualities of gratitude, humility, and praise. These are in in David’s prayer in light God’s amazing grace to him. And these are qualities that should be in our prayers in light of God’s amazing grace. Each of us have reason to humble ourselves before God. Each of us should thank God for saving us. We should thank him for what he’s already done in that regard, and what he will yet do in that regard. And it should all lead us to genuinely praise God and glorify him. “How Great Thou Art”, oh Lord!

Let’s turn now to our second point. What I’d like to look at next in this prayer is to see how David prays as well about Israel. This is the second main part of his prayer. And so, don’t miss this. David makes such an important connection here. David recognizes that what God has done in his life, and what God will yet do through David’s house, has a connection with the rest of God’s people. It has a connection with what God is doing for all his people. What a correct insight by David. The transition in David’s prayer starts in verse 22. Suddenly he uses the word “we.” It’s clear he’s talking about Israel and the history they’ve had in their relationship with the LORD. And he goes on to talk in verse 22 about all that God has done in the past for Israel, to save them and set them apart from all the other nations as his special people. David particularly mentions the Exodus. And then notice that David brings the future in mind as well for Israel. That’s in verse 24. David says that God has made Israel his people forever. I hope you see the parallel here. When praying about himself, he prayed about both the past and the future. Now, when praying about Israel, he’s praying about both the past and the future. And all of this is in light of what God had just promised David about the future. Remember, God had also made the connection between David and all the people. Remember, God had promised in last week’s passage in verse 10, that he would bring his people into a place of permanent peace and rest. And so, David has connected the dots here. And we should too. The way that God’s people would know this peace and rest, would be through what God was doing with David and his house.

In other words, God promised to establish David’s descendant over an eternal kingdom, a forever kingdom. Well, who is that kingdom going to be over? Whose kingdom will it be? Well, God’s chosen people; Israel! David has rightly recognized that the good thing God has promised David for his own family is a good thing for all of Israel. As wonderfully as God had brought the people out of Egypt in the past, it is now all the more wonderful that he will establish them in an eternal kingdom through a son of David. This connection between David’s future and Israel’s future is seen again in verse 26. In one breath he speaks of the LORD being God over Israel, and then immediately speaks of how God will establish David’s house. Let me say it one more way. Think in terms of covenants. God made a covenant with Adam and Eve after the fall, that he would send a redeemer, one of their offspring. Then later God had covenanted with Abraham that this would ultimately happen through his offspring, and that God would make from his line, a special people for himself. And now God covenants with David. That promise which started with Adam and Eve and came more specifically to and through Abraham, that will now especially come through David’s line. And David’s line will then be used to bless and redeem all the descendants of Abraham, that God would be their God, and they would be his people. As a side note, we are thankful that Christians have been made sons and daughters of Abraham through faith in Christ!

And so we can find these same traits of humility, and gratitude, and praise when David prayed about Israel. The humility is implied verse 23 in the description of how Israel needed to be redeemed. The gratitude is seen in the language like in verse 23, of “Who is like your people, like Israel.” That’s similar as verse 24 too. In other words, David recognizes in gratitude the special position and favor Israel has with God. And all this leads to praise such as in verse 26, “So let your name be magnified forever!”

Let’s turn now to our third point today and notice David’s petition in this prayer. This the third and final part of the prayer. We see the petition most clearly in verse 25. About this promise God has made to David, he prays to God, “establish it forever and do as you have said.” He says the same thing pretty much in verse 26, and again in verse 29. In case you missed it, David’s prayer request is for the very thing that God just had promised him through the prophet Nathan. In case you missed this connection, it’s told to us as well multiple times. Verse 25 mentions the word that God had spoken. In verse 27, David even explains to God why he would be so bold as to ask for his kingdom to be established; he says the only reason he would be so bold is because God already revealed to David that this is what he would do. And then in verse 28, he again mentions that God’s words are true and refers again to this promise God had made.

So, don’t miss this. David repeatedly makes the same prayer request. And the prayer request is for the very thing that God already had promised David. David is praying that God would indeed establish and bless his house to become this eternal kingdom for God’s people, with one of David’s descendants sitting on the throne of this kingdom. And so David’s prayer request is to ask God to do what God had already promised to do.

Now, admittedly, this might at first glance sound a bit funny. If God already promised you something, why should you pray for it? And yet this is something we see in the Bible. And David’s prayer certainly seems to be here as a commendable example of such prayer. It is quite appropriate to request in prayer what God has promised you. This is not a lack of faith, it’s an expression of faith. That’s the point of David in verse 27. The reason why David makes this request, is because God promised it. So, David thinks it right to pray asking for it. Maybe another way to think about this, is the idea of praying according to God’s will. You know, so often we pray for things that we are not sure it’s God’s will for us to have the thing we prayed for. Our prayers will then condition that request with a statement like, “if it be your will.” But here’s a wonderful way we can pray without such a qualification. We have wonderful examples like this commended in the Scripture that show us we can and should pray for the things God has already promised us.

