We know that King David is anointed by God in every physical way, yet he becomes a bit over- zealous in his rise to the throne, and in 2 Samuel we find he is now wanting to build a house for the ark of God which at the time merely dwelled in a tent. David didn’t want to build any house but a house of cedar as elaborate as his won. Cedar is an aromatic wood that is found in varieties all around the world. Perhaps primarily due to its fragrance, cedar was known to the ancient Israelites in their places and practices of worship. Apparently, this was David’s idea of bringing God’s standard of living up to meet his own. What I find amusing and which brings me back to my own self-perceived rise, was God’s “child please!” response to David’s newly self-proclaimed status and place in God’s plan for his people. Perhaps David believed, that he somehow had been elevated to a place of glory that was higher than God! I believe this is one of David’s first real encounters with the physical, which can be seen (a beautiful dwelling place), challenging the spirit of God (measure of faith) that was within him. I believe what David and we particularly today, quickly forget, is that the tabernacle and tent are physical reminders of God’s presence. His spirit makes its dwelling place in the heart of those who believe in him as he did with David, and us also, who in turn responds according to God’s spirit. Can you imagine the Israelites carrying around a house of cedar? Is it even possible for us today to build walls to hold the spirit of God?
“Are you the one to build me a house to live in?” This scripture from 2 Samuel reminds me of the times when I believed myself to be grown enough to tell my own parents what I could do for them. Of course they didn’t need me, but somehow it seemed important for me to let them know that I had in fact “arrived”, even though aside from my education I really had not accomplished very much. I had not saved any money. I did not buy most of my own clothes. I did not own a house or a car nor did I live on my own. Everything I had, the conveniences that I enjoyed up to that point were provided by my parents who I am sure loved me quite dearly, and yet probably thinking I had simply lost my mind, a momentary lapse in understanding graciousness and the reality of my true status and place in life. It was an event that was met with my mother’s usual snide response of “child please!”, and she was quick to remind me that I although had everything, I had earned nothing. So too, as children and inheritors of God’s grace we have everything; and as recipients of God’s mercy we’ve earned nothing. Who are we to say what we can do for God? In times like these it’s always a good thing to heed Paul’s warning in his letter to the Romans, that we ought not think of our selves more highly than we ought to think (Romans 12:3)! Unfortunately, it was a warning I failed to heed on several occasions.
2 Samuel 7:1-14a Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”