Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord. —1 Chronicles 22:19 (ESV)
David wanted to build God a house. Indeed, the words that would fall prophetically on Jesus when He drove the merchants out of the temple—Zeal for your house has consumed me—were David’s words (Psalm 69:9). David’s zeal for the Lord is foregrounded throughout his story, from his indignant reaction to Goliath (“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” [1 Sam 17:26]) to his many prayers and songs, and in his exuberant dancing before the ark as he led its procession into Jerusalem.
Having won many battles, and now established securely as king in Jerusalem, David says to Nathan the prophet: “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent” (2 Sam 7:2, cf. 1 Chron 17:1). And Nathan’s first impulse is to bless David’s desire to rectify this situation.
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘…It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in. … I took you from the pasture … to be prince over my people Israel, and I … have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a name… Moreover, I declare to you that the Lord will build you a house.’” (1 Chron 17:3ff)
God’s word to David reminds us not to belittle God in our minds by imagining He needs us to provide for Him; not only has He created us and the whole world we live in, He has indeed done for us all our works (Isa 26:12).
And yet, the Lord will have a house for Himself, as He further intimates to David: I will raise up your offspring after you… He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever (1 Chron 17:11f). The immediate (partial) fulfilment of this word will come through Solomon, who at this point in the story has not yet been conceived. David has not yet committed the great infamies of taking Bathsheba for himself and arranging her husband’s death. God will show Himself as Redeemer in that, while David’s sin will lead to severe disorder and hardship in his household, Bathsheba will bear David’s heir.
It is on the other side of his life’s great turmoils, as an old man preparing to depart this life, that David issues the instructions with which we began. Is not the Lord your God with you? David asks Israel’s leaders. And has he not given you peace on every side? … Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God (1 Chron 22:18f). We don’t just seek the Lord until He comes and delivers us out of trouble. No, David says, now that the Lord is with you, now that He has subdued your enemies, set your mind and heart to seek Him. There’s more of Him yet to be discovered, and if you want to know His heart, you need to dwell in His house.
We said before that Solomon, and the temple he built, marked the immediate confirmation of Nathan’s word to David, but not its complete fulfilment. Solomon’s own sins would rend the kingdom in half, and the iniquity of his generations would lead to exile and the end of the monarchy altogether. Rather, we know (as the chronicler anticipated) that God’s promise concerning David’s offspring would find its true fulfilment in the Messiah to come: He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son (1 Chron 17:12f).
And while we know that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, His house is still under construction.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 2:4f)
Father, Your name be honored and Your kingdom come. Give us grace to yield to Your Holy Spirit and, together with all Your people, come into alignment with Your good plans and become a true house of prayer for all nations. And let the King of glory come in, Jesus Christ our Lord, to rule the earth forever and ever. Amen.
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union Lux
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