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" Selah "

Personal sharing from 2 Sam 7:18-29

Contrary to common understanding, the greatest singular act that king David ever did was not the defeat of Goliath. Nor his refusal to kill Saul or the many victories he had won over the Philistines. Instead it was one that was unseen by any man. Yet it was recorded in 2 Samuel 7:18 "Then king David went in and sat before the Lord". Though no one sees it; yet it was recorded. Because the Lord saw it. And this act was the greatest not from man’s point of view but from God’s point of view.

The background to this is itself extraordinary. King David had actually wanted to build God a house (2 Sam 7:1-17). But Nathan his pastor/prophet stopped him in his tracks with God’s message "No, you won’t build me a house but I’m going to build you one instead". (See my last article "Confession of a Temple Caretaker") Until then king David was all out to do something for God. Afterall he is the king. Or is he? Here’s where David missed the point about God. And I’m afraid most of us are like him.

There is a word that most people missed when they read the Psalms. Could it be that this word is too inconspicuous? Or maybe because it is never included in the main verses of the Psalms therefore we think that it is unimportant? On the contrary, this word is the key to knowing God and therefore the key to our Christian life. The word is "Selah". It means to ‘be still’, ‘pause’, ‘stop whatever you’re doing’, ‘to ponder’ or simply a ‘musical interlude’. And because we missed out this word, often we missed out God.

And that’s what king David did. King David sat. He ‘selah’. This is the single most critical act that David did. The action that puts him out of action – more critical than killing Goliath, more critical than honoring Saul as God’s anointed or bringing the ark back to Jerusalem. It’s funny how we often think of our response to God as something to be worked at.

Consider this for a moment. And put yourself in David’s shoes. David is at his prime. 30 years old and his body is lean and ready. His mind sharply alert, his spirit blazing in worship, he is tested and has matured and God’s people is behind him 100%. David crowned and enthroned. King David. Stopping David now would be like stopping a train in full gear. But Nathan managed to do that. More accurately, David allowed himself to be stopped. And it is here that determine the kind of king David is to be. He is to be unlike the sort of kings in the neighboring countries - those that depended on their strength and human insight to get things done their way. But the king that God has anointed, God has prepared, God has preserved and God has empowered. The type of king that waited on the King. David’s kingship is a channel of God’s sovereignty rather than an exertion of his human will.

What we won’t do for God is often more important than what we in fact do for Him. Since the beginning of time, God has always portrayed Himself as the Worker. God moving, God speaking, God forming and God breathing into men. In fact by the time that man was created, the world was already complete and perfect. Since man was created on the 6th day: do you realize that God’s 7th day is man’s 1st day? And therefore man’s 1st day is a day of rest? And this is to be prophetic about how we should begin our work with God. It begins with rest. God is the beginning, the centre and the end of world’s life. But often we are not aware of God’s action except dimly and superficially. Especially when we are in full possession of our powers – our education completed, our careers in full swing, people admiring us and recognizing our talents – then we think we are ready to do something for God. That is a myth. The truth is that we are never ready to do anything for God. It is always God doing, God fulfilling and God working out His eternal purposes through and for us. King David later admitted in Psalm 57:2 "I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me".

Once I had asked my 2 sons to help me wash the car. It was a decision that I was to regret. And will do so for the next 10 years. Because ever since, they have never allowed me to wash the car alone. What happened was that as I was soaping the car at one end they will be spraying the water at the other end. It will be alright if they had poured the water at the car, but it was everywhere except the car. Well, we stay in a flat so it means I have to use pails which means that because of their ‘work’, I have more work to do as I have to made more trips to the water point. The worst came when I tried to water the soap away but they were soaping at the other end of the car so there was almost no end to it. I learnt 2 lessons that day. That it is more tiring to work with them than without them. And I could probably do a better job on my own. But why do I still continue to allow them to wash car with me? The reason is simple. It is not because I need their expertise. But because I desire their fellowship.

Likewise with God. If God wants a job done perfectly, He will do it Himself. But He wants us to work with Him simply because He desires to fellowship with us. It is one type of fun to roll on the bed with your sons, but it is another to ‘work’ with them. Even though you end up doing most of the work yourself. And that’s how I think God would view our ‘work’ for Him. Not as a form of repayment to Him but just out having some fun together. And He usually end up undoing the mess we’ve started and finishing it all by Himself! For to God, it is more important to have one son that enjoys Him than to have 100 that have no time for Him.

Psalm 46:10 says "Be still and know that I am God". I am convinced that apart from being still, we can never know God. Do not be in the delusion that we can know God in the church or in the cell group or in the seminars. We attend such meetings as a result of having known God in our daily "Selah" with Him. You cannot rush God. He won’t be rushed. The ‘quality’ of our time with Him can only come about with the ‘quantity’ of time we spend with Him.

Our Lord Jesus Christ made the same mild rebuke to Martha thousands of years later. In the same manner that God gave to David. Jesus rebuked Martha not because the work was not needed, but she had allowed the work of God to replace God Himself. And God would never allow that. For He is a jealous God.

There is a need for all of us to return to God. To simply spend time with Him. To sit at His feet. To listen to the sound of His breathing. Not for some mighty manifestations or some supernatural empowering but to simply spend time with your Father. To look beyond what His hand can provide and into His eyes. He is your Shepherd. He is your personal God. For it is during such times, that the work of God is accomplished. Let us not be like David trying to build a house for God. God will build His house Himself. We are His house.

Selah. For this is the greatest act any man can do. Not from men’s point of view but from God’s point of view. But that’s what’s really matter, right?

His temple caretaker

niel Lim

31 December 1998

I welcome your feedback. You may contact me at email dant3@singnet.com.sg.