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What is intrinsically good, and perceived to be for God's glory, is not necessarily God's will

Now, looking at this subject 'The Disorientated Heart', we're turning to 2 Samuel chapter 7. We were in 1 Samuel chapter 1 last week, looking at the character of Hannah and her broken heart, and how she broke her heart because she did not have a child. And we saw that that was God's way of bringing Hannah to the throne of grace and answering her prayer and giving her hope and more faith in her God. But we're turning this morning to the second book of Samuel and chapter 7 and we're going to read from verse 1.

"And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies; that the king [David] said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee. And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar? Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in 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; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, and as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David. Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?".

The story of David is a complex and quite a long one, that we find paved across 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. You'll remember that the story begins where David, the shepherd boy, is out looking after his sheep and Samuel, the prophet of God who we were thinking of his birth last week, comes looking for a new king to be anointed in succession to Saul. Saul had lost his anointing because he had disobeyed God. But here we have the story of David - and you'll remember, Samuel went down all the sons of [Jesse] and could not find the one to anoint. He asked Jesse, 'Have you another son?', and Jesse directed him out to David, looking after the sheep. David was small, David was young, David was a strange one, it was an obscure choice - yet the Spirit of God was saying to the heart of Samuel: 'This is he, this is Mine anointed, this is the King of all Israel'. He was not the obvious choice, but he was God's choice.

David was small, David was young, David was a strange one, it was an obscure choice

You'll remember from that day - when God took His anointing off Saul and placed it upon the child David - that, from that day on, David received persecution from the hand of Saul. You'll remember how David found grace in the eyes of the Israelites when he defeated the great giant, Goliath. You'll remember that he was the greatest general in all of Saul's armies - and from many of his victories he would come back to Jerusalem and the shout would be: 'Saul has slain his thousands, but David has slain his tens of thousands'. And Saul's indignation boiled in jealousy and in hatred of one, whom half of his heart loved and the other half of his heart hated. Because of that David had to flee from the sight of Saul, and we continue to read the story over and over again until David is placed, eventually, on the throne in Jerusalem - and David becomes king over all Israel. And God gives David victory over all of his enemies - look at chapter 8 of 2 Samuel, you see that, that all the nations that surrounded the borders of Israel and Jerusalem were defeated by the hand of David. God gave him victory, God established his kingdom - and now we see him, and in verse 1 of chapter 7, he is sitting in his house, sitting in the palace, he has rested from all his battles and his labours and he is sitting leisurely, thinking and meditating upon what will be his next act.

This passage of scripture is a famous one within the Old Testament - it is where we find the Davidic covenant, made by God to David, established. And there are over 40 chapters and passages of the Bible related to this one passage of scripture that we have read. There were five covenants made with the people of God, we find in the Bible. First of all there was Noahic covenant in Genesis, made to Noah. Then there was the Abrahamic covenant, then there was the Levitical and priestly covenant, and then we find the Davidic covenant - and the next covenant to come along is in the New Testament, alluded to by Jeremiah: 'I will make a new covenant with you'.

He has glorified God through his victories on the battlefield and now he wants to glorify God in a different way

The story that we've read together today is a very complex and misunderstood one. You have David sitting in leisure, sitting resting in his palace from all his labours, with zeal in his heart for God - and he wants to glorify God. He has glorified God through his victories on the battlefield and now he wants to glorify God in a different way and he turns to the prophet Nathan and says: 'I've a desire in my heart to glorify God. I live in a palace made with cedar, but the ark of God is sitting outside in a tent, uncovered by a ceiling of cedar. Why should I live in my house and the ark God be out in the open?'. Nathan tells him: 'You do whatever is in your heart. The desire that you find within your soul, you carry it out' - and we find that Nathan goes away from the presence of David and he goes to the quietness and the stillness of his own home, where God's still small voice can speak to him, and God tells Nathan: 'No! David is not to build the temple. Go back to David and tell him that he is not to build the temple'. David, who had this zeal within his heart to build a house for God, you can imagine how devastated he would have felt for Nathan to come and tell him: 'You're not the man, you're not to do it and it's not to happen now in your day'. But it's interesting, as we read this passage, that God tells David: 'I'm going to do something greater. I'm going to give you promises and blessings, I'm making a covenant with you now that will make your heart jump for joy at the prospect of what is ahead and what I'm going to do through you and your seed'.

