Have you ever had a nagging sense of guilt about something, but then it turned out that you had been worrying about something that was not really that important? This is what is happening to David. He realises that he has built himself a big house, so he thinks he should build a house for God. We could paraphrase God’s response like this:
“You say that you want to build a house (temple) for me, but instead I will build a house (dynasty) for you.”
This is a turning point in the Bible. Up until now the story has been all about God and Israel. But now it is looking forward to a kingdom that will last forever. This passage is ultimately fulfilled with the coming of Jesus. Jesus is a descendant of David and his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
We can learn a lot from David’s attitude in this prayer. Firstly, he has an attitude of humility towards God. He is amazed that God has given such an incredible promise to a mere mortal and he acknowledges God’s greatness. And secondly, he prays a prayer that God wants to answer. God has already given this promise and he prays that God’s promise will come true. He is anticipating the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray – Your kingdom come!
Is David a war criminal?
David kills two thirds of the Moabites, cuts the hamstrings of most of the horses of the King of Zobah and kills 22,000 Aramaeans. Rather than judging David by 21st century standards, we could consider these events in the context of the whole of the Old Testament. God has already promised the kingdom to David and he is now dealing with Israel’s near neighbours who are also claiming the land for themselves. David is decisive, but not cruel by the standards of his era.
David was not a lone ranger. He had a team around him that helped him to lead the people of Israel. Order and organisation are important in any large group of people, whether it is a kingdom, a church or a workplace.