After David had settled into his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent."
I. A KING'S PROPOSAL. It was in David's heart to adorn and sanctify his metropolis by a temple which should serve as the emblem of the nation's consecration to Jehovah.
1. We observe in this desire of the king how respect for God and the ordinances of his worship may lead to purposes of labour and self-sacrifice. It is possible that vanity and ostentation may lead to some enterprises of magnitude which may pass for evidences of religious fervour. Yet oftentimes an affectionate and grateful heart has found expression in costly and at the same time useful undertakings.
2. We observe also that generosity is never better employed than in advancing the glory of God. This may be done not merely by what are distinctively termed religious acts, but by deeds of benevolence and philanthropy, animated by the love of Christ.
II. A PROPHET'S ENCOURAGEMENT. David unfolded to his counsellor, Nathan the prophet, the generous intention of his heart. Sometimes those who in such circumstances are taken into confidence and counsel repress the liberal designs unfolded to them. But Nathan took another course. What wisdom and right feeling are apparent in the counsel, "Do all that is thine heart"! And it should be remarked that Nathan brought the truths and promises of religion to bear upon the royal heart. "God is with thee." That was as much as to say - God has put the desire in thy heart; God will assist thee in carrying out thy project; and God will accept what it is thy purpose to offer him. - T.
Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house.I. DAVID'S PROPOSAL.
1. A noble purpose.
2. A generous purpose.
3. A purpose commended by the prophet.
II. GOD'S DISAPPROVAL OF DAVID'S PROPOSAL.
1. God knows all our purposes.
2. God often hinders the accomplishment of our purposes.
III. REASONS FOR GOD'S DISAPPROVAL OF DAVID'S PROPOSAL..
1. It was something entirely new.
2. It was untimely in its beginning.
3. David was not the right man to build.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
I. DAVID'S PIOUS EMPLOYMENT OF HIS LEISURE. He had long been like a pursued mountain-bird. And when Saul could pursue him no more, when he had come to the crown of Judah, it was an assailed crown. But at last there was rest for David. No tent of the warrior. It is "his house" he is in, his new mansion, his cedar palace. Therein he "sat." He has leisure. How does he use it? Seeking some excitement of pleasure wherein to escape the oppression of self-consecration; the unwelcome voice of clamorous duty? When he went forth to conflict he said, "The battle is the Lord's." And now he felt, "My leisure is the Lord's." So as he sits in his beautiful mansion, the palace which the Tyrian builders had built, he was comparing its elegance and splendour with the meanness of the tabernacle in which he had placed the ark. The comparison pained him. He will build a temple for the Lord. With such thoughts as these he occupied his leisure. Leisure! It is the very thing that some seem never to get, and others getting, seek to escape. With some life is a long, seldom-pausing battle with want. With others, when the respite comes, they are eager soon, having no mental or spiritual resources, to get back again into the familiar toil wherein they find the only life they care to live. Few and brief may be our opportunities of leisure. All the more reason that they should be for our highest refreshing and renewing by being dedicated to God. How a man spends his leisure will tell much of the man. David's employment of his speaks well for him.
II. GOD SHOULD BE HONOURED WITH OUR SUBSTANCE. David felt God to be worthy of the best. He desired to build Him a house. The largest liberality would be only poor acknowledgment, a slight expression of his affection. David had built a palace. He was not wrong in this. Comely symbols these of kingly power. Let the rich and great dwell in stately houses. Let the owners of wealth possess what only the wealthy can buy. As David did more for himself, he desired to do more for Him to whom he owed his all. That should be the rule of our conduct. Do our riches increase? There should be a proportionate increase of what we dedicate to God. A matter, this, little considered by many.
III. GOOD WISHES ARE NEVER LOST. David told Nathan the prophet his desire to rear a temple for the Lord. We are not surprised to find that the prophet, with prompt approbation, encouraged the king to the great undertaking. The work was good, but was David the man to undertake it? To Nathan at night came a Divine intimation that he was not. To war's rough, sad business he was Divinely bidden. But because of its connection with its inevitable horrors he was bidden back from the pious enterprise on which his sublime and earnest ambition was set. What a verdict is thus passed upon war! What then? Does David's pious intention count for nothing? It counts for much. Beside which he had his own important special work to do, to give his people rest from their foes and consolidate the kingdom of Israel. His good wish had not been in vain. He was forbidden to build the temple, but God would build him a family, and the world's needed glorious Deliverer was to be the "offspring of David." A greater honour than he sought came to him. God was pleased with his pious wish, and fulfilled it in a nobler way. Think not little, then, of good intentions that are hindered from becoming more than intentions. You may have desired to do some larger work for God; you may have intended to consecrate your whole life to some holy ministry — to the ministry of the Gospel in this land or far hence among the heathen; but you were hindered. In circumstances God said, "No, not in this way; in some other"; and, perhaps, you look back and say, "My life is so unlike what I had hoped. I drew the consecrated plan, and God's viewless, but undeniable, hand blotted it out. My wish was all in vain." No, say not that. The desire was good. It will be fulfilled; if not here, yet in higher service than otherwise had been yours — in that bright and holy city beyond death. Cherish large and holy desires. Precious seeds, you may be unable to sow them in any human heart, in any field of earth; but heaven shall receive them. There they shall come to richest harvest. You shall find them again — not baffled and scattered, as here, but in noblest service, in heaven's eternal praise. David was not to build the temple. But he knew it was to be built. The honour was reserved for his son. "He," said God, "shall build an house for My name." If hindered from an undertaking ourselves let us remember that our prayers and effort may help another to do it.
(G. T. Coster.)
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