Author - Michael McCracken
1 Chronicles 17:4
“It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in.” No doubt out of the purity of David’s heart came the desire to built a great dwelling place for the ark of the covenant upon which the very presence of the Lord rested. It was certainly a worthy endeavor in the eyes of the prophet Nathan who initially gave David the green light.
Why, then, does the Lord object to such a worshipful pursuit? After God informs Nathan that it isn’t His plan for David to build Him a house to dwell in He declares all of the things that He has done for David and through David. God even tells Nathan that He will be the one to make David’s name great in all the earth. In other words, the legacy of David will not ultimately be what He did for the Lord, but rather what the Lord did for Him.
The Lord does an incredibly gracious thing for David and for us by putting the breaks on David’s dream of building a house for the Lord. God is helping us get to the heart of the gospel. As fallen humans we have a tendency to believe that Christianity is primarily what we can do for the Lord. We could certainly read the great stories of the Old Testament and even begin to despair that we may never DO the great and mighty things that were done by these men and women. God in His great mercy makes it clear to David that He (the Lord) was the one to build a house and a name for David and not the other way around.
“For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. Therefore your servant has found courage to pray before You.” I love that the result of God’s revelation to David through the prophet Nathan resulted in deeper communion between David and the Lord. The gospel creates courage and freedom for relationship not duty. David goes from being anxious over what He can do for God to having a heart at rest in the presence of God. That is what the good news accomplishes.
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? How quick are you to look within? To be honest I am usually not very quick to consider what is going on within me. I very much like to blame it on the issues so outstanding in the other person. Surely if they would just get with the program the problem would be solved, right?
James nails it. Wars go on outside of you because there is a war raging inside of you. You always want what you don’t have. The word “desire” in verse 2 is the Greek word for “crave”. We all too often allow our hearts to convince us that we simply wouldn’t be able to live without that particular something. No wonder at the very least we murder in our hearts walking around in bitterness and hatred towards those who have what we want.
James tells us what our ultimate problem is. We are an “adulterous” people. The implication here is that we stop looking to Jesus, our Bridegroom, as our all in all and we begin to look elsewhere. This is what it really means to be a “friend of the world.” I find it somewhat ironic and at least a little bit redemptive that our pursuit of “friendship” with the world essentially leads to misery. When there is a breakdown in our relationship with God it won’t be long before our earthly relationships will begin to break down. Remember, James is teaching us that when the quarreling and the fighting begin we must look inside to find the real issue and then to our Father who “yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us” for the solution.
It amazes me that God would go to such great lengths to save those men on the boat. “…for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” It pleased God to use the rebellious nature of Jonah to make Himself known to some pagan sailors.
I wonder if Jonah ran because he was afraid or if he simply felt that the burden of preaching to such an evil people was too great. In his attempt to get away God graciously prepares his heart to fear the Lord of the wind and waves and the fish of the sea rather than man. Whatever was keeping Jonah from obedience it pleased God to pursue Him and bring Him back. I am greatly encouraged to think that even Jonah’s rebellion wasn’t wasted. God redeemed every moment of it.
Praise you, Father that you are in the heavens doing all that pleases you! Praise you that it pleased you to send another man, your Son, into the belly of a grave for three days and three nights that I would be rescued and redeemed and forgiven.