The Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 24, 2017
2 Samuel 7:8-16
Come, Lord Jesus…to Fulfill God’s Promises
“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now, I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’“ (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the season of promises, isn’t it? Think about it. This is the time of the year when many of us make promises to ourselves. We promise ourselves that we will get started on our shopping early so that we are not so rushed right before Christmas. We promise ourselves that we will get our Christmas cards out on time. This is also the time of the year when some of us make promises to others. We promise to go to Sally and Art’s Christmas party this year. We promise our spouse or our children that we will help put up the Christmas tree and all the Christmas decorations— without grumbling.
Is it important to keep our promises, my friends? It most certainly is. If you don’t believe me, just think of someone who makes a promise to a child. If for whatever reason they don’t keep that promise, that child will be crushed, won’t they. Children trust that we will keep the promises that we make to them!
The sermon text that we have before us this morning is a beautiful example of promises— both promises made and promises kept. With that in mind let’s study our text under the theme: Come, Lord Jesus…to Fulfill God’s Promises. First, let’s see what this text has to say concerning God’s promises to King David. Then let’s see what God’s promises to King David have to say about God’s promises to us.
Second Samuel chapter seven marks the climax of King David’s victories. He had defeated the giant Goliath. He had survived several attacks on his life by King Saul. He had now gained control as king over the entire land of Israel. He had conquered the formidable fortress of Jerusalem, taking it from the Jebusites and calling it the “City of David.” He had defeated those pesky Philistines. Finally, he had brought the Ark of the Covenant into the City of Jerusalem. As David now looked back over the events of his life he realized two things. First, he realized that he had come very far. A humble little shepherd-boy was now ruling as God’s chosen king over God’s Chosen People. Second, David recognized that everything he had achieved and everything he was now enjoying— all the victories, all the power, all the wealth, all the honor, all the glory— it was all due to the “LORD,” the God of free and faithful grace. David knew that none of this would have been possible if the Lord had not been with David every single step of the way.
As David looked at everything the good Lord had graciously done for him, David decided that he wanted to do something for God. But what could he do? What could a mere shepherd-boy turned king do for the Majestic Living God? Finally it came to him! We hear David say to the Lord’s prophet Nathan, “Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” David wanted to build a “house” for the Lord in the City of Jerusalem— a Temple worthy of the one and only true God. Nathan’s response to David was quite positive. We hear him say to David, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.” That very night, however, the “word of the LORD came to Nathan.” God told Nathan to go back to King David and say, “No.” David was not the one who would build a “house” for the Lord. That privilege would be given to David’s son, Solomon. And then, using a play on words the Lord said that instead of David building a “house,” a Temple for the Lord, the Lord promised that He would build a “house,” a dynasty, for David! That glorious promise is the “heart” of our text for today.
I invite you to look at verses eight and nine of our text. First, the Lord reviews some of the wonderful things that He had graciously done for David. The Lord’s promises to David then begin at the end of verse nine. First, the Lord promised David, “I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth.” Did the Lord fulfill that promise to David? Absolutely! Here we are some 3,000 years later and we still talk and read and study about “great” King David. Now look at verses ten and eleven. God went on to promise that He would give His people Israel a “land of their own” and “rest from all your enemies.” Did the Lord fulfill that promise? Absolutely! Up until the people of Israel sinned against the Lord and became unfaithful to Him and the covenant He had made with them, they did enjoy a “land of their own” and they did enjoy “rest from all their enemies.”
Now look at verses 11b-16. Here is where the Lord made the most glorious promise of all to David: “The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” Did the Lord fulfill this glorious promise? Absolutely! A partial fulfillment of this promise was found in David’s son, Solomon. The ultimate fulfillment, however, can only be found in the Child of Bethlehem, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The proof of that statement is found in our Gospel reading for today (Luke 1:26-38). When the angel Gabriel was sent to the virgin Mary he told her exactly Who her Child would be. Gabriel said to her, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” The parallelism between the promise which God gave to David through His servant Nathan and the fulfillment of that promise as God revealed the Good News to the virgin Mary through His servant Gabriel is nothing short of miraculous. The Child of Bethlehem— who comes from the “house and line of David” (Luke 2:4) — is great King David’s greater Son, the Son who now rules over God’s Kingdom forever!
