Much of this material is found in our previous reading from the books of Samuel. Remember that Ezra is writing from a different perspective. Samuel was writing as an observer. Ezra is writing from the future looking back. he is writing to encourage the exiles who are returning to a land that is now foreign to them. He is writing to remind them that this land was given them by our sovereign God for an eternal possession. he writes to remind them that their history is a proud one filled with wonderful tales of might and grandeur.
Chapter 17 and 18 are reversed in Ezra's writings. The wars of conquest occurred before David began to think about a permanent dwelling for Jehovah. The story of David wanting to build the temple should be familiar to you. When Israel was a nomadic people, the tabernacle (tent of meeting) was a perfect dwelling place, but now they have a permanent dwelling and are a nation that is gaining respect and prestige. They want their God to have a permanent dwelling place that is befitting so blessed a nation. Kind of makes sense, but God says no to David while promising him that a temple will be his, one day built by one of David's sons. David is content with God's answer and responds to him with a classic statement of humility... "who am I to contest the will of a God who has blessed me so abundantly?" that should be our cry as well. We are a people who live in a land that was built by other hands, we enjoy a status that has been handed to us by other generations, we enjoy a faith that was built on the sacrifices of saints who came before us. who are we to complain when God says wait? We are a most blessed people and ought always to be ready to sing the praises of a God who has showered his love upon us and who has saved us from ourselves. Saved us for an eternal life of joy that we did not earn by our own deeds. All we need do is say yes to the Lordship of Jesus and then follow in intentional obedience and heaven is ours. We are, indeed, better than we deserve!
I think it is also interesting to think about how David wanted to do more than God was asking of him. We, on the other hand, often want to know what the least is that we can do to inherit eternal life. How many Sundays must we attend? How much must we give? Do we have to love those people who are not like us? And on and on and on. would that we would be ready to give our best and more how much more might God shower himself upon us in lavish blessings for both us and our posterity.
Two other thoughts.....much of what David captured as loot in his wars of acquisition was later used to build God's house by Solomon. We need always to be preserving some of our blessing for the use of future generations.
Chapter 18:15-17 names some of David's key leaders. No person ascends to a position of authority without others having helped to make the way. I think of the successes that we have enjoyed at Faith and I remember Sam Packham who chaired a building committee, I think of Jim Jacobs & Don Smith and Sonny Lunsford and Louis Billups who work tirelessly and unseen in caring for our grounds. I think of the kitchen crew who feeds our Wednesday night troop of children. I think of Reva Lynch and now Kim Compton who prepare communion elements so faithfully for our worship. I think Jack & Dolly Ann and now Alice Gott who schedule ushers and greeters. I think of Kim & Ken Howard who clean the building each week and the list of names goes on and on and on. I receive undo credit for the marvelous work that so many perform so faithfully. What was it that David said, "Who am I, O Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me so far?" God is generous beyond my ability to calculate. He alone is worthy of our praise.
It is Holy week. Jennifer Bell and others are busy helping me get ready for our special services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter morning. I hope you will be able to celebrate God's eternal goodness with us on this most blessed of week ends.