7 Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” 3 And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.”
4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan…
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Sa 7:1–17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The Prophet Nathan heard that David wanted to build a house for the Lord and he encouraged it. It sounded like a great idea. All those years the Lord had dwelt in a tent. Now they would build him a temple. Nathan told David to do it.
But God had other plans. In fact, “that same night the world of the Lord came to Nathan” and God told Nathan no. He told Nathan that David was not to build him a temple, contrary to what Nathan had previously told David.
Consider two things. First, Nathan acted on his own and did what he thought would be pleasing in God’s eyes. He did not pray first or otherwise consult with God. Had he done so, he might have gotten a different answer.
But sometimes we are in positions where we are confronted with a situation and we have to make a judgment call instantly. We may get it wrong. The king may demand an immediate answer and we must do the best we can. Sometimes we get it wrong.
See how God handled it? He could have marched another prophet in to confront Nathan and tell him. He could have embarrassed Nathan. He could have caused Nathan to drop dead on the spot. After all, he is God.
But God did not do that. He went in the night to Nathan privately. He clearly appreciated what David wanted to do. He had other plans though. Nathan surely had to go back and tell David otherwise. But when he did, he got to provide a great blessing from God. He got to tell David that he was wrong, but he was wrong because God’s plans were even greater.
God does not want to and will never trip us up when we are trying to do right by him. He may cajole or correct us, but it is in love. It is because he has bigger plans for us than we have for ourselves.