Advent devotions: December 18th
By Fernando Jensen
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. …
Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.
David has been delivered from all his enemies, has been proclaimed king, and is living in a palace. In a moment of quiet, David reflects, “The Lord took me from the pasture, where I was tending sheep, to a palace to be the leader of Israel. I must build a house for the Lord.” David has a plan and good intentions; it’s part of a response of gratitude to God. But is this what the Lord expects of him? Are King David’s good intentions sufficient?
There is an old phrase, “All roads lead to Rome.” It’s very common today to believe that there are many different ways to draw near to God and please him. But that’s not actually the case. The writer of Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Even though the way seems right, it may not be. Even though David wants to build a house for God, God does not want David to build it. Instead, God says that he will make David a house and establish David’s throne. God will keep his covenant to the people of Israel.
The reason David runs into trouble is because he doesn’t ask, “What is God’s plan?” As Christians, we ought to start by seeking the truth and trying to understand God’s will. Rather than looking to our own experience alone, we should look to the Word of God, since we believe in “Sola scriptura” (Scripture alone). We know that God is sovereign, and we want to live according to his plan.
As we go about our lives, it’s important to seek God’s purpose and plan, and this plan is found only through his Word. Despite our intentions, the promises of the Lord are unbreakable: “I will not violate my covenant, or alter the word that went forth from my lips.” (Psalm 89:34). The Lord never forgets his covenant.
Prayer: Lord, help me to seek you, and to trust that you will keep your promises to your people. Give me the humility and insight to recognize when my own best intentions don’t align with your purposes. Amen.
Fernando Jensen is a retired church planter in the Orlando, Florida, area.