This is the second installment in a three-part series on 1 and 2 Samuel.
At the beginning of 2 Samuel 7, we see King David, triumphant, victorious, finally at home in his palace of cedar. Always aware of the source of his blessings, he gets the idea to do something nice for God – after all, the ark is still sitting in a meager tent. David tells the prophet Nathan he sees this discrepancy; Nathan tells David, whatever you’re thinking of doing, do it, for God is with you.
But that night God visits Nathan and has a different story for him to tell David. “Go and tell my servant David, This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?” God tells of His love and plan for humanity. I can’t do His words justice here: if you’re not familiar with this beautiful chapter (or even if you are), you might want to pick it up now….
God does not speak directly to David. Even in this moment where Nathan tells David sure, that’s a good idea, God does not interfere. He waits until later that night to give Nathan the full picture, so Nathan can pass it along to David. This is a crucial point for me to remember, especially when I’m badgering God to speak to me in my meditation. God rarely comes down with BIG WORDS in all caps and perfect English to get His message to me. Instead, He reaches me through other people; when I am asking for a solution to one of my problems, it often comes from someone I see that day, maybe in a random, off-the-cuff comment that puts my problem into perspective. In this chapter of Samuel, God is showing us we need other people to hear His message.
And God does not let David forget who’s in charge, who is the true source. “Are you the one to build me a house?” The footnotes for 7:7 in the NIV explain how David is continuing the Pagan idea that gods want humans as builders of their temples on earth. God, however, has no interest in this. He does not need people to build Him a house; His definition of house is so far beyond what we can comprehend, anyway. Our tasks as given by God are pretty clear – when He wants something from us, He lets us know. And His love for us does not depend on any gifts we might try to give Him.
I need to remember this, in those moments when I feel inadequate and undeserving of God’s love. I didn’t earn God’s love. It’s not my job to build Him a house. My job is to do what He asks of me; to love others as I have loved you. Sometimes, I think it would be easier to just build the house.
Felicia Schneiderhan is a freelance writer based in Duluth, Minnesota.