2 Chronicles 7:12-16 Pray and Seek My Face

2 Chronicles 7:12-16              Pray and Seek My Face                                 WC McCarter
Chapter 13 of The Story is all about David’s successor, his son Solomon who was born of Bathsheba. The son of the greatest king of Israel’s history started out with a bang, but he did not finish well. As we saw in our class this morning, He did not endure until the end. He did not continue in the faith as his father had. David’s life could be said to be a rags-to-riches story. On the other hand, Solomon’s could be said to be a riches-to-rags story. Solomon was the king who had it all, and it wasn’t enough to satisfy him.
The Lord notably appeared to Solomon on two occasions. You remember the first time the Lord met him (2 Chron 1:3-12). It was in Gibeon toward the beginning of his time as king. The Lord came to Solomon at night and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” Solomon, of course, asked for wisdom and knowledge in order to lead the people of Israel. The Lord was pleased and gave him that request. He also made him the world’s most wealthy and reputable man.
The second time the Lord appeared to Solomon was also at night after the temple had been built and dedicated (2 Chron 7:12-22). That appearance is our main text this morning. In this appearance, the Lord confirms His favor of the temple, responds to a previous prayer of Solomon in behalf of the people, and warns Solomon of the consequences of forsaking Him.
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Chosen This Place (12-13)
The Lord had publicly confirmed that He had chosen the temple as His holy place when, at the dedication ceremony, He sent down fire from heaven to consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices that had been placed on the altar. He also made His glory to fill the temple. What a marvelous sight it would have been. The people were forced, by the sheer wonder of it all, to bow their faces to the pavement, worship and praise the Lord, and say, “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”
Now the Lord privately confirms His favor of the temple structure to Solomon, the king. He had met Solomon on another night many years before, and now He comes to David’s heir again.
The reference to “the heavens being shut up” echoes back to what Solomon had said in his prayer of dedication (2 Chron 6:26-27). Solomon asked that the Lord be merciful and forgiving of the people when they sinned against God. He asked God to teach them the right way to live. Here, the Lord promises to do exactly what Solomon requested. God is merciful!
Repentance and Forgiveness (14-15)
Here are the stipulations for a nation to receive God’s blessing. We know the Scripture says in Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” but what happens to the nation who forsakes the Lord? A nation who has forsaken the Lord must repent. That’s plain and simple in theory, but not in reality. People’s hearts are bent on evil, all the time. People love the darkness more than the light, and the Lord turns them over to their vile passions.
There is no help when there is no repentance. The Lord promises to look mercifully upon those who humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways; then and only then will the Lord respond. A broken and contrite heart will not be despised by God. Yet, a proud, arrogant, puffed up, and self-reliant heart will never receive mercy from God. And, trust me, He knows what’s in our hearts. He can see to the depths of us. Those things that we have hidden far away from the eyes and ears of others, God searches and finds those things. Our hearts condemn us, and only God is greater than our hearts. Only He can overcome our stubbornness and sinfulness. America will never be what it once was as long as it continues down the self-righteous path that it is on. The same is true for individuals who are lost and hopeless.
Forever and Always (16)
“God’s great name” refers to His presence in that place in the glory-cloud. Do you remember the Lord descending and appearing before the people to meet with Moses? He came in a cloud. He had made His presence in the glory-cloud to come and fill the newly constructed temple. His “name” means His “person.” He personally visited and promised to be ever-present in that temple constructed by human hands. Wow! Yet, that temple was only a shadow of things to come. The people, including King Solomon, would soon turn from God to wicked ways; the monarchy would soon be split in two; the northern tribes would soon be wiped away; and the south would soon be taken into exile while the temple would be left in a state of rubble.
Yet, the Lord said that His name would be there forever, right? He said, “My eyes and my heart will always be there.” What of that promise? The promise came with stipulations. The Lord would prefer for the temple to lie in ruins than for the people to drag His name through the mud. That temple was only a shadow of things to come. God now dwells among His people as we form a spiritual temple. One day He will dwell with us directly and permanently, face-to-face.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) The Lord has now chosen us as His spiritual temple. He dwells among us and will do so forever. His eyes and ears are constantly attentive to what we do among ourselves, our times of worship and our prayer.
