Summary: David was Israel's greatest earthly king. But Israel needed a better king.
Wanted: A Better David
The meteoric rise to power of King David is the stuff of a Hollywood movie, an old Hollywood movie, anyway. It is a story of a humble shepherd boy who rose to be King of Israel. At was a life full of adventure, danger, and intrigue. David as a youth slays the giant, Goliath. He has to flee from the presence of his father-in-law, King Saul, to other lands or the back side of the desert. When the walls seemed to be closing in on him, he escapes. After the death of Saul, David would be crowned king by his home tribe of Judah. And after a seven year civil war with his brother-in-law Ish-Boseth, David was crowned king over all Israel. As king, he brought a small nation which struggled for its very existence with neighboring nations such as the Philistines to temporary greatness. David was a man of great passion who wrote beautiful poetry as well as being a courageous warrior. He was a very complex man. He had many exploits, but there was also Bathsheba. David and Bathsheba is unfortunately, the trade of Hollywood. Yes, David would make a good movie, the ancient Braveheart. But there is more to the story, the part which Hollywood would cut. He was a man after God’s own heart.
When we read the text from 2 Samuel 7 this morning, we find David at the zenith of his power. His enemies had been subdued and the LORD had given him and the nation of Israel rest from war. He was probably in his late forties. His slow decline in physical power was balanced by wisdom. The trouble with getting to the top of the hill is that everything else is downhill. By Chapter 8, the wars had returned. Then by chapter 11, David is too old to go out to war and stays home. This became a snare to him as he was on the roof of his house when he saw Bathsheba, his neighbor’s wife, bathing. This led to adultery and then murder of her husband who was a loyal soldier to David. As a result of his sin, Nathan the Prophet told him from the LORD that not only would David have external wars, but that he would suffer from war and violence within his own family.
But all is still well in this morning’s text. He was sitting in his royal palace made of fine cedar with this same Nathan the Prophet. He was surrounded by royal splendor. Then His mind wandered to thinking that the Ark of the Covenant resided in a simple tent. This did not seem right to David as his exploits and rise to being King over Israel would never had happened if Yahweh had not made it possible. The gods of the other nations around David had spectacular temples of gold and silver. Should not a house be made for the LORD as well?
Nathan thought it a good idea and told David to go ahead with his plans. Nathan was obviously a man of ability, and the idea seemed reasonable to him. He left of seeking the LORD whether the LORD wanted such a house. We, too, are prone to trust our own devices and execute plans for ministry because the plan seemed good to human wisdom. However, as Nathan found out, The LORD had other ideas. He appears to David at night with a message to tell David: “Shall you indeed make ME a house?” The framing of that question expects an emphatic “NO” in response. “You certainly are not going to build me a house!”
The LORD goes on to tell David through Nathan what was wrong with David’s thinking. He reminds David of the history of the Ark of the Covenant. The Israelites did not dwell in houses at that time either. They were walking through the wilderness. Yahweh joined them in this journey. One must not overlook the words that Yahweh had walked with the Children of Israel from that day even until David’s day. Even though Yahweh, the creator of heaven and earth is greater than any temple that could be build for him, who is everywhere present, there was a special place given to Israel. The Ark of the Covenant was a portable throne for Yahweh. There, the special presence of Yahweh resided between the two cherubim on a golden seat. But that throne did not walk of itself. It was to be carried form place to place upon the shoulders of the Levites. But Yahweh walked with them on their journey.
Yahweh was good with the arrangement He had made. He never asked for more than He directed in the creation of the Tabernacle. He never asked anyone before in Israel to make Him a temple just like the other nations. Yahweh wasn’t simply a tribal or national deity. The holiness of Yahweh made Him separate from the gods that other nations had set up. He had no desire to be compared to them in any way. After all, they were false gods. Israel was to recognize that this made them different from the other nations as well. Even though Israel was no match for great nations such as Egypt as far as earthly power and splendor are concerned, they were still the apple of His eye. It is when His people wander off into the error that they want to be just like everyone else.