1 Chronicles 17

Yesterday we ended the books of Kings with the people of Judah being carried away as captives to Babylon. The Chronicles comes next in Scripture (originally First and Second Chronicles were one book), because it was written after the Babylonian captivity was over. The purpose of the Chronicles was to bring God’s people back to their spiritual roots. It begins with Adam, the first human being, and traces the line of God’s people through Abraham and the twelve tribes of Israel. The rest of First Chronicles focuses on King David and duplicates some material from the books of Samuel and Kings. God’s people needed to be reminded where they came from.

Today’s chapter highlights King David’s love and commitment to God, but it also reveals God’s love and commitment to David. It contains what is known as the “Davidic Covenant”, one of the most theologically significant, far-reaching passages in the Bible.

After David had built his new palace in Jerusalem, he called in the prophet Nathan to propose an idea that revealed the good heart of the king. The Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence that had travelled with the people since the days of Moses, had made its final move to its permanent location in Jerusalem. But when David compared his own new home of stone and cedar to the tent that housed the Ark, it just didn’t seem right. Nathan immediately affirmed David’s desire to build a temple for the Lord and encouraged him to proceed with the Lord’s blessings. But Nathan spoke too soon — God had another plan.

In a nighttime vision to the prophet, God gave a life-changing message to the king. The crux of the prophecy was that David wanted to build a house for God, but instead God would build a “house” — an eternal dynasty — for David (v.10). There was a reason beyond David’s own lifetime for the meteoric rise of the shepherd-king and the unprecedented blessings on his leadership (v.7): the descendants of David would rule forever.

This magnificent promise should be understood on two levels. First, Israel’s history affirms that David’s family, beginning with his son Solomon, became a dynasty that reigned for many years. After Nathan passed God’s promise on to him, David received it by faith, as demonstrated by his beautiful prayer of gratitude in verses 16-27. But on another (more important) level, this promise would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the saving king of Israel and all the world. Whether David was completely aware of this long-range fulfillment of the promise, I do not know — but the early Christian community of the New Testament certainly was. Taking their cue from Jesus, they understood God’s promise to David to extend far beyond the rule of his physical offspring and into the realm of the spiritual reign of the Messiah. A careful reading of verses 11-14 with Jesus in mind will bring these important truths to light:

Jesus’ earthly parents were descendants of David (v.11).

Jesus did build a “house” for His Father, the church (v.12; see Matthew 16:18 and Ephesians 2:19-22).

Jesus was indeed the Son of God, conceived without the involvement of an earthly father (v.13).

Jesus currently reigns as Lord of all, the eternal King of an eternal kingdom (v.14).

Like David, stop and pray a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s promise that was (and is) fulfilled in Christ (v.16-27). Thank Him for the grace He has shown you in salvation. Pray a prayer of fresh surrender to the rule of King Jesus in your life. With a sense of wonder at the grace of God, David asked, “Who am I…that you have brought me thus far?” Treat yourself to this classic song inspired by David’s prayer and marvel at the grace of God that found you.