At Baxter, we often find ourselves reflecting on 2 Samuel 17 and the Davidic covenant. It shows up, here, also. “Now when David lived in his house, David said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Behold, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.’ But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, ‘Go and tell my servant David, Thus says the Lord: It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in’” (17:1-4). We can certainly commend David for his concern about the ark and its placement; furthermore, he gets an initial approval from Nathan the prophet. But God had other plans. I cannot help but wonder, when Solomon wrote the words of Proverbs 21:1 – “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” – if he might have had this episode, maybe among many, in mind. David had his plans but God had his!
David’s response? He prayed, giving glory to God and acknowledging his greatness and wisdom. Furthermore, though he did not get to do what he wished, he was content to rest in God’s providence and prayed, “And now, O Lord, let the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house be established forever, and do as you have spoken” (17:23). Exactly as we should live our lives!
Thy flock, Thine own peculiar care,
Though now they seem to roam uneyed,
Are led or driven only where
They best and safest may abide.
My favored soul shall meekly learn
To lay her reason at Thy throne;
Too weak Thy secrets to discern,
I’ll trust Thee for my guide alone. -- Ambrose Serle (1786)