Over the past few months, I’ve been spending a lot time reading through the life of King David. The life of David is fascinating because it represents the best and worst of people — not just all people, but especially those who follow God. It’s fair to say that David is a flawed — but passionate — follower of God.
As you get near the end of David’s story, he sets his heart on doing something special for God: to build a temple in which to house the Ark of the Covenant. It’s a noble desire. And it’s one that God doesn’t allow.
In fact, the prophet Nathan runs ahead of God and simply tells David to do whatever he has in mind. That night, God speaks to Nathan and tells him otherwise.
(As an aside, that is a great reminder to those of us who speak on behalf of God. We shouldn’t presume to speak for God if he hasn’t first spoken to us.)
But in his graciousness, God does allow for David’s son, Solomon, to build the temple. The following passage contains David’s instructions to the leaders of Israel:
17 Then David ordered all the leaders of Israel to help his son Solomon. 18 He said to them, “Is not the Lord your God with you? And has he not granted you rest on every side? For he has given the inhabitants of the land into my hands, and the land is subject to the Lord and to his people. 19 Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the Lord.” – 1 Chronicles 22:17-19
A few things really struck me in this passage. Maybe they will tap you on the shoulder as well.
First, the phrase “devote your heart and soul” literally means to “set your mind and heart.” Don’t get me wrong, I like the word “devote” — it’s filled with passion and emotion. But that’s different that setting your mind on something.
When I set my mind on something, I become fixed on doing it. It’s no longer optional. Seeking the Lord is to be the same way. Seeking the Lord is an intentional, willful choice to pursue him; it is not accomplished by mental coasting.
People who mentally coast are the drifters who bounce from one idea to the next, one project to the next, one vision to the next. They are never fixed on any one thing.
The most fruitful followers of Jesus I know are the ones who have set their hearts and minds on following him.
Second, and don’t miss this — seeking is to come before doing. David tells the leaders to start with setting their minds on seeking God … then start work on the temple.
Let me shorthand that for you: Seek first, build later.
How often do we get ourselves in trouble by running ahead of God’s leading. It’s easy to operate out of natural talent and not dependence on God. Without first seeking God, our efforts to build God’s kingdom will be without his supernatural power. Even worse, we might end up building the wrong thing altogether.
Which brings me to the third insight: The ultimate purpose of seeking and building is to bring glory to God. David reminds the leaders that all these efforts are for sake of God’s name.
I believe it’s easier for us to see the connection between doing and God’s glory than it is to see the connection between seeking and God’s glory. But for David, they went together — and in a proper order.
Experience and Background
- Professor at Warner University
- masters in business administration (mba)
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
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