I have often wondered why God didn’t permit David to build the first Temple. I mean, David was a “man after God’s own heart,” chosen by God as the second king of Israel. What an honor, it seems, that he should have been the one to build the “house of God.” …Or was it?
In today’s One Year Bible reading, David is ready and willing—making plans, even—to build a Temple for God, but God has different ideas…
“Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle” (2 Sam 7:5–6).
God doesn’t ask David to build a Temple for Him, and later He actually tells him not to. Why not?
Here is what I think now. God didn’t let David build the Temple precisely because he was a man after the heart and mind of God. Ever since leaving their bonds in Egypt and up until this time, God required the people “free flow” with Him throughout the wilderness. He moved about spontaneously, as He was ready, and the people followed. No getting too comfortable, holding onto the familiar. No putting down roots or building foundations. Following God into His best plan was like following the wind.
“The Spirit (pneuma) blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit (pneuma)” (John 3:8).
Following God’s leading was no different in the days of David, and especially for the person of David (a type of all who live by the Spirit—even today). God gave David the honor of living in tune with His Spirit, preventing him from putting down roots in the form of a man-made temple on a man-made foundation.
In this fleshly offering, made by David’s son Solomon, we are taught what is at the heart of the man-made Temple—moving away from dependence on God, and putting down roots in doctrines, dogmas, and traditions of men. It is the way of religion—afraid of not knowing or not having answers. And so there is this list of ten critical things you must believe to be in agreement (i.e. statements of faith). Or there is seminary you have to attend if you want to understand the Scriptures (even though they were primarily written to and from the perspective of illiterate fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, and commoners). Or there is this class you have to take, taught by your pastor (or someone trained by him), so that he will be able to help you see what you are reading through the correct lenses and “critical” doctrines.
The man who built the first stationary Temple (Solomon) was a very carnal man, who completely abandoned the ways of God for the comfortable. Ironically, Solomon’s Temple was destroyed. So was the second man-made Temple following. After that, the Temple was put back into free flowing, moving tents—into Jesus and then into you and me—never to be put on a man-made, sedentary foundation again.
All this is to say that we should be aware that yes, it is good to learn from each other, as iron sharpens iron, but don’t let anyone tell you that you must follow certain doctrines and dogmas in order to follow God, or that you must be “educated” before you can study the Scriptures for yourself. It’s simply not true, and if anything, these things are a great deterrent to the beauties and mysteries God wants to reveal to you as you follow Him, dancing and liberated through the wilderness.
“David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands…” (Acts 7:46–48).
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle (TENT) of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them…’” (Rev. 21:3).