Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Prayer of a King!


Passage 2 Samuel 7:18-29,    
Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, "Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord GOD! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O LORD, became their God. And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. And your name will be magnified forever, saying, 'The LORD of hosts is God over Israel,' and the house of your servant David will be established before you. For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, 'I will build you a house.' Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord GOD, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever."




There is no question that God answers prayers and that we ought to be as profuse with thanksgiving as we are with petitions. In as far as this prayer is concerned; this is what Matthew Henry says:
David's prayer is full of the breathings of devout affection toward God. He had low thoughts of his own merits. All we have, must be looked upon as Divine gifts. He speaks very highly and honourably of the Lord's favours to him. Considering what the character and condition of man is, we may be amazed that God should deal with him as he does. The promise of Christ includes all; if the Lord God be ours, what more can we ask, or think of? Ephesians 3:20 He knows us better than we know ourselves; therefore let us be satisfied with what he has done for us. What can we say more for ourselves in our prayers, than God has said for us in his promises? David ascribes all to the free grace of God. Both the great things He had done for him, and the great things He had made known to him. All was for his word's sake, that is, for the sake of Christ the eternal Word. Many, when they go to pray, have their hearts to seek, but David's heart was found, that is, it was fixed; gathered in from its wanderings to satisfaction and contentment of heart, entirely engaged to the duty, and employed in it. That prayer which is from the tongue only, will not please God; it must be found in the heart; that must be lifted up and poured out before God. He builds his faith, and hopes to speed, upon the sureness of God's promise. David prays for the performance of the promise. With God, saying and doing are not two things, as they often are with men; God will do as he hath said. The promises of God are not made to us by name, as to David, but they belong to all who believe in Jesus Christ, and plead them in his name.
Clearly Matthew Henry is right when he says that we must turn to God when we receive God’s message, rather than to the messengers of God. And so here is the king of Israel in prayer. He prays in manner that we can glean a number of lessons for our own prayer lives. For the question is, how do we respond to God in prayer when He has dealt with us so graciously?
1.       Approach God with extreme humility
David went in and was very conscious of the fact that he was in the presence of the sovereign God. He sat before the Lord! It is very important to know who is God that we are coming to meet up with – He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is infinitely holy and lives in inapproachable light. He is God and we must acknowledge that we are nothing – but just dust and worms in the sight of the Omnipotent God. We are just the work of His hands. Wretched sinners, despicable in God’s sight. This David knew too well and so he prayed, “Whom am I, O LORD God, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far? ... and what more can David say to you?”(vv.18,19). David is here saying that he has no merit of his own that he could dare to present to God. He is wondering aloud if this was the usual way of God dealing with sinners. Therefore, he acknowledged that he did not deserve anything of what God was giving Him. Although David was a man of many accomplishments as a king, yet he knew that they were nothing before God. He also marvelled at the grace of God upon his family – and although his house had been chosen to be a royal house, yet David knew that it had nothing to do with his merit, it all had to do with the grace of God to him and his posterity.
He was receiving far more than he had asked or imagined. It was beyond his wildest expectations and dreams. David was just a shepherd boy, that we first meet in 1Samuel 16 when he was anointed as king by Samuel to take over from Saul who had been rejected by God. David was the youngest in the family and just a lad and yet, he was appointed to be king. He therefore acknowledged that there was nothing special about him – his appointment was absolutely unconditionally gracious. He was particularly amazed that God chose his household to propagate the might Name of God in Israel – this David did not take for granted. It was staggering and you can feel this in his words of supplication to God. Sometimes we tend to take God’s favours for granted and so neglect! But here is a lesson to learn to receive the favours divine with a bowed knee and an outstretched hands of worship. If it is anything else, then it is to be received prostrate.
Prayer is the most necessary before God. Approaching the throne of God is understanding that it is the throne of grace – and we do not deserve anything. So that we receive mercy and obtain grace in time of need and we are ever needy. There are people who are known for their brazenness before God and this must be known as unacceptable since they neither know who God is and who they are. We are so regularly exhorted in the NT not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Rather we should learn humility from our Saviour and Master, Jesus Christ. Clearly, this is a call to reconsider the manner in which we approach God – is it in a humble and contrite spirit? The Lord promises that such a heart, He will not reject.
Humility is a necessary characteristic of contentment. In his humility David shows that all is interested in is God and he humbly submits to God’s rule. When there is pride, there is rebellion and anarchy in an attempt to usurp and reject authority. This is what kings of the earth do – they set themselves and take counsel together against the Lord and His anointed. But David comes before the Lord in humility to praise God and in humility has no regard for Himself! Here we learn from a king that humility is what we need to approach God for indeed God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. The King of kings, the Lord Jesus humbled Himself, even to the point of death even death on the cross, and will be greater than our Master and God?


