whatever is in their hearts?

My attempt to read through the Bible this year brought me to II Samuel 7 this week. It’s one of those passages that – if we listen closely – really turns some normal “Christianese” on its head. And it presents an important question for college ministry: Are we training students to do “whatever is in their hearts” for the Lord, or follow His direction?

David and Nathan’s conversation at the beginning of chapter 7 sounds pretty common. Paraphrased for our context, it sounds something like this…

David: I have a big, campus-wide idea for honoring God.

The Prophet Nathan: “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you” (v. 3, ESV).

Sounds great, right? David is a “man after God’s own heart,” Nathan is a trusted spiritual adviser, and David has a passionate yearning to build God something BIG. Why not get after it? Why not encourage David to follow his God-honoring passion?

The only problem? It’s not what God had in mind! The very next verse makes it clear that regardless of David’s passion and ideas, God had other plans. As we find throughout Scripture, God’s desires trump our own, and God’s desires aren’t always mirrored in our own (no matter how close we happen to be to Him). II Samuel 7 presents a radical departure from a theology of passions-equal-direction, a theology many of our students hold.

So that’s the question for this week, as we have awesome student leaders who have a heart for the Lord and imagine all sorts of creative, great ways to reach their campus or their world… Are we raising up students who simply do “whatever is in their hearts” for God, or who follow His direction beyond where their hearts happen to direct?

Tough question, right?

One Comment

  1. Seth A

    While I haven’t studied the ins and outs of this passage, it is interesting to me that David’s expression of his desire started a conversation. It is after David talks to Nathan that the Lord talks to Nathan and then Nathan tells David what the Lord said and then David goes in to pray to the Lord. God didn’t express his direction until David voiced his. So, was Nathan’s advice bad? What if it’s for us to encourage them to move toward what they understand to “be in their hearts for God” and then listen to Him along the way? David apparently didn’t have a spiritual anxiety that he was always going to get it wrong with God. I think there messages about this that we could send students that develop more of a spiritual anxiety and less of a doing/listening relationship with God. What if, instead of “passion-equals-direction” we encourage “passion-equals-engagement”?

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