The Royal Promise

By Ed Hurst | Posted at 6:07 AM

Imagine an everlasting promise given from God himself. Ed Hurst offers a dramatic recasting of God's promise to David from 2 Samuel 7.

To say that he was stunned would be an understatement. He stood numb after hearing the message, having lost all anchorage in reality.

He desperately needed to think this through. Having no place else to go, he stepped out into the flagstoned courtyard, his feet following their own path. As it was early in the day, the sun had not yet risen above the eastern wall of the city. He had almost crossed the open courtyard completely before the warmth of the dawn struck him. Not that he noticed; he was far, far away. His whole universe had shifted, and now far brighter than any sun was the blazing light burning in his soul.

He pushed aside the flap of stretched animal skin over the doorway and slipped inside. Dark and cool was the interior of the great tent, the Master's Court. Having not been specifically summoned, he sought to avoid calling attention to himself. His sandaled feet muffled by the rich, thick tapestry lining the floor, he moved silently to the far corner. He was a servant reporting for routine duty, who for all intents and purposes did not exist until the Master called for him. Finding his place, he dropped quietly to his knees, then sat back on his heels. Should the Master call, he would instantly be ready.

In his swirling, confused thoughts, he recalled that it seemed but yesterday he was fleeing the king's soldiers. Many times he scarcely evaded their grasp. As his exile wore on, he improved his already considerable tactical skills and became even harder to find. While in the cave, that old pocket opening in the bend of the wadi, others gathered to him. Some were at their wit's end with the royal policies; others were dangerously close to a gibbet's end. At first, he thought they might have simply sought to share his hiding place. Then they made it clear they had sought him out. They were in desperate need of a leader, to keep them alive and give those lives purpose. Because he seemed able to give it, their loyalty to him became intense.

Some reminded him often of that prophecy long ago that he would himself be king one day. So when it finally happened, he was mentally ready for the task. Acting quickly, yet wisely, he allowed the kingdom to find its way to him. While bloodshed was unavoidable, he was determined none should be on his hands without good cause. It seemed that recent battles had ended any serious threat to the kingdom. At the same time, those not at war congratulated his ascension to the throne with gifts of richness beyond belief. From his northwestern border, Chiyram of Tsowr sent strange caravans: massive stacks of milled cedar fitted with axles and wheels, stretching for days back up the roads from the north. Herding the beasts that pulled these strange wagons were builders, skilled craftsmen. Once they had announced their mission, they set to discussing immediately where should be placed the new palace to be built with this great pile of lumber. Stonemasons among them immediately began to quarry local stone, clearing a space to build, while the carpenters set to cutting and erecting the framework. It seemed they had hardly started, when standing before him was the beauty of a finished house. The outer courtyard alone could have held his previous residence, the converted fortress his troops had taken from the Y'buwciy. Blind and lame, indeed!

His enemies seemed held back during the building project. As the peace on his borders continued, and he had slept some days in the sweet smell of cedar paneling, he realized the dramatic difference between his and the Master's residence. Increasingly tormented by guilt at the disparity, he had called for Nathan the Prophet. As hoped, the prophet confirmed his desire to build something at least as nice as his palace for the Master. He had warm glow from the way Nathan had worded it: "Your motives have always served Him will in the past." So it was certainly no small matter when, just as the light dawned gray over the small city perched on a ridgeline below Mount Moriah, the same prophet came bursting in before he had yet eaten breakfast. Sensing the gravity of the moment, he jumped to his feet, that he might give full attention to the Master's words.

It was those words that now held him in trapped in a free-floating world, with no apparent gravity, and so no place to stand. Which way was up?

You do not understand. How could a man, even you, build a house for God? What structure can house My Presence?

Since the time I first made Myself known as a presence in the world, when I led the nation of Israel up from Egyptian slavery by the symbol of the Pillar of Cloud and Fire, no house has been sufficient to hold Me, not even symbolically. I'm not like other deities. I don't have any needs that humans can satisfy. That's why I've always used a tent, never asking for a typical temple.

Consider: I took you from chasing sheep in the hills, as a mere lad, and gave you My People as your flock. Wherever I have sent you, I have rendered your enemies impotent before you. I have called you to be a man of war, and warfare is your primary task. Now you are just about the most famous man in the world. Your enemies fear you, but are not yet fully subdued. With you at the helm, I plan to make sure the peace and security of My People, My Household, for that has not yet happened, though you live in peace for the moment.

At the same time, I will build your household. When your days in the Land finally come to an end, a son of your own body will be the one to build Me a temple. More importantly, through him will I have an Eternal Household, a temple not made with hands. I will raise him as my own son, and will discipline him Myself, but I will use the hands of other men to do it. Yet know that I will never take My love and mercy from him for long, not the way I had to with Saul before you. The result will be an eternal dynasty of the House of David, ever standing in My presence. One from your family will rule forever.

He was, of course, alone in the Master's Presence. No man heard as, with his voice laden with emotions that had no name, he spoke in a hoarse whisper.

"It's beyond my imagination that You consider me worthy of Your notice. A boatload of nobodies, and yet You place my household suddenly at the head of the Nation. This favor comes from Your hand as a minor matter dispatched in a moment. You speak of my household's future, many generations ahead, as if it were but the blink of Your eye. Will mankind last so long?

"What words can Your slave David use to respond? You know me better than I know myself. Surely, You decide my fortunes for Your own purposes, and I know only that somehow this will bring You ever greater glory. This is but a small part of Your plan to reveal Your will. That's how I know Your greatness. I look back over the record of Your acts and see time and again that there is no greater power, nothing even close.

"Even Your people are greater than I can say, and I am their king. So greatly do You love them that You showed them miracles beyond comprehension while You purchased them from their Egyptian chains. In so doing, You made Your Name higher than all others. Not by the hand of any agent, You did this Yourself.

"So, yes, do as You have promised me, because I know that it will bring You yet greater glory. For that reason, I'll play whatever part You give me. For not only have You decided such a marvelous thing, but You love me enough to reveal it beforehand. For this one thing alone I owe You an allegiance beyond life itself. Again, Lord, only so that You may make Your name greater, lead me forward in this gift from Your hand."