So, this is the passage that we have before us - and there four types of heart that I want you to see through this passage. The first is found in verses 1 to 2, and it's the heart of David, it is a zealous heart. Now I want to make this preface to you before we go any further, and it's this, listen: what is intrinsically good, and perceived to be for God's glory, is not necessarily God's will. Let me repeat that: what is intrinsically good, and perceived to be for God's glory, is not necessarily God's will. In verses 1 and 2 we have a zealous heart of David - and this amazes me - David has finished all his labours and his battles, he is sitting in his palace and what is he doing? He is thinking of God! He is thinking of ways and means by which he can glorify God, he can uplift the name of God, he can praise God within the nation and within the world. My own heart is convicted at that thought, for in my times of leisure, in my times where I leave off from work, often they can be times that are saturated and delved in sin and self. But not David!

We are moulded my friends - and listen to this, young people! - we will be moulded by the company that we keep

David was sitting upon his throne thinking of a zealous desire to glorify God - and you see that the company that David kept within his leisure, he kept the company of God's prophet. Nathan! And we are moulded my friends - and listen to this, young people! - we will be moulded by the company that we keep. David was moulded by Nathan. And David's ambition, like many commentators would say, is not a selfish ambition, what is in David's heart here is a righteous ambition, it is a pure, holy desire to glorify God by building Him a temple and by putting the ark of the covenant which is the significant presence of God Himself, within that ark, in a beautiful place of worship, a beautiful sanctuary. It was good for David to have that desire within his heart. It wasn't simply to build a name for himself but it was a deep motive of heart, he had a love for God, he had a deep desire to serve and to glorify God. And here David, at 40 years of age, is wanting, and is inspired by the highest emotions possible, to bring a great name to his God.

He had achieved his house of cedar, but now he wanted a temple for God. I do not wish to be critical - for I, like Paul, am the chief of sinners - but let me say this: that so many folk go into the ministry and go into mission work, and they build a house of cedar for themselves but nothing for God. We can do that in our own lives, where we begin to build empires for our name and for our reputation and for ourselves, yet the worship and praise and respect and reverence of God is missing - not David! David, as he sat resting from his labours, decided: 'I will find a way to glorify God'. His heart was full of zeal, he had a zealous heart and one of the reasons was because of earth's blessings that had been given to him. He's sitting in a palace, a beautiful place, he has rested from all his enemies, he has been lavished prosperity and success by the hand of God - but it is amazing to me, as he received all these earthly blessings from God, his success did not spoil his sanctification! His wealth did not spoil his walk with God. The man was right when he said: 'It takes a steady hand to carry a full cup' - and David was endeavouring, successfully, in all his blessing and success and prosperity to see the smile of God still upon him.

It's very easy to put God into some kind of biblical scheme and keep Him there, and not let Him out - be careful!

So, if this is the case, how did he make a wrong decision? It's very interesting to me that, if you turn to Deuteronomy - turn to Deuteronomy for a moment - Deuteronomy chapter 12. We're often told that there are four ways of knowing the guidance of God in our life, and I would adhere to that. But can I bring a gracious warning to you today? Be careful of simplifying the work of God. It's very easy to put God into some kind of biblical scheme and keep Him there, and not let Him out - be careful! The four things are often said to be: the word of God, the witness of the Spirit within your soul, counsel of other believers and circumstances. But I want you to see today - and these are only my thoughts - that David had all four of these, yet he made a wrong decision. Deuteronomy chapter 12 and verse 10 and 11: 'But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord' - scripture, and I believe perhaps that David had this scripture in mind, as he was sitting resting, meditating upon the word of God. 'God has said, once we cross Jordan into the promised land, once we've defeated all our enemies, He has promised that He will make a place for His name to dwell' - the word of God.

