David has been made king of Israel, and after some difficulty, has brought the ark of the covenant in to Jerusalem, and placed it in the tent which he had pitched for it (1Chron. 16:1).
David had lived his life as a shepherd, a musician, a soldier, and an outlaw. Now, for the first time, he was living in opulence. His new house had been a gift from Khee-RAWM, the king of Tyre, who sent cedar trees along with stonemasons and carpenters to the new king.
Now that the house is finished, and David is living in it, he is looking around at his new surroundings and then out the window at the tent in which he has placed the ark of the covenant.
He calls Nathan the prophet to him to make a statement. (One of David's sons was also named Nathan, but he is not to be confused with the prophet.)
After looking at his house and the Lord's tent, David told Nathan that he was thinking of building a house for the Lord. After all, God had watched over David faithfully, had raised him up as king powerfully, and had certainly blessed him financially.
David had also spent a lot of time in the Scriptures recently. When reading up on how the ark should be transported, he no doubt ran across the command to build the ark in first place:
Ex. 35:4-19 Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, "This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, saying, 'Take from among you a contribution to the LORD; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the LORD'S contribution: gold, silver, and bronze, and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats' hair, and rams' skins dyed red, and porpoise skins, and acacia wood, and oil for lighting, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece. Let every skillful man among you come, and make all that the LORD has commanded: the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets; the ark and its poles, the mercy seat, and the curtain of the screen; the table and its poles, and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; the lampstand also for the light and its utensils and its lamps and the oil for the light; and the altar of incense and its poles, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the doorway at the entrance of the tabernacle; the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin and its stand; the hangings of the court, its pillars and its sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court and their cords; the woven garments for ministering in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests.'"
When the people of Israel heard this command, the Bible says,
Ex. 35:21-22 Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD'S contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments. Then all whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and bracelets, all articles of gold; so did every man who presented an offering of gold to the LORD.
Ex. 35:29 The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the LORD had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the LORD.
Their hearts stirred within them, they brought their freewill offerings to the Lord. And it was out of their contributions of gold that the ark and the tabernacle were made.
Now, David is looking at how much gold he has. How much of a house he is living in. And how he has merely erected a tent with curtains for the ark of the covenant. This just didn't seem right to him, and he talked to Nathan the prophet about it.
Nathan told David to go for it. After all, it was in his heart to do, and God was with him. Nathan encouraged him to do this ministry, to perform this work.
The name "naw-THAWN" in Hebrew means, "giver." Paul reminded us in 2Corinthians,
2Cor. 9:7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
In this case, Nathan was a giver of encouragement to David, who had purposed in his heart to build the temple. There was not a grudging heart in David. As a matter of fact, years later David's son Solomon would tell us,
1Kings 8:18 "...the LORD said to my father David, 'Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.'"
David's motivation was right and Nathan encouraged him, gave him the go-ahead.
Saints, are you a Nathan? Someone who encourages people as they step out in faith to perform some ministry? I have found that for every one Nathan I can find, there are ten others who say, "That's dumb. That's impossible. What are you thinking? You don't have the ability, you don't have the resources, you don't have the smarts, to accomplish this."
Now, understand that Nathan wasn't being the prophet at that point. He wasn't speaking under divine influence. He was just being a regular guy who saw David's godly motivation to do a godly thing.
He told David,
2Sam. 7:3 ..."Go, do all that is in your mind, for the LORD is with you."
Nathan had seen that God's blessing was on David. That David was a perfect example of Psalm 1...
Psa. 1:1-3 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Everything that David had put his hand to had been a success because he was a man after God's own heart. There was no reason not to believe that this wasn't the next thing David would do and be successful. There was no reason not to believe that God wouldn't be thoroughly blessed as David performed the ministry task that was on his heart.
The Word of the Lord came to Nathan that same night. People have often asked me how the Word of the Lord came to the prophets. Oh, we see that occasionally there were dreams or visions where God would speak to the prophets. But most often, we simply read this phrase, "the Word of the Lord came" to this or that person.
Most often, if pressed, people will admit that they are less interested in how the Word of the Lord came to the prophets than they are how the Word of the Lord might come to them! After all, we need divine revelation, don't we? We need direction and guidance. We often stand at a crossroads, needing to know from the Lord whether to go to the left or to the right. We are often at a loss for what to do, and need the Lord's leading. How can the Word of God come to me?
Here's the answer: Saints, the Word of the Lord will come to you if you go to the Word of the Lord. It's all right here in the Scriptures.
