The Lord's Message
(1 Chronicles 17.1-15)
1King David moved into his new palace, and the Lord let his kingdom be at peace. 2Then one day, as David was talking with Nathan the prophet, David said, “Look around! I live in a palace made of cedar, but the sacred chest has to stay in a tent.”
3Nathan replied, “The Lord is with you, so do what you want!”
4That night, the Lord told Nathan 5to go to David and give him this message:
David, you are my servant, so listen to what I say. Why should you build a temple for me? 6I didn't live in a temple when I brought my people out of Egypt, and I don't live in one now. A tent has always been my home wherever I have gone with them. 7I chose leaders and told them to be like shepherds for my people Israel. But did I ever say anything to even one of them about building a cedar temple for me?
8 David, this is what I, the Lord All-Powerful, say to you. I brought you in from the fields where you took care of sheep, and I made you the leader of my people. 9Wherever you went, I helped you and destroyed your enemies right in front of your eyes. I have made you one of the most famous people in the world.
10I have given my people Israel a land of their own where they can live in peace, and they won't have to tremble with fear any more. Evil nations won't bother them, as they did 11when I let judges rule my people. And I have kept your enemies from attacking you.
Now I promise that you and your descendants will be kings. 12 I'll choose one of your sons to be king when you reach the end of your life and are buried in the tomb of your ancestors. I'll make him a strong ruler, 13and no one will be able to take his kingdom away from him. He will be the one to build a temple for me. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son.
When he does wrong, I'll see that he is corrected, just as children are corrected by their parents. 15But I will never put an end to my agreement with him, as I put an end to my agreement with Saul, who was king before you. 16 I will make sure that one of your descendants will always be king.
17Nathan told David exactly what he had heard in the vision.
There is so much in this text that can teach us but the one thing that is shouting out at me is Nathan’s 180 degree turn of advice. Why?
When David first had the brainwave to erect an appropriate dwelling for the God of Heaven’s armies, he summoned a trusted prophet – Nathan. Surely with Nathan’s approval, this must be something David should pursue. Likewise, I imagine that because of Nathan’s past impressions of a king committed to and in love with God, the king’s expressed desire of building a more permanent and befitting home for God made good sense.
But moving forward on ideas that make sense to us should not be our ultimate litmus test for action. Why didn’t either person first ask God?
In Nathan’s subsequent vision, God expresses his delight with much of David’s heart and action but tells Nathan that while the idea of a more permanent dwelling is acceptable, it is not in his plan to have David build it. Upon receiving that vision, Nathan revisits David the next day and delivers a retraction. Thankfully David’s heart was ready to receive the re-direction but all of this could have been avoided if either godly men had first checked the idea with him.
God I want to serve you. I see so much need and opportunity in my community. I know I can make a difference that will honour you. But help me not to move ahead of you but only in accordance with how you want to accomplish your kingdom purposes.