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1 Chronicles 17:1-27 – God’s Promise to David


In this pivotal chapter, God promises that David will always have a son on the throne of Judah (vv. 1-15), and David responds with thanks and praise (vv. 16-27).


God's covenant with David (1 Chronicles 17:3-15) and God's promise of forgiveness to Solomon at the dedication of the temple (2 Chronicles 7:11-22) form the two pillars upon which the Chronicler's theology is structured: king and cult. As usual, the Chronicler has reframed the earlier material from Samuel to allow the text to speak to the concerns of his own postexilic community.

Here, the Chronicler has followed his source (2 Samuel 7) very closely. There, as here, God's promise is developed through a delightful play on the ambiguous nature of the fourteen occurrences of the Hebrew word for "house," variously signifying the "palace" where David lives (v. 1), "the temple" he wishes to build for God (v. 4), or the "dynasty" of his descendants who will sit upon his throne (vv. 10b, 14). There, as here, though, God will not permit David to build a house (temple) for God (v. 4), God will build a house (dynasty) for David (v. 10b), and one of that house (dynasty) will build the house (temple) for God (v. 12a).

The small differences, however, are significant:

  • Mention of the exodus in 2 Samuel 7:6 is omitted by the Chronicler, possibly because the deliverance from Egypt has been eclipsed for his community by the activity of David and their own return from Babylon.
  • The reference to Solomon's expected sin and God's punishment (2 Samuel 7:14) is left out for the same reason that David's peccadilloes are omitted.
  • Most important, God says that Solomon, not David, will be confirmed as king in the kingdom that is described as belonging to God, not to David (1 Chronicles 17:14, contrast 2 Samuel 7:16).

1 Chronicles 17:1-27

God’s Covenant with David

17Now when David settled in his house, David said to the prophet Nathan, ‘I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent.’ 2Nathan said to David, ‘Do all that you have in mind, for God is with you.’

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: 4Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: You shall not build me a house to live in. 5For I have not lived in a house since the day I brought out Israel to this very day, but I have lived in a tent and a tabernacle.* 6Wherever I have moved about among all Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people, saying, Why have you not built me a house of cedar? 7Now therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people Israel; 8and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies before you; and I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 9I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall wear them down no more, as they did formerly, 10from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will subdue all your enemies.

Moreover, I declare to you that the Lord will build you a house. 11When your days are fulfilled to go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne for ever. 13I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, 14but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom for ever, and his throne shall be established for ever. 15In accordance with all these words and all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

David’s Prayer

16 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? 17And even this was a small thing in your sight, O God; you have also spoken of your servant’s house for a great while to come. You regard me as someone of high rank,*Lord God! 18And what more can David say to you for honouring your servant? You know your servant. 19For your servant’s sake, O Lord, and according to your own heart, you have done all these great deeds, making known all these great things. 20There is no one like you, O Lord, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 21Who is like your people Israel, one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making for yourself a name for great and terrible things, in driving out nations before your people whom you redeemed from Egypt? 22And you made your people Israel to be your people for ever; and you, O Lord, became their God.

23 ‘And now, O Lord, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, let it be established for ever, and do as you have promised. 24Thus your name will be established and magnified for ever in the saying, “The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, is Israel’s God”; and the house of your servant David will be established in your presence. 25For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him; therefore your servant has found it possible to pray before you. 26And now, O Lord, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant; 27therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue for ever before you. For you, O Lord, have blessed and are blessed* for ever.’

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