2 Samuel 7 is an almost uncharacteristically warm and fuzzy chapter in the middle of David’s story. There’s war and betrayal and murder and scheming and then … interior decorating plans.
The Redefined Student Ministry is studying the life of David in January and February, but it’s impossible to talk about everything in just seven meetings. We’ll have to skip some stuff from one week to the next, so we’re covering all the in-between stuff here on the blog. Read on!
David has finally stopped warring (for now). As he sits around—finally king, finally at peace—he realizes:
“See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains” (2 Samuel 7:2).
Does God Need an Extreme Home Makeover?
Cedar was a big deal: David was essentially noticing the wealth of his house. The ark is the ark of the covenant, the place in the Old Testament where God’s presence lived. The ark was being housed in the same dirty tent it lived in since it was made in the dessert with Moses.
David wants to build a house/temple/church for the ark, for God’s presence, to live in. Nathan, the prophet, tells David, “Go ahead. That’s a good idea.”
But that night, God tells Nathan to go back and give David a different message.
God basically says, “Did I ask for a house? When I want a house, I’ll tell someone to build a house. In fact, your son will build my house. Don’t worry about it.”
David’s desire wasn’t wrong. In fact, it was very noble. He still wants to do right by God however he can, and this seemed like the honorable thing to do.
And if we learn anything—anything—from David’s story, it should be that God sees our hearts.
It Really is the Thought That Counts
God tells David not to build His house, but promises that David’s son will. He goes so far as to say, “No, David, I’m going to build you a house.” But it’s not a house of cedar or stone, it’s a name. A family. God makes a promise to David:
“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. … But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-16).
That’s amazing. God promises that He will establish David’s name and family forever, that He will never leave David’s son when he is king. David hears this news and goes to God himself to worship and give thanks.
God saw David’s heart, and He honored it. David wasn’t the right man for the job of building God’s house, but he wanted to do it because he knew it was right—and I think God smiled at that, the way a parent smiles at a child who tries so hard to make the perfect card or macaroni necklace. The execution is usually a mess, but the heart behind it is SO in love that it’s beautiful.
Later, when David is near the end of his life, he is giving some final instruction to his son Solomon. We read in 1 Chronicles 22 that even though David wasn’t allowed to build the temple, he made all the preparations for his son to do a great job. David wanted it to be perfect, so he spent years of his life gathering resources for the temple he would never see completed. That’s passion.
Where Is Your Heart Pointed?
The best part of this story is that our God never changes. If any of us want to do right by God, He honors our hearts.
For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have (2 Cor 8:12).
None of us are perfect. No one has it all together, and no one is a “perfect” Christian. Everyone makes mistakes, but everyone also has a part to play. Seek God, and just be obedient when you find Him. If your heart is in the right place, God can work with the rest.
Alexis is an Associate Editor and Researcher by day, and a Redefined Ministry Servant by night. When she’s not in front of a keyboard (which is almost never), she likes playing with her toddler, reading, and eating too much Indian food.