Have you ever received the gift of a withered flower from a well-meaning child? He or she picked it an hour ago on the side of the street, walked with it swinging from a sticky hand, dropped it twice in the gutter, and finally offered it to you. “Oh, how sweet!” You say and you turn to find a vase. Our initiatives to glorify God must sometimes be on the level of a childish offering, yet He graciously encourages us while teaching us more about what delights His heart. King David had to learn the big picture of God’s will.
David was at the top of his game. He had retrieved the ark of the covenant because he made God’s presence a priority. Everyone except his wife, Michal, had shared in the celebration. His kingdom was secure from enemies and now his house was finished. It was time to honor God by building Him something grander than a tent. Nathan the prophet recognized his noble motives and affirmed him.
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 Sam. 7:1-3)
The idea that if God is with us we can do what seems best, is a good rule of thumb. Augustine of Hippo is credited with saying something like, “Love God and do as you like.” The indwelling Holy Spirit can certainly direct us in wise, godly, and fruitful paths. However, no one can run on spiritual auto-pilot for long; we need to reconnect with God regularly to know the specifics of God’s will. Initially, David and Nathan did not check with God. Later that night, Nathan heard God refine David’s proposal.
But in the same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”’ (2 Sam.7:4-7)
The sweetest motives can never sway God’s will. God has the final say about what we are to do, when to do it, and how. We should seek Him for our assignments, the timing, and the strategy. When we make plans on our own, or determine the schedule and methods, we inadvertently relegate God to a secondary role. Through Nathan, God told David, “You are not the one to build me a house; your son will do it” (2 Sam 7:5, 13). David’s timing was premature; his vision was limited too.
What God said to David was far from a blunt rebuke; God’s words affirmed David but pointed his vision beyond the horizon of his own life. God would indeed make David a great name like that of other faith heroes before him (v. 9). At the same time, because David lived in a way that honored God, David’s royal house and earthly kingdom would form the foundations for God’s greater Kingdom. Nothing can be more fulfilling than expressing our gifts and passions in a way that fulfills God’s will. When we act for the glory of God, there is a convergence of our interest with God’s. David’s legacy and God’s glory merged (v.13). Not only did David leave Solomon with the most extensive kingdom that Israel ever had, that kingdom foreshadowed the reign of God and David’s descendants included Jesus, the King of kings.
Perhaps the wisest response to the child with the wilted flower is to take him or her to the garden center and buy a live plant. At home together, you can put it in the ground, water and fertilize it, watch it grow and blossom. God has a wonderful way of taking our immature efforts to contribute to His kingdom and expand them beyond out imaginations just as He did with David’s.
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