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David's desire to build a Temple

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May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be truly acceptable to you - Amen 

Ø      WHAT WE DO - even things that on the surface look righteous and pleasing to God

o       Mean nothing to God - if we don’t do them with a truly sincere heart

Ø      Our Old Testament reading, today from second Samuel, shows us how even one of the greatest heroes of scripture, King David, gets it wrong

o       Wrong, yet on the surface it all seemed right

Ø      I will set the scene for you

o       In the two chapters right before today’s some pretty significant events transpire

§         All the leaders of the tribes of Israel have come together - and in their uniting together they anoint David as King over all Israel

§         Jerusalem is made capital of the united Israel

§         David leads the March of the ark covenant to Jerusalem

·         He was dancing before the ark of covenant with all his might

Ø      Then today’s passage - which starts out innocently enough

o       we are told that the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies

Ø      David - in this moment of rest - gets a bright idea

o       David contemplates that he is living in a mansion - a house built of cedar and he wants to build a temple for the Lord to house the ark of the covenant

§         The prophet Nathan, which seems to be David closest advisor agrees

·         As far as he can see the Lord has been with David, therefore the Lord must be with David in his intention to building the temple

Ø      On the surface it all looks to make sense

o       On the surface David’s intentions seem honorable

§         David is showing his respect for God and the things of God by wanting to build a temple for the ark of the covenant

o       his closest advisor and therefore likely all those close to the new King, see David’s intentions as a sign of worship to God

Turning point

Ø      But God knows better!

Ø      There is an old joke “how do you make God laugh?

o       tell him YOUR plans” (pause)

§         This joke runs to the very heart of passage today

Ø      You see God instructs Nathan through a vision that David’s is to be rebuked (told that his plans for building a temple are not going to happen and why)

o       Now how would you to be Nathan?

§         He is faced with telling the most powerful man in Israel that God knows better - that God knows David’s intentions - and they are not honourable

·         Yet we are told of no resistance at all from Nathan - nowhere do we see Nathan second guessing his vision

o       Truly this was a faithful servant and prophet of God, in touch with God’s will and ways

Ø      So what was God saying when he rebuked David

o       God questions David with a wonderfully sarcastic line “Are you the one to build me a house to live in?”

Ø      Aside : there is an important key to understanding the whole rebuke

o       there is a significant literary emphases on the word house - it is used in four ways - name, place, house and ancestors

Ø      God knew David’s heart - knew his intentions and his motivation

o       You see David thought he was doing something for God

o       And God called him on it

§         He says through Nathan…

·         “Go and tell my servant David”

·         no longer is this David the King - but David the servant

·         he says that God has been present with them in all their wanderings in every situation

·         God says through Nathan that All of David’s success is due to God and not to David’s effort alone

o       David is taken “From the pasture to the prince”

§         As the smallest of the brothers, not big enough to go to war with the Philistines - as the shepherd - home to tend the sheep

§         Yet over about 15 years transformed in the King over all Israel

·         He says that It is God has defeated his enemies

·         That God will appoint a place for his people - and they will be disturbed no more

o       This is a promise and prophecy

§         This is the David’s covenant

§         God will make David a great name

§         God will make a House for David

Ø      Why was God putting a halt to the best intentions of David

§         Or at least - what on the surface seems like the best intentions

o       Because God knows our hearts - God sees through it all - and knows our true motivation

o       God knows that David was trying to do something FOR God - he was going to build a House for God - and God’s calls him on it

§         I guess here I should be careful what I say about “temple building” in light of the new Parish Hall


o       God doesn’t want our stuff

§         God wants our hearts

§         There are countless examples of how God through the prophets telling us that what WE give to God is not the important thing.


§         Our duty given as an heartless offering does not impressed God


Ø      To illustrate the point here is a passage from the prophet Amos

I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,

I will not accept them;

and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals, I will not look upon.

Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps.

 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Ø      You see just as God spoke through Nathan and Amos

o       God wants us

§         God wants our hearts directed to him


Ø      In all this you may be wonder why is David the most famous king of all time for Jews and Christians alike

o       The person which served as the model, the model for the messiah figure

o       The one in which Jesus, our Lord and saviour -  genealogy is prophesied and fulfilled

§         Why is David so special

·         Why do we see Him - “warts and all”

o       And we know that God did want a temple - later

§         that only a generation away - David’s son Solomon is instructed to build the temple

o       Why David - why his house - his lineage

o       why does David get such an important role - a covenant


Ø      Because David gets it right some times

§         gets it right in a big way

o       Like his righteous zeal against the taunting of Goliath - the cursing of the Lord by Goliath

o       Or like dancing before the procession of the ark of the covenant coming into Jerusalem - and it says “dancing with all his might”

§         Wearing in an ephod - which some scholar identify as a ceremonial under garment - a giant diaper looking thing (and I know diapers) not kingly thing to do




Ø      Why David?

Ø      Because  - in David we are shown our human frailties and our greatest successes

o       In David we see the power of God working through one - that - when he is truly listening to God’s will - achieves the great commandment of them all

§         Jesus new commandment - The servant commandment

·         “to Love one another as He has loved us”  

·         As a servant - willing to risk embarrassment, great sufferings or against great odds even to death in service of others and God

o       In David we see both roles shown in Proverbs 12:15

 - where “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.”

Ø      David was rightly rebuked for thinking of doing anything FOR God

o       something that God didn’t ask for

§         something David wanted to do for his own pride

·         “look what I built for God”

Ø      David is there to show us that attitude is everything

o       and God’s knows our hearts and knows when our attitude is rightly pointed to his will not our own

o       And the good news of this story is the scripture immediately after today’s passage 

§         it is a prayer of David

§         a response to the rebuke from God - that concludes with

“therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant,

so that it may continue forever before you;

 for you, O Lord God, have spoken,

and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”


I will close with a story involving Mark Twain


A businessman well known for his ruthlessness once announced to writer Mark Twain, "Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the 10 Commandments aloud at the top." "I have a better idea," replied Twain. "You could stay in Boston and keep them."


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