What follows after Saul’s death is nothing short of a civil war – not the first, and definitely not the last in Israel’s history. Throughout this war, God is silent; there is neither approval nor advice to David about how to fight the Benjaminites. It is not until after the war that God is seen to be blessing and supporting David (2 Sam 5:10). David takes Jerusalem in chapter 5, and the next 7 chapters relate many battles against the original inhabitants of the land, which David wins, and which are predominantly attributed to God’s help (e.g. 2 Sam 5:19, 23-24; 8:14).
In 2 Samuel 7, David seeks to build a temple for God, and the Prophet Nathan conveys God’s message. Firstly, God rejects David’s innovative worship. Despite what David thinks, God does not want him to build a temple – he has dwelt in the Tabernacle for the past centuries, and it is how he decreed that it will be (2 Sam 7:6-7). Secondly, God declares that he does not need David to build him a house, rather, he will build a house for David:
8 Now this is what you are to say to My servant David: ‘This is what the LORD of Hosts says: “I took you from the pasture and from following the sheep to be ruler over My people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. I will make a name for you like that of the greatest in the land. 10 I will establish a place for My people Israel and plant them, so that they may live there and not be disturbed again. Evildoers will not afflict them as they have done 11 ever since the day I ordered judges to be over My people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. ” The LORD declares to you: The LORD Himself will make a house for you.’ (2 Sam 7:8-11)
These things were achieved by God, not David. And the future would be secured by God as well.
12 “When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me. When he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod and with blows from others. 15 But My faithful love will never leave him as I removed it from Saul; I removed him from your way. 16 Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.” (2 Sam 7:12-16)
Of course, this promise was not fully fulfilled in David’s immediate descendants. It was only in Jesus that we see David’s true heir, God’s son and our eternal king. The significance of this moment for our study is the continued reinforcement of God’s providential care for his people. He does not need human help to achieve his ends. He especially does not need people trying to create new ways of helping him achieve his ends. What he calls for is faithfulness and obedience within the framework that he has already laid down.