Midweek Lent 3 – 2 Samuel 7:1-17
One of the most endearing and puzzling questions of Scripture, is why does God refuse David’s desire to build a temple?
One theory is that David is a warrior king, and that he has a lot of blood on his hands from the numerous battles he has been in, nearly all victorious, yet bloody nonetheless. Another theory is what we know is about to happen in 2 Samuel 11-12, where David breaks just about every Commandment in his scandal with Bathsheeba.
Or to come at it from a different angle, while David had indeed great riches, and could have built a splendid temple, Solomon would have even greater riches, and could build an even more magnificent temple.
But added to this mystery though, is the complication of Solomon. David has his moment in 2 Samuel 11 with Bathsheeba, but he repents in 2 Samuel 12, and is faithful to the Lord throughout his reign; the same cannot be said of Solomon. For while Solomon will build the Lord His temple and make sacrifices in it, Solomon will also build temples and offer sacrifices to the pagan gods of his many foreign wives.
How could Solomon possibly be a more worthy constructor of the temple, then David?
It is difficult to put this into perspective today; we do not really ask or receive direct revelations from the Lord regarding the construction of churches. If we can raise the money, if we can secure the land and the necessary contractors, if languages are not confused halfway through the process, then it is generally assumed that the Lord approves of our project; but if something happens along the way, the money falls short, the land cannot be granted, than we just say that now is not the time, and that God will let us know when it is.
And yet, there is some insight into why David’s desire is rejected, and why we should be wary today in our own dreams and desires.
Whose idea is it to build the temple? And perhaps more importantly, to whose glory would the temple be built? When people from near and far came to see the temple, when people spoke of the temple, whose name would they attach to it?
Is David really concerned about building a temple for the Lord, or is this more about building up his own legacy? Is David really interested in bringing glory to God’s name, or is he more interested in bringing glory to his own name?
For what greater glory is there, then to have your name attached to something that will be for all generations? What greater pride can you get, then to know that future generations will bask in the glow of what you have done?
And how do you accomplish that? Write a book? It will only collect dust on the shelves of old libraries. Hold an important office? Perhaps, but there will be people before and after who hold the same office. Do something significant? Not even worth considering, as everyone will forget about it in a generation.
No, the true glory is to put your name on a building, and not just any building, but a building that will stand for the ages at the heart of the lives of all people.
Whose temple is this going to be? Not God’s, but David’s. Whose church is this? Is it yours? You pay the bills through your offerings. You volunteer to do all the work. You are the ones here making sure everything is ready for when others arrive. Does that make this your church then? Is there room in it for God?
Why does God decline David’s desire to build a temple? After all, Nathan thought it was a great idea; and a lot of other people in Israel probably did too. And in fact, based on what we know Solomon is going to do later, the thought of David building the temple sounds better and better.
But God does not need David to build Him a temple. God does not share the glory or the credit or the accolades with anyone. The Lord’s temple will be the Lord’s temple; not the Lord’s temple and a lasting monument to David.
God destroys David’s desire, there will be no monument to God built by David. In the same way, God scatters the plans and the desires of our hearts. Tear down your idols; remove that which brings glory to your name and not to God’s. Confess your sins of pride and receive the absolution.
For there will in fact be a monument to David, but this one will be built by God.
David will not put his name on God’s house, instead, God will put His name on David’s house. David’s line will continue on the throne forever. David’s name will be remembered for all generations, but not because of what David did, but because of what God did for David.
And what God does for David, He does for you as well; for it is David’s heir, His very own descendant that will bring glory to God’s name, and lift up your own names.
Jesus is that heir of David who will rule eternally, just as was promised to David. But Jesus rules not because of a great act performed, or because of some mystery unraveled; Jesus rules because He subjected Himself to the humiliation of putting Himself under the authority of others: Mary and Joseph; Herod, Pilate, even Caesar. Jesus humbled Himself, so that He might be exalted above all others.
Jesus allows Himself to be destroyed, so that you might not be destroyed. Jesus brings glory to God’s name first and foremost, but He also brings glory to the name of David and to your own name.
For as it so happens, that temple that Solomon will build, is no longer standing; it was destroyed; but the house that God built for David, the house that you still reap benefits from today, still stands strong in the person of Jesus. For you are the beloved children of your Father in heaven, and He has come so that your own name might be remembered for eternity, along with David’s and along with all those who confess that Jesus is Lord.
For the Lord has built you a house, and He has a place for you for eternity, in His glory.