Pay Attention to the Details

This past week at Refuge’s Gathering we continued our series on the Story of God. We talked about the judges and kings in the redemptive history of Israel. Toward the end of the message I talked about king David’s desire to build a House for God—The Temple. I did not get a chance or have enough time to talk about all that happens in the story of the Temple.

The story of this begins in II Samuel 7 when David is hanging out in the home he built for himself and says, “’See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.’” (II Samuel 7.2) The prophet says that David can do something about that because “the LORD is with you.” But immediately God says, “Hold up Nathan, tell David this” (this will be a lengthy quote):

“Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. 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 shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son...And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”—II Samuel 7.5-16 ESV

What is God saying here? I think He is saying a couple of things we should make sure we hide in our hearts. First, God alone is God. He reminds David that it was NOT his military might, his righteousness, his morality, but God alone who put David in the palace he now lives in. David was a lowly shepherd boy. The runt of the litter, and God called him from there to be the king of a nation—Israel. God defeated David’s enemies. First and foremost God is reminding David "I am God and you are NOT". This is an important piece to remember, because like David many of us have great aspirations. We may even want to accomplish great things for God and His name's sake, but we need to be reminded we are not potters. We are the clay and God is the potter (Jeremiah 18.1-6) and He can do with us what He wants. It is not wrong to have God-sized desires that seek to glorify God with everything we have, but we have to remember at the end of the day God will do what He wants with our efforts.

For instance, I have been working in the area of church planting, vocationally and non-vocationally, for over 10 years. I have friends who have planted churches that have never grown more than 90 people, others have made it to 300, other 500, and others who are starting to see over a 1000 people attending their church on a weekly basis. I have tried and tried to learn from all of these men what worked and didn’t work. I have sought the counsel of men who have HUGE churches and tried using their suggestions, and have sought the counsel of smaller church pastors and tried to use their suggestions. I have seen stupid, lazy church planters have churches that take off, but I have also seen faithful men who are very bright plant small churches that never get very big. This where the theology of remembering that God builds the house can be VERY helpful. I am not trying to excuse away poor efforts, but I am reminding you business professionals, church planters, mothers, or whatever calling God has for you, that God builds what He wants for His Glory and not ours.

Some church planters with big churches can forget that other guys could be using the same exact techniques as them and it just doesn’t have the same result because God does not want it to. To the smaller church pastor or planter they need to remember that just because one guy's church blew up and grew rapidly does not mean he compromised the Gospel, didn’t care about doctrine, or whatever else excuse we might be tempted to believe. God does what He wants with our efforts. That is His sovereign choice.

The second thing we want to notice is after that reminder God recognizes David’s desire to glorify God, and wants to build an even greater nation through his “offspring”. God says one of David’s offspring will have a forever kingdom. This offspring shall build God a house for God’s names sake.

The next king of Israel after David will be Solomon. We are told later in Scripture David will not be allowed to build the Temple because:

“You know that David my father could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side. There is neither adversary nor misfortune.”—I Kings 5.3-4
Then he called for Solomon his son and charged him to build a house for the LORD, the God of Israel. David said to Solomon, “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house to the name of the LORD my God. But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth. Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.’—I Chronicles 22.6-10

It would seem that this offspring that is supposed to build the Temple for God is Solomon, right? The problem is we have to be studious Bible readers and pay attention to all that God requires. When we read about the beginning of Solomon’s kingship we see some major RED FLAGS. For instance let’s look at what it says in I Kings 3.1; 11:1 and II Chronicles 1.14-16:

Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh's daughter and brought her into the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the LORD and the wall around Jerusalem.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done.
Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. And the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah. And Solomon's import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, and the king's traders would buy them from Kue for a price.

Moses wrote about what the kings of Israel are supposed to live in Deuteronomy 17.14-27:

“When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.”

WHOA! I love the irony of the Bible sometimes. Solomon is known for “his wisdom” but clearly this man was a FOOL. His whole life is full of disobedience. So what does this show us? First, it shows Solomon does not fulfill the promise God made to David. This is NOT the “offspring” who would build God a house and have a kingdom that will last forever. Don’t get me wrong Solomon builds a Temple, but it is not THE TEMPLE. The OFFPSPRING is Jesus Christ!

The second thing to note is to be careful when we study God’s word, and make sure the people we admire have biblically appropriate admiration. If we are not careful we might admire someone who is biblically considered a fool. We must know God’s Word and instructions well, so we will not look to people who are slowly leading us down bad paths. Most of these things Solomon did early into his office as king of Israel. Be careful friends who you admire. None of them will ever measure up to Jesus, and I know we know that, but let’s also truly live that way.

J. Pope - The Doxa Dude