Proposal to Build a Temple
2 Samuel 7:1-17
And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies;…

1. The spirit of David was essentially active and fond of work. Even in Eastern countries, with their proverbial stillness and conservatism, such men are sometimes found, but they are far more common elsewhere. Great undertakings do not frighten them; they have spirit enough for a lifetime of effort, they never seem weary of pushing on. When they look on the disorders of the world, they are not content with the languid utterance, "Something must be done;" they consider what it is possible for them to do, and gird themselves to the doing of it. For some time David seems to have found ample scope for his active energies in subduing the Philistines and other hostile tribes that were yet mingled with the Israelites, and that had long given them much annoyance. When all his enemies were quieted, and he sat in his house, he began to consider to what work of internal improvement he would now give his attention. Was it right that there should be such a contrast between the dwelling-place of David and the dwelling-place of God? It was the very argument that was afterwards used by Haggai and Zechariah after the return from captivity, to rouse the languid zeal of their countrymen for the. re-erection of the house of God. "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your celled houses and this house lie waste?" A generous heart, even though it is a godless one, is uncomfortable When surrounded by elegance and luxury, while starvation and misery prevail in its neighbourhood. To the feelings of the godly a disreputable place of worship, contrasting meanly with the taste and elegance of the hall, or even the villa, is a pain and a reproach. What we have more need to look at is the disproportion of the sums paid by rich men, and even by men who can hardly be called rich, in gratifying their own tastes and in extending the kingdom of Christ. Wealth which remunerates honest and wholesome labour is not all selfishly thrown away. But it is somewhat strange that we hear so seldom of rich Christian men devoting their superfluous wealth to maintaining a mission station with a full staff of labourers, or to the rearing of colleges, or hospitals, or Christian institutions, which might provide on a large scale for Christian activity in ways that might be wonderfully useful. It is in this direction that there is most need to press the example of David.

2. When the thought of building a temple occurred to David, he conferred on the subject with the prophet Nathan. Nathan was to inform David that, unlike Saul, he was not to be the only one of his race to occupy the throne; his son would reign after he was gathered to his fathers, the kingdom would be established in his bands, and the throne of his kingdom would be established for ever. To this favoured son of his would be entrusted the honour of building the temple, God would be his father, and he would be God's son. The proposal which David had made to build a temple was declined. The time for a change, though drawing near, had not yet arrived. The curtain-canopied tabernacle had been designed by God to wean His people from these sensuous ideas of worship to which the magnificent temples of Egypt had accustomed them, and to give them the true idea of a spiritual service, though not without the visible emblem of a present God. The time had not yet arrived for changing this simple arrangement. God could impart His blessing in the humble tent as well as in the stately temple.

3. But the message through Nathan contained also elements of encouragement, chiefly with reference to David's offspring, and to the stability and permanence of his throne. To appreciate the value of this promise for the future, we must bear in mind the great insecurity of new dynasties in Eastern countries, and the fearful tragedies that were often perpetrated to get rid of the old king's family, and prepare the way for some ambitious and unscrupulous usurper. To David, therefore, it was an unspeakable comfort to be assured that his dynasty would be a stable dynasty; that his son would reign after him. A father naturally desires peace and prosperity for his children, and if he extends his view down the generations, the desire is strong that it may be well with them and with their seed for ever. But no father, in ordinary circumstances, can flatter himself that his posterity shall escape their share of the current troubles and calamities of life.

4. The emotions roused in David by tills communication were alike delightful and exuberant. He takes no notice of the disappointment — of his not. being permitted to build the temple. Ally regret that this might occasion is swallowed up by his delight in the store of blessing actually promised. And here we may see a remarkable instance of God's way of dealing with His people's prayers. Virtually, if not formally, David had asked of God to permit him to build a temple to His name. That petition, bearing though it did very directly on God's glory, is not vouchsafed. But in refusing him that request, He makes over to him mercies of far higher reach and importance. And how often does God do so! How often, when His people are worrying and perplexing themselves about their prayers not being answered, in God answering them in a far richer way! Glimpses of this we see occasionally, but the full revelation of it remains for the future.

5. It is a striking scene that is presented to us when "David went in, and sat before the Lord." It is the only instance in Scripture in which any one is said to have taken the attitude of sitting while pouring his heart out to God. Yet the nature of the communion was in keeping with the attitude. We seem to see in this prayer the very best of David — much intensity of feeling, great humility, wondering gratitude, holy intimacy and trust, and supreme satisfaction in the blessing of God. We see him walking in the wry light of God's countenance, and supremely happy. The joy of David in this act of fellowship with God was the purest of which human beings are capable. It was indeed a joy unspeakable and full of glory. Oh that men would but acquaint themselves with God and be at peace!

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies;

WEB: It happened, when the king lived in his house, and Yahweh had given him rest from all his enemies all around,

David's Purpose to Build a House for the Lord
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