If you turn to 1 Chronicles 16, you don't need to do it now, but you find within 1 Chronicles 16 that the circumstances seem to point to this thing. David had appointed certain ministers to minister before the ark of God in offerings and various things - and the temple service that you find, right up to the time of the Lord Jesus, and indeed after Lord Jesus until the destruction of Herod's temple in 70AD, that service that went on and on and on by the priests was established by David. He had already established it, he was waiting for a place to be where the name of God would be, and he was actively creating the circumstances around him to facilitate that goal and that zeal.

As Mr Pink says: 'Thousands of professing Christians think more about the welfare of their pet dogs than they do in seeing the need, and spend more time in the upkeep of their motor cars than they do in support of the work of the Lord'

It's amazing, isn't it? There were 24,000 Levites around the home of David; there were 4,000 musicians; 4,000 on guard at the ark of the covenant - many of them needed housing, many of them needed a building to work in and to carry out their sacrifices - and David probably, looking at the word of God, looking at the circumstances around him of the need that there was, said to himself: 'It must be time for God to create a house for Himself!'. Scripture, circumstances, and there was the witness in his own heart. He had a zeal in his own heart, a desire to see God dwell in a permanent house and not in a tent. Interesting, isn't it? It was not only because of earth's blessings, but it was for heaven's glory - God didn't have a house and I have a house! As Mr Pink says: 'Thousands of professing Christians think more about the welfare of their pet dogs than they do in seeing the need, and spend more time in the upkeep of their motor cars than they do in support of the work of the Lord' - but not David! David had a zealous heart, a heart for God's glory!

Now look, we have a handy knack of criticising believers in scripture for their failures - but I want you to see that we have nothing to criticise David for here today. He had a zealous heart, but look at this secondly: he had a misguided heart. Verse 3, because Nathan, who was meant to guide him in the right direction, I believe did so in a certain way, but failed in another way. Nathan said to the king: 'Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee'. Now this story is mirrored and echoed in 2 Chronicles chapter 6 on, and in verse 8 of that chapter you find that God said this to David: 'Thou didst well in that it was in thine heart' - do you see this? David wants to build a temple, Nathan tells him: 'You go and do all that's in your heart' - and God, later on down the line, says: 'What was in your heart was good, David!'. So what was wrong? To put it mildly, we studied the heart and saw that it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked - who can know it? This thing was good, this thing was to the glory of God, this thing seemed to be a need of the day - but this thing, at this moment in time was not the will of God in His divine counsels. David had a heart after good at this moment, but he didn't have a heart after God.

He had the noble guidance of Nathan, 'You go and do what's in your heart'. But the tragedy is that neither Nathan - it's not recorded here - neither Nathan nor David consulted God. It's a tragedy for me to think that I could be running hither and thither, doing good for the Lord, without consulting God about what is His will. Now what Nathan did that was right in this verse was: he didn't discourage David, he encouraged him to do what was in his heart, because it was good within his heart. But at that moment in time, for him to build the temple was not God's will. My friends, can I encourage you today - that we run to one and another to get guidance, to get counsel, and that is good for in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom - but let us go to God! For if we fail to go to God, we run the risk of doing what is good and not doing what is God's. They failed to consult the noble Guide - and the noble guide of our hearts is God! And in the heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, the only compass that puts us in the right direction is the Spirit of the living God!

In the heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, the only compass that puts us in the right direction is the Spirit of the living God!

When Nathan got into his quiet little home, sat down in the presence of God, and listened for the still small voice of God, he heard God say: 'Go tell My servant, Thus saith the Lord: thou shalt not build Me a house to dwell in'. He had a zealous heart, he had a misguided heart - but thirdly: he had a redirected heart. In verses 4 to 7, look at it, God said to him two things, He asked him two questions. First of all: 'David, are you the one to build that house?' - secondly He asked the question: 'Why have I never asked another leader in Israel to build a house, if I wanted a house?'. Now to put it down to our level, what God was saying to David was two things: 'Not you!' and 'Not now!'. 'Nathan, go and tell David it's not going to be him, and it's not going to be now at all' - and this must be the hardest thing, I imagine, to hear from the lips of Almighty God, where God says to a heart that is full of zeal, full of enthusiasm, full of a desire for the glory of God: 'No! It's not you and it's not now!'.

