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.