2.       Enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise
Humility before God will make it very easy for us to be grateful for we know what we are getting is absolutely undeserved, unheeded and unsought. This produces praise to God. David’s prayer is full of praise and thanksgiving to God. It is the real and delightful worship of God for who He is. This is powerfully revealed in this prayer. Here we see prayer of praise at its depth, with sincerity and genuineness that can only be produced by a sincere child of God who is in full satisfaction and contentment.
So David worshipped, “Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”(v.22). David comes to His God who is infinitely powerful and therefore able to answer His prayers as He had already done. Prayer is one thing that acknowledges and accepts the amazing sovereignty of God, and rightly so, since in prayer we rightly assume that God is around us to hear our petitions. In prayer we accept that God has the power to answer this prayer accordingly. God is in absolute charge of all things and this makes Him absolutely dependable and trustworthy. All those who put their faith in Him are never disappointed.
Therefore, we ought to fill our prayers with worship and adoration. We should exalt God and magnify His mightiness. David  prayed that God’s Name will be forever and eternally magnified by all His creation. God is the only worthy to worshipped. For He demands worship and praise justly. It is for this reason that God created us – to worship Him, to praise Him. For all honour, glory, praise and thanks belong to Him forever. And God has given us access through His worship by His Son to offer sacrifices of praise, since the atoning sacrifice has not only been offered but also accepted!
We have greater reasons to be thankful for what God has done for us in His Son Jesus Christ, who is our Saviour. The present graces and comforts to us are invaluable gifts. Yet these are just tokens in comparison to the eternal blessings we have in Christ. For this reason David says a number of things that show great thanksgiving and praise to God:
1)      These blessings are beyond our expectation
2)      This has a bearing on the infiniteness of God
3)      It shows that the way of our God is far above all ways of men
4)      We cannot ask God for more than He has given already!
This knowledge has to produce thanksgiving for both the privilege of prayer and for God’s willingness to answer our prayers. With this understanding we genuinely acknowledge God’s benevolence in answering the prayers of His people, abundantly, exceedingly above what we ask or even imagine as He so gracious. Who will not worship God who sends rains both to the wicked and to the righteous? Who will not magnify the Name of the Lord who so kindly keeps us, providing and sustaining us? Worship is the automatic response that all creation ought to produce before God.
When it comes to offering worship to God, the first thing that we should ask is whether it is an acceptable worship. Surely we do not want to offer unworthy or unauthorised worship that will be rejected by God, do we? If our worship is to be acceptable then it has to be in accordance to what God has revealed in His Word – the Scriptures. Christ was very specific when He said that God is looking for such worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and truth (John 2:24). Spiritual worship is of the heart, motivated and by love and adoration of who God is. It is therefore tuned by the Spirit of God. But it also has to be worship in truth. This means that it is informed and directed by the truth of God’s own revelation.  We ought only to worship Him in accordance to the light of His revelation to us, according to His word. Since we are receiving a kingdom, that cannot be shaken – greater than the one David had, we should worship God acceptably with reverence and awe for God is infinitely holy – He is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28)

