Things are rosy for leader David. The ark is home, clearly identifying Jerusalem as the matrix of all things powerful: religion, politics, and the military. What more could a king want? Nothing, it seems; so this king wants a house for his God.
The temples we build reflect less on our admiration for our gods and serve more as a mirror of our own prestige. American religious architecture bears out this axiom through a simple recitation of names. We name our landmark worship sites for ourselves. Churches dot the American landscape carrying the names of their benefactors as often as they bear the name of faith, making it mostly about us.
God knows this about us and says as much to the prophet Nathan, instructing him to remind David that God will dwell where God will dwell. David doesn’t need a big building to remind the world that God is on his side. Clearly God is on David’s side, but conditions may arise that preclude God’s support of David; then the building will be exposed for the sham it is, a shell of misplaced trust.
Eventually, there will be a temple, though not David’s to build, and eventually it will be destroyed after misplaced trust. God sides with the righteous, and when the people who build the temple—or the nation—are not righteous, the temple does not protect them. There’s a lesson in this for us all. We may build the temple or the nation on righteous ground, but unless we diligently preserve that righteousness, we command no assurance of God’s allegiance. God aligns with the poor, hungry, mourners, and those reviled for God’s sake, regardless of nation or name.
Lo! the hosts of evil round us scorn thy Christ, assail his ways! Fears and doubts too long have bound us; free our hearts to work and praise. (UMH, no. 577)
David was God’s anointed king over Israel. He believed God desired a house, a Temple worthy of God. But God wanted David to understand that only God can build things that truly last. Thus, God promised to construct a dynasty from David’s family. From this line will eventually come the ultimate King, the Messiah, who will rule God’s people forever. The Messiah will complete God’s work of uniting all people as children of God, and the author of Ephesians declares that this has happened through Christ. All God’s people—Jew and Gentile—are now part of a holy, spiritual temple. In Mark, Jesus shows that part of being a great king is showing compassion. He puts aside his own desires to help those in need of guidance and healing.
• Read 2 Samuel 7:1-14a. Do you prefer stability or flexibility? What are the advantages of each?
• Read Psalm 89:20-37. What has been your experience with organizations or churches that are leader-dependent?
• Read Ephesians 2:11-22. When have you found yourself employing binary thinking: black and white with no shades of gray? How has that limited your focus?
• Read Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. When have you had an experience of illness or accident that left you isolated from community? How did that increase your awareness of others in that situation as you moved to health?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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