“Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Sam 7:18)
King David, the second king of Israel – although not without fault, was a handsome man, a righteous leader, a mighty warrior, a conqueror of lands, a skilled musician and a poetic psalmist. There came a time in his life as king when he wished in his heart, with all good intention, to construct a beautiful temple for the Lord, a dwelling place for God where His prophets could live and teach, and a place where the people could learn and worship. He consulted the prophet Nathan, who replied, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.” However, we find that in the end, it wasn’t the will of God for David to do so, but rather, for his son Solomon. Later on, David went before the Lord, sat down, and poured his heart to God in thanksgiving. What can we learn from this story?
Would you build a house for me to dwell in?
At the beginning of the passage, we read that David purposed to build a temple for the Lord after the Lord had given him rest from his enemies. He had the correct mindset to set out and complete an act of servitude for the glory of God, driven with zeal in thanksgiving, appreciation and love for God. For David, as the mighty king of Israel, physically building a temple would have been a relatively accomplish-able task. Sourcing the most luxurious fabrics, the shiniest metals and the finest stones would have been acquirable through David’s vast wealth, land and allies. So who better than he to carry out such a task?
The zeal of David is admirable. However, indeed it wasn’t the will of God for him to construct. Sometimes, we purpose in our hearts to do this or that for God with all the right heart, mind, zeal, skills and motives just like David. But really, is it the will of God for us to do so?
We find that actually, as nothing but dust, men cannot do much for God through our limitations. Rather, it is God who works in us, allowing us to work for Him.
Despite having good intentions, a heart full of zeal and possessing all the right skills, it may have slipped David’s mind that God was the source of everything he had and who he was. From 2 Samuel 7:8-9, we find that God reminds David about who he once was to the person he is now, and it was only so because of Him.
From 2 Samuel 7:18-29, we can see David’s reaction to having his zealous hopes rejected. I can’t help but imagine that if I were in his place, I would be quite disappointed that God had said no to my plans for Him.
For David, after hearing the words from Nathan, he walked solemnly before the Lord and sat down. He reflected upon the reminder given by God, then prayed.
David accepted God’s reminder with all humility and submission. We can see how he changes from viewing himself as king to viewing himself as an insignificant servant; that he remembered who he once was and realized that only through the grace and guidance of God was he able to become the mighty king of Israel.
He did not try to fight God’s decision, but rather, offered a prayer of thanksgiving. David understood that God said “no” to his temple because God had planned even greater things for David: to establish a throne to his kingdom forever through his offspring (v12-13).
Though David realized his insignificance as a limited man and humbled himself, he did not forget that He was still part of God’s precious people (v23-24). He understood just how much God loves His chosen people, and that He is a God who works through His people to perform great and awesome deeds for His name and glory. Through this, he understood that therefore, what God said was true, that God will indeed establish an everlasting throne through his offspring. All he needed to do was humble himself and submit.
Today, we serve God. We may sermonize, we may be part of the church board, or we may be part of international projects. We purpose in our hearts many things we wish to do for God with all the right zeal, intention and skills, but we must reflect whether or not it is according to the will of God.
Being able to serve God is a massive privilege and an honor in His name. Do we still remember that we serve because of His grace? Do we rely on God from planning to execution to conclusion? Do we pray for His guidance, knowing that we are limited as humans?
Sometimes we find as we serve, with all the right zeal, motives and skills, that we encounter difficulties, hindrances and even failures. At these times, do we become discouraged? Do we feel that God is not accepting our heart to serve? Do we feel that God is not listening?
Through the prayer of David, let us be encouraged from his submission and humility, reflecting on our insignificance and, at the same time, our preciousness in His sight.
Know that God has His time and His will, and that sometimes, it is okay when God says “no”, because that is when He says “yes” to something greater.