David and the Temple

In 2 Samuel 7 David wanted to build the Lord a temple. He was living in a nice place, so he wanted to give God a worthy temple. You know, like every other god of every other nation. 

But Yahweh isn’t like every other God. He refused David’s request. He promised to allow David’s successor the opportunity, but he makes it clear all along this was not his request. God didn’t need the shrine.

In refusing David he makes something clear that serves as a reminder: We can’t make God’s name great.

We can boast in the Lord. We can praise the name of the Lord. We can tell others of his great name. But we can’t make his name great.

God alone makes HIS name great.

To demonstrate his power, and his utter lack of need for a national temple, he tells David to give up the idea, but Yahweh would instead make David’s name great. 

It is a good idea to remember WHO is God. We quite simply can NOT “do things” for God to make his name great. He doesn’t require us to make something extravagant for him so that “finally” his name is recognized. Then, in his wonderful power and mercy, he turns around and does something FOR US instead. 

This is the difference in our God. He does not demand what we need to do to “make him great.” He instead pours out his mercy and when our name is “made great,” we realize something very humbling: it’s not us. 

Snapshots of 1 Samuel

I wanted to jot down some quick observations of the characters in 1 Samuel:

Hannah — the picture of desperation. This is a woman who wouldn’t let go until God answered. We need Hannah’s in our day.

Eli — a man losing control. He couldn’t get his sons in line and favored them over the duties of his job as priest. He lost all of it as a result.

Samuel — the picture of learning to hear God. He developed a listening ear and became that oracle for God that had been absent for generations. We need people in our day listening to God. We have far too many “speaking” for God.

Saul — the perfect picture of the saying, “We get the leader we deserve.” Israel clamored for a king and they got a “kingly looking” man. He looked great, but he was insecure, fearful, anxious, manipulating… you get the picture.

David — a man who understood authority. I need more lessons from this guy. He let God take care of the leadership in front of him. He wouldn’t move against Saul when Saul was right in his hands twice. David gives us a picture of learning how to live under authority.

The Mark of a Leader

2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. (1 Sam. 22:2, NIV)

The mark of a great leader isn’t that they seem to be able to hire great people. The mark of a great leader is that they take the people they have and MAKE them great people.

The days we flee to Gath

1 Samuel 21

David was on the run from Saul.

There is a show on cable I’ve not watched but a friend of mine loves it. It’s called “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” This guy named Dog is a bounty hunter in Hawaii. My friend loves that plotline because if you’re a criminal who jumped bail… where do you go? You’re on an island! 

David was in a similar situation. Israel was a small nation. He was running out of places to run. In a panic he ran across the border to Gath. Gath… that names sounds familiar…

This being before the age of Facebook, not everyone knew David’s face when he walked into town, but eventually the rumors ripple the waters: “Isn’t this the guy that killed our hometown hero?”

David was trapped so he faked madness. The king of Gath had enough crazy people running around, so he let David go.

David ended up in Gath out of desperation. He simply didn’t know what else to do.

Psalm 56 is possibly a reflection later in David’s life as he looks back on that episode. We all have times when we look back on certain moments in our lives and reflect. Those are times when we can gain lessons for what to do going forward.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Ps. 56:3, ESV)

David had a “takeaway” from that episode. He had feared and he ran in a direction that just didn’t work out: right into the hands of his enemy. Yet, the Lord was gracious to help him escape.

We all have moments when we flee to Gath. We flee right into the place we fear the most. The place that can trap us and sink us. It was out of fear or panic, but there we are.

And we can cry out to God and in his mercy he can come and deliver us.

Learn from the trip to Gath as David did.

“For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Ps. 56:13, ESV)

 

Your face, Lord, will I seek

We have come to an end of one journey in “Eat This Book.” This summer has been so immensely enjoyable I am hesitant to face what might be “next.” For the entire summer I had the joy of knowing what was ahead in our reading, and also the joy of knowing our congregation together was going to “preach the sermon” so to speak.

I wake up today with the reality of needing to prep for next Sunday. I’ve been spoiled in a way.

But “next” is before us and “next” is exciting. We are gearing up for fall and our LIFE groups.

“Next” is also looking to the life of prayer on Sunday mornings. Having immersed ourselves in the New Testament for an entire summer, we are turning to examples of prayer in the Old Testament.

I reflected on Psalm 27 this morning. I love David’s passion in prayer. I need this passion in prayer. I need the very presence of God.

There is a call going out to us as his people: “Seek his face.”

Will we respond as David did: “Lord, I do seek your face!”

We need reminders in prayer. We will look at Abraham and his example of worship and prayer. We will look at Moses and intercession. We will look at David and intimacy. We will look at Elijah and boldness. We will look at Jeremiah and brokenness.

It is time to turn our hearts to seeking the face of God. The Word directs us. Prayer drives us.

Teach us to pray, dear Lord!