How hard it must be to hear the words, 'Not you', when you've had a vision of what you want to do for God. You've dreamed dreams about what God, you feel, wants to do for you - I've watched in amazement at the Olympic Games this week, especially the rowing the other evening, Friday evening. And there was the coxless pairs men's race, and the two of them - as far as they were concerned - had it in the bag, and when they got there at the end of the race and they came fourth, and they expected to come first - they stood before the cameras in tears, not knowing what to say! Because the message was: 'Not you!'. It's a hard message to take, it's the message that John the Baptist had to imbibe in his soul when he said these words: 'He', Jesus Christ, the one I am preparing the way for, the one I am making the path straight for, 'He must increase and I must decrease'.

I wonder what I would do if God said to me: 'David, your ministry is going to go down. It's going to start off well but it's going to continue to depreciate in the eyes of men - and there's going to be another's going to come along and take your place' - and if that was God's will for me, I have to wonder: could I accept that? John the Baptist accepted it: 'He must increase and I must decrease'. It's an awful thing to turn from 'I am the one' to 'I am not the one'. God would say to all of our hearts today: 'Thinkest thou great things of thyself? Think them not'. I read a wonderful story this week about a man called Charles Simeon, he was a great preacher in King's College, in Holy Trinity in Cambridge. As Hugh Evans Hopkins, his biographer, tells us - listen to this: 'When, in 1808, Simeon's health broke down and he had to spend some 8 months recuperating on the Isle of Wight, it fell to his curate, Thomason, to step into the gap and preach as many as five times on a Sunday. He surprised himself and everyone else by developing a preaching ability almost equal to his minister, at which Simeon - totally free from any suggestion of professional jealousy - gently rejoiced. He quoted the scripture: 'He must increase but I must decrease', and he told a friend, 'Now I see why I have been laid aside, I bless God for it'.

How do we react when God says 'No'?

How do we react when God says 'No'? Maybe you're in illness today and you feel God's saying, 'No'. Maybe you're bereaved and God just doesn't seem to take it away. Maybe there's problems in the home and God seems to be saying, for this moment of time, 'The answer is no'. Maybe you're left on your own and you would long for a partner in life and - as far as you can see, through scripture and circumstances and the witness of what is happening around you - God seems to be saying 'No' to your heart. It's hard to take that 'No'! It's hard to take it when it's 'No' and it's 'Not now' - for we of all creatures are the most impatient, aren't we? We want everything now, on the plate while we wait, and the hardest thing to do is to wait on God when God says 'Wait', because it means we can't do anything. We can't pray to bring something, we can't work to bring the thing, because God has told us just to wait on Him, to be still and to know that He is God.

But this is the wonderful thing I want you to see today: that David's disappointment was His appointment. David's disappointment was God's great appointment. David wanted to build a human temple for God, and God was saying to the heart of David, 'No! You're not going to build Me a house, I'm going to build you a house!'. Do you get it? What do we do when God says 'No'? Do we sulk? Do we despair? Do we doubt? Do we turn our back on God? Do we run headlong into the world again? What do we do? For everything depends on our reaction to God when God says 'No', even when the zeal is in our hearts. How did David react? Now look at this: God told him 'No' - and I think this is beautiful, for if you look down this passage you will not find one negative in the answer of God, He said 'No' in Chronicles, but not in this passage, because God was trying to ease His servant down in his zeal. He didn't want to let him crash, and all his views and visions be shattered in a moment - but He cushions His word in promises, in assurance of His grace and of His love.

