Sermon: The Story of Three Kings

I preached the following sermon at Kušlanova Church of Christ, Zagreb, on 13 November 2016.

The Story of Three Kings

(2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 22.7-10)

We’ve been studying the story of David.  A question I want you to consider as we look at the next chapter: is David a good man or a bad man?

This story (2 Samuel 7) begins where last week’s story left off.  King David has brought the box of the covenant into Jerusalem.  Now we learn what he has planned to do with it; he is planning to build a great, magnificent temple for Yahweh in Jerusalem.  The box of the covenant will be kept there.

This is the kind of thing kings did.  Once they had subdued their enemies, they built great buildings and monuments, partly as an act of worship to God and partly as a memorial to their own greatness, their own legacy.

So David wants to build a temple.  And he tells his plans to his prophet, Nathan.  And at first, Nathan says, “Go ahead and build it.”

But that night, God speaks to Nathan the following message for David.  (2 Sam 7.5-16)

God tells David three things:

1.   “I never asked you to build a house for me.” (5-7) God saying, “The great monuments that the kings of other nations build to their gods?  Not what I want.”

2.   “You’re already living out the plans I have for you.” (8-11a)

We sometimes think that God isn’t using us, because he isn’t doing big things through us.  “If God was really present in my life, he’d be doing great things” or “If God was really happy with me, then I wouldn’t be struggling with temptation / discouragement / obstacles you face.”

Or “If God was really using our church, we’d be big like the other churches are.  Or bigger!”

When we say this, we have a kind of inferiority complex.  What we’re really saying when we do this is, “Whatever God is doing in my life is not enough.”  Is that true?

My dad is a successful minister.  He has led several large churches, and planted churches.  All my life, he has been my hero.  But when I was a young minister, I was always comparing my ministries with his.  I always felt like I didn’t measure up, because his successes were so much greater than mine.

That’s completely the wrong attitude.  God didn’t put us here to be like anyone but Jesus.

Whatever God has given you to do, wherever he has put you, that’s enough.

His plan for you might be for you to move around the world and work for a college.

His plan for you might be for you to love your neighbors and encourage them and pray for them while they go through difficult times.

His plan for you might be for you to raise your children to respect and love other people, to seek after God with all their hearts.

3.   “You’re not going to build a house for me, I’m going to build a house for you.” (11b-16)  This is part of a pun that runs through chapter 6-7, on the Hebrew word “bet,” “house.” (List the occurrences)

This third thing, God unpacks with two promises:

a.   “David, you are a man of war.  Your son will be a man of peace.  He will inherit your throne, and HE will build a temple for me.”

Refers to Solomon; in Hebrew, the consonants of his name, SLM, sound like the consonants of shalom, “peace”.

b.   “Your house (your sons) will reign over my people forever.”  The promise is that David’s kingdom will pass on to his son, and that son’s sons after him.

Repeated multiple times in the stories of kings in Jerusalem; even when they’re wicked, God leaves the throne in their hands because he is keeping his promise to David.

This promise is a prophecy, looks far into the future.  Who is the son of David who reigns over God’s people forever?

THIS STORY IS THE STORY OF THREE KINGS 

The first king is David.  The more you know the story of David, the more morally ambiguous he is.  Is David a good man or a bad man?  He’s a good man, but he does some really awful things.  David loves God—see it in the psalms.  But he’s a violent man, lustful; in the end, his appetites destroy him and his children.

The second king is Solomon, the son of David.  In a way, he WAS a man of peace; Israel was not at war during Solomon’s reign.

And he had great wisdom. Solomon knew how to lead and how to get things done, how to get people to do what he wanted, how to turn a little bit of money into a LOT of money.

And God used that wisdom to bless him in every way; Solomon may have been the richest man in the world during his lifetime.

But Solomon was morally ambiguous, too.

  • He built the temple and great public buildings.  Where did he get the labor for these projects?  He forced his own people to work as slaves.  Since the slavery in Egypt, the thought of forced service was hated; Solomon forces on his people.
  • He bought Egyptian cavalry horses and chariots, and then sold them to the kings around him for their armies. Solomon, the man of peace, was an arms dealer!  And it made him very, very rich.
  • He used his wisdom to amass a staggering fortune.
  • He had over 1,000 wives and concubines, many of whom he allowed to worship foreign gods.

In Deut 17, Moses says, “The king must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them… He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver & gold.”

Solomon violated all the commandments of those verses.  And he suffered the consequences.

What is David’s true legacy? 

The temple is gone, I don’t believe it will ever be rebuilt.

Solomon’s wealth is gone, passed through the treasuries of the countries that conquered Israel.  We remember his wealth and wisdom, but tragic figure, and his reign is the beginning of the end for Israel’s time of prosperity and independence.

David’s kingship is gone—or is it?

There’s a third king, the one promised in 2 Sam 7.11, where God says that one of David’s sons will reign over God’s people forever.

In the New Testament, who is the true Son of David?

In the New Testament, who is the true Prince of Peace?

The third king in this passage, isn’t there?  A king whose victories are greater than David’s victories.  A king whose wealth and wisdom are greater than Solomon’s.

The United States has just finished a presidential election, and everyone there is losing their minds over it.  It’s been a difficult, crazy time.

And I know that Croatia has spent the past couple of years with different politicians maneuvering to try to take power here.

Our world understands David.  Donald Trump, the different politicians and leaders and oligarchs, they understand power.  They understand armies. They understand appetites.  They understand wealth.

Our world understands Solomon’s wisdom: how to make money, how to make people do what you want them to do, how to “get things done.”

Our world doesn’t understand the third king, Jesus Christ. Our world doesn’t understand the wisdom of the teacher who taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; … Blessed are those who mourn; … Blessed are the meek; … Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for justice; … Blessed are the peacemakers.”  That doesn’t make any sense to our world.

The only way they will ever understand him, and why his way is better, is if they see him living in us.

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