(2) Along with that idea, the Lord no longer requires that we worship and pray in a certain place. He is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. The Lord is now bound to a temple or a land or a certain people group.
(3) This was followed by a promise that God would uproot Israel from the land and allow the temple to be torn down to rubble if they forsook His word and went after other gods to worship them. The Lord is a loving and compassionate God, but He is also a righteous God who will not and cannot permit our sinful lifestyles forever.
(4) Prayer helps us to maintain our relationship with God. It helps us to stay connected and renewed as we continue our pilgrimage through life.
(5) If a nation who has lost the favor of God is going to be restored, its people must humble themselves, pray, seek God, and turn from their wicked ways. If you want America restored, then it starts with you.

Psalm 51:1-12 Overcoming Sin and Sorrow

Psalm 51:1-12             Overcoming Sin and Sorrow                         WC McCarter
Chapter 12 of The Story puts sin and sorrow on full display for all to see. Much of this David brought upon himself, but there were also sorrows that came from outside threats that were not directly connected to the king’s sin. The chapter opened with the account of David’s sin with Bathsheba.
This was a righteous and godly man, David, who had it all. He was now the most famous man in all of Israel, the most powerful, and the wealthiest. Yet, on one particular day, all that God had given David was not enough. You see, when you start to become unsatisfied in what God has given you, you are greatly vulnerable to temptation. You know the story, but let me jog your memory. During the spring of the year, when kings go off to battle, Israel’s king was at home in his royal palace. With that nugget of information we can already see that something is suspect. David woke up from a nap one day and went out on the roof of his palace to overlook all that he had built and accomplished. He could see a woman bathing, and he did not turn his eyes away from her. Instead, in his lust, he calls for her to be brought to him, even after he had been told that she was married. He coveted his neighbor’s wife. It appears that he slept with her that very day and she conceived. That sin (and let me say that the people of God are to be sexually pure; apparently Christians have forgotten that) of adultery led to the sin of David causing another person to become drunk, and it also led to the sin of murder as David called for Uriah to be killed in battle. Can we also add that David sinned by lying for his cover-up story? Lust, covetousness, adultery, drunkenness, dishonesty, and murder are all wrapped up in this one event found in chapter 12 of The Story. David was the instigator of all this sin, and there were consequences. The child conceived in adultery died seven days later. David’s family began to fall apart: his son, Absalom, started a rebellion against David and his daughter, Tamar, was raped by her half-brother. David was not allowed to build the Temple either, which was one of his life’s dreams. David brought it all upon himself. We bring challenging times upon ourselves so often as well. Have you sinned in such a distinct and destructive way? Maybe you have, but maybe not. Have you sinned and brought trying times upon yourself and your family? I am sure that you have. I know that I have. How do you overcome your own sin?
Part of the crumble of David’s family was seen in the rebellion of his son, Absalom. Surely Absalom and others sensed weakness in David as he mourned over his own sin and the death of the baby conceived with Bathsheba, but there is no direct link between David’s sin and Absalom’s rebellion. So, let us consider the sorrow caused by the rebellion to be outside of David’s control. In other words, David did not directly bring that sorrow upon himself. Absalom began to politically sway the people of Israel away from his father, David, and to himself. He persuaded the people for about four years. He set himself up as king in the city of Hebron and continued to gain an increasing number of followers. David got word of this threat and fled. Absalom even slept with David’s concubines as an act of betrayal. Finally, David’s men crushed the rebellion and Absalom was killed in battle. When David got the news, this is what we are told: “The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: ‘O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!’” At times sorrow comes upon us by no consequence of our own.
The question that I would like for us to begin to answer from Psalm 51 today is, how do you overcome sin and sorrow? To be more elaborate, how do you overcome your own sin, and also, how do you overcome the sorrow that comes upon you simply by virtue of living in this fallen, rebellious world? There are things we bring upon ourselves and there are things that come upon us by no seeming fault of our own. Let’s look at Psalm 51:1-12 found on pages 163-164 for some answers.
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Psalm 51 was written by David when the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. David’s world had started to come crashing in on him. How would he respond when confronted by his own sin? Would he answer like the first king, Saul, with excuses and lies? Or would he seek restoration with the Lord? In his act of confession and repentance, the Holy Spirit uniquely used him to pen for us the means of overcoming sin and sorrow. I will give you three components that will enable you to overcome: utter dependence, total surrender, and complete confidence.
