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A Deferred Desire

“But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, ‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in?”’” (2 Samuel 7:4-5).

Once David was finally established as king over all Israel, one of the first things he turned his attention to was a temple for God. He looked at his own magnificent palace, and the contrast between it and the tent that housed the ark of the covenant troubled him. Why should he live in such a great house while God had next to nothing?

But God had other ideas. Through the prophet Nathan, God told David that it would not be his task to build a temple. That would fall to his son, who would rule after him in peace. But that wasn’t the end of the message. Because of David’s genuine faithfulness to God, God blessed him. He promised him an heir forever, vowing eternal loyalty to David’s house.

God’s instructions are a bit surprising. David’s idea of a temple was for God’s glory. He just wanted to honor God; Scripture doesn’t hint at any desire for his own glory. Yet God told him not to do it. It didn’t matter to Him if the ark of His presence was in a tent or in the finest house. What He wanted most of all was the obedience of His people. David’s desire was good, and God honored him for it, but now was not the time.

We too might have wonderful ideas of things we can do for God. We see needs, and we dream of how to meet them. But as David’s son Solomon wrote many years later, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Our plans must always align with God’s will. Even if they’re good and for God’s glory, He might still say no. He has His own timeline and plan, and we must always act as He directs. He who sees the future knows exactly what to do!

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