The Promise Keeper

In “The Puppy Song” Harry Nilson sings, “Dreams are nothing more than wishes / And a wish is just a dream / You wish to come true.” Some people view the promises found in the Bible this way— merely something that they hope will happen. Perhaps they feel that God’s promises have failed them, or they have mistaken their own wish for God’s promise.

God’s prophet Nathan initially mistook David’s personal desire for the will of God. The king wanted to honor God by building a temple. Nathan made a snap judgment, based perhaps on David’s past track record of success. Why shouldn’t God be with him in this initiative? The Lord had other plans and corrected the prophet’s thinking that night. The Lord had not asked anyone to build Him a temple (vv. 4–6).

Instead, God promised that He would build a house for David. The details of this promise reveal that this was not a literal house or building but a dynasty. Moreover, the Lord promised further to establish the kingdom of one of David’s sons: “He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever” (v. 12). While Solomon was the one who built the temple David had envisioned, God’s promise went far beyond anything David imagined. The eternal nature of the kingdom described in these verses indicates that this is a messianic promise, which would be ultimately fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Instead of being embittered by the fact that God had changed his plans, David responded with humility and gratefulness. He closed his prayer of thanksgiving with an affirmation of God’s promise (vv. 23–27). The word Amen means “so be it.” David essentially concluded his prayer with a long Amen!

Apply the Word

How can we trust a promise? It depends upon who makes the promise. If the promise comes from God, then it is more than a wish and stronger than a hope. If the promise comes from God, it is a certainty. You can explore God’s promises by reading a book such as 199 Promises of God (Barbour), available to order online or from your local bookstore.

BY John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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