3.       Always remember the Covenant Promises God has given us

David prayed, “…Because of your promise… according to all that we have heard with our ears… And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken… For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, 'I will build you a house.' Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you… And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true (vv. 21,22,25,27,28). In this prayer we also see David remembering the great and most precious promises of God in His infinite love when He graciously established a covenant with the people of Israel. When we recall the covenant promises of God, our faith is strengthened in trusting in the Lord to provide for us in the future as He has done in the past. David particularly recounts God’s gracious promises and redemptive acts upon His people Israel as a catalyst or encouragement to his prayers and reinforcement to His faith.
David ascribes all the blessings He has to the free grace of God that is informed by His covenantal promises. The emphasis is on both the great things he had done for him and his family as well as the great things he had made known to him. He clearly acknowledges that all these were for God’s word sake. And in this David is saying in the NT language, that it was for the sake of Christ, the eternal Word. For what else did it depend upon if not the merit of Christ? It is the name of Christ which is above every name both in heaven and on earth so that at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. 
David does not only laud and magnify God for His covenantal blessings, but also for His providential blessings for He talks of ‘God’s own good pleasure seemed good to His own eyes’. Obviously God is controlling everything in the universe in a manner most pleasant to His eyes… “His purposes cannot be thwarted,” said Job. “His counsel shall stand,” David affirmed elsewhere. “According to His predetermined will” the Apostles confirmed! God’s purposes in providence are all contributing to His covenantal promises, which are all realized in Christ, and applied by the Holy Spirit. We have to learn to accept all that the Lord brings our way as He is absolutely in charge, directing and ordering all things according to the counsel of His eternal will. This shows that God is absolutely dependable and trustworthy.
 Therefore our confidence is fully established in Him as His people just as the nation of Israel was expected to be, for we are the Israel of God.
4.       Let your sincere motive be the glory of God
David in this prayer shows that he was solely interested in the greatness and glory of God alone and not his selfish interests. So David cries out, Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. (vv.22-24)
David is not praying simply because he has a personal need. He is praying because he is concerned for the glory of God. He is praying to praise and glorify the Lord and in these verses he shows his three-fold interest –
(1)    the greatness of God,
(2)    God’s people and
(3)    God’s redemptive purposes.
God is great because of who He is and David acknowledges this most wonderfully in his desire to see the glory of God shine most brightly in His eternal purposes, specifically  in His covenantal people, Israel. All who are interested in the glory of God come to enjoy the privileges that God promises those who live for Him.
All honour, praise, thanks, blessings and adoration belongs to the Lord God. And David in His prayer shows great reverence and awe in his worship to the Lord God. We understand that the more God brings us closer to His presence, the more we will be astounded by the awfulness and greatness of the glory of God. For this reason, the cherubim and seraphs, never cease to worship God crying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!"(Rev. 5:13). Those who live in the presence of God are the most reverent and exuberant in praising the Lord for He is a great and awesome God to those who know Him truly. Our first commitment in prayer ought to be the glory of God and not gratifying our needs.
5.       Always expect God to answer your prayers
The prayer closes with an expectant hope that his petitions will be answered according to God’s most precious and very great promises. It is not very obvious that David has any petitions to make until you look closely. So we find that he does submit humble petitions to God. He confidently based His petitions and supplication on the message which God had sent him. For you know your servant, O Lord GOD! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.  (v.7:27): The point here is that without promises from God, there is no ground for prayer. We must always aim to pray in accordance to the will of God. How may do you know that your prayer is in accordance with the will of God? It is by making use of the promises in God’s Word as the basis for your petition. The greatest promise in prayer is that God has invited us to pray and He will answer – Ask and the promise is God will answer! Seek and the promise is that He will get you to find and Knock and He will open it for you! This invitation is sure because the Lord Jesus Christ sits on the right hand of God interceding for us. Furthermore the Spirit of God helps us to pray – and He well knows the mind of God!
Let us look at the petitions that David made:
1)      God to be glorified. (v.26): This ought to be the summary and centre of all our prayer. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, did He not teach them, ‘Hallowed be Your name? Does the Lord’s prayer not end with and end with “For Thine is the glory for ever.”?
2)      Confirmation and fulfillment of the promise for ever concerning David and his family (v.25). David did not desire or wish to have more than God had promised, an indication that he was satisfied with the promises of God. His hope was only in the promises of God and not his own ideas he had construed. We must learn to turn the promises that God gives us into promises and it will please the Lord to confirm and perform them for His own glory and our good.
3)      Bless David and his household so that it may continue forever (v.29). David for the happiness of his family when he asked God to bless it. He was not embarrassed to pray for the prosperity of his family. Neither should we be ashamed to ask God for anything as long as our basic motive is the glory of God. Men should learn here to be more fervent in praying for their families, towards God’s blessings of peace and happiness.  He prayed that this blessedness will not be withdrawn but will continue to all eternity not just in the presence of men but in God’s presence! What could be a greater petition than this? In this request David had in mind the crown to remain in his family and in faith, was requesting that the Messiah may be from his lineage, that it may be continued and prospered through Christ as the Saviour of the world.


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