1 Chronicles 17 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of 1 Chronicles 17)
The Lord's house and its builder

But although David was to connect kingly power in Zion with the ark of the covenant, and thus to secure blessing by the power of the king whom God had chosen, yet the warrior king was not to build the Lord's house. The energy which was victorious over the enemies of God and of His people was not yet the peaceful and glorious power which would bring the people into the enjoyment of all God's blessing, when the enemy should be no more and all should yield implicit obedience to the throne of God upon the earth. Like Abraham, David was to be in his own person the depositary of the promises; but he was not himself to enjoy the result of the promises on the earth.

When the people had been redeemed, their first spiritual desire was to build a habitation in which God should dwell among them (Ex. 15: 2) [1], and this desire was according to the mind of God (Ex. 29: 44-46).

But if God had accompanied His people in their wanderings; if He had borne with their unfaithfulness, when He had entrusted to them His glory in the earth, which He had promised them; and if the song, "His mercy endureth for ever," echoed around His altar in the midst of the ruin; if, for the deliverance of His people, He had set up a king after His own heart, and placed the ark (rescued from the enemy) upon Mount Zion, the place which He had chosen for His rest; nevertheless it was still true that there remained a rest for the people of God. The victory which obtained it was not this rest, neither was the grace which bestowed the victory this rest. When God should give His people full and entire rest, then the house in which He would dwell among them should be built; for God comes into the midst of His people according to their condition and their need [2].

The counsels of God in blessing: the throne estaliblished forevermore

But the holy desire to build it for the glory of God becomes the occasion of revealing to David all the counsels of God with respect to himself. Grace had chosen him when in a low estate, and had set him up to rule the people of God, who had Himself been with David wherever he went, who had cut off David's enemies, and who had exalted him. And this was not all. He had ordained a rest for His people, which should no more be disturbed, as it had been aforetime and during all the days of the judges.

Moreover God would subdue all his enemies, and would build him a house. It should no longer be saviours occasionally raised up to deliver a people from the miseries into which their unfaithfulness had plunged them; but the counsels of God on their behalf should be accomplished, and blessing established for evermore in the house and family of the king. The son of David should sit upon his throne; he should be a son unto Jehovah, and Jehovah should be his Father, and Jehovah's mercy should not be taken away from him. He should also be settled in the house, and in the kingdom of Jehovah for ever, and his throne should be established for evermore.

Christ the true Son of David, the King: David's prayer

It will be remarked here, that all question of the responsibility of David's seed [3] is left out, and that the whole refers to the fulfilment of God's purposes in Christ, the true Son of David according to the promise. God takes the matter in hand. While His people are still deprived of rest, He is pleased to go with them from tent to tent, and desires not that they should build Him a house. At length He will Himself raise up the One who shall build up a house, and under whose reign the people, established in power for ever, shall enjoy the rest which God Himself shall have procured them. David, with overflowing heart, makes answer to Jehovah [4], who, for His servant's sake, and according to His own heart, had done all these great things, and had revealed them to make His servant know them. Whilst acknowledging Israel's glorious privilege, in being the people of such a God—the only true God, he prays that the God of Israel will in fact be a God to Israel, and that He will fulfil all that He had spoken to him concerning his posterity.

[1] This translation here is more than doubtful, but Exodus 29: 46 is quite clear as to the purpose of God.

[2] When Israel was a slave, God became his Redeemer; when he dwelt in tents, God abode in one also; when in conflict, God presented Himself as Captain of Jehovah's host; when settled in peace, God establishes Himself in the house of His glory. The interval was the probation of His people on earth. God abode in the tent, and even His ark is taken. He interposes in grace for deliverance.

Christ also, since we were born of woman, is born of a woman; since His people were under the law, He is born under the law; now that He will have a heavenly people, He is on high for us; when He comes in glory, we shall come with Him, and reign when He reigns, but in these last we are with Him.

[3] The latter part of verse 14 in 2 Samuel 7 is omitted.

[4] It is beautiful to see, in this affecting prayer, how David's heart is full of that which God is in this matter. "There is none like thee"; and, if he speaks of the blessing upon His people, Israel is not that which the people are, but "the only nation in the earth whom God went to redeem to himself, that they might be his own people, to make himself a name of greatness and terribleness." "Let thy name be magnified for ever." This is the proper effect of faith.