“Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.” (2 Samuel 7:11-12)
One of the great hopes that every Jew cherished for around a thousand years before Jesus was born was that God was going to establish a glorious kingdom for Israel that would exceed anything that had been achieved in David’s kingdom centuries before.
In 2 Samuel 7, we discover the origins of this hope. It took place sometime after David had established himself on the throne in Jerusalem. David was in his house and was surveying the palace that he had built for his own residence. As he looked at his new home, he said to himself, “You know, I’m living in a palace and God’s dwelling in a tent. It just doesn’t seem right. Here am I living in splendour and God is in a rather worn-out and shabby tent. I know what I’ll do: I will build Him a magnificent temple which will be a proper dwelling place for His
Although God was pleased that David wanted to honour Him, He was not happy with the proposal (2 Chronicles 6:8-9). In fact, He told David that he was not to do it. Instead, He said, “I will make you a house… I will raise up your offspring after you…and I will establish His kingdom… He shall establish a house for My name and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever.”
God’s response to David emphasises an important principle in the way of salvation. Our own ideas of what is right, even when they are based on good intentions, are often at odds with God’s purposes. What David needed to learn on this occasion is that God is most glorified when He works for us and that we, in turn, contribute nothing to our salvation. This is something that we find hard to grasp. We think that we can please God by doing things for Him. However, in God’s plan to bless the world, He is the one who does all the lifting. We carry none of the load of salvation. As Isaiah says, “since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You who works for those who wait for Him” (64:4).
It is interesting that all the other religions of the world require us to work for God; Christianity alone declares the good news that God works for us. Our problem is that we find this principle counter-intuitive. We feel we must somehow contribute something to the process: prayer, acts of penance, fasting, church attendance, and the like – some heroic action that will catch God’s eye. But God says, “No. You will build Me nothing; I am the one who is going to do something for you.”
How do you respond to the idea that God is the one who saves you by His grace? We learn in 2 Samuel 7:18 about David’s response. He ‘went in and sat before the Lord’. He sat because he was coming to terms with the fact that he could do nothing in and of himself to contribute to the future kingdom. Our futures, too, are determined by God and His grace towards us. Thus our appropriate response, like David’s, is to come before the Lord with a thankful and a grateful heart.