We start today with King David finally resting. David had been a fugitive on the run, fleeing from Saul’s jealous wrath. Now David’s fortunes have changed. These verses emphasize David’s new power and security not only by calling him “king” three times, but also by noting how he’s in a house of precious cedar. It may be difficult to imagine during this difficult year, but can we remember a time that we’ve experienced such newfound fortune? What did we want to do (and what WILL we want to do) after finding some rest and security after hardship?

Verse two reveals that David wants to reward God how he would want to be rewarded–with a fancy house. How does God respond? Why does the passage transition from repeatedly calling David “king,” to then calling him “servant?” We learn that God valued the portability of the tent, sojourning with God’s people. What does this say about God’s values and priorities?

Photo credit: jared on Visualhunt / CC BY

In verses 8-9, God makes clear that the Lord has been the active one —not David. Shepherd David doesn’t even lead the sheep—he follows them! What point is God emphasizing?

Let’s turn to the topic of motives. In addition to thanking God, David is also motivated by legacy. What promises does God make in response (and why does God make these promises)? What kind of house does God want to build for David?

We first observe that God’s house for David will take time. It will be unhurried, and on God’s schedule. God is gently challenging David about his priorities. Does David want the short-term win of building God a cedar house? Or does David want something more lasting, yet slower to come into fruition? 

God will build this house through David’s offspring. We can explore what this means not only for Solomon, but also for Jesus; the Gospel of Matthew, of course, opens by proclaiming Jesus in David’s line.

What will we do with that troubling rod in verse 14? Sara Koenig at Working Preacher offers these words: “God says that when—not if!—the son commits iniquity, he will be punished, but God’s steadfast love will not depart from him as it did from Saul.” What will we say?

Let’s look now at Nathan. Nathan was David’s trusted friend, and in 2 Samuel 12, he’ll speak some hard words to David. Just as David had to learn how to be a king, however, Nathan also had to learn how to be a prophet.

Nathan is only half right in verse three. Just because we see God at work in another person’s life doesn’t mean that everything they want to do is from God. Have you ever known a person or ministry like David:  someone who seeks to be faithful, yet is still learning how to discern the sources of their inspiration? As Psalm 127 reminds us, plans merely of human origin will soon crumble. 

Why does God respond to David through the prophet Nathan? How does God use other people in our stories, and how do David and Nathan support each other here in their respective callings?

God’s word in today’s passage is “house.” What are God’s words for us? Last question: how will we let God teach us the fullest definitions of those words?

Melanie Weldon-Soiset, a #ChurchToo survivor, served as a pastor at a nondenominational church for immigrants in Shanghai, China, and preached regularly at a United Methodist congregation in Washington, DC. She’s now a poet and contemplative prayer leader. Follow her blog, and/or sign up for her newsletter on poetry and prayer resources, at melanieweldonsoiset.com.

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