Do you need direction?
Psa. 119:105 Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Do you need to know what is the right thing to do?
Psa. 119:11 Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.
The Word of the Lord will come to us if we come to the Word of the Lord.
I believe that on this same night, Nathan was waiting upon the Lord, and searching the Scriptures in his time of devotion. He wasn't asking, "Lord, did I give the right advice," but rather, "Lord, what would you desire to speak to me tonight." The Lord is so faithful to speak to us as we seek after Him.
The Lord told Nathan that his advice had been incorrect. God didn't want David to build the temple. Now, Nathan is presented with the difficulty of having to tell David he was wrong.
For some of us, we'd rather die than admit we were wrong, especially about spiritual matters. I am reminded of the old Happy Days TV show, when the Fonz had to admit he'd been wrong. He would say, "I was wrrrrr...... I was wrrrrr...." He just couldn't do it.
But as Christians, we should have the easiest time of anyone admitting that we are wrong. After all, isn't that the basis of our faith? We have had to come to God and say that we have been wrong. Repenting from our sin because it is wrong. Turning to God and admitting that the direction we were going in was wrong. Letting Him know that our previous approach to life was wrong.
The thing that prevents us from admitting that we are wrong is pride. And in regards to spiritual matters, it is spiritual pride that prevents us. I have found few things that are as terrible in a Christian as spiritual pride.
Imagine how history would have changed if the prophet Samuel hadn't been able to admit his wrong when the Lord sent him to anoint one of Jesse's sons.
1Sam. 16:6-7 When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD'S anointed is before Him." But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
Samuel was wrong, and he was able to admit it before he made a grave error.
We too, make wrong decisions because of being either uninformed or acting thoughtlessly. When we do, this is what the Law of God says we are to do:
Lev. 5:4-6 ...If a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, in whatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these. So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned. He shall also bring his guilt offering to the LORD for his sin which he has committed...
Lev. 5:10 The second he shall then prepare as a burnt offering according to the ordinance. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it will be forgiven him.
Admitting that we were wrong, and trusting that Jesus Christ, our guilt offering, is sufficient to make atonement and offer forgiveness.
In Nathan's case, he was wrong, but not sinful. He just didn't have all the facts. And so without pride or hesitation, Nathan would tell David that he was not to build the temple. Next week, we will see in verse 15,
1Chr. 17:15 According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
Now, just because God was with David didn't mean that David was called to do this. As a matter of fact, God said David was absolutely not to do it.
Remember, this wasn't because David had wrong intentions. God told David, "You did well that it was in your heart." It wasn't because David wasn't able, for he was. It was simply that this was not the work to which God had called David.
Saints, it is so freeing to recognize that not every Christian is called to do every Christian work. Remember what Paul taught us,
1Cor. 3:5-7 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
When you realize that even though you may want to plant, you may be called to water, you will avoid so much frustration.
When you learn that not every step of faith is made in the right direction, you will avoid so much disappointment.
When you learn that even when a vision is on your heart that God doesn't necessarily want you to be the one doing this good work, you will avoid so much confusion.
Let me share with you where I am at today:
- I would like to begin a powerful evangelism service where the lost in our community would be brought in and saved.
- I would like to offer discipleship to the young married couples in our fellowship so that they could avoid the pitfalls of common mistakes people make in marriage.
- I would like to make the men's ministry a powerful force in our church when men are challenged to grow and be prayerful, active, and accountable.
- I would like to oversee a ministry to the single college- and career-aged people in the congregation, raising them up to be the next generation of godly adults in our fellowship.
- I would like to teach the men in our fellowship who feel a calling to ministry to study the word and grow as shepherds.
- I would like to develop the studio into a place where Christian musicians could come and record their songs for little or no money.
- I would like to fill our property with prayer gardens and beautifully landscaped areas where people could sit and meditate, walk and pray.
These are just seven of dozens of things I want to do in the kingdom of God. And I know that I could do any of these things. But I also know that I could not do all of these things.
And it is only through earnest prayer and going to the Word of the Lord that I will find out which, if any, of these things God is calling me to do. It may be that God is not calling me personally to do any of these things. And I'm perfectly okay with that, because I know...
Psa. 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.
Maybe tonight you are frustrated by a vision that doesn't seem to want to come to fruition.
Maybe tonight you have been waiting for that Word from the Lord.
I believe that God wants to give some direction, some answers, and formulate vision tonight. Let's wait upon Him.