Did last week’s discussion on the value of pausing to ponder, process, and pray before moving forward come one week too late? Had you already stepped out there with a hasty response and spent money you now realize you should not have spent, committed to an engagement you’d rather not attend, or said something you wish you hadn’t said?
If so, it’s ok! You are in good company. Let’s consider what happened with the prophet Nathan and his hasty response. It did not involve an aggressive salesman. What Nathan had was a friend seeking advice. Boy-o-boy have I been in his shoes a time or two! In 2 Samuel chapter 7 verse 2, David expressed to Nathan a desire to build a temple for the Ark of the Covenant to reside. David felt that since he has such a lovely palace to call home, surely this ark that represented the very presence of the LORD should finally have a permanent home. David’s desire was pious. He had great intentions. He was happy to finally have the Ark back in Jerusalem after it had been stolen by the Philistines.
Did Nathan or David pause to ponder, process, and pray? No so much. Nathan’s next move was a response. He said to David, “Whatever is on your heart, go and do it . . .” (2 Samuel 7:3a).
Then we get to verse 4.
It reads, “But that night . . .” Wait! There’s that word, “but.” This conjunction is used to connect statements that express opposite ideas. On one side we have Nathan’s idea. Want to guess whose idea is on the other side? God’s. That is the risk we take when we fail to pause. We risk acting on an idea that opposes God’s idea.
Verses 4-5 read, “But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: ‘Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says’ . . .’”
Neither David nor Nathan asked the Lord what His desire was regarding the building of the temple. That’s the purpose of pondering, processing, and praying. Like Nathan, we sometimes fail to pause to find out “what the Lord says.”
Now what? What’s done is done, right? Kind of . . .
Verse 17 says, “Nathan reported to David all the words of [his] entire revelation [from the Lord].” Nathan basically went back to David and said, “my bad, David. I know I said that building that temple was a great idea, but turns out, after considering ‘what the Lord says,’ we should leave that task alone. Nice gesture, but God has a different time and a different person he wants to handle it.”
There are two things I love about this passage. One, it shows I am not the first and only to have issues with opening my mouth before I make the time and space to think. And two, it demonstrates that it is not the end of the world if I need to apply the wisdom gained retrospectively. If I have said yes or no; if I have committed; if I have started actively moving in a particular direction and afterward am graciously nudged by God through His Word, time in prayer, a good nap, or Godly counsel to do otherwise, I am well within my rights to do so. Nathan did! He heard God out, then went back to David.
Nathan made a hasty move. He realized it was the wrong move. He recanted. He moved on.
Weather it involves a great sale or a friend seeking advice, the same principle applies: pause for the appropriate amount of time to ponder, process, and pray. During an “act now” moment, be it an audible “I need a response!” or some self-inflicted, real, or imagined pressure to “act now,” ideally, we would, 100% of the time, all make that our cue. We’d pause to find out what will most honor God.
However, as we see with Nathan and in our own patterns, sometimes we mess up.
If you’ve already made your move without any regard for God’s plan and now realize things are not likely to end well, remember God is gracious! The fact that you are reading this right now is one way He may be reminding you that, like Nathan, you can go back and apply His will. You can go back and do “what the Lord says.”
That will indeed end well!
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