Last week, as we began chapter seventeen of 1Chronicles, we saw that David was living in a new house. The parallel passage in 2Samuel 7 also tells us that,
2Sam. 7:1 ...the LORD had given him rest on every side from all his enemies...
In preparation for transporting the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem properly, David had spent considerable time in the Scriptures. I believe that he must have read the Lord's command, which stated that when the Lord...
Deut. 12:10-11 "...gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, then it shall come about that the place in which the LORD your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the LORD."
Now that David had been given peace, he knew it was time to give the Lord the proper offerings. But David was troubled by the fact that he was living in a brand new house, while the ark of the covenant was only in a tent, behind curtains.
He expressed this to Nathan the prophet, who encouraged him to do all that was on his heart. However, that night the Lord told Nathan that his advice was premature and ill-informed. God didn't want David to build a house for Him.
We pick up in verse five as God continues telling Nathan what he is to tell David...
The Lord says that from the time that He began to dwell among the people of Israel, He had never asked for a permanent house, it was always a tent. Remember that the tent was commissioned by the Lord Himself. He instructed Moses in the manufacture of it as they talked on the mountaintop in the book of Exodus.
The tabernacle itself was ten curtains of fine twisted linen colored blue, purple, and scarlet, and embroidered with cherubim. But then the tabernacle was tented by curtains of goats' hair (Exo. 26:7), covered by rams' skins dyed red, above which was a covering of porpoise skins (Exo. 26:14)
And so from the outside, you can imagine, it was really nothing attractive upon which to look. But when you were inside meeting with the Lord, it was glorious.
And so I believe that the Lord has communicated from the beginning that it doesn't matter whether the building is a temporary tent or a permanent structure. It doesn't matter if it is gloriously covered in gold, or underneath a covering of goats' hair. What matters is that God is there.
You know, it was always so frustrating in our early days as a church to hear from someone that they loved the service, but that our old cinderblock building on Morrie Avenue just didn't "feel" like a church. And then, when we were in the Seventh Day Adventist Building, to hear from people that they wanted to come, but would only visit after we got our own facility. Do you want to know something? The same Spirit who met us in our living room that first Sunday is the same Spirit who met us week after week, regardless of where we were, and has met us here tonight.
To think otherwise is to be carnal of mind. From Moses' day to David's day, God never once asked anyone to build Him a nicer building or a more attractive Sanctuary. Because He doesn't live in the Sanctuary, and He's not limited by how attractive or permanent the structure is. Remember Isaiah's words,
Is. 66:1-2 Thus says the LORD, "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD. "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word."
"As there could be no structure, however grand and stately, which the art of man could raise that would be a worthy home of him whom the heaven of heavens could not contain, so, on the other hand, there was no covering, however humble, within which he was not ready to abide if hearts were true and lives were holy." (Clarkson)
God says, "I took you from the pasture. I took you from following sheep to leading Israel." Talk about a rags to riches story! Looking at David's life, there is no way to escape God's hand. He was the youngest of eight brothers (1Sam. 17:12), made to watch the sheep when the other brothers (1Sam. 16:10) were invited to a barbecue with the prophet Samuel (1Sam. 16:5). His brothers treated him badly and talked down to him for the simplest things (1Sam. 17:28). He had no reason to expect anything out of this life other than drudgery.
And yet, now here he was, king over all of Israel! It is truly amazing what God will do with a life that is devoted to Him!
You know, I've talked to an unusual number of people recently who are bummed out, and discontent with whtere they are today. They feel their lives are drudgery. They don't like what they're doing, they don't feel useful, they don't see any benefit for being where they are today. Many of them feel like God has forgotten them, or simply put them up on a shelf.
I believe that it is important to remind you that David's time watching sheep prepared him to be the shepherd of Israel. Remember that when David volunteered to fight Goliath, King Saul said,
1Sam. 17:33-36 ..."You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth." But David said to Saul, "Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God."
David's time in the drudgery of shepherding prepared him to become a war hero. David's time of pasturing the flock of sheep was preparation for
Maybe you feel altogether useless to others and forgotten by God. Maybe you feel stuck in the drudgery of an uneventful life or a stagnant job.
But that is your calling today, right? It is where God has you today for a reason, right? So maybe it's not the grand thing that you were hoping for in your life.
James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow...
If God finds you faithful while being a neglected sheep-watcher, then maybe tomorrow He will make you a king.
But what if you keep on with the discontentedness and pity party? If David had sat there bummed, saying, "Look. A lion is stealing one of the sheep. Who cares? I'm just a big loser anyway." If David had moped around and said, "There goes another lamb in the mouth of that bear. Oh well." If David hadn't been diligent during the drudgery, then he would have never been prepared for the greatness to which God intended to raise him.
I am convinced that those who are always bummed about today never attain to what God wants for them tomorrow. This is why the apostle Paul told us,
Phil. 4:11 ...I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
David was a guy who realized that what the Lord said was true:
1Chr. 17:8 "I have been with you wherever you have gone..."
God had a bigger plan than just blessing David individually for the here and now. God's heart was to see all of Israel planted securely in the Promised Land. God had used Moses to lead them out of Egypt, and He had used Joshua to lead them into the Promised Land of Canaan. But after Joshua died, we read,
Judg. 2:10-11 All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD...
This led them into the season of the book of Judges, when...
Judg. 2:14-15 The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.
For generations, the Israelites had no security in their apostasy. Even under King Saul, Israel had suffered defeat at the hands of the Philistines because of Saul's sins. God wanted that changed under David's reign. He wanted Israel to be planted securely in the land, and to be safe from their enemies. God was going to use David to do just that.
Notice this: When David had said, "I want to build a house for God," the Lord's response was, "Thanks David, I appreciate it, but instead, I'm going to build a house for you."
It is so amazing to me how, when we earnestly seek to bless the Lord, He just turns it around and blesses us instead!
God has said what His plan was for David individually. He has said what His plan is nationally. But now, the Lord begins to speak of the future, and what His plans are prophetically.
David's life would eventually end, as everyone's does. But God promises to David that one of his descendants would also be a king. Now, I read many Bible commentators saying that this refers to Jesus Christ, because it says that his throne will be established forever. But this is speaking of David's son Solomon, who will build the temple. In the parallel passage in 2Samuel 7, we get the extra detail of,
2Sam. 7:14-15 "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you."
Jesus Christ knew no sin. This descendant of David will commit iniquity. God will correct him, but not take away mercy from him.
Of course, the part of God's covenant with David where He promises that this throne will be established forever certainly will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Remember that all of this had been told by God to Nathan, and now Nathan has gone to David and communicated it to him.
For David to hear this must have been overwhelming. After all, he had been mulling in his mind that his next project in life was to build a house for God. Nathan had in fact given him confirmation earlier in the day. Now, he hears that's not going to happen. But he also hears all of these amazing things that God has in store for him, for Israel, and for his family in the future.
David isn't angry that he can't do what he planned to do. He's not disappointed, and he's not upset. He is humbled and awed. "Who am I, Lord? I'm nobody. You have brought me so far, and now have made such amazing promises for my descendants."
David worships the Lord for Who He is and what He has done.
Instead of trying to convince God that his plan is best, David acknowledges that God is sovereign and has a better plan. Can you do that today as well?