It normally starts out great. I know why my Dad rejoiced in the freshness of morning all my years at home. He would sing and hum and spread “morning cheer,” while Mom took long sips of coffee and frequently rolled her eyes at his overjoyed attitude to welcome the day. “I love the morning, because nothing has gone wrong yet.” That was his famous quote- his excuse, if you will- for such an exuberant spirit before the crack of dawn. Now, I know what he means.
Today, I started out with that same spirit. I’m sure you can identify: You wake up, and maybe the birds aren’t chirping, and it’s overcast, but something inside of you is excited about the potential the day has to offer.
I cracked open my Bible to 2 Samuel 7 for the second time this week. I had to pause on this chapter because a few verses really tugged at my heart. David was anointed king of Israel a few chapters back, the ark was returned to Jerusalem, and David was…unsettled. His enemies were cut off, the nation was secure, and he was in a “house of cedar” (v. 2). Everything’s good, right?
Not from David’s perspective.
“See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains” (v. 2).
David wasn’t satisfied that he had a better house than the Lord. His heart was for the Lord, not himself. And, he wanted to do something about it.
God spoke to Nathan that night, a message that was to be delivered to David:
“Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord; Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle.'” (v. 4-6)
I can just see the excitement in David’s face as he hears the Lord identify with the tug of his heart. “Yes, God! I was just thinking that- You need a place to be! A permanent place, a beautiful place, a place that displays your splendor!”
As God continues to talk to David, he explains his ever-present, ever-advocating spirit that has provided for David all along:
“I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth.” (v. 9)
Not only does He remind David of what He’s done, but He reveals what He will do:
“Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore…also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house [a royal dynasty]” (v. 10, 11b).
I see David like an eager child, ready to inherit the blessings God has promised. He gets to build a house for the Lord. The nation will finally settle. The enemies will be cut off forever. Blessings will be poured out upon Israel. Oh, this is gonna be good, says David (or, so I think).
But, then God says:
“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (v. 12-13).
And his eyes dim and his shoulders shrug and his heart droops. Because doesn’t he, like all of us, want to play a glorious part in establishing God’s house and inheriting blessing? God reveals His plan, yet tells His servant that His plan won’t happen now, and it won’t happen directly through Him. It will happen through His son, Solomon.
I can imagine as a dad, David is thrilled that his kid will be given such an honorable task. But, I can also imagine, as God’s faithful servant, David is wondering why in the world he can’t make the Lord a home now. Can’t Solomon just finish the work?
Our ways are certainly not God’s. Even in retrospect, I think…God, if David desired to make you a temple so that you could take up permanent residence with Israel, why couldn’t he? Didn’t he just want to honor You?
“If you want to honor Me, you will obey Me.” God desires an obedient heart, one that yields to His plans, regardless of how fabulous we think our own plans are.
David got it.
“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: ‘Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God…Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know your servant. For Your word’s sake and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You according to all that we have heard with our ears…” (v. 18-19a, 20-22)
He didn’t question what God said. He didn’t approach Him with “how about this…” or “what if’s.” He “went in and sat” (v. 18). He spent time with God-remembering the favor that He had already poured out, praising the Lord for His greatness, and declaring the importance of God’s sovereign will (not his).
“Now, O Lord God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said (not as I have said). So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel.’ And let the house of Your servant David be established before You.” (v. 25-26)
So many times in this passage, David refers to himself as a servant, and it captures his heart perfectly. David was more concerned with “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” As soon as the Lord told him the plan, he submitted to it and thanked God for his opportunity to even be a part of the story!
I don’t know about you, but I like to be the star sometimes…my kingdom come, my will be done. I want God to get the glory, but I want to play the major role, or play according to my plans. I want to be the one who builds the temple, who makes the decisions, who gets to do something big for the Lord. Yet, God isn’t concerned with any of that. In fact, if He told me that He wanted me to stuff bulletins for the rest of my life, I couldn’t do anything but that if I truly wanted to please Him.
Am I doing what the Lord has called me to do?
You see, the amazing opportunity we have as believers today is that God has asked each and every one of us the same question- “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in?” This house isn’t made of cedar; it’s made in our hearts. What an awesome opportunity! We don’t have to wait for someone else to begin work – Jesus has called us to build a house, and to build it now. And as hard as it is, it can’t be according to our own design. He wants to craft the blueprint. He wants to lay out the floor plan. He wants to choose the furniture, and He wants to invite the guests.
Like David, will I bow in humble adoration at the opportunity, or will I offer suggestions and remodel according to my own agenda?
What amazes me is that God would say to me– “Hey, can I live with you?” Does that strike anyone else as odd? God can choose to dwell anywhere in the universe or the heavens or wherever else He has created that we haven’t even discovered, but He looks at me, and He points to my heart and says, “Right there. That’s where I want to be.”
When it comes to house hunting, I don’t know if I want Him on my team. Has He seen me lately?
Remember how I talked about the joy of this morning- the feeling that it would be a great day? Well, the day wasn’t that great, and neither was my attitude. In Mom’s words, it was a “train wreck.” My heart was dark and full of negativity. Now, why would God ever want to live there?
“Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house that You have brought me this far?” (v. 18b)
I don’t know about you, but the more I recognize the mess of me, the more I can rejoice in the glorious breadth of God’s love. This heart isn’t prime real estate. In fact, I’m not sure who else could handle it. But, for some reason, there’s a God in heaven who sees past my mistakes, past my bad attitudes and brokenness, past all of it- to the potential. And even when the day goes haywire, and I feel like there is nothing good left inside, I must remember that the Lord chose me. And He lives here.
“O my soul, you have said ‘You are my Lord. My goodness is nothing apart from You…Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:2, 9-11)