Let Us Joyously Serve Our God!
O Lord God, You are the giver of every good gift! You have filled our lives with Your blessings, both for our bodies and our souls. You have given us food to eat, clothes to wear, homes in which to live, and opportunities to lead productive and useful lives. You have provided us a Savior—Your own Son, forgiven our sins, and welcomed us into Your family. Move us, O Lord, to worship You this day with joy, sincerity, and thankfulness. Amen.
Individuals drawn to Christianity may not always be drawn for the right reasons. Simon the Sorcerer was drawn by Philip’s preaching, but then offered the apostles money to secure the power to perform miracles. Peter admonished him strongly and he was led to proper repentance and faith.
Jesus came into this world to fulfill the will of His Father in heaven. John the Baptizer bore witness to the fact that Jesus had been sent by the Father. Jesus’ works, however, were an even greater witness to the fact that He was the promised Savior in whom we are to place our trust.
Text: 1 Samuel 7:1-16
Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” Then Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” But it happened that night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, “Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”’ Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth. Moreover, I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.
In Christ Jesus, whose love for us moves us with joy to love in return, dear fellow redeemed:
The situation can and often does arise at different times in our lives. It happens when newlyweds, like Cassie and Ben Allen, walk down a sandy beach hand in hand thinking about how wonderful God has been to bring them together in love for the rest of their lives. It happens when parents, like Amy and Phil Klammer, return from the hospital with a newborn baby pondering how gracious God is to entrust to them three precious little ones. It happens when many of you go up north on vacation and sit on a cabin porch with a cup of hot coffee as the morning sunlight filters through the trees considering how awesome God is to create such peace and beauty. What situation am I talking about? It is the same situation in which King David found himself as our text opens. Surrounded by the blessings of the LORD, he felt compelled to respond with some act of service. He just wanted to do something for God in return—just to say, “Thank you!”
My dear friends, King David was feeling what the apostles Paul and John would later express. Paul wrote the Corinthians: “The love of Christ compels us (to)…live…for Him” (2 Corinthians 5:14), while John wrote to all of the first century Christians: “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our God is so good and so gracious, that even in spite of the troubles that upon occasion enter our lives in this sin-filled world, we still upon reflection cannot but respond to Him with a joyous desire to serve and thereby to say “thank-you!” LET US JOYOUSLY SERVE OUR GOD with thankful, but informed hearts and with hearts focused on His love!
It was relatively early in David’s reign when the event in our text took place. David had spent many years as a fugitive during King Saul’s reign. After Saul’s death, David was anointed king by the tribe of Judah just as God had promised. Seven years later, he was embraced by all Israel. At that point the LORD enabled David to subdue the Philistines, make alliances with the Phoenicians, conquer Jerusalem making it his capital city, and build an ornate palace in which to reside. As he considered all of the blessings God had poured into his life, David became convinced that he had to find some way to express his thankfulness. As he thought about the comforts of his residence, he could not help but compare them to the portable tent, which formed the Tabernacle of God and place of worship for all Israel. He decided to show his gratitude to God by building a temple truly worthy of the One, who created the heavens and the earth and who had promised to send a Savior to deliver mankind from sin and death. David had a very close relationship with God’s prophet, Nathan. He, therefore, called him into his presence to consult with him and to announce his intentions. David was excited—he wanted to serve and spoke to Nathan with joyous anticipation of all of his plans. Nathan, who as any pastor loves to see his members excited about serving the Lord, agreed this was a most wonderful idea! He encouraged him to proceed immediately!
That night, however, the LORD spoke to Nathan and informed him that he should tell David not to proceed with his construction plans. As subsequent history would prove, having David build His temple was not part of God’s plan for David’s life, but rather was part of His plan for Solomon’s life. God takes great joy in the love and faithfulness of His children, but as this situation illustrates not every plan of God’s children is in accordance with His will. The LORD would point out through Isaiah hundreds of years later, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). The LORD had a reason for refusing to allow David to built His temple. The temple, which represented His gracious presence among men, was not to be built by a man of war, such as David, but rather by a man of peace, like his son Solomon (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:2-3). David humbly accepted the LORD’s decision and sought others ways to express His thanks to the LORD!
