After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am sitting in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” — 2 Samuel 7:1-2
My favorite picture of worship is David alone in a field, tending sheep, and playing and singing about the greatness of God. No doubt the beloved Psalm 23 exists because he found such fulfillment in being alone playing and singing to his Lord. He loved and protected those sheep. In a moment of clarity, David realized that God absolutely took care of him in the same we he took care of his sheep. “The Lord is my shepherd,” he exclaimed. “I shall not want.”
David kept this posture of worship all the way up until the slaying of Goliath. Then, people began to sing David’s praises, not the praises of God. “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands,” the women would sing. Satan had used his favorite tactic to turn a 212-degree burning heart down to 211 so that it no longer boils . . . pride. Time and time again, David would fight for God, but you don’t hear him speak of God with the same devotional fervor he once did.
That brings us to this moment in this verse. He’s fought for God and won mightily. Victory after victory was his with God’s mighty hand upon him. God has brought David full circle to a place of being alone with Him . . . no leading armies, no wars. What does David’s heart lean towards?
Doing something else FOR God. “I want to build You a house Lord!” Basically, he said, “I want take on another endeavor where I can do something great for You!” Even the prophet Nathan thought it sounded like a great idea, “Go ahead, do as you wish” he said to David. But then that very night God came to Nathan in a dream and shut it all down. “David is NOT to build my house!”
Why would God shut down such a good sounding thing?
God brought about a mighty victory when David slew Goliath because David was the only person on the planet that truly loved Him and fully trusted in Him. His one act of war ignited faith and stirred up a renewed trust in God for so many who saw the small, ruddy, adolescent shepherd defeat the mighty warrior from Gath. David fought from a place of love. Years later, after being given rest from his enemies, I believe God simply wanted his heart back. Not that David didn’t believe, of course he did. He just got a little taste of American Christianity 3,000 years in advance of us. He started going to church and doing things for God instead of being alone with God. At this point, God didn’t want David to do something else for Him . . . hence, He denied this seemingly good request. God wanted David’s heart back.
I feel like I’m in that very place right now. I feel like I could do great things FOR God. I feel like I could preach great sermons FOR Him. I feel like I could write great things FOR Him. I feel like I could dive into the church world and build something successful . . . grow a ministry. Keep in mind, I didn’t say I could, just that I feel like I could. But, here is my point: sometimes I get wrapped up in the church world, a few weeks go by, and I haven’t really been alone with Him. It hasn’t been just Him and me alone.
I guess I’m really trying to return to my first love. Like God counseled the Ephesian church in Revelation 2, I want to do the things I did at first . . . when I just loved Him. I didn’t need anybody to know who I was, didn’t need to do anything great for Him . . . I just needed and wanted Him.
I love You so much, Lord. Unfortunately, this realization comes in small doses lately. I can so easily mistake doing things FOR You with being alone WITH You. I can so easily get away from a real heart of worship. Help me desire Your love and Your praise and value it so much more than the praises of men. You are holy!
Help me to be holy, and may my motives remain pure all the days of my life.