Now it came about when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, that the king said to Nathan the prophet: ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’ 2 Samuel 7: 1-3
The running, the struggling, the fighting is finally over for David and ‘the LORD had given him rest.’ At last, he sits on the throne that was promised to him so many years earlier and as he does, we notice something that I believe we can all relate to. His mind is very active.
How often have you gone to bed at night, tired and needing rest, yet though your body reclines, your mind refuses to ‘shut down’?
David’s life was now calm; his enemies had been overcome and as he sat on his throne, perhaps suddenly he looked around the palace, so vastly different from the caves where he used to take refuge and the sober realization hit him like a lightning bolt. “What am I doing here in this beautiful home ‘while the ark of God remains in a tent?”
The first thing to notice is how David’s thoughts turn to the LORD, rather than focusing on his newly acquired palace, wealth and honor. We have seen him seek the LORD in times of danger and trial and we easily relate to that. But like him, do we turn just as quickly to the LORD when blessings pour into our lives? David did. Dressed in his regal attire and positioned as ruler over all of Israel, there is still something more important on David’s mind: exalting the God of Israel to whom he owes infinite gratitude. There is no sign of gloating over the demise of his enemies nor of pride in his regal status. His humility remains untarnished in exaltation. In Proverbs 27:21, we read: The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each man is tested by the praise accorded him.
We may think that praising God when things are difficult is laudable – and it is. But keeping our minds and hearts focused on God when we are blessed is perhaps even more laudable for the things of this earth have a seductive power; wealth, honor, new homes, new cars, etc. can all steal our focus as we turn our attention to the enjoyment of our blessings and too often, forget the One Who sends the blessings! David’s humility kept him focused on the LORD.
The prophet’s first response to David’s comment at the beginning of this chapter is to agree with the king and urge him to go ahead with his plan. But that very night, God spoke to Nathan not about David’s desire to build Him a house, but about His relationship with David. The full message from the LORD is in 2 Samuel 7: 5-16 and contain several amazing promises, some to David personally and others to the nation of Israel as a whole and several to the king’s ‘offspring’.
The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son…Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever. 2 Samuel 7:11-14, 16
Wow – what a profound promise! What a covenant between the king of Israel and the King of the Universe!
David’s son, Solomon, would indeed build a magnificent temple for the God of Israel and this promise would be fulfilled in the natural realm but do not miss its spiritual implications. Ultimately, this promise signals through the ages that David’s greater son, the Messiah, will come and it is HE who will build a ‘house’ and a kingdom that will last forever. From the beginning, God wanted a community that would corporately be a ‘house of His glory’ on this earth, a nation whose love for Him and whose manner of life would be a ‘light to all the nations’. When Israel sinned after the giving of the Torah, God commanded Moses to construct the Tabernacle and position the tribes around it so that day and night, they would visibly ‘see’ a demonstration of what they, as a community, were called to be – a dwelling place for God’s glory. For, as the scripture says elsewhere, God’s delight is not in to dwell in buildings of stone but in the hearts of men whose lives give evidence of His presence among them. This is exactly what God said to Nathan and to David: ‘I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as My dwelling.’ 2 Samuel 7:6
We also notice in this chapter that the prophet Nathan has come on the scene and has a relationship with the king. This reveals another virtue of David’s: he did not presume to know everything, to need no one else, to be above needing good advice; and he was willing to be accountable to someone else. As we look at what happened here, we see two things:
First, Nathan’s initial response to David’s idea was to affirm it and encourage him to go ahead. But God corrected the prophet and essentially said to him, ‘Don’t assume that My leaders will always be right! Though I am with him, any decision he makes without first consulting Me is questionable.’
Secondly, to David God said, ‘Though you are a man after My own heart, you must realize that every bright idea you get is not necessarily from Me!’
It was a necessary lesson for both of them and echoes what we read in Isaiah 40:31: They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength…’ Every plan, every ‘bright idea’ we get must be taken before the LORD in our prayer time and we need to ‘wait’ – to take the time to pray and ask: LORD, is this from You and if it is, how do You want me to carry this out?
We need, like David did so often in his life, ‘seek the LORD’ about our decisions and our way of life. Our minds are very active; ideas float in and out of our consciousness all the time. It is incumbent upon us to develop the practice to ‘test’ every idea before the LORD as we pray. Ask Him: Is this what You want me to do? Please, lead me and direct me.
Impulsively following every idea without seeking the LORD is a recipe for disaster. Wait upon the LORD and HE will guide us in His ways. Then, as we read in Joshua, we will have success.