Some dreams are just bigger than others.
By the time David decides to build God a “house” – a Temple for the Ark of the Covenant – several generations have passed since Israel crossed over into the land of promise. But David, if he was anything, was a different kind of leader than Israel had previously known.
David’s love for God is remarkably apparent in the Bible’s chronicle of his life, not to mention the brutally honest, passionately focused nature of David’s prayers and songs in Psalms. So it isn’t necessarily shocking that he would be the one to feel a need for something more permanent and glorifying to house the seat of God’s presence on earth. The Ark, at this time, was under a tent, frequently surrounded by priests, worship and sacrifices; but it was still a tent.
In 2 Samuel 7, David’s prophetic voice, Nathan, was on board when the king floated the idea in chambers, and David began envisioning the new Temple. But God spoke to Nathan that night, and told Nathan to relay a different message to David.
Basically God told David, “thank you, but no.”
But the way God said it is so remarkably God-like that we almost miss what Yahweh is actually teaching us about the difference between us and Him.
God tells David not to build Him a house, but turns the conversation around and tells the king that He will establish a house for the shepherd-warrior and his offspring. It will be David’s son who will build this house, who will create a legacy out of David’s life that will last forever.
Not the answer David was probably expecting. But exactly the kind of answer we should expect from God.
It seems that one of the hardest-to-remember characteristics of God is the fact that He continually sees more when He looks at us than we see when we look at ourselves. God’s incredible, timeless, everlasting perspective gives Him the ability to simultaneously look at both who we are and who He is making us to be. We rarely catch a glimpse of the latter because we are so myopically consumed with the former.
David wanted to become the king who built God a house.
God wanted David to be the man whose legacy would become part of the identity of the Son of God, Jesus.
Fast forward to the Gospels.
A genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David…
David wanted to show all of the people the glory of Yahweh, wanted them to value His blessings and promises to them as a nation. Those promises had kept David half-sane for a decade in the wilderness, and the memory of Samuel’s prophetic word spoken over David in Jesse’s house so long ago was the one glimmer of hope he had to hold as he was waiting for their fulfillment. David loved God, trusted God, and wanted the world to know the goodness of God.
But the over-riding truth here is that, despite all of that passion and fire and love, David could never love God like God loved David. David’s love for God was confined to a timeline. His passion was bookended by birth and death. There was only so much David could do and only so many ways in his finite being that he could express his affection for his Lord.
But when God loves someone all the limits of time, space, physics and mortality are pushed to the side. For God loves with an everlasting love. God’s love is not bound by any of the ceilings we as humans experience.
- We can’t alway find the words; God’s words never fail.
- We longingly wish for more time, more opportunity, more authenticity; God’s love is never less than all, everything, and always.
So God tells David, I am going to build you a house. But not of wood and stone. I am going to build you a legacy that will never end. When the “Son of David” shows us, His name, His love, His reign, His impact will never end. And He will, in fact, become the only Temple that can adequately “house” the presence of God, because He will be God Himself.
Perhaps the most important thing we can remember when we tell God we love Him and we are thankful for Him is that His love is greater, more powerful, more beautiful, never wavering and everlasting. Our love is for a moment, His love is eternal. Which means that while our love might make for Him something that will last for our lifetime, His love for us is creating and growing something that will last for eternity.
And so, we worship Him. For no matter how much we love God we must remember: our love for God will always fall short of God’s love for us.
There is no comparison.
There’s not supposed to be.
This should not present a problem for us, because we only have the ability and opportunity to love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn 4.19).