It seemed such a wonderful idea, that he couldn’t understand why he hadn’t thought of it sooner. Here he was, raised up by God, his enemies overcome, and living at ease in his palace of cedar. It was a long journey from the day when he had been called in from the fields to be anointed by the prophet, and the path had not been easy. He had stood against Goliath and seen the giant that terrified Israel defeated by a single stone thrown in faith, and his fingers had grown sore and weary playing music for a tormented king. Then had followed the long, frustrating, desperate years when he had resorted to one stratagem after another to escape the king’s paranoid enmity. And now he had the throne, and peace.
But who did the glory for his position really belong to except to the Lord who had carried him through everything and raised up an ordinary shepherd to be the King of Israel? It was God, and not any scheming of his own, that had taken him from the pasture to the palace, and lifted him so high above his expectations. And yet, while he, David, lived at ease in his cedar palace, the tabernacle of the Lord of Glory had no better dwelling place than a tent! This was when David had his great idea. Shouldn’t God have his own palace in Jerusalem too – a temple which reflected His great glory? And when he initially spoke to the prophet, the reassurance was beautiful – to go ahead and do whatever was in his heart, since the Lord was with him.
But the next day brought a different answer – one that turned his heart inside out with wonder – for in the night the Lord had spoken to the prophet Nathan. God’s answer to his great idea was “no”, but it was a ‘no’ without any power to discourage, because it was swallowed up in a so much greater ‘yes’. It would not be himself, the man of war who would build God’s house, but his son,. In a settled time, when they had rest from their enemies, it would be time for the Lord to inhabit a settled house. It would be a time for building, rather than fighting.
And God’s answer was even greater than this. At the heart of it was a promise so enormous that David’s heart was undone in wonder and worship. It was not for him to build God a house, but for God to build one for him. This son of his, the one who was to be the temple-builder, was assured of God’s love, no matter what. The throne would not be taken away from him as it had been from Saul; rather, instead, to the family dynasty of David’s descendants would be granted an everlasting throne!