Isn’t that how Jesus taught us to pray? Remember, the Lord’s prayer includes petitions like, “Hallowed be your name.” Well, do you think God’s name is not going to be hallowed? God will certainly see to the hallowing of his name. Or very similar to David here, Jesus said to pray, “Your kingdom come.” To pray “your kingdom come” is basically to pray what David is praying for here. And so this is an important lesson for our prayer life. Pray and ask especially for those things that God has already promised us.

Well, God has already begun to answer David’s prayer request here. He sent Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And Jesus went to the cross to die for us, that he could establish God’s chosen ones in a glorious kingdom. That all God’s promises would find their yes and amen in Jesus. I think of those qualities of humility, and gratitude, and praise. They come together in Jesus and in what he’s done. Jesus has provided a way to reach out to us in our humble estate of sin and misery. He found a way to redeem us from that humility and lift us up. We who have repented of our sins and turned to him in faith to the Son of David, have been made a part of his people Israel, God’s people forever. We have such a gift of grace, that we then are full of the greatest gratitude. We in turn give forth praise to God for this great salvation and how he has kept his promises that he has made down through the years.

Let us then express this in prayer. Let us have this humility, and gratitude, and praise, in our prayers. Let us bring these things to God in prayer because of the amazing grace he has shown us in Christ. The answer that God gave to David’s prayer here, has directly affected us. We’ve benefitted in it, just like David understood that God’s people would benefit from the Messiah that would come forth from his line. Let us humble ourselves before the grace of God then, and thank him and praise him for what he’s done to save us by his amazing grace!

And so then, brothers and sisters, I offer us a final application from this passage concerning your prayer life. We have many reasons to pray with humility and gratitude and praise for what God’s done in your individual life and what he will do in your individual life. But I also encourage your prayer to also pray about the big picture. What do I mean by that? I mean that following David’s example, he recognized that what God was doing in his life meant something for the bigger picture of redemptive history. It had to do with something far bigger than just himself, but something that would bless all of God’s people. I mean think about it, what’s at the heart of David’s prayer is something that he won’t even be alive in this world to see. It was for the distant future. David wouldn’t himself experience and enjoy these future blessings for his house. But it nonetheless sparked the greatest gratitude and joy for him! This is contrast to a rather poor reaction that one David’s descendants would later have. I remember King Hezekiah received a prophesy about some future calamity that would come to his offspring, and he took comfort in the words, because he said, there would be peace and security in his own days. How shortsighted and frankly selfish of Hezekiah in that regard. But that’s not David here. The fact that these promises to David apply especially to a future that will be after he has died and gone to be with the Lord, that doesn’t take any joy from David here in this prayer. On the contrary, David added this big trajectory to his prayer that appreciated what God would do through his family line would be a central part of how God would redeem a people unto himself.

Now, of course, none of us are going to have the redeemer of God’s people come from our lineage. Jesus has already come. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t notice the ways in which what God is doing in our life will contribute to the bigger picture of redemptive history. Now yes, it can often be hard to know how the things God is doing in our individual lives will contribute to the big picture. Unlike David, so much of that for our life is not revealed to us. We often try to fallibly discern what God is doing through our lives, but so often we don’t know. And yet, there are certain things that God has revealed about how he’ll use our lives in the bigger picture of redemptive history. We should recognize that, and pray for that. So then our prayers become not just about us, but about the big picture of God’s people.

I’ll give you an example. God has revealed to us that he gives spiritual gifts to every Christian, and that these gifts are meant for the common good of God’s people, 1 Corinthians 12:7. Do you see how that’s part of the big picture? It’s a part of the big picture that’s related to something gracious God has given you. God has given you one or more spiritual gifts, and these are given not just to bless you individually, but especially to bless God’s people. And that is part of how God is building his church on earth. In other words, it’s part of the bigger picture of redemptive history.

Pray then about this. Pray in humble gratitude to thank God for these spiritual gifts. Pray that God would use them to build up the people. Pray that God would be glorified through it! And, of course, spiritual gifts are just one example. Think of all the ways God’s Word promises how some aspect of what he’s done in your life relates to the bigger picture, and pray for that. Pray for that promise of God. Pray it in a way that expresses your faith in that promise. For God is a promise keeper, and his words are true, and his promises for us are so good.

In all this, to God be the glory, great things he has done! He is the only God, and there is none like him! Praise be to the Lord! Amen.

Copyright © 2016 Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
All Rights Reserved.


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