2Sa_7:18-19. Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house, for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?
IT is no small comfort to reflect that the dispositions of our hearts are noticed by God, and, if good, are well-pleasing in his sight. There are many holy desires and purposes which we are not able to accomplish; which yet are accepted before God, as much as if they had been carried into effect. David had conceived a wish and determination to build a house for God, in order that the ark, which was the symbol of the divine presence, might no more dwell within curtains, while he himself was dwelling in a house of cedar. But God did not suffer him to execute his purpose, on account of his having shed much blood in war [Note: 1Ch_22:8.]: nevertheless he commended the desire (“thou didst well that it was in thy heart [Note: 1Ki_8:18.]”) and made it an occasion of discovering to him the honour that was to be conferred on him and his posterity. Struck with the majesty and condescension of God, David went in before him, and burst forth into these expressions of devoutest adoration. We shall shew,
What grounds David had for gratitude and thanksgiving—
Though David was not suffered to gratify his own inclinations in the particular before mentioned, yet he found abundant cause of thankfulness in,
The mercies already vouchsafed to him—
[He had been taken from a very low employment [Note: ver. 8.]; chosen in preference, not only to all his own family, but also to the whole nation; preserved in the midst of numberless dangers; exalted in due season to the throne prepared for him; made victorious over all his enemies; and brought to a state of unrivalled power, affluence, and prosperity [Note: ver. 9.]. On a review of these mercies, he could not but be astonished at the divine goodness to him, or refrain from proclaiming it with rapturous admiration.]
The mercies yet further promised to him—
[God had promised that he should have a son, on whom the honour of building a temple should be conferred; yea, moreover, that the Messiah also should spring from his loins, and sit upon his throne for ever and ever [Note: ver. 12–14 with Heb_1:5.]. In comparison of this, David observes that all his personal advancement was “but a light matter:” and then, as utterly at a loss to express his sense of the divine goodness, he exclaims, “Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” is this the way in which mean and worthless men, such as he felt himself to be, are treated by their fellow-creatures [Note: See 1Ch_17:17.]? No: it is peculiar to God, who magnifies his own sovereignty in conferring the richest benefits on the most unworthy of mankind.]
But however distinguished a favourite of Heaven David was,
We have still greater reason for gratitude and thanksgiving—
Let us view our obligations to God,
[As creatures, we were originally formed of the dust of the earth: yet, though so mean in our original, we were distinguished above the whole creation by having a rational and immortal soul breathed into us, and a capacity given us to know, to love, to serve, and to enjoy God. Let any one of the human race reflect on this, and say, whether he has not reason to adore the goodness of God, who has given him powers so infinitely superior to any that are possessed by the brute creation, and faculties that shall enjoy eternal blessedness, if it be not utterly his own fault. Let but this elevation of our nature be considered, and we shall exclaim, with profoundest reverence, “Who am I, O Lord God, that thou hast brought me hitherto?”
As sinners, we have still further ground for praise. We are by nature mean; but by practice we have been inexpressibly vile. Yet when we were deserving of nothing but his wrath, God loved us, and gave his own Son to die for us. Further, when we were even trampling on the blood that was shed for us, he sent his Spirit to reveal his Son in our hearts, and both to fit us for his glory, and to bring us safely to the possession of it. And “is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” Man selects those who are great and worthy, in order to bestow on them his richest favours; but God, in choosing us, “has lifted the beggar from the dunghill, to set him among princes, and to make him inherit a throne of glory [Note: 1Sa_2:8.].” O what marvellous condescension is this! and what gratitude does it demand at our hands! “Who is a God like unto thee [Note: Exo_15:11.]?”]
Particularly, as compared with David—
[In no respect are the obligations here specified to be put in competition with those vouchsafed to us. Was he chosen from the low estate of a shepherd? Look at the state from which God has chosen us. We were fallen, guilty, hell-deserving creatures, utterly incapable of ever restoring ourselves to his favour; yet did God set his love upon us, and elevate us, not to an earthly throne, but to a crown and kingdom in heaven itself. And not from earthly enemies, such as David had to encounter, has he preserved us, but from all the powers of darkness, against whose wiles and devices it was not possible for us to stand, if we had not been upheld by his almighty power and grace. And though it must be confessed, that to be the progenitor of the Messiah was an inconceivably high honour, yet to be interested in him, and united to him as members of his mystical body, and made fellow-heirs with him of all the glory and felicity of heaven, is an infinitely higher honour. And all this is vouchsafed to us, so that in all the points which David enumerates, we are far above him: our election is from a far more degraded state; our elevation is to a far higher throne; our preservation is from far greater dangers, and more powerful enemies; and our destiny, to an infinitely higher honour than any which a carnal relation to Christ could confer. How well then may we exclaim, What are we, that we should ever be brought to such a state as this?]
That this subject may be brought home more powerfully to our hearts and consciences, let us comprehend it under two pertinent reflections:
How wonderful has been God’s love to us!
[Well may we say with David, “Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” No: nothing like it ever did, or could, exist among men. Man selects the most worthy as the objects of his love: but God has chosen the most unworthy, even us, who had reduced ourselves to the condition of the fallen angels, and deserved nothing but their portion at his hands. Man confers but small benefits, which, however valued by his fellows, scarcely deserve a thought: but God confers riches and honours which far exceed all human comprehension. Man soon repents of the favours he has conferred, when those on whom he has bestowed them prove themselves unworthy of them. But “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” on his part [Note: Rom_11:29.]: yea, “if it had not been that He was unchangeable, not a soul amongst us could ever have been saved [Note: Mal_3:6.].” Further, what man bestows is but for a little time: the present short life is the only season wherein we can possess any benefits conferred by man. But what God bestows, he gives for ever and ever: and death, so far from terminating our felicity, brings us into the most complete and everlasting enjoyment of it.
“Behold then, what manner of love is this wherewith the Father hath loved us!” Verily, if David was quite overwhelmed with the favours conferred on him, much more may we, whose obligations are so infinitely higher, and more permanent than his.]
How faint and cold is our love to him!
[See David coming into the presence of his God, and sitting in the temple before him. His mind is quite oppressed with a sense of gratitude, and words seem altogether inadequate to express his feelings. Yet, notwithstanding our obligations to God so infinitely exceed his, how rarely has God ever seen us in the posture of David! Many of us, it is to be feared, have never spent so much as one hour in our whole lives, in his contemplations, and in his exercises — — —
Do you ask, How shall I attain his frame? Beg of God to work it in you by his good Spirit. And especially do as he did. He determined to promote to the very utmost of his power the honour and glory of his heavenly Benefactor: and then it was that God revealed to him all the purposes of his grace respecting the raising up of a son from his loins to execute the work which he had contemplated, and to make that son of his the progenitor of the Messiah himself. Improve ye in like manner for God all the faculties and powers that ye possess; and in honouring God ye yourselves shall be honoured. Only exert yourselves for God, and every thing which you do, or only devise, for him, shall return in blessings into your own bosom.]