The Tale of Two Houses

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David ben Jesse sat before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting (1 Chronicles 17:16). No different from how he sat at the feet of Jesse his father when he was a child. Today, David is a king secure in his reign. But he continues to come to God as a child. A child who knows he is loved. He does not forget the LORD is his Father.

David wants to build a house for the LORD. David looks at his own house made of fine cedar wood. But the ark of the covenant, representing the presence of the LORD, resides in a tent. “If my house can be so nice, isn’t it a disgrace that I have done nothing for the ark of the LORD? It is the LORD’S presence that has brought me thus far. It is high time I build something for the LORD.”

David consults Nathan the prophet. Nathan immediately recognizes this is a good thing. David has taken the initiative to build a temple to house the presence of the Lord. “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” Nathan replies. But that same night, the Lord tells Nathan he does not want David to build a house for him. Instead, his son Solomon would be the one who builds that house.

This is not a rejection of David. He has shed too much blood and if he were to build the house of the Lord, it will be forever associated with his bloodshed (1 Chronicles 22:8). All life is sacred, even the life of God’s enemies. Here we catch a glimpse of God’s heart even for those who hate God and want to thwart his will.

The Lord then sends Nathan to David with a message. First David must get this understanding of God right. The Lord does not live in a house. His presence on earth, though represented by the ark of the covenant, is not limited by it. Instead his presence is with his people. “I have moved from one tent site to another.” Indeed the Lord says, “I have moved with all the Israelites” through the wilderness from Egypt to this land. (17:5,6). So the first point that David and all Israel must learn is that the Lord is not limited by location. And this lesson will eventually resurface when Israel was sent into exile. The Lord’s presence is no less when the physical house of the Lord is destroyed.

The second thing David learns is God’s goodness to him. “David, you love me and want to give me a house. Do you know how much I have loved you and continues to love you?” That is what God is saying in effect. “You were a shepherd boy when I took you from the fields. You had no prospect of greatness, but I appointed you ruler over my people Israel. You live securely and in prosperity because I have cut off all your enemies. Your name is great now. And my people have a place to live securely and well.” What an amazing God! He blesses David not only with good, but with the blessing of being able to bless others.

But God is not done with his goodness to David. He tells David,

“One day, you will die. You will then have no ability to influence your family in any way.” (David has made a right royal mess of raising his children, but God will bless in spite of the mess.) “One of your sons will be established and he will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever.” And, “I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever”(17:11-14).

“You want to build a house for me? I will build a house for you, a house that you have no control over, and a house that will be infinitely greater than any you can imagine.”

David wants to build a house for the Lord—a physical house, a temple. He wants to do it to thank God for his goodness. But God tells David He will build a house for him—a household. David has already built his own physical house. But David has poor parenting skills and his sons have died. The biggest blot in David’s life is his dysfunctional family. God takes that up with David.

David’s son, Solomon, who would build the temple will eventually die like all men. Yet God says to David, “I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever” (17:14). God has just declared his forever kingdom and his forever king who will come from the line of David. It is from David’s line that the Messiah will come. It is from David’s line that God will establish his forever kingdom.

God allows David to assemble material for the building of the temple. David needs that. He needs to do something tangible for the Lord. And David kept within his boundaries.

There are times when God sets a boundary on what we can do for him. But what he does for us is without measure – like David.

Peter, disciple of Jesus asks him quite honestly, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Peter makes sacrifices and wonders what that means to God.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:27-29).

David’s heart, your heart

Last Sunday was amazing. I presented you a vision of what we can do to better fulfill the Great Commission Christ gives us that we go make disciples. Yishun has opened up. Yishun had never crossed my mind. Yet it becomes such a wonderful fit for us when this opportunity opened up. And your response is what amazes me. I had two concerns: (1) we don’t want to lose people in the move; (2) we don’t have the funds.

The Lord answered my concerns through you. I was too afraid to ask who wants to go and who wants to stay, but when Pastor Tan asked that scary question, you all wanted to go. Your decision is clearly without personal gain. You have to travel farther to a place that may not be as nice as our current premises. But your vision is set on serving Jesus with greater effectiveness.

We will note for posterity that no one asked for donations or loans, but you all came forward spontaneously with pledges for interest free loans. And before the day was out, you pledged 20% of what we need. Your pledges came in fast and unsolicited. I wish more people were there to witness the moving of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Do you know of another time when the congregation jumps in with pledges without being ask? I don’t.

You have David’s heart to build a house for the Lord. And in this case, it will happen, God willing. But I want you to see what God says he will do for David. God will give David what David cannot get on his own. God has already given David a house. All of us already have our homes. We want to contribute to God’s house like David wanting to build God’s house. But God tells us what he has for us is far more than we can imagine.

Perhaps David indulges in imagination of what this eternal kingdom will look like, and what this eternal king will be like. He will never imagine that the line of David will be Jesus, and the kingdom will be over lands he has never even heard of.

Imagine what great blessing for all of you who purposed in your heart to build God’s house. David’s generosity can never match the Lord’s goodness. No wonder David sits before his Father as a child truly loved.

Pastor Peter Eng

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