Lectionary thoughts for July 22 – 2 Samuel 7:1-15

What is intrinsically good, and what is viewed as being for God’s glory, is not necessarily God’s will

English: Nathan advises King David

English: Nathan advises King David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This statement is one of the harder ones for us to believe and appreciate in our lives.  That is intrinsically good – how could that NOT be God’s will.  Doesn’t He want all things that are good?  And how could it be that something that is being done for God’s glory AND which is good –  how could that not be God’s will.

That is one of the messages we find as we look at the passage from 2 Samuel 7.  David started out as a shepherd boy.  Then Samuel the prophet chose David to be the replacement for Saul.  David was both small and young. He wasn’t the obvious choice, but he was God’s choice.

Eventually David was placed on the throne in Jerusalem and God gave David victory over all of his enemies.  Second Samuel 8, shows all the nations that surrounded Israel were defeated by David. God gave him victory, God established his kingdom, and now in chapter 7, verse 1 David was sitting in his house, in peace after all the battles and labors and he’s thinking about what he’ll do next.

In this passage, David is sitting in his palace, thinking with zeal in his heart for God about how to glorify God. He has glorified God through his victories on the battlefield and now he wants to glorify God in a different way so he turns to the prophet Nathan and says: ‘I’ve a desire in my heart to glorify God. I live in a palace made with cedar, but the ark of God is sitting outside in a tent, uncovered by a ceiling of cedar. Why should I live in my house and the ark God be out in the open?‘. Nathan tells him: ‘You do whatever is in your heart. The desire that you find within your soul, you carry it out‘, and then Nathan goes away and God’s still small voice speaks to him and tells him, ‘No! David is not to build the temple. Go back to David and tell him that he is not to build the temple‘. You can just imagine how David felt when Nathan told him: ‘You’re not the man, you’re not to do it and it’s not to happen now in your day‘. But then God tells David: ‘I’m going to do something greater. You think you are going to build my house – no, I’m going to build you a house‘.

Let’s look at what we can learn from this passage.  First, look at the heart of David in verses 1 and 2.  David has a zealous heart. And even though what he wants to do is intrinsically good, (protecting the ark, building a temple for God, etc.) and he is planning on this for God’s glory, this is not necessarily God’s will. David has a zealous heart.  He’s finished all his labors, he’s sitting in his palace, and he” and his battles, and he’s thinking about God and how he can glorify God. How often do you spend your leisure time thinking about God and how often do you spend your time thinking about yourself.  Someone once said you can tell if you are in love when you spend more time thinking about the one you love than yourself.  David loved God.

Notice also the company David kept when he was relaxing, God’s prophet, Nathan.  We are molded by our friends and the company we keep. David was molded by Nathan. David’s ambition wasn’t selfish, it was righteous. David’s desire was good and holy.  He wanted to protect the ark of the covenant which signified the presence of God and glorify God.  David, at the age of 40, wanted to bring a great name to his God.

He had his palace and now he wanted a temple for God. Many folks go into the Christian life or work and build a palace for  themselves but nothing for God. We all face the temptation to build empires for our name and reputation and the worship and praise and respect and reverence of God is missing.  This wasn’t the case for David. David had been blessed.  He was sitting in a palace, his enemies had been defeated,  and he’s rich. But this success didn’t spoil his his walk with God. While we don’t like to believe it, blessings more often then adversity, make us forget God.

So how did David make a wrong decision? There are several rules to help us know the will of God in our life: First is the word of God, second the counsel of wise believers, third the witness of the Holy Spirit, fourth circumstances and fifth, reason. That being said, we still cannot put God in a box and say this is proof of what God’s will is.  David had all of these, but he still made a wrong decision.

In Deuteronomy 12:10-11 it says, ‘ But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety.  Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name —there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord.‘ This may well have been what David had in mind as he rested and meditated on the word of God.  God had said, once in the promised land, after all the enemies were defeated, He would make a place for His name to dwell’.  This is the word of God.

In 1 Chronicles 16 shows that David had appointed certain people to minister before the ark of God.  This temple service, until the destruction of Herod’s temple in 70AD, was established by David. Now he was waiting for a place where the name of God would be, and he was actively creating the circumstances around him to facilitate that goal.