Utter Dependence (1-2)
We can say first that whether you overcome or not depends upon your relationship with God. Do you belong to Him? Do you trust Him to take care of you? David begins his prayer with an appeal to the mercy of God. He showed utter dependence upon the God of his salvation. He did not deserve God’s forgiveness. Only God can blot out transgressions, wash away all iniquity, and cleanse a person from their sin. Only God. David tried to fix his problems on his own, didn’t he? How did that work out? The situation got worse and worse. David utterly depends on God to restore their relationship, to repair his reputation, and to remove the sin now on his account.
Total Surrender (3-6)
In the next paragraph, David totally surrenders to God. He owns-up to his own sins. It takes a real man to do such a thing. It is the natural thing (in our fallen state) to do what David had done before: try and fix the problem on his own because he was not willing to admit his wrongdoing. Yet, to overcome sin and sorrow, a man or woman must confess their own sin. Not only must we confess our specific sins, but we must also admit our own weaknesses and overall shortcomings. Had David’s sin only affected himself? Of course not, he also sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, the baby conceived, his family, and his nation, but ultimately his sin was against God. God is holy, righteous, just, and perfect in all His ways. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. David had sinned against Him.
Complete Confidence (7-12)
Of course this last point leans heavily upon the first point, but David now looks more to the cleansing he needs on the inside. You must have complete confidence in the cleansing work of God (let me say specifically, in the cleansing work of God in Christ). David is completely confident that he can overcome his own sin and sorrows because God never does a job half-way. God can restore someone’s relationship with Him, their reputation in a society, and remove sin from their account. And He can do far more than that! He can create a new heart within a person. He can plunge to the depths of us and renew a steadfast spirit.
Conclusion and Christian Application
This psalm is a song and prayer for repentance. The main points of this sermon from Psalm 51 are a detailed description of repentance. This is how you overcome sin and sorrow. You must utterly depend on God because whether you overcome or not depends upon your relationship with Him. You must totally surrender, confessing sinfulness and rebellion. Lastly, you must live with complete confidence in the cleansing work of God.
These are great examples of how to overcome those things that you bring upon yourself and those things that come at you by no fault of your own. Does this mean that it will be easy to overcome your sins and sorrows? It certainly does not mean that. It will be difficult no matter what you do, but this will determine whether you will overcome or not. If you do not utterly depend on God, totally surrender to Him, and put complete confidence in His cleansing work, then you will be destroyed by sin and this present wicked age. When you receive forgiveness from God will you still have to deal with the results of sin? Yes, sometimes you will. David was forced to mourn the death of his baby. He also had to accept the fact that God would not allow him to build the Temple. Maybe you have found forgiveness for some sin in your life and you cannot figure out why you are still paying for it. It is because we live in a fallen world.
Let me assure you of this, though, there will be no eternal consequences for your sin if you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you submit to His saving work and His lordship, you will one day be completely and forever cleansed from the sins and sorrow that haunt you. You can overcome now for brief periods of time, but with one challenge after another. This life will always be a struggle because after you overcome one thing it will be followed by another. Yet, there is coming a day when the world will be purged from all of this sin and sorrow, the old sin-nature will no longer be able to haunt us, and Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. The world will be renewed and we will live in Christ’s glorious presence forever. Until that day, keep fighting to overcome your sin and sorrow with the design of Scripture such as Psalm 51.

1 Samuel 17:45-49 The Battle is the Lord's!

1 Samuel 17:45-49                 The Battle is the Lord’s!                               WC McCarter
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David is well-known as a man of war. He was a mighty warrior who had an abundance of victories. That reputation first began here as a young man who went up against the giant champion of the Philistines, Goliath. We were told that King Saul was not only handsome, but he was head and shoulders taller than all of the Israelites. David, on the other hand, was a ruggedly handsome young man, but did not have near the stature of a Saul. Yet, he was brave enough to go up against the over-nine-foot Goliath. He name seems perfect for a giant, doesn’t it?
When the little shepherd boy, David, showed up and decided to face the giant, he faced much harassment. His opponent, who had been mocking all the armies of Israel, saw David and began to badger him as well.
Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.”
The Philistine. . . looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
You would expect a mighty warrior to be able to taunt his opponent, wouldn’t you? You would even expect him to do so. We would be right to expect it because that is exactly what Goliath did. The enemy is always harassing us. He is seeking to devour us at every moment. We do not fight with flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness. Our battle is spiritual and constant. Satan and the fallen angels, better known as demons, are our enemies. They stand on the other side of the hill and shout obscenities at us. They taunt us and tempt us to unholy wrath. They harass us with all they can muster up within themselves. But, we can overcome. Darkness cannot overcome light. Light always shines forth. 1 John 3:8 tells us that Christ appeared in order to destroy the works of the Devil. James tells us that if we resist the Devil, he will flee from us. We can put on the whole armor of God and stand against the wiles of the Devil. He is no match for the Christian because of the victory that Christ has secured for us over sin, death, and the adversary.
You would expect the enemy to harass you. What you would not expect is an ally to mistreat you. Yet, David’s own camp, his own brother spoke harshly to him in order to discourage him.
When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
Saul also said, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
What do you do when someone who is supposed to be an ally works against you? What does a Christian do when another Christian discourages them from serving the Lord? This is not an easy issue to resolve. Let me give you some suggestions on how to handle it. First, I think that the person who is mistreating you should be confronted. The Lord is clear in Matt 18 about how to deal with a sinning brother or sister. You first go to them and talk about it, just the two of you. If they do not listen to you, but continue to harass you, then take one or two other believers with you to confront the person. If they will still not listen, then the matter must be taken to the whole church. If they do not listen to the church, then they must be treated as an outsider. A second suggestion I would give to you (in the meantime) is that you must pray. The Lord hears our prayers and answers us when we call to him. He will give us strength to endure. Third, arm yourself with the word of God. When confronted with opposition, the Christian should not shrink back. That is the opportune time to grow even stronger in your faith and in the Lord. Immerse yourself in His perfect will, the instruction of the Lord. The last thing I will say is rejoice. Now that is hard to do, but powerful.
The Lord said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
David was in a physical battle that he made a spiritual battle. He told his enemy, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty. . . .” We must do the same for the battle is the Lord’s!
David was brave, bold, and confident in the Lord. When confronted with the threat, David said,
“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
When confronted by the battle, David said,
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
David gave this battle over to the Lord. He knew that he could not win the battle on his own, but he also knew that if the Lord fought for him he would win. He could be brave, bold, and confident because he was not putting his faith in himself, but in the Lord. We must be bold as believers, but our boldness should be with discretion. We should not act ignorantly thinking that God will protect us. What we should do is boldly act on what God has promised in His word. How can we know what His will is if we do not look into His revealed word on the pages of Scripture? He has told us what is good and right, but do we look and learn? David knew that he was in the right because of the situation, because of his background, and because the Holy Spirit had come upon Him. Therefore, he could be brave, bold, and confident. I think that many Christians shrink back when faced with opposition or pressure because they do not know what the Lord has said and they are not in tune with the Holy Spirit.
Faith is the Victory
The last point I would like to make is that this is truly of an account of faith. We are told that, “As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.” David gained a great victory that day, one that the people would sing about for decades. He gained prestige that would last for ages. Even the secular world today, some 3,000 years later, know well the story of David killing Goliath with only a sling and a stone. The smaller, weaker man defeated the bigger, stronger opponent. How did he do so? Well, we know that he gave the battle to the Lord. I have no doubt in my mind that God guided that stone to its destination – Goliath’s forehead.
Let’s also consider a couple more things. David used the resources that God had given him to win this battle as well. He had training as a shepherd boy fighting wild animals in order to defend his flock. David relied on that experience and training. David also had with him a sling and a stone. These would be his tools for battle. He did not seek out those things that he had no business using like armor, shields, and swords. He had no training with those weapons. But he knew how to sling a stone and that is exactly what he did! Likewise, I think Christians should use what the Lord has given them. Count their blessings and rely on the resources God has bestowed upon them.
Lastly and most importantly, David put his faith in God. This is made clear in the story isn’t it? We should exercise the same confident faith in God’s protection. The battle is the Lord’s, and faith is the victory. Faith gives us access into all of the blessings of God.