But, my friends, how are we to understand verse 14 of our text? Look at what it says, “When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men.” How these words might apply to David’s son Solomon (or any of David’s other descendants) is quite easy to understand. But if the ultimate fulfillment of this text is to be found in the Child of Bethlehem, how could verse 14 possibly apply to the perfect, innocent, holy Son of God? To answer that question we simply need to fast-forward from Christmas to Holy Week. On the day that we call Good Friday Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus of Nazareth to die because Jesus claimed to be— the King of the Jews! (See Matthew 27:11-44) For this “crime” Jesus was beaten and flogged and then crucified. (Pointing to the cross) You and I, however, know the real reason for Jesus’ innocent suffering and death, don’t we.
The “Son of the Most High” God, the One who sits on the royal throne of His father David, the One who rules over God’s kingdom forever was beaten and flogged and then nailed to a cross where suffered and died to fulfill God’s promise to you— the promise to take all of your sins and all of your iniquities upon Himself, the promise to save you from all the “wrongs” that you have done. (See Isaiah 53) That amazing yet unfathomable truth leads us directly into the second part of our sermon.
The fact that the Child of Bethlehem was born to fulfill this promise to King David guarantees to us that we can trust our God to fulfill the promises He has made to us!
What are those promises? Since we don’t have near enough time to review all the wonderful promises that the good Lord has made to us, let’s just look at the three promises God made to King David here in our text and see how the Lord has made similar promises to us.
God promised King David that He would make David’s name “great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth.” Has the Lord made a similar promise to us, my friends? Yes, He has! God’s promise to us, however, centers on giving us a name that is far greater than the name “David,” or “Sally” or “Art.” God gives us His own Name! How? God places His own name on us through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism! Jesus Himself says to us, “…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Through this holy Sacrament you have been given the Name that sets you apart from even the most powerful and the most wealthy unbeliever on the face of the earth. You have been given the name “Christian.” (See Numbers 6:27; Acts 15:16-18; I Peter 4:16; Revelation 3:11-12; 14:1; 22:4) This baptismal font is now a visible reminder of God’s promise to you.
God also promised King David that He would give His people a “home of their own” and “rest from all your enemies.” Has God made a similar promise to us? Yes, He has! Not only did the Child of Bethlehem completely defeat all of our enemies through His innocent suffering and death on the cross of Calvary’s hill, but the Child of Bethlehem physically rose from the dead and ascended into heaven so that He could fulfill the promise that He gives to us in John chapter 14. Jesus promises, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). God’s promise to us guarantees that when we die we go— Home! We go to our heavenly Home where we will enjoy perfect “rest from all of our enemies” as well as perfect “rest” from all of our difficulties, from all of our sorrows and all of our pains— forever! That’s God’s promise to you!
Finally, the Lord promised King David that one of his own sons would rule over God’s Kingdom forever. Has God made a similar promise to us? Yes, He has! The Child whom the virgin Mary tenderly cradled in her arms, the Child whom the shepherds saw “lying in the manger” (Luke 2:16), the Child before whom the Wise Men bowed down and worshiped, the Child who was ultimately nailed to a cross with a sign above His head which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19), this Child is not only our Brother, but He is also our King! This Child is our King who now promises to graciously rule in our hearts and in our lives through the power of His holy Word and Sacrament. This Child is our King who now promises to rule over all things in heaven and on earth for the good of His Church. This Child is our King who promises that He will return to this earth at the end of the age in all of His power, majesty and glory! (See Matthew 25:31; 26:62-64; John 18:33-37) This Child, this King is our Brother— our Brother who promises that we will rule with Him in His heavenly Kingdom! (See Revelation 20:4-6) That’s God’s promise to you!
This is indeed the season of promises, my friends. But far more important than the promises we make to ourselves, far more important than the promises we make to others are the promises that the good Lord has made to us. As you and I prepare to once again witness the fulfillment of the promises which the Lord made to King David here in our text, let’s take this opportunity to both remember and to rejoice in knowing that the Lord has— and will continue— to fulfill His promises to us!
To God be the glory!