We see David settling down and looking for something special to do. “I know! I will build a house for the Lord.” “Not so” says the Lord.
This is a familiar story. We covered it in 2 Samuel 7. In our time together there we looked at the process of David’s answer and later how David took that answer. This time through the story I want to go into it with David and Nathan. Let’s put boots on the ground.
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David is enjoying the cool of the day. It is nearing sunset when the new day will begin. While walking in his garden tonight he looks across the space separating his home from the Tent where the Ark of the Lord stands. The sight always sends a pleasant warmth spreading through his body. It pleases him greatly that the Ark of the Lord is so close to him.
David stands and watches the Tent in the distance. He sees the Levites as they minister to those who have come to seek the Lord. He listens as the distant songs as they are carried on the breeze. He is certain that if he listens hard enough he can discern the words being sung. And he inhales deeply to try and catch the aroma of the sacrifice being offered to the Lord.
After watching from his vantage point for some time, David turns his face towards his own home. Today, as he makes that customary turn, he is struck by something. He is struck by the contrast between the home he lives in and the one erected for the Lord.
David sees his home that was built for him by King Hiram. There was no expense spared in its construction. Hiram built it for David as a gift using the choicest materials. The aroma of the cedar trees still permeates every room. The walls stand straight and true. The balconies are adorned with carved pillars with railings to prevent an accidental fall. Its doors are sturdy and strong and can keep out the most determined bandits. The shutters keep it warm in winter and spread wide to allow the breezes of summer to enter. It is truly a wonderful home; a home fit for a king.
David turns back to view the Tent he commissioned for the Ark of the Lord. The aroma is that of the hides used in construction, the flesh that is burned during the sacrifices and any incense that is burnt to the Lord. There are no sturdy walls but the best hides were used in its construction. They are held in place by stands, poles, stakes and ropes. When the winds blow they are buffeted and move about. The floors are hard packed dirt which soils the feet and hems of the Levites who serve. There are no shutters to open or close to keep it warm in winter or cool it in summer. It is a fine tent, as tents go. But it is not a ‘tent fit for a king.’
“How could I have been so blind? I’m selfish” David thinks to himself. “I must address this right away! If anyone deserves the grandeur it is the Lord, NOT me.”
David hurries back to his home in search of Nathan. He will present Nathan with the problem and listen to his advice. As soon as he enters his home he calls to one of the servants.
“Go and find Nathan. Have him come to me in the throne room.”
The servant sets off to do David’s bidding straight away and David makes his way to his throne room to await Nathan’s arrival. Mere minutes pass before Nathan is standing before David.
“Natha, I have something I would like to discuss with you.”
“I am at your command my king.”
David stands up and begins to pace around the room as he describes his revelation and his intentions regarding it.
“I have been entirely wrapped up in my own affairs. I have neglected the Lord’s dwelling.”
“You go daily my lord to the Tent of the Lord” protested Nathan.
“That’s exactly it Nathan! I go to the ‘Tent of the Lord’. I have erected him a simple tent when I live in opulence. I want to build a home for the Lord. One that is even grander than what was built by Hiram for me.”
“This is what is in your heart to do my lord?”
“Yes. I would begin right away, if you believe it is a wise and godly decision.”
“The Lord has been with you in many things my king. He has even given you rest from your enemies. ‘Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you’ (verse 2b).”
“Thank you Nathan for your counsel.”
Nathan bows and begins to leave the room before David stops him with one last command. “Send my steward in with parchment and ink.”
The steward soon replaces Nathan. His hands are full of the supplies David requested.
“Sit over here” David says while moving to a table in the corner of the room. The steward quickly makes his way to the table and places his supplies on it. He takes the seat standing beside it and waits.
David begins to pace and think out loud to himself. “It must be sturdy. It should resemble the Tabernacle of the wilderness. All who look on it should marvel. It MUST represent the name of the Lord.”
For expediency sake, the steward is recording David’s musings even without being instructed to do so. He has learned of the wisdom in this over his time in service to David. Finally David turns his attention to the steward.
“I desire to build a permanent home for the Lord. He is worthy of so much more than a simple tent, no matter how it is constructed. Your task will be to help me with a list of materials that would be needed in such an endeavor.”
The steward’s face lights up with joy as he hears his special role in this task for the Lord. The two men work long into the night compiling a list of materials that would be suitable for a house for the Lord.
While David and the steward work Nathan has been asleep. During his sleep the Lord spoke to him about David’s plans. God had other plans for His ‘home’. He did not agree with Nathan’s words to David regarding building a permanent structure for Him. He would allow a permanent place to be erected but not by David.
The Lord spoke directly to Nathan. “Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in. For I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up Israel to this day, but I have gone from tent to tent and from dwelling to dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all Israel, did I 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?”’ Now, therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be prince over My people Israel, and I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall waste them no more as formerly, from 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. When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a son. I will not take My steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever’” (verses 4-14).
As soon as these words were established in Nathan’s heart he rose from his bed and went in search of his king. He found him in his throne room reading over the parchments the steward had written. It was well into the night.
David looked up in surprise at Nathan’s entrance. He thought surely he had retired for the night. Something in Nathan’s manner though told David he was here on business.
“Speak Nathan for surely something troubles you.”
Nathan then began to relay the vision he had just had and the message that the Lord had given him to deliver to David.
In the beginning of Nathan’s words David’s face fell. He had so wanted to do this thing for the Lord. The words stung of rebuke when the Lord spoke of never once having asked for a house of cedar to dwell in. “How could I have been so presumptuous” thought David. But as the message from the Lord continued to flow from the mouth of Nathan, David spirits began to soar. “All that I sought to do for the Lord will come to pass! And MORE! At the hands of my sons” mused David.
When Nathan spoke of the Lord ‘building a house’ for David, David began to weep silently but when Nathan spoke the words, “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him” (verse 13a) David wept openly with tears streaming down his face. The Lord’s favor on his children was his greatest desire. Knowing that they were safe in the hands of the Lord was all he needed as a father. Not only his children but the nation of Israel. David’s heart was fulfilled.
(to be continued)
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Father God, what an amazing gift to give to a parent! To KNOW that the future of your children is secure is one of the greatest gifts a parent can receive. You gave me that promise in Proverbs when You had Solomon pen the words regarding training up a child. I cling to that promise for my children as surely as David must have clung to the promise delivered by Nathan that night. You didn’t specify to David which child but I have a feeling he figured it out soon after. He poured his heart out into Solomon with plans for the Temple he wished he could have built for You. He didn’t build it with his hands but his heart built it as he trained up Solomon.
I pray I poured enough of myself and my love for You into my children. I know You can water what I did place there and make it grow. YOU will have to be the one to bring them back to Yourself. I trust You to keep ALL Your promises. Thank You for that assurance.