Saul was the first Israelite king, but God rejected him and chose young David to replace him (1 Samuel 16:1–13; Acts 13:21–22). Soon Saul recognized David as a rival and a threat, and he mustered an army to smoke David out and destroy him (1 Samuel 22:8). Later, after Saul committed suicide to avoid capture by the Philistines, David ascended to the throne. King David defeated the Jebusites, conquering the fortress of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:1–12). After all this, God gave David rest.
Scripture says that King David got settled in his palace and God gave “him rest on every side from all his enemies” (2 Samuel 7:1). But David wouldn’t sit still. Alone in his palace, the man of action—a war hero without a war, a statesmen with no opponent—had time to think. Instead of laying back, David looked for the next hill to take. When the prophet Nathan came to visit, David started thinking out loud about his plans: “Look, I am living in a cedar house while the ark of God sits inside tent curtains” (v.2). It seemed strange. God is the great King of kings, so if the earthly king has a mansion, God should have a palace, right? Nathan agreed, “Go and do all that is on your mind, for the LORD is with you” (v.3).
Sometimes when circumstances are clear and our motives seem pure and selfless, it hardly seems necessary to pray and seek God’s guidance. It just feels more natural to get to work. David had experienced the high that comes with God’s blessing, but now his busy heart was in danger of getting ahead of God. So God gave Nathan a dream in the middle of the night, and then He sent the prophet back to reject David’s plan. “Are you to build me a house to dwell in?” God asked David (v.5). The implied answer was a clear “no.”
For David, this message from God must have been jarring. But in reality, it was a great kindness. David didn’t know it at the time, but he needed God to bring his heart peace in much the same way he’d brought peace to the kingdom. The Lord settled David’s heart with three truths.
God reminded David that He had been good to him:
“I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, to be ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you” (2 Samuel 7:8–9).
God told David He would be good to him again:
“I will make a great name for you like that of the greatest on the earth” (v.9).
God promised David that He would always be good to him:
“The LORD himself will make a house for you.… Your house and kingdom will endure before me forever, and your throne will be established forever” (vv.11,16).
We know this last promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. On busy days, when we’re anxious to work hard for God, let’s first settle our hearts in Christ. He has been good to us, and He will continue to be good to those who call Him Lord.
Written by Jared Kennedy