When God Changes Your Plans

Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed, “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans.” This was the lesson that David learned when he initially had it in mind to build a temple for God.

If you have been paying attention, you probably noticed that this is the third time this story has been told. The first was in 1 Chronicles 17, which described David’s experience. The second occurrence is 1 Chronicles 22, where David recounts these events to his son Solomon. In today’s passage, David tells the story to “all the officials of Israel . . . the officers over the tribes, the commanders of the divisions in the service of the king, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and livestock belonging to the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the warriors and all the brave fighting men” (v. 1).

Since this is a story about how David misread God’s intent, you might think that the author would want to keep it under wraps. Why let everyone know that David was wrong? But there is much more to this story than David’s mistaken idea. Ultimately it is a story about God’s faithfulness. The Lord set aside David’s plan because He had a better plan of His own.

The reason David’s story is repeated in 1 Chronicles is not to highlight the king’s mistake but to underscore God’s promise and Solomon’s responsibility. The Chronicler does this to remind the returned exiles of their obligation to God. The covenant made with David included a condition that Solomon did not meet (vv. 7–9). The return of God’s people to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple were evidence of God’s grace.

Apply the Word

This account of David’s charge to his son Solomon was more than a glance back at a greater time. It was a reminder of God’s enabling power. Does your church look back to a golden age when things seemed to be better? Instead of seeing it as a record of what you have lost, try to view it as measure of what God can do today.

BY John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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