1 Chronicles 17:1-10
Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, See, I dwell in an house of cedars…
Some men are great only in intentions. If words were deeds, and dreams realities, they would be the flower and crown of their generation. But life slips by unutilised. The future of hope never becomes the present of fact. They are no more than glorious idle dreamers. Not so with David.
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD remaineth under curtains.