2 Samuel 7:8

(References: 2 Samuel 12:1, 25; 1 Kings 1:10, 22; 1 Kings 4:5; 1 Chronicles 17:1; 1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29; 2 Chronicles 29:25; Zechariah 12:12.) This is the first mention of his name. He may have been trained by Samuel at Naioth, and become acquainted with David there; was now the confidential friend and spiritual adviser of the king; subsequently reproved him for his sin; gave him counsel concerning the accession of Solomon; aided him in the reorganization of public worship; and wrote annals of his reign. It was his vocation to interpret and announce the Divine mind to others (see 1 Samuel 4:1). "The calling of a prophet was that of a preacher or pastor with reference to the congregation as a whole and its individual members; but was distinct from our modern ideas with reference to the calling as thus explained in his drawing directly from Divine revelation. The prophets have been rightly called 'the conscience of the Israelitish state.'... They held intercourse with God by means of prayer. They questioned God (Habakkuk 2:1), and he answered; but they did not receive Divine disclosures until they had first occupied an attitude of waiting and praying" (Delitzsch; Oehler, 'Theology of the Old Testament;' Riehm).

1. All men, and especially those who are in authority, have need of wise and faithful counsel. The king himself is only a man; his position is apt to blind his judgment and corrupt his heart; whilst his responsibilities and the consequences of his actions are very great.

2. Even the wisest of counsellors are liable to err in judgment. (Job 32:9.) "All that is in thine heart go, do." But herein Nathan spoke "out of his own mind, and not by Divine revelation" (J.H. Michaelis). The prophet, like the king, was only a man (Acts 10:26), imperfect and fallible, and often mistaken, when giving counsel according to his natural judgment and first impressions, without seeking and obtaining the counsel of God. It is not said that he spoke by "the word of the Lord," as he did afterwards (ver. 4). "Ofttimes our thoughts, although springing from motives of real religion, are not God's thoughts; and the lesson here conveyed is most important - not taking our own impressions, however earnestly and piously derived, as necessarily in accordance with the will of God, but testing them by his revealed Word" (Edersheim).

3. The errors of human judgment are rectified by Divine communications. Such communications have been actually made; and they are unspeakably precious. The prophet clearly distinguished them from his own thoughts, and had an inward assurance and overpowering conviction that he was the organ of God. It is the privilege of all Christians to be "taught of God," and "led by the Spirit;" but unless their convictions and impulses accord with the revealed Word, they must be rejected.

4. The Word of Divine revelation admits of no questioning or contradiction; but should be received "with meekness," uttered with simplicity and fidelity (Deuteronomy 12:32), and obeyed humbly, cheerfully, and fully. The prophet hesitated not to acknowledge his mistake, nor the king to lay aside his purpose in obedience to the will of the Lord (vers. 17, 18). - D.

I took thee from the sheepcote.
Though he was a born king by nature and character, David was not born a king. His father was a simple farmer, and his childhood was spent in the quiet scenes of a humble village. Jesus was born in the same Judean village-city, little Bethlehem. It is exactly thus that God ever carries out His mighty programme of action in creation, providence, and grace. The Rev. W. L. Watkinson says that, on visiting an art gallery recently, he noticed that some of the greatest pictures had not a splendid thing in them. The ordinary artist, when he wants to be effective, paints in a breadth of golden harvest, or be portrays a kingfisher or some other iridescent bird, or a tree in bloom, or that captivating thing, a rainbow. But you will notice that some of the greatest painters that ever lived never touch these things. They take common things — a railway cut, a ploughed field — no conspicuous object, only the black earth, the brown earth, the red earth; but their touch is a supreme touch, so that you can see the blossom in the dust and the rainbow in the cloud; and the picture, although it contains not a brilliant thing, is bathed in imagination, poetry, and beauty. So Christ can take the most common human plants in His garden and develop them into the most indescribable beauty and interest. God can take our poor humble lives and crown them with dignity and glory, as He honoured David the shepherd boy, if we fall into the royal line of the servants of righteousness. Before honour is humility. David was not a self-exalted king. He was called to rule, and he followed the Divine call wherever it led him, whether into the desert or into the palace.

Great Thoughts.
If a man be not signally successful in his present field he cannot reasonably hope to be more successful in a larger field. He must first fill out to his existing limits before he will be able to expand into the area of larger boundaries. A man may indeed have abilities beyond the sphere he is in at present, but in every such case the first indication of this is his filling that sphere satisfactorily. If he lacks where he is, he ought not to feel that he could do better, or even as well, if he were in a larger place. It were folly to expect that there is milk enough for a gallon measure when it cannot fill a pint pot.

(Great Thoughts.)

Sunday School Times.
That God is the Giver of power and dominion is a truth which has always been recognized in the unchangeable East. Thus, in the inscription of Darius on the rock at Behistun, the ninth paragraph reads: "Says Darius the king: — Ormazd [the god] granted me the empire. Ormazd brought help to me so that I gained this empire. By the grace of Ormazd, I hold this empire." Substitute "Jehovah" for "Ormazd," and David might truthfully have written that inscription. Again, in the Annals of Assurbanipal which are preserved on terra-cotta cylinders, now in the British Museum, it is said: "I am Assurbanipal, the seed of [the gods] Assur and Beltis, son of the great king of the North Palace, whom [the gods] Assur and Sin the lord of crowns, raised to the kingdom, prophesying his name from the days of old; and in his birth have created him to rule Assyria. [The gods] Shamas, Vul, and Ishtar, in power most high, commanded the making of his kingdom."

(Sunday School Times.)

For purposes of sober illustration or intense appeal to the unselfish and heroic, nothing can surpass the life of David Livingstone, whom Florence Nightingale called "the greatest man of his generation." The vision of the boy placing his book on the spinning-jenny and studying amid the roar of the machinery at Blantyre, or sitting contentedly down before his father's door to spend the night, upon arriving after the hour for locking it; the old coat, eleven years behind the fashion, which he wore when he emerged at Cape Town after Kolobeng had been pillaged; the sadness of the scene when he buried his little daughter in "the first grave in all this country," he wrote to his parents, "marked as the resting-place of one of whom it is believed and confessed that she stall live again"; his jocular letters to his daughter Agnes about his distorted teeth, "so that my smile is like that of a hippopotamus"; the meeting with Stanley when he was a "mere ruckle of bones"; the indomitable grit of the man whose last words in Scotland were, "Fear God, and work hard" — this life is full of such things as these, capable of use, inviting it. And when, before or since, has this world been swayed by eloquence comparable with that of his death? No pulpit has ever spoken with such power. The worn frame kneeling by the bedside at Ilala, pulseless and grill, while the rain dripped from the eaves of the hut, dead in the attitude of prayer, solitary and alone, sent a thrill through the souls of men which, thank God, is vibrating still, and is working out the redemption wrought once for Africa by the world's Redeemer.

(W. G. Blaikie.)

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