Wednesday, November 17, 2010

David's Desire to Build the Temple

1 Chronicles 17 (the same story can be found in 2 Samuel 7)

I recently reread the somewhat well-known story from the Old Testament when David expresses his desire to build a house for God. I was struck by the fact that what I was commonly taught, that David's desire was good and that he should, in some ways, be pitied because he was not allowed to build the temple, seems to simply not be accurate based on the passage. I will break down two things that I saw in this passage, which I believe would be accurate applications to draw to our own lives, but which stand in direct contradiction to what I was always taught as a common interpretation.

Point 1
What was David's motive? "I'm living in cedar God should be". What is God's answer? "Did I ever say I needed to live in cedar?" Application - maybe instead of building a house for God David should have reevaluated his own standards of living and come to the point of living more simply. This would seem to be more inline with other passages such as Isaiah 5:8-30, Matthew 8:20, Ecclesiastes 5:10, Luke 12:13-21, Hebrews 13:5, etc, etc, etc...

Point 2
We all from time to time struggle with this idea that we in some way can give something to God. We want to see God as needy so that we can feel good about being able to help him. I think that we can see this in David's desire and God's response. David says, "Here I am living in a palace of cedar while the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent". Nathan says that he should do what he had in mind because God is with him, but then God comes and corrects David through Nathan.

I'll break down God's response -

I have never needed anything - verses 4-6 This stands in stark contrast to the gods of the surrounding nations who needed houses built for them. God, instead, dwelt wherever he desired. (On a mountain, in a bush, in the tent, in a cloud)

You and the nation of Israel have always been in need - verses 7-10

I will build you a house - verse 10, expounded in 11-14

Basically, David for a second forgets his place, he forgets that God is God and he is not, and he desires to give God what he perceives he has. God, however, is quick to remind him that anything that he has was given to him by God, and to prove this God says that he will give him even more. I love when God comes back to David and says, "I declare to you that the Lord will build a house for you". Why do we not teach this?

May you live in the ever present awareness that God is God and you are not. May you remember that all good gifts are from above, that anything you have is not your own, that even you yourself are not your own but were bought at a price. May you not desire riches or fame, may you not bring God down to your level of materialism, may you instead move beyond our culture to live a life pleasing to the Lord in every way as you properly understand his Word of Truth.

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