Who’s in Da House? + New Book!

CM-3D-Book-StackWith clashing of cymbals and banging of drums I am delighted to reveal the cover of a new book, out shortly, featuring Yours Truly. It’s compiled by the lovely Wendy H Jones, author of the bestselling DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries and contains chapters such as: Why Write Children’s Books? Why Write Memoir? Why Write Mystery?

It’ll be available for pre-order on Amazon shortly. I’ll post a link.

My chapter is entitled ‘Why Write Drama‘ and it’s a hoot, if I do say so myself.

Whether you are an aspiring writer after inspiration, or you just want to know what the Greeks did that would have made your grandma blush, read on…

Cave lector: Not for readers who would be offended at repeated references to ancient Greek actors pretending to be half-goats and prancing around wearing huge fake – ahem. Read at your own risk.

Who’s in Da House?

terraforming

With all these rovers landing on Mars recently and talk of moon bases, I was wondering: What’s the best way to build a home on another world?

You plan it.

[pause for applause / groans]

David wasn’t planning to terra-form the moon, but he was planning to build a home for God.

Great idea! David had conquered Jerusalem and built a palace there. He’d defeated the nasty neighbours (and I don’t mean loud music and a dog that poos all over the garden), and now it was time to give God a proper home.

Nathan, the prophet-cum-royal-advisor says, “Good idea, David. Go for it!” (I paraphrase)

And why not? There is no reason to think that this is a bad idea. It does not go against any command, David has good intentions to honour God and it seems only right after God has given David so much.

ferret leggingBut God has other plans and tells Nathan to about-face. In the colourful phrase borrowed from a British tabloid newspaper, Nathan had to ‘reverse ferret’. (Journalists would ‘stick a ferret up the trousers’ of public figures, meaning to make them uncomfortable, referring to the traditional sport of keeping a ferret in your trousers for as long as possible. If the paper wished to change its stance, the editor would shout, “reverse ferret!”)

Here is a massively important take-home. If you remember nothing else, remember this.

Leaders get things wrong.

We’re aware of this in politics – our leaders are never short of critics – but it applies in the church too. With the very best of intentions, all of us, including our leaders, get it wrong sometimes. Even godly folks who love and follow God, like Nathan and David.

They both got it wrong. No blame attached. No-one was acting badly. But they thought God wanted this and it turned out that God wanted that.

Best thing to do in these circumstances? Admit you got it wrong, stop doing this, and start doing that.

Worst thing to do in these circumstances? Be a pig-headed, stubborn ass and stick your head in the sand like an ostrich. Biology permitting.

It takes courage to lead. It takes a lot more courage to admit that you’ve led the wrong way.

Nathan and David both did the right thing and changed their plans – and then they found out what God’s plans were, and it Blew. Their. Minds.

Isaiah would phrase it neatly many years later as:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isa 55:8-9

For starters, God reminded David of the pecking order. “I took you from the pasture … to be prince over my people Israel”. Note ‘prince’, not ‘king’. God was the king and David was God’s right-hand man, his first lieutenant, his Number One. Important, but not the boss.number one a

Then God reversed the plans. David would not build a house for God; God would build a house for David.

Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.

God promised a son for David, one who would build the temple and establish David’s royal house. The first readers of this passage would see this as Solomon, and that’s quite right. But later readers, after the exile, after the destruction of the temple, after the extinguishing of David’s kingly line, would see a huge question mark.

Solomon’s temple stood until the exile to Babylon, around 400 years later. That’s a fair old while. Four hundred years ago Shakespeare’s First Folio was published, and the Mayflower landed in Cape Cod. But didn’t God say, ‘for ever’? Four hundred years is a goodly long time for humans, but the blink of an eye for God. So what happened? Did God fail? Or is there more to this promise than Solomon’s temple?

God’s plans were so much bigger than just a house. God was after Home. Not a building of cedar wood that might last a few decades, not a temple of stone that would stand for centuries, but a  home of people, Living Stones as Peter put it, that would last for ever. (1 Pet 2:5).

Let’s read Nathan’s speech again.

Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.

Like many Old Testament passages referenced in the New, it acts like a telescope, folding in to speak to the period of its writing, then stretching out to see into the distance. Looking from our standpoint of 3000 years hence, we see what David could not. We see Jesus: descendent of David, son of God, ruler of a kingdom that lasts forever, foundation and cornerstone of a new temple made and filled with God’s children.

At the dedication of the temple his son built, David showed that he understood that he could not build a house for God, because everything is God’s anyway.

Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours. (1 Chr 29:11)

Instead, God builds a house for us: an eternal home, with a place prepared for each one of us.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.

Reading

2 Samuel 7:1-16

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’

Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:

Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’

Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.

And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies.

Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.

Credits

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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