My dear friends, as we ponder the many blessings that God has poured into our lives and we consider how we might best say “thank you” to Him, let us plan carefully. Our good intentions at times may not always be in accordance with God’s will for our lives, even as David’s were not as we see in our text. How can we be certain that our plans to glorify God’s name are pleasing and acceptable in His sight? If you were to come to me with your plans, as David came to Nathan, I cannot guarantee that He will speak to me in the night as He did to Nathan! May I suggest the following approach: 1) As you plan your works of service to God consult the word of God. Are your plans in accordance with the expressed will of God in Scripture? If they are not, then you know that your intended works will not be pleasing to God. If, on the other hand, your plans are in accordance with God’s expressed will proceed with caution. 2) As you plan your works of service to God communicate with God regularly and repeatedly in prayer. Open your heart to Him and seek His wisdom, for He promises to give wisdom to everyone who asks (cf. James 1:5). 3) As you plan your works of service, consult with your Christian brethren. The Bible and church history are filled with accounts of Christians consulting with one another, reviewing…revising…and finally determining the wisest course of action when seeking to serve the LORD. This is true whether it involves a building project like the proposed temple, a mission project such as the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, or a program of Christian charity. Yes, LET US JOYOUSLY SERVE OUR GOD, but let us do so with thankful, but informed hearts!
Let us do so, as well, with hearts focused on His love! What is most striking in my mind about God’s response to David’s plans was His redirection of David’s thoughts away from his plans to God’s blessings! God wants us to recognize that the emphasis of His kingdom is always upon His works, not our own. Consequently, the LORD instructed Nathan to remind David of everything He had done for him, and then to inform him of all that the LORD still planned to do! He had taken David “from the sheepfold” and made him Israel’s ruler. He had been with David to “cut off” all his enemies. He had made David’s name “great” among the surrounding nations.
These blessings, however, paled in comparison to the blessings the LORD still intended to give David. The LORD told Nathan to tell David, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” These words of prophecy, as so many Old Testament prophecies, had both an immediate and an ultimate fulfillment. The immediate fulfillment was to give David an heir to his throne, that heir being Solomon. He would build the temple David had just proposed to build. The LORD promised David that he would not remove his son or his family from ruling Israel, should Solomon sin, as He had Saul and his family, but rather He promised David’s throne would be “established forever.” Therein lies the key to the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy, for Solomon did not rule forever, nor has the family of David ruled over physical Palestine forever. Rather David’s “greater Son” was Jesus, for Jesus was a physical descendant of David. He came as the God incarnate. The temple building, as the Tabernacle before it, represented what Jesus was—God in the midst of His people! Unlike Solomon, Jesus never committed any iniquity, yet He was chastened by His Father, who made Him to be sin for us (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:19-21). After He arose from the dead, Jesus ascended into heaven and assumed the throne of His father David (cf. Luke 1:32), while receiving “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). That throne will last forever and His kingdom will have no end.
It was upon these blessings that the LORD wanted David to focus, so that his faith might be strengthened as he set about accomplishing those things God had planned for him. It was David’s loving contemplation of God’s abundant grace that then led David, as the Old Testament scriptures reveal, to spend much of his time as an older man gathering all the materials necessary for the temple that was then built by Solomon after his death.
My dear friends, as we seek to respond to God’s love with works of service ourselves, let us remember always to do so with hearts focused on His love. He does fill our lives with His grace, evidences of which we see every day both large and small. Yet, as with David, the LORD wants us to focus in particular upon the grace He gives us through Jesus Christ. We teach our little children to sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know!” God wants us all to know and feel that love. He wants us to understand how incredible it is to be known and loved by God from eternity, to understand the depth of our Savior’s commitment to us—a commitment which took Him to the cross, to understand the extent of His providential care, which can and does take into account of every detail in our lives, and finally to understand the ultimate plans and goals of God for each of us—taking us to heaven. Therein we will find confidence. Thereby we will be motivated to love both God and our fellowmen in return. LET US JOYOUSLY SERVE OUR GOD! Let us do so with thankful, but informed hearts! Let us do so with hearts focused on His love!
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting