When a Red Light Gets You Further Down the Road (2 Samuel 7:1–29)

“And Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.’”

—2 Samuel 7:3

Why does Nathan so quickly green light David’s implicit proposal? Some might fault Nathan for not telling David that he will seek the word of the Lord on this and get back to him. Perhaps with a proposal as significant as this David should of at least have asked the priest to give Urim or Thummim on this.

Some might say that Nathan approved the project because it was all the rage among the pagan kings to so do. As an expression of their gratitude to the gods who gave them victory, they built them houses of worship. But I don’t think this was what prompted Nathan. I believe two factors led to his thumbs up.

First, there was no wickedness involved. It was a righteous and good request. Too many of us are fearful of failure. We want revelation. We look for it in a feeling. But it isn’t really that we want to please God; it is that we want to be a god. We want to be successful. We don’t want to look foolish. But attempting such daring and good endeavors should be our default posture. Do good things. Trust providence. If your desire is righteous, Yahweh is with you. Do all that is in your heart. And if it fails, well, it really didn’t, for the goal was to work hardily, as to the Lord and not to men. The goal isn’t success. It is glory—God’s glory, not our own.

Second, I’ve little doubt Nathan heard this request and thought of something promised and outlined in the Mosaic Covenant; something very likely long hoped for and now, at this precise moment, earnestly anticipated by those who studied the law.

“But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, then to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the LORD. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God…” (Deuteronomy 12:10–13).

Frequently the Mosaic Covenant speaks of “the place Yahweh your God will chose, to make his name dwell there.” After rest, there was to be an established place of rest for the house of God. Again, this is to happen after Yahweh gives them rest from their enemies. It is this very rest which God will go on to promise to David. David’s proposal is rejected because God has a bigger promise. David is not to build God a house because God will build David a house. David will not build a dwelling for God, God will build a dynasty for David.

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