The opening verse in 1 Samuel 7 paints a picture of peaceful accomplishment. The king “lived in his house” at “rest from all his surrounding enemies”; almost like the king is found sitting comfortably on the back porch with his friend the prophet, watching the setting sun. What a contrast to the years of betrayal and battle so often portrayed in this king’s psalms. Yet something is amiss: the king asserts that it is not right for him to live in such comfort while the Lord, that is to say the Ark of the Covenant (now back in Jerusalem), resides in a mere tent. The king has a vision: I can build another house, a temple fitting for the Lord wherein the Ark may preside. Even the prophet gives a hasty ‘two thumbs up’. What could possibly be wrong with such a generous gesture?
As we read beyond the vision, we come to the ‘re-vision’. During the night, God corrects Nathan and gives the prophet a message for David. In short, David is not to build a house for the Lord, but rather the Lord is building a house for him! And as we will see, what a house! Eugene Peterson relates this David/Nathan narrative to our own experience: “There are times when our grand human plans to do something for God are seen, after a night of prayer, to be a huge human distraction from what God is doing for us. That’s what Nathan realized that night: God showed Nathan that David’s building plans for God would interfere with God’s building plans for David.”
Something to See:
Human religion may be summarized as human efforts to understand, appease, and honour, God. The Christian faith is rooted in what God does for us! As it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined ,
God has prepared for those who love him”(1 Corinthians 2:9)