Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Have I Got a House for You, David

Reading through Hebrews chapter 1 the other day, I came across a cross-reference from 2 Samuel 7. Taking a little detour, I read the passage in context and found the Lord speaking to me through it. Before I go into a bit of exposition, let me excerpt the portion below:

Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” 3 And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”

4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges [1] of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. [2] Your throne shall be established forever.’” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

So what do we have here? Well, basically King David one day was reflecting upon the riches of God's blessings to him --military conquest, a kingdom, political popularity, riches and comfort -- and struck by gratitude and awe and perhaps a tinge of guilt, David sought to express his worship by building the Lord a beautiful and permanent temple. After all, who is David to have a beautiful house of cedar while the presence of the Lord was housed merely in a tent?

The idea is a perfectly fine one, as the prophet Nathan rightly tells David, but the Lord takes this opportunity to speak a messianic prophecy through the mouth of Nathan. The Lord wants David to know that He is not only not needy of a house for His presence, but that He Himself will provide the permanent house for David and all of God's people Israel, the permanent dwelling of His presence in the person of the Messiah, His Son, who shall issue from David's line. Yes, the Lord will build His house by sending His Son, tabernacling the fullness of God in frail human flesh.

The Lord makes clear this Messiah will rise long after David has fallen asleep in death and that He will be acknowledged as the Son of God Himself. This kingdom shall "be made sure forever."

The bottom line: While David is fixated on building a perishable temple of wood and stone to the Lord, God the Father promises to build a permanent temple in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, and those who are joined to Him by faith in Christ and His finished work as the perfect prophet, priest, and king of the Lord God.

So what does that mean for us today?

Many times in our lives as we reflect on God's goodness to us we are moved to worship and moved to desire to do great things for God. Some, indeed many of these things are legitimate and perfectly fine, but God desires that we know above all else that it is only His faithfulness in building the house of the Lord that we stand.

Our Lord Jesus has fulfilled the promise of the Father to establish a house and a kingdom that shall not pass away. The bloodline of this house flows from Calvary's tree. The throne of this kingdom is founded on Christ's perfect righteousness. This is the work that God has done, and it is a work that is received all of grace.

David marveled and rejoiced after hearing Nathan recount the word of the Lord (2 Samuel 7:18-24):

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them [3] great and awesome things by driving out [4] before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? 24 And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God.

Let's worship the Lord this Christmas like our father David did. Let us be in awe that God has shown us such a great mercy, and that not just to save us from our sins and His wrath but to make us His people, His kingdom, His house, His people, both now and throughout all of eternity



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