In 1 Chronicles 23:2-5, you find 24,000 Levites, 6000 officials and judges, 4000 gatekeepers, and 4000 musicians.  All of these would have needed housing and many of them a building to work in and to carry out their sacrifices.  David probably looked at the word of God, looked at the circumstances around him of the need that there was, and said to himself: ‘It must be time for God to create a house for Himself!’.  Scripture, circumstances, the witness in his own heart, reason and even Godly counsel all said he was going the right direction.  He had desire to see God dwell in a permanent house and not in a tent.  He thought, “God doesn’t have a house but I do!” A. W. Pink notes in his book, “The Life of David” that ‘Thousands of professing Christians think more about the welfare of their pet dogs than they do in seeing the need, and spend more time in the upkeep of their motor cars than they do in support of the work of the Lord‘.  But not David.

There is nothing here to criticize David for in this passage.  But even though the Word of God, godly counsel, the witness of the Spirit, circumstances and reason told him that he was right –  he was wrong. Nathan, who was meant to guide him in the right direction failed him in one way. Nathan said to the king: ‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you‘. You can find an account of this situation also in 2 Chronicles 6:8 and here you find that God said this to David: ‘Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart.’ David wanted to build a temple, Nathan told him go ahead, and  God, later on said ‘You did well to have this in your heart’. So what was wrong? Jeremiah says that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked – who can know it? What David wanted was good, it was to the glory of God, it seemed to be a needed, but at that moment in time it was not the will of God. David had a heart after good at that moment, but he didn’t have a heart after God.

Neither Nathan nor David consulted God. How many good, sincere Christians are busy doing good for God without consulting God about He wants? At that moment in time, for David to build the temple was not God’s will. Get godly guidance, check the Scriptures, use your reason – but make sure you go to God as well!

In verses 4-7, God redirects David.  In these verses, God asked him two questions. First he asked the question,  ‘David, are you the one to build that house?’ and then He asked, ‘Why have I never asked another leader in Israel to build a house, if I wanted a house?’. What God was saying to David was ‘Not you!’ and ‘Not now!’. This is a hard thing to hear from God when you want to do something for the glory of God: ‘No! It’s not you and it’s not now!’.  ‘Not you!’ is the message that John the Baptist had to agree to when he said these words: ‘He must increase and I must decrease’.

What would you do if God spoke to you that you worth in the eyes of men would decrease and that someone else was going to come along and take your place.  If that was God’s will for you, could you accept it? It’s hard to turn from ‘I am the one‘ to ‘I am not the one‘.

How do we react when God says ‘No’ to us in illness, or sorrow, or singleness, or wealth, or ministry.  It’s hard to take ‘No’ and ‘Not now’ – for are impatient. We want everything now and the hardest thing to do is to wait on God when He says ‘Wait’ because it means we can’t do anything. We can’t pray, we can’t work, because God told us to wait on Him, to be still and to know that He is God.

But David’s disappointment was God’s great appointment. David wanted to build a temple for God, and God said to David, ‘No! You’re not going to build Me a house, I’m going to build you a house!’. What do you do when God says ‘No’? Sulk? Doubt? Turn your back on God? Run back into the world? Everything depends on your reaction to God when God says ‘No’.   Look at how David reacted in verse 18.  He went in and sat before the LORD in the tent.  It was there he remembered all that God had done for him.  And God would also remind us: ‘Do you remember where you came from? Do you remember your sin? Do you remember where I brought you from and where I’ve taken you? Do you remember all the blessings that I have blessed you with? Even though I am saying ‘No’ to you today, I want to reassure you that I’ve something greater for you!’.  Maybe what David was thinking was this: ‘I’m going to die and I’ll never see the temple!’. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘Will I die and never see my son saved, my daughter come to Christ?’ – what does it matter, if God does save them?

Look at David’s 1 Chronicles 29:2-3.  From that moment on he began with all his might to gather together materials for the temple. God told him, ‘No, you can’t do it’. So he said, ‘Who’s going to do it?’, and God said, ‘Your son’, so David thinks, ‘Then I’ll help him with all my might’. That’s some spirit. David didn’t know why God said ‘No’ – and maybe you don’t! – but several years later God brought David in and told him why. ‘You were to fight for Me David, but your son will build for Me. You have blood on your hands but this temple is to be a place of peace and rest, so you can’t build it’. And David believed the word of God.   There will come a day, whether you’re here on earth at the time or whether you’re gone, when it’ll all be made plain.

There is a story of E. M. Bounds, author of ‘Power Through Prayer’. E.M. Bounds had two sons, one of his sons was a believer and the other was not. E. M. Bounds died at the age of 90 – and his son that was not saved, lived to the age of 90 and didn’t get saved until he was 90! But Bounds had prayed, God had promised and God provided. Trust God with the desires of your heart and believe!

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