The Legacy of David
New Jersey, USA
Have you ever had a dream to
serve God, having high hopes or expectations for your servitude? Have you
thought about the wondrous differences you can make in God’s ministry? Have you
ever experienced rejection or slight bitterness when it seemed like God didn’t
want your service despite your apparently good intentions?
Just like any of us might have,
David had an admirable vision for God, a glorious ambition—he wanted to build a
temple for God.
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.” (2 Sam 7:1, 2)
God gave David prosperity and
rest from his enemies. He had the resources, the manpower, and the authority to
do what he wanted for God. In his eagerness and excitement he went and told the
prophet Nathan his plan. Nathan gave an encouraging answer, an almost definite
affirmation of David’s aspiration: “‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the
Lord is with you’” (2 Sam 7:3).
David probably spent the rest
of the day drawing up designs, making rough measurements, and gathering an
inventory of materials. We can only imagine how he might have felt—possibly a
combination of glad, noble, and honored to build the house of God.
Later, however, God told David,
“‘You shall not build a house for my Name’” (1 Chr
28:3). David made an apparently gracious offer of noble servitude, but God
If we were David we may have
simply given up our plans right then and there, but is that what David did?
Unfazed, David continued to toil with all his might in making preparations for
the temple to pass onto his son Solomon. He offered his own gold, silver,
bronze, and precious stones in front of the assembly of Israel:
“Now for the house of my God I have prepared
with all my might: gold for things to be made of gold, silver for things of silver,
bronze for things of bronze, iron for things of iron, wood for things of wood,
onyx stones, stones to be set, glistening stones of various colors, all kinds
of precious stones, and marble slabs in abundance. Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my
God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have
prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver: three
thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and
seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses;
the gold for things of gold and the silver for things of silver, and for all
kinds of work to be done by the hands of craftsmen.” (1 Chr
29:2-5, emphasis added)
Wait a minute. How did David do
that? God rejected his offer to construct the temple, effectively shattering
his personal ambition, and gave the noble undertaking to someone else with
practically no experience. Why wasn’t David disappointed? What compelled him to
generously offer all his resources?
What was David really offering to God?
Shortly before his death, David
delegated the task of building the temple to his son Solomon. Taking a look at
David’s final words of encouragement to Solomon allows us to gain a deeper
understanding of the answers to these questions:
“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of
your father, and serve Him with a loyal
heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and
understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found
by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. Consider now, for
the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do
it.” (1 Chr 28:9, 10, emphasis added)
A loyal heart and willing
mind—let’s try to think about what these words mean concretely. We may have a
general and abstract idea of what the heart and mind are, but what are they
In the Bible, the Hebrew word
for “heart” (leb)
means not just our inner man or feelings, but also resolution, determination,
and inclination. The Hebrew word for “mind” (nephesh) refers to our own self,
our soul, desire, and passion. Today the word “heart” is often used to
encompass all of these attributes.
Now let’s look at “loyal” and
“willing.” “Loyal” is translated from the Hebrew word for “perfect” (shalem), meaning
complete, whole, full, and in some cases peaceful.
“Willing” is particularly
interesting because 1 Chronicles 28:9 is the only verse in the Bible where the
Hebrew word (chaphets)
is translated that way. The word itself actually means, and in other verses is
translated as, desiring, delighting in, or having pleasure in.
Now let’s put those words
together again. Loyal heart—a
complete resolution. Willing mind—a
desiring soul. Take a few moments to let the definitions and concepts sink in.
David encouraged Solomon to
serve God with a perfect, complete, and peaceful resolution, with every
inclination of his heart. He counseled Solomon not to be willing in the sense
of the word today, but to desire and delight in serving God. Why?
Because before God, the heart
and mind are transparent. God can see every distinct purpose in the mind and
distinguish between every inclination of the heart. Finally, David exhorted
Solomon simply to “be strong” in building the temple of God, to carry out the
task with urgency and firm resolve.
So what does David’s
encouragement to Solomon have to do with what David was giving to God? Looking
in 1 Chronicles chapter 29, we see that after David and the people of Israel
dedicated their gold and silver, they were joyful because they had offered willingly and with a loyal heart (1 Chr
29:9). As a result, David offered a prayer of praise, acknowledging God’s
greatness, providence, and glory.
And then David made the
following plea—read it carefully:
“O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have
prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. I know also, my
God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I
have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your
people, who are present here to offer willingly
to You. O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the intent of the
thoughts of the heart of Your people, and fix their heart toward You. And
give my son Solomon a loyal heart to
keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these
things, and to build the temple for which I have made provision.” (1 Chr 29:16-19, emphasis added)
On the surface, we see that
David passed his wealth of material resources to Solomon for him to use to
build the temple (an extensive list is in 1 Chronicles 28:11-19). What we often
fail to see is that David really tried to pass something else to his son and to
the rest of Israel, something David knew was of much greater importance—his own
David had a perfect and willing
heart. Building the temple of God would have been glorifying to God and for
David himself, but every inclination in his mind and heart was for God alone.
Because of that, he could accept God’s refusal with a peaceful resolution to
make preparations rather than with confused discouragement.
He knew that the complete and
delightful heart behind the construction of the temple was what was precious in
God’s eyes, because everything he and the people could physically offer came
from and already belonged to God.
He knew that when the temple
was complete, God wasn’t going to make an inspection of it to see that all the
right measurements were made, all the correct materials were used, and all the
rooms were properly furnished. He was going to make an investigation of the
That’s why David prayed that
Solomon and the Israelites would forever keep that perfect and willing heart
fixed on God—it was the only thing they could really give and what God
ultimately looked at.
WE ARE TODAY
In our service today we often
get caught up with the physical results. We build new chapels and think that
their beauty and grandeur are pleasing in the eyes of God.
We weigh our devotion to God by
the things we’ve done: the donations we’ve given, the religious education
classes we’ve taught, the sermons we’ve delivered, the meals we’ve cooked, the
floors we’ve cleaned, and the articles we’ve written.
We may even look at other
people’s work and think that we could do a better job. If this is how we judge
our servitude, then we only see the physical things that David contributed. We
see only the gold and silver and not the pure and selfless heart behind them.
Everything we can physically
give—our money, our possessions, our talents and abilities—is from God and
belongs to God, yet too often we look at the outward things we have done for
church and take pride in them, even if just a little.
If David were living with us
today, he would rebuke us. He would tell us that we had missed the point, and
that God doesn’t look at what we’ve done for Him, He searches and understands
our hearts and intent of thought. However glorious and spectacular the physical
result may be is secondary; having a truly perfect
and willing heart is primary.
Upon examining the core of
David’s servitude, the words that God spoke to Samuel before he anointed David
now resound with a deeper significance:
“For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man
looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)
So let us ask ourselves
today—what is the motivation behind our service to God? Do we serve God with
our own notions of what’s right, automatically assuming that whatever we do
with good intentions is acceptable in front of God? Do we serve God to publicly
display our devotion and love?
Are we more concerned with the
quality of our physical service or with the quality of our hearts? Is our
servitude unconsciously conditional, or are we content and at peace with
serving in any way, regardless of the task? Is our service to God just a part
of our life that we do when we can, or is it the goal and joy of our life that we pursue eagerly and with urgent
What are we really offering to God?