King David, finally settled in as king of Israel after years of being hunted by his predecessor, sits in his new cedar palace, at peace with his neighbors, and says, “Hey, how can I enjoy this cool new house, when the ark of God is still sheltered in a tent? That doesn’t seem right. I’ll build God a house to dwell in, too, now that I’ve got some time on my hands.”(My paraphrase.)
But God spoke to David through Nathan the prophet: “Nope. Don’t do it. I have other plans for you, David. I don’t need a house to dwell in… at least not now, and not built by you. Remember, I took you from the pasture where you shepherded stinky sheep, and made you ruler over my chosen people. I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. And I will provide a place for Israel…”
Through this dialogue, God sets the record straight. He makes it clear to David that He is the one who will do the building (of Israel), at least for the present time. And then He lets David catch a glimpse of the future. He tells David that it’s his son (later revealed as Solomon) who will build a temple for God.
I came away from reading this passage recognizing two things:
- God doesn’t “need” me to do anything, like building a house for Him to dwell in, because he can raise up rocks (but more likely, other people) to accomplish His purposes if I won’t do what He wants me to. But He hands me a precious gift by inviting me to participate in His plans. I don’t want to miss what He has for me to accomplish, in His time.
- Not everything that comes to mind for me to do is the right project at the right time. God had already planned for the building of the temple; He just didn’t want David to do it. He had other things for David to concentrate on, to dedicate his energy to. And at the time of this interaction in 2 Samuel 7, David is enjoying some rest—a time of peace and comfort, it would appear. I may have many ideas about how CCCA can serve members and the Christian camping movement, but I need to be careful about the ones to which I dedicate my time and energy.
God promised David that his name would be among the names of the greatest men on earth. And it happened. And after hearing from God, here’s how David responded:
“Who am I … that you have brought me this far? How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you… Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.”
I don’t want to miss good things by focusing on good tasks at the wrong time.