I think this is beautiful, for if you look down this passage you will not find one negative in the answer of God

Look at it: what did David do? It says that he went, verse 18, in before the Lord and sat down in his tent - you see, God reminded him of where he'd come from, God reminded him: 'You were in the sheepcote and I brought you out, and I anointed you, and I brought you from bad things to great things'. And God would remind us today: 'Do you remember where you came from? Do you remember your sin and your iniquity before Me? Do you remember where I brought you from and the heights that I brought you to? Do you remember all the blessings that I have blessed you [with] in the past? Well listen, if I've blessed you like that in the past, even though I am saying 'No' to you today, I want to reassure your heart that I've something greater for you!'. Do you believe that? Do you believe what we've been studying in months gone by, in Habakkuk? 'I will show you a work, I work that I am working in your day, that if you saw it, you wouldn't believe it!'. Do you believe what we studied in Ephesians 3:20 - that God is able to do exceeding, abundantly more than we ask or think? And what David was thinking, probably, in his mind is this: 'I'm going to die and this temple - I'll never see the temple!'. Maybe you're here today and you're thinking, 'Will I die and never see my son saved, my daughter come to Christ?' - my friend, what does it matter, if God does it?

And do you know what David's answer was, and his reaction? We read in 1 Chronicles 29 and verses 2 and 3, that from that moment on he began with all his might to gather together materials for the temple. God told him, 'No, you can't do it'. So he said, 'Well, who's going to do it?', and God said, 'Your son', so he says, 'Well, I'll help him with all my might'. That's some spirit, isn't it? I'm led to believe that there is a chapel in Paris and it is dreary, it is drab, it is downcast on the outside, it is absolutely filthy to look upon - and if you didn't realise what was inside it you would never go into it. It's called the Chapel of the Saints - but if you walk into that chapel in all its blackness and darkness, and turn in a certain direction to the stained-glass window, you see the greatest stained-glass window in the world - the famous 'Rose Window'. Isn't it wonderful? Because, as you stand with your back to the light outside, you cannot see any beauty in it - but when you are brought into the sanctuary of that place, and the light shines in front of you and through that window, you can see one of the [most] beautiful creations that man has ever created - and it is the same with God, my friend! Listen: David didn't know why God said 'No' - and maybe you don't! - but several years later God brought David in and told him why. 'You were to fight for Me David, but your son will build for Me. You have blood on your hands but this temple is to be a place of peace and rest, so you can't build it'. And David took the word of God - and let me reassure you today: there will come a day, whether you're here on earth at the time or whether you're gone into glory, when it'll all be made plain.

Let me reassure you today: there will come a day, whether you're here on earth at the time or whether you're gone into glory, when it'll all be made plain

I heard a lovely story, and I finish with this, of E. M. Bounds that I've been encouraging you to read his book, 'Power Through Prayer'. E.M. Bounds had two sons, one of his sons was a believer and the other was not. E. M. Bounds died at the age of 90 - and his son that was not saved, lived to the age of 90 and didn't get saved until he was 90! But Bounds had prayed, God had promised and God provided. My friend, whether it come in your lifetime or not, God knows the desire that is in your heart and He will give it.

Let us pray. It is my understanding of scripture that it will be, on that great day, David who will be credited for the building of the temple - because of the zeal that was in his heart. Even though it was denied him, God will bless him for it - and God says to us today, if we have a zeal after Him, He says: 'I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'. If we put our hand in His hand, no matter what 'No's' we may hear from Him, we can know that we are safe in His will.

Our Father, we thank Thee that You reassured David's heart. You told him, 'I have blessed you, I will bless you and in My time, and My way, I will do a thing that you couldn't even imagine'. We haven't had time to even study it, Lord, but we know that that meant the Lord Jesus Christ - that David's throne would be established forever and he couldn't even have imagined what God was going to do through this Son that would sit on his throne one day. And Lord, we look for that day when He will take His throne, and He will reign supreme. But we pray, until He comes, that He may reign supreme in our lives and we would do not what is good, but what is God's. To His glory we pray, Amen.

Don't miss Part 4 of 'The Heart Of The Matter': "The Lonely Heart"

Transcribed by:
Preach The Word.
October 2000

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the third tape in his 'The Heart Of The Matter' series, titled "The Disorientated Heart" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.

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