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Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Silly Question

“Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Especially coming from a prophet of God. Normally I’d take Nathan’s advice to the bank. Had I been in King David’s shoes, I’d have gotten cracking on my temple building project post-haste.

Problem is, the prophet was wrong.

Evidence Very Slightly Misinterpreted

Now, Nathan wasn’t wrong about God being with King David. God says so himself: “I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you.” No, that part he totally nailed.

It was the conclusion Nathan drew from the plain evidence of God’s favor in David’s life that turned out to be erroneous. David might have been a good man, even a very good man in many ways, walking characteristically in the ways of God. But it does not necessarily follow that any old idea that might have popped into David’s mind was de facto the will of God.

This one wasn’t. It was not God’s plan for David to build him a house. Sometimes the good guys get it wrong.

A Good Man, Not Quite Right for the Job

Nothing wrong with houses. God had never had one before, but he was more than content to dwell in the one Solomon would eventually build for him. Nothing wrong with David, for the most part. In fact, God was happy to build David a house instead. It simply was not yet God’s time and, more importantly, David was not the man God had chosen to do the job.

Without being unnecessarily dramatic about it, we should point out that Nathan the prophet fell down on the job here. No harm done, happily — God stepped in and straightened him out the very same night. But real prophets speak God’s words, not their own opinion, learned though it may be. Nathan had stepped off the reservation for a moment and given uncharacteristically poor guidance to his king.

Take It to the Lord in Prayer

It’s just a few verses of Bible history, but doesn’t it remind us of the necessity to be continually in prayer? To take every decision before the Lord and give him opportunity to weigh in on our plans? Not to charge off doing things — even very good, potentially Christ-honoring things — without first committing our way to him?

I’ll be honest: sometimes I have found myself thinking uncharitable thoughts about those crusty old Christians we all know whose first reaction to a great new idea is “Let’s just pray about that for a while”. They almost seem to me to be a little bit slow off the mark, even obstructionist. And it’s not impossible, I suppose, that one or two of them may simply do it reflexively, or worse, to impress us with their piety.

On the other hand, what if they’re just doing what Nathan failed to do here? Which is better: to charge off on our own and find out later we’ve gone in entirely the wrong direction, or to wait on the Lord for a few days or weeks so that we can act (or not act, as the case may be) in confidence?

Silly question, right?

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