When King David was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!” Nathan replied to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.” But that same night the Lord said to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. I have always moved from one place to another with a tent and a Tabernacle as my dwelling.’”
(2 Samuel 7:1-6)
This is the first time Nathan the prophet is mentioned. God made certain that a prophet was living during the reign of each of the kings of Israel. The prophet’s main tasks were to urge the people to follow God and to communicate God’s laws and plans to the king. Most of the kings rejected the prophets God sent. But at least God had given them the opportunity to listen and obey.
In this message from Nathan, God explained that he did not want David to build a “house” for him. David’s request was good, but God said no. This does not mean that God rejected David. Why didn’t God want David to build the temple? God told David that his job was to unify and lead Israel and to destroy its enemies. This huge task would require David to shed a great deal of blood. In 1 Chronicles 28:3, we learn that God did not want his temple built by a warrior. Therefore, David made the plans and collected the materials so that his son Solomon could begin work on the temple as soon as he became king (1 Kings 5–7). David humbly accepted his part in God’s plan and did not try to go beyond it.
Sometimes God says no to our plans. When he does, we should utilize the other opportunities he gives us.