It’s the 2nd July 1505 and a young Law student is out in the storm. He is nearly struck by lightning and cries in fear “Help Saint Anna, I will become a monk.” He survives the storm and Martin Luther keeps his vow going into a monastery. There he will learn the vital lesson which sets in chain the Reformation and that 500 years later we are going to learn today.
Luther thought he could and that he should make a deal with God. If God did something for him, he would do something in return. Have you tried to do that? “If God will help me get that job, rescue me from this mess, heal me then I will give up my addiction.” “If God will look after my needs then I will tithe.” “If God will sort out this problem then I will try to be a better person, less grumpy, kinder … etc.
Here is David and he feels under obligation to God. God has given him the kingdom and brought peace and security. David is living in a comfortable palace and the Ark of the Covenant which represents God’s presence with his people is in a pathetic tent. Literally, David refers to it as just “curtains.”
So, David calls his advisor, Nathan and says “I’m going to build God a temple.” Nathan says “That’s a great idea, may God bless you.” Then off he goes to bed and God does something that we must all be ready for: God disagrees with him. He says “I have something much better in mind.”
So, here’s the lesson.
– We can’t do deals with God because we cannot out-give God.
– God does not ask us “What can you do for me.”
– God’s call on our lives is to receive, enjoy and live in the delight of his outpoured love, grace and mercy to us.
- Never forget God’s past grace – his love, mercy and salvation
God says to David “I never asked you or anyone to do this for me.” Look instead at what I have done: I took you from where you were – just a shepherd boy and I raised you up to rule my people. I dealt with your enemies and gave you peace (7:2).
That’s what God does. He takes nobodies, strangers to his grace, rebel sinners and he forgives them and restores them. It’s what God did for you and me. Remember Paul talking to the Corinthians says to them “have a look around, you weren’t important, rich, powerful, clever.” God chooses us because of love and grace. For some of us that’s obvious, we can talk about how God found us when we had completely messed up, got addicted, were close to ending it all. But it is true for each and every one of us. It’s true for those of us whose lives have been marked by “respectable sin”, lust, anger, grumpiness, unreliability. We are forgiven because of Jesus’ death for us.
- Keep looking forward to future grace
If that’s what God has already done for David, if he has found him rescued him, defeated his enemies, made him royalty, then it is what God is going to keep doing for him.
– I will make your name great
– I will make Israel secure
– I will make a house for you
– Your son will build my house for my name
– I will establish an eternal kingdom for him
David can keep trusting God to keep keeping his promises. How will all this happen? It will happen because David is promised a son (note this is one who isn’t born yet). He’s the one who will build a temple and God will give him an eternal kingdom (v12-14).
Now, notice something here. For David a lot of this is still future grace. He is looking forward to the promise to come. He is looking forward to someone still to come, after he dies. See also that on one level this is fulfilled in Solomon but there is a greater fulfilment to come.
The New Testament (Hebrews 1:5) takes us to Jesus as the one who is God’s Son. Jesus is the one who establishes an eternal kingdom.
Stop for a second. This son is also the one who is disciplined when he sins. That can’t refer to Jesus, the perfect, matchless holy one can it?
Then we read: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Wow. This is what early Christians described as “The sweet exchange.” Christ was perfectly obedient but he took our guilt on himself and was punished in our place. Martin Luther, the monk we met at the start described it as like the prince marrying a pauper. He turns up with his riches, his goodness, his glory. She has nothing, in fact her life is in mess. She is in debt. But when he marries her, he is united to her. He takes her debt on himself. He gives her his riches. Christ exchanged your sin for his righteousness because you belong to him now. You are united with him.
Think about it.
Every lie you ever told.
Every time you lost your temper
Every time you said “Just this one last time before clicking on that website”
Every time you got blind drunk
Every time you broke a promise and felt overwhelming guilt
Jesus says “I’ve taken that. You don’t have to worry anymore.”
Last Sunday Gyula talked about how he found his name in the Bible. It’s “Sinner.” But you know what, Jesus gives you a new name. My wife’s maiden name was “Pain.” Seriously, you’d change that by deed-poll wouldn’t you? On our wedding day, though she took on a new name -she took on my family name. You are united with Christ and he gives you the name “forgiven” “holy” “justified” You receive his family name and with it a new identity, a new life. So, it is his name that is made famous and glorified.
It means that when we see all the things that David was looking forward to, the security and peace then to some extent we are still looking back at what Christ has already done.
But there is also future grace for us. There’s a promise that like Israel, God is preparing a home for us. There’s the promise one day of rest, the promise that we will be with him, that suffering will cease, pain will end and that we will be like him, free from the penalty, power and presence of sin.
Keep looking forward. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Keep your hope in him.
- Share in present grace now
David does two things. First, he responds (7:18-29). This is a prayer of joy, delight and praise both in response to what God has done in saving his people and in what God will do in establishing David’s throne
Our first response is praise and thanksgiving. This is not just about our songs on Sunday but about living lives that demonstrate trust in God and thankful hearts.
Then look forward to ch 8. There, God is seen to keep his promise to David. We see him establishing his throne and defeating his enemies. And whilst it is God who is doing this, David gets to join in with what God is doing.
God is establishing Christ’s kingdom. It is his work from start to finish but he gives us the privilege of joining in.
This is why the church has mission at its heart.
It’s why we spend time together sharing the Gospel through our services, First Look courses, clubs, The Light Party, Community Café etc.
It’s why we want to encourage each other to be sharing the good news about Jesus in our daily lives.
It’s also why we support missionaries. This isn’t just a duty or a tradition. It’s a privilege to participate in God’s wider mission. All around the world, God is at work establishing his kingdom. We are linked in to that as we pray, as we give and as we send.
For some of us the next step is simple. Is Jesus king in your life. Have you put your trust in him, are you united to him? Have you received his forgiveness. Take that step this morning of putting your trust in him.
For some of us the next step is about learning to enjoy and delight in his grace by finding out how we can use our gifts in his family. Come and talk with one of the elders after. We’d love to pray with you and encourage you.
For some of us the next step is simply this. We are called to play our part by sharing the good news. Who could you tell about Jesus? Why not invite another family to the Light Party? What about bringing someone to our Rooted Course or the next First Look course?