“A Kingdom Provided”: God’s Covenant with David
I worked at Champs Sports for a while. It was a good job at the time. I was raising support to join the staff of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ back in that day), and that process was going a little slow, so I got a part-time job at Champs to make ends meet. The thing I really enjoyed about that job was unloading new shipments of stock and cleaning up the store. Selling was not my favorite. Thankfully, my boss really appreciated me for keeping the store stocked and clean, so he made sure I was as free as possible to do that while other employees helped customers. It was an introvert, Type-A person’s dream really.
One evening I was cleaning up a section and thought of a better way to organize the display and products. I was pretty pleased with what I had done…until the next day when I went into work and it was all back the way it had been. My boss pulled me aside and said, “Hey, Brian. I really appreciate you taking the time to work on that section and your idea of how to organize it better, but all of those displays and product areas are determined by headquarters and we have to do it the way they want.” Lesson learned. I had the best of intentions—what I did made total sense (and I still think it was better), but because I didn’t know all of the facts, I made a mistake. An honest mistake with the best of intentions, but a mistake nonetheless.
David’s Admirable Idea
This week’s story begins with King David developing an idea:
When the king had settled into his palace and the LORD had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “Look, I am living in a cedar house while the ark of God sits inside tent curtains.” (2 Samuel 7:1 CSB)
The work of defending his kingdom was done, thanks to God’s provision, and apparently one day David looked at his fine palace and then at the tabernacle and had an admirable idea: Why not build a better house for God? It made total sense. Here was David living in splendor and yet God’s house—the tabernacle—was still a temporary curtain structure. How could David’s house be better than God’s? And so David had an idea—not clearly stated here, but rather implied clearly—that he would build a temple.
This idea shows the humility and heart of David. We need to appreciate it, and we can learn from it too. Many times we flip the script and we see God as the One who should be serving us. We might not say it, but we might think it: “God is right to give me this nice house (car, job, family, fill-in-the-blank). I deserve it! And that’s what God is for—to take care of me.”
Nathan’s Big Mistake
The Bible does not necessarily give us full accounts of what happened. It is always accurate, of course, but many times, the Bible story only gives us parts of conversations and events. Here, we don’t know if there was much more conversation between David and Nathan. But what we do see is Nathan responding to David as if the king had asked what he should do:
So Nathan told the king, “Go and do all that is on your mind, for the LORD is with you.” (2 Samuel 7:2 CSB)
Now, look back at verse 1 to be reminded of Nathan’s job. That’s right; he was a prophet. A prophet was tasked with speaking on behalf of God. And that seems to be what he did here. But notice what Nathan failed to do—the big mistake he made here. He failed to talk with God! I just shared that the Bible doesn’t give us every detail, so you would be right to wonder why I can be so emphatic that this did not happen. The reason is because of what follows. We will see that God had to correct the wayward prophet.
How many times do we run ahead of God like Nathan did here? I wonder if Nathan fell into the same trap David did. This idea made so much sense and it came from such a good place. How could God not be behind it?
But God’s ways are not our ways. We don’t see the full story as He does. Actually, God doesn’t just see the full story, He controls it. It’s easy for us to forget that. But it is so important that we don’t. Had Nathan only gone to God first, he would have been able to guide David rightly from the start. Thankfully, God corrected the situation before anything major happened because of it. Nathan’s mistake was big, not because of its impact, but because of his glaring failure to fulfill his purpose. May that not be true of us.
God’s Better Plan
At this point, God could have thrown up His hands in exasperation. Here was His prophet speaking wrongly on His behalf and His king running out ahead of His plans. But God, in His unending mercy and grace, took a different route. He corrected Nathan and gave Nathan a message—the right message—to share with David.
David would not build a house for Him, rather He would build a house for David. God reminded David that He was using him for a greater purpose—to continue the line through which the Messiah would come. Solomon, David’s son, would build the temple. But David would be connected more tightly to a better way that God would dwell with His people—through the Son of God incarnate. It wasn’t about what David could do for God, but what God would do for David, and all those who call on His name for salvation through Jesus Christ.
Awake, you everlasting spirit, out of your dream of worldly happiness! Did not God create you for Himself? Then you cannot rest till you rest in Him.” — John Wesley (1703-1791)
Preschool Tip: Our preschoolers have now spent a few weeks with David, and they likely have noticed how good of a king he was, especially contrasted with Saul. This is a session to point out that David was a good king (we will see how he was not perfect soon), but good is not good enough. God’s desire was to give His people a perfect King, and that King is the One God promised to send—King Jesus.
Kids Tip: This is a good time to challenge your kids about whether they truly see Jesus as King. A King us a ruler; but many of us fail to live under His rule. We instead see Jesus more as an advisor. Press in some this week about this, but don’t fail to be transparent and admit your own struggles in this regard as well.
 John Wesley, “Awake, Thou That Sleepest,” in The Essential Works of John Wesley, ed. Alice Russie (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour, 2011), 163.