God’s House

2sam7We’ve been following the story from creation, through slavery in Egypt, to wandering in the wilderness and receiving the 10 commandments. Through this time the people have been nomadic—wandering from place to place, conquering the people already in the land. The judges have acted as God’s representatives. Now we are moving into the time of the kings. Last week we heard the story of Samuel’s birth. Samuel became the last of the judges and the first prophet. He anointed the first two kings of ancient Israel—Saul and now David.

Now, in 2 Samuel 7:1-17, the community is becoming more settled. The story begins with King David, who is now living in a cedar home, realizing that the Ark of the Covenant is still living in a tent. When the ten commandments were written on stone, the were placed into an ornate guilded wooden box with carrying poles. This ark was carried around as the people moved from place to place and housed in a tent when they were not travelling.

David wants to do something about this. Why? Is it because he feels bad that God is living in a tent? Is it so that God will continue to support his reign and continue to bless him? Did he want to build the temple out of gratitude? Was he trying to pay God back for the blessing so far? Was it so he would be recognized as the great king who built God’s temple?

Nathan—the prophet at that time—tells him to go ahead and build God a house.  That night Nathan has a dream and realizes that he got caught up in the moment and excitement of building a temple—a house for God. After he dreams, Nathan must go back to David and tell him not to build the temple. David doesn’t need to build a house for God so that God will build his house.

David is already living in a house of cedar but God is going to give him a new kind of house. The Hebrew word we translate as house also means: palace, household, temple, family, dynasty and even a prison.

God is already with David and has placed him on the throne and protected him from his enemies. As part of the promises God makes to David, ancient Israel will receive a place of safety. According to Nathan’s dream, David will have an heir and one of his descendants will always be king.

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever. (2 Samuel 7:12-16)

This is in no way dependent on anything David will or will not do. It is not dependent on David building God a temple. It is not even based on David’s descendants being faithful. There are no conditions to this promise.

When we get to the gospel of Matthew a few centuries later, the writer of Matthew takes great pains to trace Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to David because of this passage. We sometimes hear Jesus referred to as the Son of David. The writer of Matthew wanted to give Jesus credibility and create an image of him as the fulfilment of the promise made to David.

David was by no means perfect in his leadership or in his personal life and yet God remained with him and that love continues to endure and be made known in Jesus. Just as God’s commitment to David was unconditional, Jesus’ and God’s love for each of us is unconditional. We don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. God’s love isn’t taken away from us when we make mistakes but God is always building something new in us: a home within our hearts and our world that is filled with love and compassion. It is a home built on the hope and trust in God’s promise to always be present and always love.

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